The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

196 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGthe road. It had only its front legs, and the whole of the lowerpart of its body was rotting and covered with maggots.Despite its pitiful condition, the dog was snapping at passersby,and pathetically trying to bite them by dragging itselfalong the ground with its two good legs.Asanga was overwhelmed with a vivid and unbearablefeeling of compassion. He cut a piece of flesh off his ownbody and gave it to the dog to eat. Then he bent down totake off the maggots that were consuming the dog's body.But he suddenly thought he might hurt them if he tried topull them out with his fingers, and he realized that the onlyway to remove them would be on his tongue. Asanga knelton the ground, and looking at the horrible festering, writhingmass, closed his eyes. He leant closer and put out his tongue... The next thing he knew, his tongue was touching theground. He opened his eyes and looked up. The dog wasgone; there in its place was the Buddha Maitreya, ringed bya shimmering aura of light."At last," said Asanga. "Why did you never appear to mebefore?"Maitreya spoke softly: "It is not true that I have neverappeared to you before. I was with you all the time, but yournegative karma and obscurations prevented you from seeingme. Your twelve years of practice dissolved them slightly, sothat you were at last able to see the dog. Then, thanks toyour genuine and heartfelt compassion, all those obscurationswere completely swept away, and you can see me before youwith your very own eyes. If you don't believe that this iswhat happened, put me on your shoulder and try and see ifanyone else can see me."Asanga put Maitreya on his right shoulder and went to themarketplace, where he began to ask everyone: "What have Igot on my shoulder?" "Nothing," most people said, and hurriedon. Only one old woman, whose karma had been slightlypurified, answered: "You've got the rotting corpse of an olddog on your shoulder, that's all." Asanga at last understood theboundless power of compassion that had purified and transformedhis karma, and so made him a vessel fit to receive thevision and instruction of Maitreya. Then the Buddha Maitreya,whose name means "loving kindness," took Asanga to a heavenlyrealm, and there gave him many sublime teachings thatare among the most important in the whole of Buddhism.

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