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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
48 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY “Here is an example: suppose someone were to cut down the grass, wood, branches, leaves, and foliage here in the Jeta forest, or were to take it away or burn it, or do whatever he wished with it. What do you think? Would you think, ‘That person is cutting us, or taking us away, or burning us, or doing whatever he wished with us’?” The monks answered, “Of course not, Vener- able Sir.” “And why is that?” “Because this forest, Venerable Sir, is not our- selves; nor does it belong to us.” “In just the same way, abandon what is not yours. Abandoning it will lead to benefit and happiness. In just the same way, form is not yours; abandon it. Abandoning it will lead to benefit and happiness. Sensation, perception, volitional forma- tions, and consciousness are not yours; abandon them. Abandoning them will lead to benefit and happiness.” Thus spoke the Lord. Besides these new versions of texts familiar from Buddhist canons in other languages, though, there are others—a great many of them—either never seen before, as in the case of the Abhid- hamma debate mentioned above, or that appear in surprisingly different forms. Among the most interesting of these is a series of edifying legends presented in the form of laconic summaries casu- ally jotted into the empty spaces of previously used scrolls. One of the most noteworthy is a brief and divergent version of the universally familiar story of Prince Vessantara (here called by his nickname, Sudashna), the paragon of generosity: The story of the Bodhisattva’s previous life as Sudashna, to be told as an example: Since he was an all-giving king, he gave his mighty elephant to a brahman. The king also surrendered his chariot and gave away his children. Then Sakra, king of the gods, came from the sky and spoke this verse to him: “Truly this man is black, and black is the food that he eats.” The whole story is to be told at length. DIRKFABIAN,INGRAPHIS©|EXHIBITIONHALLOFTHEFEDERALREPUBLICOFGERMANY,BONN (Above) The most important archaeological sites in Gandhara ➤