Rahula was the son of Gautama Buddha. When only nine, he renounced the household life. At that age, he could not fully understand the Buddha’s teachings. Although he had a mild temperament and behaved well, he enjoyed telling lies just for the fun of it. One day, when a royal visitor came looking for the Buddha, Rahula attended to the visitor. Since the visitor was from other country, Rahula could not fully understand the visitor’s language. So Rahula directed the visitor to different locations thus while the visitor kept doing the wild goose chase looking for Buddha, Rahula playfully watched.

When the Buddha learned about Rahula’s mischief, he called a special assembly. When everyone arrived, the Buddha asked Rahula to bring him a basin of water. Stunned by the Buddha’s serious demeanor, Rahula quietly prepared the basin of water. Then the Buddha asked Rahula to put mud into the basin.

Seeing Rahula putting in, the Buddha asked, “Rahula, is the water in this basin suitable for drinking?”

“No, Buddha!” Rahula said, “The water is too dirty after being mixed with mud and it’s not suitable for drinking.”

“Do you know, you are just like this water, which was initially clean, clear and pure. You have chosen to become a monk, yet you have not worked hard to pursue the the eight precepts, to purify your mind and body, and to be prudent in your speech. The filth of telling lies has defiled your mind, just as the initially clean water in the basin which is now dirty,” said the Buddha.

Lowering his head, Rahula was ashamed to look at the Buddha and remained silent. Moreover Buddha was saying so in front of the thousands other monks. The Buddha then told him to throw the water away. Rahula did it obediently. After this Buddha asked Rahula again, “Now Rahula, would you use this basin as your rice bowl?”

“No, Buddha!” without waiting Buddha to ask why, Rahula continued, “The basin is not clean as it has stains on it and therefore cannot be used as food container.”

“You are now no different from this basin,” the Buddha continued. “People call and treat you as a monk, but you have behaved so nor have you purified your behavior, speech and thoughts. How can your mind hold the food of the great dharma?”

After saying so, the Buddha stood up, with a very serious gesture and kicked the basin, causing it to roll around. Rahula looked scared. “Rahula, are you worried that I might break the basin?” asked the Buddha.

Rahula remained silent as he felt the Buddha is very serious about his mischief. The Buddha raised his voice a little bit and asked the same question, “So tell me Rahula, will you worried I might broke the basin?”

“No, Buddha! It’s only a stained basin” said Rahula.

“Exactly, Just as you do not care the basin as the basin is just a crude container, being a monk that likes to tell lies are no much different from this stained basin. Rahula, people will not even care about you either if you’re a mischievous monk. You choose to be a monk, yet you do not pay attention to your own conduct. The more you play trick and tell lies eventually, nobody will ever care about you, and at the end of this life, you’ll remain lost, being sidelined and no one will ever bother and respect you at all.”

After the Buddha’s admonition, Rahula completely reformed all of his misdeed tendencies. He strictly upheld the precepts and diligently cultivated his mind. Day after day he practiced discretely and finally became one of Buddha’s greatest disciples.
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Impure speech lead to an impure mind. The consequences of constant wrongful speeches are like the dirty water where others will neglect and ignore you. As the stains on the basin resemble that when you’re telling lies, talking wrong and harmful, is like the stains in the basin, where not only contaminate your mind but also the physical you, being “brands” one as a liar. Heard of the story of “The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf?” Read it HERE. So, how can we not be careful about our speech?

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