Respect and Forbearance Create a Harmonious World
Translated from The Dharmapada Scroll 4
During the period of time when Buddha preached the Dharma at the Vulture Peak in Rajgir, the Magadha King Ajatashatru dominated 500 small kingdoms. One of the kingdoms named Vrji was prosperous. However, the kingdom of Vrji didn’t want to follow the rules issued by King Ajatashatru. So he wanted to conquer the kingdom of Vrji by military force.
King Ajatashatru sent his prime minister to ask the Buddha whether they would win the battle or not. The Buddha said, “All citizens in the kingdom of Vrji follow seven principles of respect, so it is impossible to win the battle against the Kingdom of Vrji.” The prime minister was curious about the seven principles of respect. He knelt down with palms together and respectfully requested the Buddha to explain the seven principles of respect.
The Buddha said, “First, the Vrji people respect the Right Truth (Dharma), hence they believe in and cultivate it. Second the king and the ministers respect each other, hence the king will listen to the advice from all his ministers and they work harmoniously. Third, they respect and follow the national laws; they dare not violate the laws. Fourth, men and women, the elders and juniors, they respect each other, hence they all embrace and follow decent behavior. Fifth, they respect their parents and teachers, hence they take their words as national laws which they follow and dare not violate. Sixth, they respect the rules of nature, hence they cultivate diligently according to the change of seasons. Seventh, they respect virtuous people, hence they sincerely make offerings of clothes, bedding, and medicine to monastics who engage in their practices. If all people in a kingdom follow the seven principles of respect, the kingdom will not be prone to dangers. You won’t win the battle even if you recruit all the troops in the world.”
The prime minister reported to King Ajatashatru. After hearing the Buddha’s comment, the King Ajatashatru canceled his plan to attack the kingdom of Vrji, and instead govern and guide his people by the Buddha Dharma. Soon afterward, the kingdom of Vrji pledged allegiance to King Ajatashatru. By following the Buddha’s teaching, the kingdoms became prosperous.☸︎