[Chapter 1. Panic]
Once upon a time there was a king called Brahmadatta who was ruling in Benares, in northern India. One night he had 16 frightening nightmare dreams. He awoke in the morning in a cold sweat, with his heart thumping loudly in his chest. The 16 dreams had scared him to death. He was sure they meant that something terrible was about to happen. In a panic, he called for his official priests, to ask their advice.
When the priests arrived at the royal bed chamber, they asked the king if he had slept well. He told them that it had been the worst night of his life, that he had been scared to death by 16 dreams, and that he was desperate to find out their meanings.
At this the priests’ eyes lit up. They asked him, “What were these dreams, your majesty?” King Brahmadatta told them all 16 dreams. The priests pounded their foreheads and exclaimed, “Oh what horrors! It couldn’t be worse, your majesty. Such dreams as these can mean only one thing – danger!”
The king asked them, ‘What danger, oh priests? You must tell me the meaning at once!” They replied, It is certain, your majesty, these dreams show that one of three disasters will take place – terrible harm to the kingdom, to your life, or to the royal wealth.”
The king had feared as much. He wrung his hands as the sweat kept pouring frm his body. He was shaking all over with terror and panic. He asked, “Tell me, oh worthy royal priests, is there any way to avoid this disaster?” “Indeed, it is very dangerous,” they said. “If you do nothing, the end is certain. But we can prevent it. If we couldn’t, then all. our training and learning would be useless. Trust us, lord.”
The panic-stricken king cried out, “Just tell me what to do, priests. I’ll do anything! What can you do to save me, my kingdom and my wealth?” “We must offer the greatest animal sacrifice that has ever been seen,” they said. “We must kill, as sacrificial offerings, four of every type of animal that lives!”
Although he was usually a gentle, kind and merciful ruler. King Brahmadatta was so frightened that he couldn’t think straight at all. Paralyzed with fear, he put all his hope and faith in his priests. He gave them permission to prepare the gigantic slaughter.
The priests said, “Have no fear, your majesty, we will take care of everything. We will prevent the coming doom!” They knew they would be paid well to perform the sacrifice. And the meat frm the killed animals would be theirs as well. Their secret thoughts were, “This is a great way for us to get piles of money, and the best food and drink too!”
The priests got to work organizing the biggest sacrifice Benares had ever seen. Just outside of town they dug a huge pit. Into it they put the most perfect ones they could find of all the animals – land animals. birds and fish. frm each kind they selected four to be killed in the ceremony.. It became known as the ‘Four-frm-all’ sacrifice.
Meanwhile, the king’s senior teaching priest had a promising young pupil. He was gentle and compassionate, and very well-educated. He wondered about all that was happening. So he asked the teacher priest, “Oh master, you have taught me well the wise teachings of old. Can you show me anywhere it says the killing of one will save the life of another?”
The priest answered, “What kind of question is that? Open your eyes and be realistic, my boy. Don’t you see that this great sacrifice, the Four-frm-all, will make us rich? You must be trying to help the king hold onto his riches! “
The idealistic and sincere pupil said, “You have not answered my question, master. If this sacrifice is to be your work, it shall be mine no longer!” With these words he departed and went to the royal pleasure garden to consider what he would do.
It just so happened that the Enlightenment Being had been born in to a rich high class family. For many generations the men in that family had been priests, just like the ones who were now preparing the Four-frm-all sacrifice. But when the Bodhisatta grew up he abandoned the life of a rich priest. Instead he went to the Himalayas and lived as a humble forest monk. He concentrated his mind in meditation and entered high mental states. He gained the sweetest inner happiness, and even miraculous supernatural powers.
This forest monk loved all the animals. When he heard about what was happening in Benares he was filled with tenderness and compassion. He decided, “I must teach the ignorant people and release them frm the chains of superstition. I will go to the city at once!” Then he used his supernatural power to fly through the air to Benares. In an instant he was seated on a rock in the king’s pleasure garden. His gentle nature made him glow like a golden sunrise.
The idealistic young student approached and recognized him as a great holy man. He bowed respectfully and sat on the ground. The forest monk asked him, “Young man, do you have a good and just king reigning here in Benares?”
“Yes. ” said the student, “our king is kind and good. But he is being misled by the royal priests. He had 16 dreams which left him completely panic-stricken. The priests took advantage of this when he told them his dreams. They have convinced him to have a huge sacrifice and kill many animals. Oh holy one, please tell the king the true meanings of his dreams. Free the many helpless beings frm fear and death.”
The holy man said, “If he comes and asks me, I will tell him.” “I will bring him, sir,” said the young man. “Kindly wait here a short while until I return.”
The student went to the king and told him there was a marvelous holy man seated on a rock in the royal pleasure garden. He told him he had said he could interpret the king’s dreams. Hearing this, the king went with him to the garden. A crowd followed behind.
[Chapter 2. Roaring Bulls With No Fight]
King Brahmadatta knelt down before the holy man and then sat next to him. He asked, “Your reverence, can you tell me the meanings of my 16 dreams?”
“Of course I can,” said the forest monk. “Tell them to me, beginning with the first eight.”
The king replied, ‘These were the first eight dreams:
roaring bulls with no fight, midget trees bearing fruit, cows sucking milk frm calves, calves pulling carts with bulls trailing behind, a horse eating with two mouths, a jackal urinating in a golden bowl, a she-jackal eating a rope maker’s rope, one overflowing pot with all the rest empty.”
‘Tell me more about your first dream,” said the monk.
“Your reverence, I saw four pure black bulls who came frm the four directions to fight in the palace courtyard. People came frm miles around to see the bulls fight. But they only pretended to fight, roared at each other, and went back where they came frm.”
“Oh king,” said the holy man, “this dream tells of things that will not happen in your lifetime or in mine. In the far-off future, kings will be unwholesome and stingy. The people too will be unwholesome. Goodness will be decreasing while evil increases. The seasons will be out of whack, with sunstroke on winter days and snow storms on summer days. The skies will be dry, with poor clouds and little water. Harvests will be small and people will starve. Then dark clouds will come frm the four directions, but even after much thunder and lightning, they will depart without letting rain fall – just like the roaring bulls who leave without fighting.
“But have no fear, there will be no harm to the people of today. The priests say this dream requires sacrifice, only because that is how they earn their money. Now tell me your second dream.”
“Your reverence. I had a dream where tiny midget plants grew no more than one foot tall, and then flowered and gave fruit.”
“Oh king,” said the holy man, the soil will be poor for growing crops, and humans will live short lives. The young will have strong desires, and even young girls will have babies – just like midget trees bearing fruit.
“But this will not happen until the distant future when the world is declining. What was your third dream, oh king?”
“Your reverence. I saw cows sucking milk frm their own calves. born the same day,” said the king, shuddering with fear.
“Be calm,” said the monk, “this too will not happen in our lifetimes. But someday people will no longer respect their mothers, fathers, mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law. People will give everything to their own children, taking over the savings of their elder parents and in-laws. Then, by whim alone, they may or may not feed and clothe their elders. So the elderly will be at the mercy of their own children – just like cows sucking milk frm their day-old calves.
“But clearly it is not like that today, oh king, so you have nothing to fear. Now tell me your fourth dream.”
Somewhat relieved, the king continued, “Your reverence, I dreamed I saw big strong full-grown bulls following behind bullock carts. They were being pulled by frail awkward calves. The calves stopped and stood still, unable to pull the heavily loaded carts. Caravans could no longer travel and goods could not be taken to market.”
“There will be a time,” said the holy man, “when unwholesome stingy kings will no longer respect wise experienced judges. Instead they will appoint young foolish judges, granting them the highest privileges. But they will not be able to make difficult decisions. They will become judges in name only, doing no real work – just like the calves who can’t pull the carts. Meanwhile, the older wiser ones will offer no help, thinking it is no longer their concern – just like the bulls trailing behind.
“Again you have nothing to fear, oh king, frm those far-off times when all the nations will be poorly run by the young and foolish. What was your fifth dream?”
“Your reverence, my fifth dream was very strange indeed. I saw a horse eating with two mouths, one on each side of his head!” Again the king trembled as he spoke.
The forest monk said, “This will happen in another far-off future time, when unwholesome foolish kings appoint unwholesome greedy judges. Not caring in the least about right and wrong, they will take bribes frm both sides in the same case – just like a horse eating greedily with two mouths.
“Now tell me your sixth dream.”
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw a golden plate worth a hundred thousand pieces of money. People were holding it and coaxing an old skinny jackal to urinate in it. And that’s just what he did!” said the king, making a face.
“Oh king, this too will come to pass in a far-off time when the kings will be outsiders, not born in the ruling families of the countries they rule. So they will not trust the experienced ministers frm the native noble class. They will replace them with low class ministers they can control more easily. Meanwhile the old nobles will depend on the new ruling class. So they will offer their high class daughters in marriage to the low class ministers – just like golden bowls urinated in by jackals.
“But this will not happen in your time, oh king. What was your seventh dream?”
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw a man making a rope and letting it pile up under his chair. There a hungry female jackal was eating the rope as it fell, without the man knowing it.”
“There will come a time,” said the monk, “when women’s cravings will increase. They will desire men, strong liquor, jewelry and all sorts of useless possessions. They will spend a lot of time window shopping. Paying more attention to their lovers than to their husbands. they will ignore even the most important household activities. And they will waste all the money earned by their husbands – just like the jackal devouring the rope that is produced by the rope maker.
“But as you can see, oh king, these times are not upon us. Tell me about your eighth dream.”
“Your reverence,” said the king, “I saw one big pot full of water, and many small empty pots, in front of the palace gate. All the warriors, priests, merchants and farmers were bringing water frm all directions. But they were pouring it only in to the big pot. That one was overflowing and wasting the water, while all the little pots remained empty!” Again the king shook in fear as he spoke.
“Have no fear, oh king,” said the holy man. “Way off in the future the world will be declining. The land will be less fertile, so crops will be harder to grow. The richest will have no more than 100,000 pieces of money – there will be no more millionaires! Even the kings will be poor and stingy.
“The kings and the wealthy will make all the rest work for them only. The poor will be forced to bring all their products, grains, vegetables and fruits to the warehouses of the rich and powerful. And the barns of the hard working poor will remain empty – it will be like the big pot filled to overflowing, with all the little ones empty.
“So now you know the meanings of your first eight dreams. They have foretold:
thunderclouds with no rain, young girls having babies, the elderly at the mercy of their children, young foolish judges with no help frm the wise, greedy judges taking bribes frm both sides, low class ministers with high class wives, wives wasting the earnings of their husbands, the rich taking frm the poor leaving them nothing.
“So your mind may be at peace, oh king, regarding these first eight dreams. Clearly such times are not upon us, and these dangers are not to be feared in the present day.”
[Chapter 3. The Frightening Sound of ‘Munch, Munch, Munch’.]
“Indeed,” said King Brahmadatta to the humble forest monk, “you have set my mind to rest concerning my first eight dreams. But my last eight dreams are even more frightening. I must do something to prevent the doom they predict.” Again the king began shaking uncontrollably with fear and panic.
“Calm down,” said the holy man, “and tell me these dreams also, that I may relieve your distress.”
The king replied, ‘These were my last eight dreams, the ninth to the 16th: a pond that’s muddy in the middle and clear by the shore, rice cooking unevenly in a pot, fine sandalwood traded for spoiled buttermilk, empty pumpkins sinking in water, solid rocks floating on water. giant snakes gobbled up by tiny she-frogs, royal golden swans waiting on a bad village crow, the frightening sound of ‘munch, munch, munch’.”
“Please tell me the details of your ninth dream,” said the monk.
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw a pond which was deep in the middle and shallow by the shore. It was filled with all five kinds of lotuses, and there were all kinds of animals – two-footed and four-footed – drinking near the shore. And yet the water remained clear by the shore, and got muddy only in the middle. How could this be? What does this mean?”
“Oh king,” said the forest monk, “in the distant future there will be only unwholesome kings. They will rule based on their will power, along with their anger and fear. They will not care at all about wholesomeness and justice. They will be much more interested in becoming rich frm all kinds of bribes, than in the well-being of the citizens. No longer will rulers have patience, loving-kindness and compassion towards the people they rule. Instead they will be rough and cruel, crushing the people to squeeze the last penny frm them in taxes – just as the sweet juice is squeezed frm sugar cane.
“Therefore the citizens, unable to pay the taxes and bribes, will flee to the borderlands. Soon there will be less people living in the corrupt central capitals, and the borderlands will be heavily populated by the humble
just like the pond that is muddy in the middle and clear by the shore.
“But obviously there is nothing in this for you to fear, oh good and wholesome king. What was your tenth dream?”
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw rice cooking unevenly in a pot. Some was overcooked, some well-cooked. and some still raw.”
“Don’t worry about this either,” said the holy man. “This dream foretells a time when all will be unwholesome, not like today! Kings will be unwholesome, and so will officials and ministers, priests and homemakers, city and country folks. Amazing as it may seem, this dream indicates a time when holy men will be unwholesome too! In addition. even the gods, tree spirits and fairies will be unwholesome and wicked!
“The winds will change quickly, sometimes blowing too hard and sometimes not at all. These winds will shake the heavenly homes of the sky gods. Therefore, in some places rains will cause floods, it will rain just right in some areas, and there will be terrible droughts in other places. It will be like rice in the cooking pot – some overcooked, some well-cooked, and some raw.
“Now tell me your 11th dream, oh king.”
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw the finest sandalwood, worth 100,000 pieces of money, being traded for spoiled buttermilk. What is the meaning of this?”
“This too indicates a far-off future time, when knowledge of Truth is disappearing. There will be many greedy shameless preachers who distort the Four Necessities: food, clothing, shelter and medicine. They will make these in to luxuries, far richer than they really need.
“They will teach the worthlessness of luxuries and the unwholesomeness of greed, by preaching the Truth of nonattachment. But in return for preaching, they will require money and luxuries. So they will cause an increase in craving, rather than showing the way towards Liberation frm craving. They will preach Truth only so they can obtain worthless things – just like priceless sandalwood traded for spoiled buttermilk.
“Now let me hear your 12th dream.”
“Your reverence, I saw, in a dream, empty pumpkins sinking to the bottom of the water.”
“Oh king, this foretells a distant future when the world will be upside down. So once again, you have nothing to fear in this life. Unwholesome kings will grant high positions to the low class rather than the high class. The low class will quickly become rich and the high class poor. In all departments and functions, the ignorant words of the uneducated low class officials will be greatly respected – just like empty pumpkins sinking to the depths of the water.
“Even among the religious, humble wholesome monks will lose respect, while the unwholesome teachings of shameless monks will be followed and adored -just like empty pumpkins sinking to the bottom.
‘What was your 13th dream?”
“Your reverence, I dreamed I saw solid rocks floating on top of the water. How strange this seems. What does it mean, wise one?”
‘This too indicates the future era when the world will be upside down. In all departments and functions, the wise words of the well-educated nobles will be ignored, due to their birth alone.
“Likewise among the religious, the words of Truth spoken by humble wholesome monks will be ignored
just like solid rocks floating away on the surface of the water.
“What was your 14th dream?”
“Your reverence, it was a frightening dream in which I saw tiny female frogs chasing big long black snakes. When they caught up to them they cut them and broke them in pieces like water lily stumps, and then gobbled them up!”
“There is nothing for you to fear in this dream either, oh king. This represents a future time when the world will be declining. The wholesomeness in people’s natures will decrease. Desires will increase in their minds until they are enslaved by their cravings. Because of this, men will be under the orders of their youngest prettiest wives. The servants, bulls, buffaloes and all other household wealth will be managed by the youngest wives – due to the uncontrolled desires of their husbands.
“These wives will treat their husbands like slaves. keeping them under their thumbs. If the men ask about family affairs, their wives will say, ‘There’s no need for you to ask. Everything in my home belongs to me, not you!’ It will be like big long snakes gobbled up by tiny she-frogs.
“Now tell me your 15th dream.”
“Your reverence, I saw a crow, the kind that lives near villages. I knew he was filled with the ‘Ten Bad Qualities’. He was being followed and served by golden swans. the kind seen as kings by other birds.”
“This too indicates a distant time when all kings will be weaklings. They will be no good at riding elephants or horses, or fighting battles. So you can easily see there is nothing for you to fear, mighty king.
“Those weakling kings will be so afraid of being overthrown that they will be afraid to give powerful positions to worthy well-educated nobles. Instead they will appoint foot servants, bath attendants, barbers and so forth. And the nobles will have to become the lowest servants of the untrained new officials – just like royal golden swans waiting on a bad village crow.
“At last we have reached your 16th dream, oh king. Describe it to me.?’
“Your reverence, I will tell you my last dream, the only one that still frightens me. Ordinarily, leopards chase and eat goats. But in my 16th dream, I saw goats chasing leopards! And when they caught them they ate them up, making the sound, ‘munch, munch, munch!’ All the other animals who heard this frightening sound and saw the meat-eating goats approaching, ran and hid in the forest. The memory of this dream still frightens me, holy one.”
“Alas, even this dream applies only to the far-off time when the world will be ruled by unwholesome kings.
The lowly, who are unaccustomed to power, will become closest to the kings. They will gain power while the nobles become poor and unknown.
“In the law courts, the newcomers will confiscate the inherited wealth frm the nobles – all their lands, homes and possessions. And when the nobles go to the courts to protest, they will be told, ‘How dare you argue with us! You do not understand the situation you are in. We will tell the king and have your hands and feet cut off!’ The nobles will run away and hide in fear.
‘likewise, bad monks will injure good monks as much as they please. With no one to support and defend them, the good monks will leave the cities and villages. They will live in the jungle in fear of the bad monks. It will be like all those who hear the sound of ‘munch. munch, munch’, and live in fear of meat-eating goats.
“Oh king, now you know the meanings of all 16 dreams. The last eight have foretold:
overtaxed people fleeing to the borderlands, an unwholesome world with uneven rains, Truth being taught by preachers greedy for money, ignorant and unwholesome words gaining respect, wise words and Truth losing respect, husbands enslaved by desires for their youngest wives, educated nobles in the service of untrained newcomers, noble and good living in fear of powerful and bad.”
[Chapter 4. Teaching]
King Brahmadatta bowed to the ground before the holy man and said, “Your wisdom has taken my fear and panic frm me. Your compassion has kept me frm doing terrible unwholesome things to many helpless beings. My gratitude is endless, oh holy monk.”
The Enlightenment Being said to the king, “Now you must realize why your royal priests wanted to have a sacrifice ceremony. It was not because they understood the Truth. and it was not because they cared for you and your well-being. Instead it was due to greediness. They wanted only to get rich, eat fine food, and keep their jobs at your court.
“Your 16 dreams have indicated disasters in the distant future. What you do now will have no effect on them. Those things will happen when the world is declining, when the unreal is seen as real, when the unreasonable is thought to be reasonable, and when the non-existent seems to exist. It will be a time when many will be unwholesome without shame,, and few will be ashamed of their own wrongdoing.
‘Therefore, to prevent these things by performing a sacrifice today is impossible!”
Remaining seated, the Bodhisatta miraculously rose in to the air. Then he continued his teaching: “Oh king, it was fear that unbalanced your mind and brought you close to killing so many helpless ones. Real freedom frm fear comes frm a pure mind. And the way to begin purifying your mind is to climb the five steps of training. You will benefit greatly frm giving up the five unwholesome actions. These are:
destroying life, for this is not compassion; taking what is not given, for this is not generosity; doing wrong in sexual ways, for this is not lovingkindness; speaking falsely, for this is not Truth; losing your mind frm alcohol, for this leads to falling down the first four steps.
“Oh king, frm now on do not join with the priests in killing animals for sacrifice.”
In this way the Great Being taught the Truth, freed many people frm bondage to false beliefs, and released many animals frm fear and death. In an instant he returned through the air to his home in the Himalayas.
King Brahmadatta practiced the Five Training Steps. He gave alms and did many other good things. At the end of a long life he died and was reborn as he deserved.
The moral is: Beware of the panic-stricken man. What he can do is more dangerous than what scared him in the first place.