Tuesday, March 8th
- Martin Goodson

Forthcoming events w/c 8th March 2022

What's coming up for community members and a few thoughts about Angulimala.

Painting at Chedi Traiphop Traimongkhon Temple, Hatyai, Thailand


By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand - 054 Angulimala cannot Catch up with Buddha who ordains him and he becomes an Arahant, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50795027

The story of Angulimala appears in the Middle-Length Sayings of the Pali Canon and is used to illustrate the redemptive power of the Buddha's teachings. The story also has something to say about the connection between fear, hate and violence.

His name means 'finger necklace' and refers to his habit of collecting a finger bone from each of his victims (did I mention he was a serial killer?), and stringing them on a necklace which he wore around his neck. Why did he do this? Well, he believed that it would lead him to attain to the Dharma... it's a long story and if you want to watch it all you can scroll back from the YT clip below from a 2003 Thai version of this story which I found rather moving!

For his final kill he decides to take out the Buddha but finds that he cannot catch up with him. Finally he begs the Buddha to stop and from that follows a conversation that leads to Angulimala converting to the Dharma. However, the karma of his past cannot be evaded but Angulimala accepts his fate as he recognises that what he sought in his killing is to be found when he stops clinging to his own mind.

In the version I was told by my late teacher Master Daiyu, she had Angulimala particularly relishing the fear in his victim's faces as he drew his knife, when he confronted the Buddha he showed no fear and only smiled at the killer. It was this moment that triggered the conversion. I do not know where she got his version from. Whereas the story in the Pali Canon is used to introduce a teaching about 'stopping' from the Buddha (which the clip below plays with through to the end of the film), the version from Master Daiyu breaks the link between fear and anger.

Human consciousness can split itself in two and what we 'fear' in ourselves can be projected upon an other. This then allows the part of the Heart/Mind that gives rise to violence to attack what it hates (fear and weakness in oneself). This might tell us something about cruelty, inasmuch as being vulnerable may lead to great pain in ourselves, so by making someone else vulnerable 'I' can attack it and even destroy it by proxy, seeking to destroy the same in myself. The clip below shows precisely this and after his conversion Angulimala is able to find the strength to face being vulnerable himself as he has to face the karmic consequence of his previous actions. There is subtlety here.

The style may not be to everyone's taste but I think the sincerity of this clip comes through and there is some solid Buddhism here with a lot of humanity in it. The clip starts at the point where Angulimala begs the Buddha to stop.

Over time, Anguilimala became the protector of women in childbirth.

Anguilimala meets the Buddha.

Forthcoming Events

Thursday 10th March at 1900hrs GMT - Live streamed Zazen meditation

The tutorial for Module 2 of Living with Uncertainty, will be next week:

Tuesday 15th March at 1900hrs GMT

This will be held on Zoom, invite details will be posted up at the weekend.

Hope everyone has a good week

May all beings be happy!

May all attain Buddhahood!