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Chötrul Düchen

The Fifteen Days of the Buddha's Miracles" is the period at the beginning of the Lunar New Year when we commemorate the great encounter between the Buddha and the Tirthikas - Indian Brahmin teachers. During that period, the Buddha demonstrated and asserted his superiority over the non-Buddhist masters, their teachings and the magical power that these teachings traditionally affirmed.             The duel took place in front of the entire India of that time, before an assembly of kings, scholars and people. It took place both in the visible, manifested world, through miracles and phenomena, as well as in the subtle plane and in the supersensible worlds, in the presence of the gods.

 In the course of these fifteen days, the Buddha manifested the superiority of spiritual power, derived from authentic Dharma, over the teachings and power of the Brahmins of the time, who were rooted in the privileges of traditional caste superiority and the power of an ancestral spiritual state.

 The prelude to these fifteen days, and the direct impetus for the Buddha's great reckoning with his opponents, was a rift in one of the royal families of India: the king himself (Bimbisara) was a disciple of the Buddha and a supporter of the Sangha, but his younger brother followed the Brahmin teachers. The royal family eventually invited the six foremost of them and the Buddha to a feast and debate in the royal palace.

 Even the feasting ceremony was manifested by marvellous phenomena and the Buddha held the first -and special - place among all. The water refused to run down on the hands of the others before the Buddha washed. Then only the Buddha could pronounce the blessing of the common meal And after the traditional request for teachings the Brahmin teachers remained mute. The Buddha spoke the words of the Dharma in such a way, that he won the hearts of all those listening.


The disgraced six pandits have thus lost many followers. In anger, they began to invoke Mara - the Adversary - and called upon his demons. They actually merged with their form and began to frighten people in the marketplaces of the cities, raging against the Buddha's teachings and finally challenging the Buddha to a great measure of magical power and strength.
  The Buddha accepted the challenge, but first went through all the kingdoms of what was then India at the time. All the different locations where he taught and where his sangha was gathered. On this journey, he was gradually joined by kings with their courts, scholars and commoners. Following the Buddha, they all headed for the place where the decisive battle was to take place.
The place, the field of Shravasti, was finally prepared by the local king, Prasenajit.
Each of the days began with a sacrifice and offering ceremony by one of the kings and ended with a speech, a teaching by the victor, the Buddha.


The first day of the encounter was set by the Buddha himself for the first day of the Indian spring, according to the new lunar cycle. From a small splinter of wood, the Buddha had a majestic, immense tree grow in a prepared field before everyone's eyes, stretching out in all directions, with magnificent leaves, flowers, precious fruits turning into gems and jewels. The tree was adorned with the light of the sun, the moon and all the stars and rustled with the sound of Dharma. The powerful impression surpassed anything that might otherwise have appeared. The hearts of all beings were moved and uplifted, and there was no place left for demonic forces.


Having entered the field, by simply looking in two directions the Buddha caused two mountains to arise, one on each side of him. Life-giving springs gushed from the jeweled rocks. One of the mountains grew green with succulent food for the animals, and the other offered its precious fruits as food for the people. Again, many felt a sudden deep understanding, and as tradition says, all took away the shining seeds of good karma for future noble births in the realm of gods and men.

Out of the water he rinsed out of his mouth, the Buddha created a great lake, spreading out into infinity. On its surface, a multitude of lotuses of all colours grew and blossomed before everyone's eyes. The fragrance filled the air, and the lotuses reflected the sunlight in all directions, blessing all beings and illuminating all who were watching.


Even on the fourth day, water was the medium of a wondrous sign. This time the Buddha created a pool from which eight springs gushed forth, streams circulating and returning in circular paths. It was like the image of the wheel, the symbol of the Dharma. From the gurgling of these streams, all present also heard the teachings. All the varied sounds of the flowing water interpreted the different aspects of the Buddha's teaching, and many gained a sudden understanding of what they had not yet been able to grasp.


On the fifth day, the Buddha radiated a golden light from his body that filled the whole world. It touched all beings, purifying them at that moment from all impurities and ultimately from the three primal poisons of the mind: greed, hatred, and ignorance. The light entered the whole assembly and brought deep inner peace and joy to all.



On this day, the Buddha made the minds of all the people present clear, so that they could look inside each other and see all their thoughts. Thus they were suddenly able to distinguish between good and bad. They all experienced a profound stirring, encouragement and attained faith in the pure primordial nature of mind.  And they continued to take away purified karmic seeds for their next births in the realms of gods and humans.


On the seventh day, the rulers of the Buddha's own lineage, the royal Shakya clan, offered the opening morning sacrifice. The Buddha then blessed all those assembled so that in one of their next births they would become great 'Chakravartins', kings protecting all beings and promoting the flowering of the Dharma with all their might. Each one could thus attain such a birth in the future, establish peace and compassionate order in his small country and benefit all its beings.


The Eighth Day became decisive in overcoming the demonic forces that had allied themselves with the Buddha's opponents and challengers, the six Brahman teachers.
   The gods themselves, Indra and Brahma, inaugurated the day with a sacrificial ceremony. The Buddha, seated on his seat, touched the earth, just as he had done at the moment of his full Awakening under the Bodhi tree, when he had solicited the testimony of the earth against the great opponent Mara. In a moment the demons appeared and rushed upon the places of those who had themselves invoked them in the beginning. The seats of all the six Brahman teachers were destroyed in an instant. Above the field appeared the form of Vajrapani, the buddha aspect, expressing the power of the highest realization of all buddhas. At the sight of his blazing vajra, the six opposing teachers were horrified. Then they all threw themselves into the water and disappeared.
   Their present servants and followers then asked the Buddha for refuge, and as tradition has it, became fully ordained Buddha monks.


In the days that followed, the Buddha manifested the dimension and reached that his presence has in all worlds.
   Thus on the ninth day he showed the extent of his body, speech and mind, by which he reached up to the highest heaven, the heaven of the divine Brahma. Consequently his light shone forth in all directions of the universe, and from on high came the sound of his voice proclaiming the Dharma.


On the tenth day, the Buddha accepted the invitation of the four 'dharmarajas'-kings who guard and protect the dharma and righteous law in the realms of samsara-to speak throughout the realm of samsara. The Buddha spread his body, speech, and mind over the whole range of samsara, and made the light shine and the Teaching resound within him.


On the eleventh day, the physical form of the Buddha, so far seated on the 'lion throne' of the great teacher, disappeared before the eyes of the watching assembly. Only the golden glow and the powerful sound of his voice reciting the Dharma remained.


From the twelfth day onwards, it was as if the Buddha's powerful action turned back to the people and returned to their world. On that day he accepted the invitation of the human householder and responded by deeply immersing himself in the meditation of 'maitri', supreme love and loving-kindness. The light of this meditation purified all the three poisons of the mind, and the compassion of all increased immensely. They could feel love for each other as parents and children, and closeness to each other as brothers and sisters.


On the thirteenth day, after the morning royal sacrifice, the Buddha showed everyone the many forms of the Buddhas, growing in time like a tree-a tree for all the eternally present and all the beings of the faithful teachers who teach eternally, in the next and the next generation. 
   From the center of his body he let two rays grow upward, which at the end blossomed into the forms of lotuses. The lotuses bore other Buddha-teachers. From the body of each of them also came such two rays, and so on and on ad infinitum, until the sound of the voices and words of the immeasurable number of Awakened Teachers filled all worlds.


On the fourteenth day, one of the kings making the offering scattered fresh flowers before the Buddha. These turned into a multitude of shining, precious chariots. The Buddha could enter them in many forms, go in all directions, teach all beings in them, and as a physician heal the sick.

The fifteenth day was the last day of the spring celebration of the new lunar cycle.
On that morning, King Bimbisara, with whom the story originally began, came before the Buddha to bring the offerings of that day. The Buddha told him to have a large number of vessels brought. When the vessels were then set out in the field before the Buddha, they were miraculously filled with a multitude of foods of all perfect flavors. The congregation ate, but they did not eat only for themselves. On this day, at the end of everything, the Buddha urged them to think of all the great misery of the world. And to carry the satisfaction they had just received to all other needy beings.

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