Jataka 65

Anabhirati Jātaka

The Tale of Discontent

as told by Eric Van Horn

originally translated by Robert Chalmers, B.A., of Oriel College, Oxford University

originally edited by Professor Edward Byles Cowell, Cambridge University

This story also has the detail of someone reforming out of shame. But it also gives the lesson of the futility of becoming upset with people whose minds are wild and untrained. It is to be expected that they will behave foolishly. So rather than getting upset, treat such cases with equanimity.

Like highways.” This story was told by the Master while at Jetavana. It is about another layman similar to the last story. This man, when he discovered his wife’s misconduct, argued with her. As a result, he was so upset that for seven or eight days he did not visit the Buddha. One day he came to the monastery, bowed to the Blessed One and took his seat. Being asked why he had been absent for seven or eight days, he replied, “Sir, my wife has misbehaved, and I have been so upset about her that I did not come.”

“Lay brother,” the Master said, “long ago the wise and good told you not to be angry when a fool misbehaves. But you have forgotten this lesson in equanimity because you have forgotten that rebirth.” At the lay brother’s request, he told this story of the past.

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was a teacher of worldwide reputation, just as in the previous story. And a pupil of his, finding his wife unfaithful, was so upset by this discovery that he stayed away for some days. One day he was asked by his teacher why he had been away, and he confessed what had happened. Then his teacher said, “My son, there is refuge in the wild mind. And therefore wise men, knowing this uncertainty, avoid fellowship with fools.” And so saying, he repeated this stanza for his pupil’s sake:

Like highways, rivers, courtyards, hostelries,

Or taverns, which to all alike extend

One universal hospitality,

Is the untrained mind, and wise people never stoop

To anger at the frailty in a fool’s wickedness.

Such was the instruction that the Bodhisatta gave to his pupil, who after that grew equanimous to what fools did. As for his wife, she was so shamed by hearing that the teacher knew how she had behaved, that she stopped her misconduct.

The Reformed Lay Follower

Figure: The Reformed Lay Follower

So too that layman’s wife, when she heard that the Master knew what she was, stopped her misconduct.

His lesson ended, the Master preached the Four Noble Truths, at the close of which the lay disciple won the Fruit of the First Path. Also the Master showed the connection and identified the birth by saying, “This husband and wife were also the husband and wife of those days, and I was the brahmin teacher.”