Cudapanthaka was slow-witted, and unable to learn even a  single verse.  But the Buddha, using skillful means, taught him to sweep  the floor (in some versions, to wipe) while repeating a simple verse:  “Sweeping the ground, sweeping the ground, sweeping the ground of the  mind” to focus his mind.  He swept away his greed, anger and  ignorance.  After the dust of his minds’ delusions were swept away, he was able to give others a clean environment in  true Bodhisattva fashion.  This simple  and direct method led him to enlightenment. Bodhisattvas practice “Dana”, by giving help to others they give away  the delusion and attachment.


Nakula was the fifth of the Eighteen Arhats. He was born into a wealthy family and was a very famous musician. After renouncing the home life, he could not bear the practice of asceticism. He became weak and emaciated.  Although he could tolerate bodily sufferings, he was really perplexed that he could not realize the Dharma, so he had a thought to disrobe himself. The Buddha perceived his mind, and asked him: “If the string of your harp is kept too tight, what would happen?” Nakula replied: “It will break if the string is too tight.” “What would happen if it is too loose?” “There will be no sound.” Then the Buddha said: “Practicing the Dharma can be likened to playing the musical instrument. You should neither slacken nor overstress yourself. Hence, you should be calm and balanced when you practice the Dharma. Everything should be moderate.”  Hearing the Buddha’s advice, Nakula was suddenly enlightened, and soon he became an Arhat, liberated from physical and mental suffering in this world.


Arhats are saints or sages who have fully realized for themselves  the Buddhist Doctrine. The difference between an Arhat and a Bodhisattva is the  Arhat attains enlightenment by himself, for himself, whereas a Bodhisattva vows  to lead all beings to ultimate liberation. The Buddha was also considered an  Arhat, who was named the Great Arhat in  Buddhist scripture, because he attained  supreme and complete enlightenment, which is superior to that of the Arhat. In some texts the Buddha is described as being  accompanied by 50 Arhats, sometimes by 500 or other multiples of this number  (the figure is taken by some simply to mean a large crowd).  Here at Buddha Gate we have 18 statues to  represent all Arhats.

In  keeping with this month’s theme, ‘Harmony’, we have selected Arhat Vajraputra. The  literal meaning of Vajraputra is Diamond Seed. Vajraputra symbolizes the  invincible power of compassion and wisdom. One of the stories of  Vajraputra is that he instructed Ananda (famous for  his extraordinary memory by which he was able to retain all of the Buddha’s  teachings),  to harmonize the understanding of the Dharma with the  practice toward  Arhatship.


Arhats have many names: sometimes Luohan or Aluohan in Chinese, and Saints or Sages in English. Arhats are people who have attained enlightenment and renounced their false egos. At their level, all vexations have ended, the cycle of rebirth has broken, and so they enter Nirvana.
There was once a famous Arhat named Ajita, also known as “The Arhat Riding a Deer.” When Ajita decided to seek enlightenment, he left the employ of his king, and went to the mountains to become a monk. After reaching enlightenment, he rode back to the palace on a deer. He was immediately recognized by the guards, and brought before the king. When Ajita taught the king the Dharma, the king decided to renounce his throne to his son, and follow Ajita back to the mountains to become a monk himself. To show his gratitude and share his learning, the former king also returned to spread the Dharma message; enabling sufferers in his kingdom to also find liberation.


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.

Bodhisattva Maitreya

“Maitreya” means “compassion and benevolence.” Bodhisattva Maitreya is also known as “Ajita” which means “invincible.” He regards all living beings with compassion and has perfected the virtue of patience. He will be the next Buddha in the future. He is regarded as the founder of the Consciousness-Only School in Mahayana Buddhism.
The depicted statue of the “Cloth-bag Monk,” a Buddhist monk who lived in China about a thousand years ago, was regarded as the earthly incarnation of Maitreya. He has a “big stomach” and can therefore tolerate anything. If someone takes advantage of him it won’t make him mad. The “big stomach” symbolizes limitless tolerance and generosity.
He composed the following verse:
“If someone strikes me, I lie down and go to sleep, let them beat me as they please.  If someone spits on my face, I simply let it dry, without bothering to wipe it away.  Since I don’t fight back, the doer cools off too. This kind of paramita for reaching the other shore is a treasure among wonders. Once you learn this, how can you fail to attain the Way?”


Arhat Pindola was  known to have pure white hair and long snowy eyebrows which showed longevity,  seniority and leadership. He was one of the Four Great Monastic disciples  appointed by the Buddha to assist the future  Buddha, Maitreya. He was also well-known for his kindness and supernatural powers.

One day, he went  to a woman known to be stingy, and requested alms for the sake of several monks  who had come from afar. She shooed him away and then went back to cooking her  pies. Instead of taking his leave, Arhat Pindola sat and entered into  meditation. The woman was frightened to find the monk sitting there and looking  as if he had died. Fearing that she would go to court if the monk died there, she  asked Arhat Pindola for pardon. She offered him a small piece of pie.  Surprisingly, the pie became very large. Then he said to her, “Benefactor,  I would not partake of this big pie. I have come to ask for alms to offer the  food to the monks who just arrived here from afar and are too tired and hungry  to come out.” His kindness and sincerity moved the woman, so she decided  to give him more pies. But Pindola turned her down and said, “Thank you  for your kindness. This big pie is enough. I am very pleased that you have been  so benevolent. May your merits and wisdom increase because of your  generosity.” This woman was moved by Arhat Pindola’s kindness and  felt remorseful for her stinginess. She decided to cultivate kindness and  generosity by making offerings and supporting the Sangha.


Panthaka means “born by a road side.” His younger brother, Budapanthaka, was “born by a country road”. Both of them became ordained monks and attained Arhatship in Buddha’s time.  Panthaka, the Arhat holding a sutra, vowed to stay in this world to ensure the transmission of the correct Dharma. Panthaka was one of the Buddha’s most prominent disciples. He was known for being skilled in assisting students that had difficulties and doubts about the Buddha Dharma.

Sugata – The ‘Dragon Tamer’

The Arhat Sugata is known  as “The Dragon Tamer.” The “Dragon” here is interpreted as vicious desire and  anger. Due to ingrained delusion, our mind is often not very tame or well  behaved.  With this un-tame “Monkey  Mind,” we cause our own suffering and the suffering of those around us. When we  tame and discipline this mind with right views and compassion, we are relieved  from suffering. “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the  wish to relieve it” is Compassion.