My habit-energy made me do it

3.6 (26) Pilindavaccha (Pilindavaccha Sutta)

Thus has it been made known. At another time the Blessed One was staying near Rājagaha, at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Sanctuary. Around this time the Venerable Pilindavaccha was wont to accuse his neighboring monks as being social misfits.

As a reaction to this, a great number of monks came to the Blessed One saying, “O’ Lord, the Venerable Pilindavaccha is calling us social misfits”. So the Blessed one invited one of the monks to go to Pilindavaccha and invite him to visit their sangha.

Thereupon, the Venerable Pilindavaccha accepted the invitation and joined the Blessed One in the assembly. The Dharma-Lord then asked, “Is it true, Vaccha that you have been going around accusing my monks of being social misfits?”

“Yes, O’ Lord,” responded the Venerable Pilindavaccha.

The Blessed One then pointed to Pilindavaccha’s former lives as being the source of his unsound indignation. “My dear friends, please don’t accuse the monk Vaccha so harshly. The source of his resentment is due to a vast array of 500 consecutive lifetimes when he was born into brahman families; he has been accustomed, due to negative habit energy ingrained deep within him, to address others in such fashion. So, be aware of the forces at work in his life.”

Then, upon realizing the great significance of this situation, the Blessed One uttered the following verse:

In one which is found neither pride nor self-deception,
Whose lustful desires have been quenched,
With anger and hatred thus ended,
Such a one is a True Brahman, a recluse, a blessed Monk.

Pilindavaccha: An eminent ARHAT declared by the Buddha foremost among monk disciples who are beloved of the gods. According to the Pāli account, he was born to a brāhmaṇa family named Vaccha (S. Vatsa) in the city of Sāvatthi (S. ŚRĀVASTĪ); Pilinda was his personal name. Pilinda became a hermit and mastered the magical science called cūḷa (or “lesser”) gandhāravijjā, which allowed him to make himself invisible and walk through walls. However, in the presence of the Buddha the science was ineffective. Believing the Buddha to have canceled out his power through a mastery of mahā (or “greater”) gandhāravijjā (the ability to read the minds of others and fly through the air), he entered the order to learn the Buddha’s science. The Buddha instructed him in meditation, by means of which Pilinda became an arhat. In a previous existence, Pilinda had been a righteous ruler who had led many of his subjects to a heavenly rebirth. As a consequence, many of his former subjects, now divinities (DEVA), waited upon Pilinda morning and evening in gratitude. It is for this reason that he earned distinction as the disciple most beloved of the gods. Pilinda had the unfortunate habit of addressing everyone he met with the derogatory epithet of vasala, meaning outcaste. The Buddha explained that this was because he had been born an outcaste for a hundred lives. Once Pilinda inquired of a passerby carrying a bowl of peppers, “What is in the bowl, vasala?” Insulted, the passerby said, “rat dung,” whereupon the peppers turned to rat dung. The passerby begged Pilinda to return the contents to their original state, which he did using his powers. Pilinda used his extraordinary powers on several other occasions. Once, he created a crown of gold for an impoverished girl so that her family could partake of a feast day; on another occasion he rescued two girls who had been kidnapped by robbers and returned them to their family. The involvement with females prompted some of his fellow monks to blame him for impropriety, but the Buddha ruled that no misdeed had been committed. He figures in several MAHĀYĀNA sūtras, being mentioned as a member of the audience of the SADDHARMAPUṆḌARĪKASŪTRA and appearing in the *ŚŪRAṂGAMASŪTRA. (Buswell, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism)

Habit Energy: More often than not, the source behind one’s resentments stem from innumerable past-lives in which the bitter seeds were sown. This is also known as being-bracketed throughout one’s life time with the three gunas. If one is not aware of the influence of these subconscious factors then one will continue to live in ignorance, spouting unjust indignation on anything that walks outside of their own bitter parameters. Reading the details of Pilindavaccha’s biography above, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Yet even those positives cannot outright destroy the influence of the gunas, they are what they are and will be always with us. The true test of an aspiring mind-adept is to be mindfully-aware through the Recollective Resolve of which guna is present at a given time. One can only ride-out the storm so to speak, because their influence will never be totally eradicated. It is what it is within the less than perfect human psyche.

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