Buddha knew what Rahula had done, and knew that strict punishment would only bring temporary results. Buddha wanted to help Rahula understand his misdeeds, so he could correct his actions.
One day when Rahula saw that Buddha had returned from giving Dharma talks, he brought Buddha water for washing his feet. Buddha decided to take this opportunity to educate Rahula.
When Buddha finished washing his feet, he poured most of the water onto the floor. Buddha asked Rahula: “Do you see this?” Next, Buddha poured the rest of the water onto the floor, and asked again: “Do you see this?” Again, Buddha placed the bucket sideways on the floor and asked Rahula: “Do you see this?” Finally, Buddha placed the bucket upside down on the floor and asked: “Do you see this?”
Rahula was confused, but he kept on nodding his head and said “Yes”.
Buddha said: “Rahula, just like the little bit of water left in the bucket, there is only a little bit of Dharma in your heart. Since you have a habit of lying, the goodness in your heart has poured out just like the water, and there is nothing left. Just like the bucket lying sideways on the floor, people will not trust you anymore, and they will look down on you. Soon, just like the bucket lying on the floor upside down, your source of goodness will be gone. There will be no Dharma flowing into your heart.”
Rahula felt ashamed and regretful. Immediately, he repented to the Buddha: “Merciful Buddha, thank you for enlightening me about the endless worries my lies have brought to people. I will never do it again!” Buddha smiled and praised Rahula for his repentance and courage to change.
Out of ignorance, people make mistakes. With compassion, Buddha used a wise metaphor to teach Rahula the serious consequences of lying. Furthermore, Buddha made Rahula understand that being honest is a way to respect oneself and others. From then on, Rahula practiced diligently, and became an Arhat. We can learn from the wise Sage Rahula to be true and honest in our cultivation.