Spiritual practice starts
by stopping the unskilful,
before starting the skilful,
and perfecting it.
A famous bandit, a murderer named Angulimala, had been sighted in the neighbourhood… Against all advice, the Buddha set out for his walk. On seeing the Buddha from afar, Angulimala armed himself and began to chase after him. But no matter how fast he approached, the Buddha stayed the same distance away. Some kind of magic kept them apart. This went on until Angulimala became fatigued and fed up… Exasperated, he stopped and shouted out to the Buddha, “Stop, recluse! Stop.”
Continuing on his way, the Buddha responded, “I have stopped, Angulimala; you stop too.” The paradoxical nature of the Buddha’s response completely unnerved the famous bandit. “While you are walking, you tell me you have stopped, but now, when I have stopped, you say I have not stopped. I ask you now about the meaning. How is it that you have stopped and I have not?”…
[The Buddha] explained how he had stopped clinging to his exaggerated sense of self-importance, and was no longer preoccupied with the eight worldly concerns, and had extinguished the fires of ignorance, greed and rage. No longer driven by his ego, he did not have to attack or defend; he could just be. The Buddha spoke so convincingly that the murderer… did stop. He took on the robe and begging bowl of the Buddhist order and, despite the criticism of some of the faithful, became a trusted member of the Buddha’s entourage.
Advice Not Given: A Guide To Getting Over Yourself
Mark Epstein M.D.