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Tamable and Untamable

by Visakha Kawasaki, The Buddhist Channel, May 3, 2008

Kandy, Sri Lanka -- The Buddha once asked a horse trainer named Kasi (Anguttara Nikaya 4.111) how he trained a tamable horse and the man replied, that he sometimes used gentleness, sometimes harshness, and sometimes a combination of the two.

The Buddha further asked him what he would do if the horse refused to submit to any of his methods and he replied that he would kill the beast because otherwise it would be a disgrace for him as a trainer.

When Kasi asked the Buddha, as the unexcelled trainer of tamable people, how he carried out his training, the Buddha replied: “Kasi, I train a tamable person sometimes with gentleness, sometimes with harshness, and sometimes with both gentleness and harshness.”

"In using gentleness, I teach: 'Such is good bodily conduct. Such is the result of good bodily conduct. Such is good verbal conduct. Such is the result of good verbal conduct. Such is good mental conduct. Such is the result of good mental conduct. Such are the devas. Such are human beings.'

"In using harshness, I teach: 'Such is bodily misconduct. Such is the result of bodily misconduct. Such is verbal misconduct. Such is the result of verbal misconduct. Such is mental misconduct. Such is the result of mental misconduct. Such is hell. Such is the animal womb. Such the realm of the hungry shades.'”

In using gentleness and harshness, the Buddha averred that he used a combination of all of those.

Kasi, naturally, had a further question, viz. he wanted to know what the Buddha did if a person did not submit to his training.

The Buddha answered, “If a tamable person does not submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild and harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi."

Shocked, the horse trainer said, "But it's not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, 'I kill him, Kesi.'"

"It is true, Kasi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person does not submit, then the Tathagata does not regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life do not regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine and Discipline, when the Tathagata does not regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one's knowledgeable fellows in the holy life do not regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing."

Isn’t this what the monks of Burma are doing when they overturn the bowl to the intractable, brutal military rulers of their country? Isn’t this the non-violent way to compassionately confront and “kill” those in the military who are willing to beat, to torture, and to kill innocent monks and nuns, by refusing to have anything to do with them?



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