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The Daily Enlightenment
 Quote: Gold Grit

However priceless,
a piece of gold
in the eye
is nothing but grit.

– Buddhist Saying

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 Realisation: Are The Buddhas Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent &  Omniscient?

The Buddhas are perfectly capable
'Teachers of Humans and Gods'
as they have perfected their humanity
and transcended the compassion and wisdom
of even the greatest yet unenlightened gods.

– Anonone
Can there be a creator of the universe, who is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnibenevolent (all-good) and omniscient (all-knowing) at the same time? According to the Buddha's direct and detailed scrutinisation of all realms of existence, such a being does not and cannot exist. This can be realised through simple yet irrefutable reasoning too. If there is a creator with the three attributes above, there should be no creating, permitting or sustaining of the causes, conditions or effects of suffering as this being is supposed to exercise boundless ability (omnipotence) with boundless compassion (omnibenevolence) and boundless wisdom (omniscience) for the welfare of all beings. Yet, there is much major suffering around us. For example, while this is being written, we are in the aftermath of a typhoon that killed thousands and injured many.

As Epicurus the Greek philosopher eloquently argues by asking – 'Is God [as an omnipotent and omnibenevolent creator] willing to prevent evil [and suffering], but not able? [If so,] Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? [If so,] Then he is malevolent [or not benevolent]. Is he both able and willing? [If so,] Then whence cometh evil [and suffering]? Is he neither able nor willing? [If so,] Then why call him God [since omnipotence and omnibenevolence are the expected attributes of such a being]?' Thus are all four possible combinations of how we can look rationally at the God idea. We might want to add these lines too – 'Is God aware of the need and means to prevent evil [and suffering]? [If not,] Then he is not omniscient.' This timeless so-called 'problem of evil' can never be solved by adhering to the 'God' idea.

The proposal that suffering does not arise from an existing creator but from humans' disobedience of this creator does not make sense as such a creator must have created the possibility of such disobedience in the first place, which should not be the case if there is almighty power, compassion and wisdom to prevent so. The existence of even a split-second of minor suffering means there is no all-powerfulness to prevent it, and/or no all-goodness to prevent it, and/or no all-knowingness to prevent it. The prevalence of suffering means anyone with the three omni attributes does not exist anywhere. But if such a godhead with these three attributes cannot exist, who are the ones next in line, with the most of them, even though not all of them? According to the Buddhas' complete surveys of the cosmos, they themselves are the ones.

While no Buddha is a creator of the universe or its suffering, as they are naturally and collectively and individually sustained by the karma we create, the Buddhas have perfect compassion (omnibenevolence) for all beings and wisdom (omniscience) of all physical and mental phenomena. Although they do not have boundless power (omnipotence) to eradicate all suffering in one go, they are nevertheless the most powerful ones possible – with immeasurable meritorious virtues and inconceivable supernormal powers from total mastery of their minds. They are always doing their utmost in using all kinds of skilful means according to our karmic affinities and needs to guide us to the ultimate liberation of Buddhahood. (We too should emulate their example.) As a wondrously shining example of a truly great skilful means, is the manifestation of blissful Pure Lands, which are sanctuaries free from all suffering, to most efficiently inspire and expedite our spiritual progress via direct guidance of perfect teachers – Buddhas!

He who has eyes can see the sickening sight;
Why does not Brahma [here equivalent to the creator God idea] set his creatures right?
If his wide power no limit can restrain [if he is omnipresent and omnipotent],
Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?
Why are all his creatures condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness [if he is omnibenevolent]?
Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?
Why triumphs falsehood — truth and justice fail [if he is omniscient]?
I count your Brahma one the unjust among
Who made a world in which to shelter wrong.

– Bhuridatta Jataka, No. 453

Related Article:
The Buddha's Victory Over A God And Demon

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 Excerpt: How Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Saved A Boy

A good sacrifice inspires;
A poor sacrifice in vain.

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A thousand years ago in Anwa there was a woman who believed in Jizo [Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva; Dizang Pusa] and prayed that she might have an image of the Bodhisattva in her house to make offerings to. One day she found an old wooden Jizo in the river in front of her house. She rejoiced and prayed to this Jizo every morning and evening to be granted a child. She became pregnant and delivered a boy, but when he was four years old, she suddenly died. Her husband took a second wife who was very cruel to the little boy. The child had learned from his mother to pray to Jizo. One day when his father was away he took a little rice and, weeping for his dead mother, offered it to Jizo and to his mother's memorial tablet at the family shrine. When the stepmother came into the house she found the child kneeling before the shrine and flew into a rage. She seized the boy and threw him into a kettle that was boiling over the fire.

At that moment the father, who was traveling on a road, became very confused and was unable to go on. He felt compelled to return home. As he turned back he saw a Buddhist monk standing by the road with a child on his back who cried out with a voice that he recognized. It was the voice of his own son! The man asked who this child was. The monk answered, "I have substituted my own body for this child when his stepmother was about to kill him. You must entrust him to other people who will raise and educate him well." He put the child in the arms of his frightened father. The man asked the monk where he lived. The monk replied, "Near the Temple of the Repository King." and disappeared into thin air.

After giving his son over to care of kind friends the father returned home. There he found his wife stoking the fire under a kettle. When she saw her husband she quickly put out the fire and became quite distressed. He asked her, "Where is my son?" Pretending grief she told him that the boy had been playing by the river and had drowned. The man strode to the kettle and took off the lid. There he found the old wooden Jizo floating in the boiling water. He realized the terrible thing his wife had done and saw that indeed Jizo had changed places with his son to save the boy's life. Weeping bitterly he left the life of a householder and became a monk. From that time forth he was utterly devoted to Jizo Bodhisattva.

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Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers & Other Voyagers
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