Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fields of Merit

One day while standing on a high hill, the Buddha looked out over the fields of rice paddy. He turned to Ananda and said, “Ananda, how beautiful are the golden patches of rice that stretch to the horizon. Wouldn’t it be nice to sew our robes in the same checkered pattern?”

Ananda said “Lord it is a wonderful idea. Sewing the monks' robes in the same pattern as rice fields would be lovely. You have said that a monk who practices the Way is like a fertile field in which seeds of virtue and merit have been sown to benefit both the present and future generations. When one makes offerings to such a monk, or studies and practices with him, it is like sowing seeds of virtue and merit. I will tell the rest of the community to sew future robes in the pattern of rice fields. We can call our robes ‘fields of merit’.

The Buddha smiled his approval.

From: Old Paths White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha, by Thich Nhat Hanh.