Dodpai Chuchok became the new leader of the herd and they all followed him onto the wide open pastureland that was like a turquoise Mandala11. There the deer played and enjoyed themselves, carefree and in peace. At that time there was an old hunter nearby, busy piling up negative karma. He was building a house in the city of the “Hell of Ultimate Torment”12 and was in a hurry to get there. However, he was held back by some residual karma. For many consecutive lives now he had been born as a wolf, a hawk, and other such predators. His evil habits had become strong and deep-rooted over many lifetimes and he had now become very audacious in committing non-virtuous deeds. As such, he was very tightly tied by the belt of the Five Kinds of Bonds13.
One night, in a deep sleep, he dreamt of a vast pastureland spread out before him like golden sand. There were countless deer there, frolicking and enjoying themselves in peace. The hunter saw himself in the middle of them with a flute, playing the song of the Three Sufferings14. Many deer drew near to him, eager to listen.
After he awoke his immediate thoughts were of his dream. The seeds of samsara, deceitful thoughts and clever ideas, brought disturbing emotions, which compelled him to get up. He began to prepare for the hunt and readied his bow, arrows, lasso, and other weapons. He led his hounds, beings of similar karma with ugly faces and poisonous fangs, from valley to valley, through forested regions until he came to the uppermost part of the forest. From there he could look down into a pasture spread out like golden sand, just as in his dream. Many beautiful deer were dashing around, happily playing, or cheerfully lying calmly in the grass, their minds free of care.
He hid his supplies, his hounds, and his weapons behind a rock halfway down the hillside and disguised himself. He approached the deer herd in the guise of an old cowherd who had lost his cows and who, after searching for hours, was getting cold, hungry, and thirsty.
The leader of the deer, Dodpai Chuchok, saw him from afar and said:
Alas! My fellow deer, listen to me!
That is a walking scarecrow’s body.
It is not a man and not a ghost. It is a suspicious form.
Seeing this, my mind is not happy.
However, it cannot be a hunter because
He would be carrying a bow and colorfully painted quiver of arrows.
Also, those executioner dogs are not accompanying him.
We would see them in packs but there are none to be seen.
Still, let us go from here to drink from our watering hole!
Thus he led the deer friends away down the ravine to their water source.
Then, the hunter returned to his vicious dogs and weapons and hid himself in a depression in the rocks. He leaned back and began to play his flute.
Dodpai Chuchok’s mind was drawn to the sound of the flute, compelling him to say:
Oh! The sensations of both peace and suffering are caused by objects15.
Today we are hearing a sound like none we have ever heard before.
This is surely not played by a being of form.
Perhaps it is played by a Gandharva’s16 daughter from the space of the sky,
Or maybe by a goddess of the earth.
This sound is beautiful pure nectar for the ears.
It is likely we will never hear it again.
All of the wise deer should follow me!
Saying that, he led the herd towards the sound of the flute. The thought of a lurking danger did not occur to them. But suddenly, as swiftly as birds in the sky and darting fish in the water, twelve fierce hounds (these twelve hounds symbolize the twelve links of interdependent origination17) sprang out from the rocks. Baring their fangs with unrestrained anger, they were just as fear-inspiring as death itself. The deers’ hearts nearly leapt out of their chests.
Alas! Alas! I am terrified!
My leader advised me honestly,
But I saw it in the opposite way.
Who but me could have been so mindless?
You who first falsely appeared to us as a cowherd,
And then later as a flutist,
Are now the henchman of the Lord of Death.
The sight of you stops all my perceptions and discriminating sensations.
Fearful thoughts have scattered my mind.
From each and every pore in my body
I am pouring the sweat of pus and blood.
Those hounds have the mouths of wolves.
When one stopped to rest, another took up the chase.
I felt my breath nearly stop three times.
I ran and ran, feeling I was dead.
My hooves were shattered in the cracks of rocks.
I fell and rose up and rose up again, feeling I was being killed.
All my bones and joints were twisted.
I felt as though I was being eaten alive.
Until this day, under this sun,
I had never experienced such fear and shortness of breath.
Now I have no hope for survival.
Do not torment me with your weapons.
Let my imminent death occur in a peaceful and natural way.
I swear, after I die, this illusory19 body of meat and blood is yours.
It is in your hands, you can do as you please.
Thus it was that he spoke, with words that would arouse pity even in one’s worst enemy.
Nearby, on the inner side of the rock face, was the cave of the hermit sage known as Pleasure in Seeing20. Knowing that a life was at stake, he spoke out to save the deer:
Alas! You with the form of a hunter and the mind of a butcher,
having shed your shame and conscience, you are exposed.
Not thinking about the principle of cause and effect,
You have strived only to fill your belly.
To go to the city of the Hell of Ultimate Torment,
You, one with such negative karma, have even packed your bags.
But for just a moment listen to the sage’s words.
In this ocean of suffering, Samsara,
All sentient beings, without exception,
Revolve as father, mother, son, and grandson.
To our friends and relatives of this life,
We are tied by love and attachment21.
Those who have been our mothers and fathers in our previous lives
Are born as animals today.
Having bodies with four legs and heads with horns,
They cannot speak or understand
What to accept and what to reject.
They all are now ignorant.
Towards those who have taken such forms,
You brazenly perform such shameless acts in ignorance.
Be careful! This being in front of you
is your mother, the mother who gave birth to your present body.
After transmigration, she was born as a deer.
A son eating his mother’s flesh
Is the most shameless act imaginable.
Nothing could be more cold-hearted!
When you are reborn in the Hell of Ultimate Torment,
Buried in suffering, what will you do?
Thus you should listen to the words of the sage.
Give this mother a three-step head start.
Give this mother three steps to run.
In exchange you can take my body.
I give it to you without reluctance.
My flesh, blood, bones; take whatever you please.
But the hunter just got angry and said:
Your mouth is very quick for someone who can’t even stay in the village.
Unable to provide enough food for yourself, still you claim to be in peace.
Too unskilled to work, you have cleverly left the worldly life.
With nowhere to stay, you hide here among the rocks.
To me that little speech of yours
Seems pompous, coming from a man like you.
That cause and effect you spoke about is just talk.
Tell me who actually acts according to such doctrines?
Even if it is hunters like me who do the actual killing,
The meat is bought and eaten by all of the religious `ascetics`.
If between the sin of killing and that of eating,
There is a difference; it is a laugh!
Your type, leaving the lay dress aside
And covering yourselves in yellow and red robes,
Are always to be found where the hunters are butchering,
Where the lay people are gossiping,
Where the tradesmen do business with false weights and fixed scales,
And where goats' heads are burned in exorcism rites.
Are there no results for those karmas?
Since the rising of dawn this morning,
Until now, as the sun gets low in the sky,
I have neither eaten nor drank anything.
But even though I’m hungry, I’ll not eat a man’s flesh.
It is best, however, if you turn back now,
Before I pierce your heart with my arrow anyway!
So, with anger he drew his bow. As the hunter aimed, the sage said:
Although the hunter is brawny and intimidating,
The sage has no hesitation or fear of death.
First of all, if you did not kill these animals,
Who would eat them alive?
All the badly behaved religious ascetics who ignore,
And all the Śravaka22 holders of the Vinaya23 who do follow
The 253 root laws of discipline24,
Will all be chased by their karma; there is no mistake.
From the lowest of the 18 hells25,
Up to the highest of the god realms, all phenomena are
The ripened fruits of karma.
In these matters of truth,
I, the sage, am much more knowledgeable than you.
An ignorant person who speaks using the words of the Dharma26
Is the lowest among all sinners.
This feeble and pitiful deer before you
Is innocent and has done no harm.
I beg you to give its life to me.
My life I give to you in return.
Upon saying this, the sage was swept away by great compassion, and began to shed tears. Without consideration for his own body, his only thought was to save the life of the deer. Thus, he threw himself to the ground, prostrating before the hunter.
Unmoved by the sage’s plea, the hunter immediately let loose a poisoned arrow, hitting the deer with such impact that the force alone almost killed the animal. Dodpai Chuchoks' ears shot up and he fell from the high cliff. At once the dogs began to race down in pursuit. They pounced upon that dying object of sympathy quaking on the ground. Without even the slightest bit of mercy, it was killed. The heart of the sage was bursting with compassion, so much so that his mind went blank and he fainted.
The end of chapter two of ‘The Story of the Hunted Deer: The Messenger of Renunciation’: Whoever does not remember the dharma and gets attached to the peace and joy of samsara will never be liberated from suffering. When the end comes suddenly, there will be no means to deceive death, as symbolized by the deer trapped on the edge of the cliff.
Regaining consciousness, the great sage thought to himself, “I have explained the benefits of virtue, and the negative effects of non-virtue. But, even though I explained it with the motivation of great love, to the point of beseeching him to take my life in exchange, the hunter did not let the animal live. An incredible negative action has been carried out in full. A terrible wrong has been perpetrated. It is said in the Jataka Tales27 that the Captain, in his great compassion, killed the sinner Dung Thungchen (Black Spear). Thus it is certainly true that in order to spare one hundred lives, one life can be sacrificed with compassion, and if this sinner lives much longer, many more beings will suffer at his hands.” From the Luminosity of Emptiness28 his thoughts arose as Great Anger29. Applying his compassion in a wrathful form, he performed the unstoppable ‘Twenty-one Curses of the Sage’30. Because of the nature of the truth of this very potent curse and the power of truth inherent in 'The Three Jewels’31, an immense landslide descended, crushing the hunter and his hounds to death.
With their non-virtuous actions now complete, the hunter and the hounds traveled as straight as a snake in a bamboo shoot to the ‘Hell of Ultimate Torment’ as soon as their breath stopped. They were engulfed in flames; all the four directions and the four sub-directions32 were full of blazing fire and they were trapped in the middle. Their four aggregate mental bodies33, full of negative habits, underwent unbearable sufferings, and only an occasional whimpering cry was able to escape from their mouths.
Sometimes, as a result of `the effect similar to the cause`, they, along with others who had accumulated similar negative karma (such as evil chiefs, those who harmed others for sport and those who had been transported there by the karma of killing), were chased by the legions of the Lord of Death. Iron wolves with nine heads and many legs pursued them across a land filled with molten iron. In this ground there was no space even the size of the gap between the teeth of a comb that was cool enough to step on. Extremely terrified, they had no time for rest. Dying and being born repeatedly and undergoing great sufferings without respite for ages, they had no opportunity to be liberated. Seeing all this with the ability of clairvoyance, the sage said:
Alas! Alas! ‘Three Jewels’ of great compassion!
Even after obtaining the precious human birth34,
Being at odds with the ten virtuous actions and liberating karma,
The sinner who has sown the seed of non-virtue
Will only reap the harvest of such ripened fruits.
Alas! Generally in all the three worlds of samsara, 35
Whatever peace or suffering is experienced
Is doubtlessly the result of past karma.
Specifically, the fully ripened effect of killing
And committing the other ten non-virtuous actions36
Is birth in the three lower realms37.
Just to see the hells
Is nearly enough to stop our breath.
What would we do if we actually underwent such suffering?
Seeing all of this, I wonder: Why are those in Samsara
So brazen in committing non-virtuous actions?
Are they driven by karma or possessed by some demon?
To all the beings who are following the honest path,
I will explain from the depths of my heart, filled with unbearable compassion,
three words with caring heartfelt advice.
Listen! Although this life is of no essence, like a dream or a bolt of lightning,
For the sake of food, clothing, and fame,
One sows the seeds of non-virtue in the field of the ‘Ground of All’38.
What can we expect to grow there but the fruit of the Three Sufferings?
Perceiving the sadness of samsara with a clever mind,
All good and bad, and all peace and suffering of this life,
Should be left aside, and one should go to solitary places in forests.
All present sentient beings have been our fathers and mothers previously.
We should have no doubt in the revolutions of Samsara.
We get attached to the parents of this life,
And kill the father and mother of our previous lives.
This is the story of us, the humans, those who can speak and understand.
Look within yourself and think properly.
Listen to the account of the Arhat39 Katyayana40:
In the town where he was begging for alms, lived a householder
Eating a fish who was with a small boy in his lap
While beating the dog that was eating the bone.
The Arhat examined the scene with his clairvoyant eyes:
The dog was this life’s mother, the fish his father, and the small boy his enemy.
Enemies or friends, whichever they maybe, are impermanent and just examples of illusion.
When your father and mother of this life die,
Their bodies may change but their minds will not.
Because of his ignorance of this, the hunter, after killing many deer,
Including finally his own mother, was reborn in hell.
Between killing the parents of this life and
Killing the parents of other lives there is no difference.
So, contemplate the sufferings of the Hell of Ultimate Torment.
Even at the cost of your own life, you must never kill other beings.
Both evil human leaders filled with great pride
And the evil caste of hunters chased by their own karma
Will misunderstand this even if it is explained most properly and most clearly.
He who has taken the Bodhisattva Vows,
Has shame and a conscience, and acts carefully,
By following the ten virtuous actions41,
And avoids causing any harm or misery to innocent beings.
Seal off your hills from hunters, fishermen, and the like.
Do not take them as your subjects.
Live with great auspicious virtue.
Your land will become peaceful by doing so.
Your harvest will be plentiful with fewer hailstorms and other disasters.
Inauspicious destruction created by the elements in the hills and valleys will cease and
The times of disease, famine, and war will be over.
The protector deity42 of the region will be pleased and the rains will come on time.
The Three Jewels will be satisfied and all wishes will be fulfilled.
With the Dharma Law strictly upheld, the soil will be rich.
The king’s power and the subjects’ well-being will grow manifold.
In this life there will be peace and in the next, prosperity.
It is through practicing the ten virtuous actions that peace is brought about.
This is the extraordinary doctrine of the Buddhist philosophy.
I, the sage, have given up all non-virtuous actions,
And, through living as an impoverished beggar yogi,
Have reached the kingdom of the Dharmakaya43, the state beyond hope or doubt.
The mind of all the Buddhas has arisen in me.
I originally came from the primordial expanse beyond conceptualization.
Now, I return to the spontaneously born, unborn nature44 of emptiness, the Āh45.
Speaking thus, in the rock cave, he dissolved into space, like a magical display.
The end of chapter three from ‘The Story of the Hunted Deer: The Messenger of Renunciation': showing that the ‘Fruit of Karma’ is never wasted and that we should only accomplish virtuous actions.
Epilogue and Dedication of merit
Oh! Free from activity, the illusory yogi46 of the vast expanse was
in the state of unimpeded and unimpaired relaxation47.
This illusory body journeyed
To the forest of Bodhi trees,48 Tseringjong 49,
To rest in ease in that very secluded place.
There he saw sinner hunters returning to their homes carrying the meat of a deer.
Upon seeing this, a great flow of unbearable compassion was triggered in his mind.
His eyes swelled with tears like waves and
A powerful sadness and sense of renunciation came over him,
Opening the door to this mind ‘Terma’ 50 from the treasury of the sky.
Receiving the symbolic script in a pure vision, he wrote it down accordingly.
By this virtue may sentient beings fearful of being killed
Be liberated from all suffering and
May those who read or hear this story
Abandon all actions like those of the evil caste of hunters.
This text, written by the great omniscient Rig dzin Jigme Lingpa, was translated by Lama Kunzang Dorjee and Jeffrey Wenger.
Sarva Mangalam! 51
This text was written by the great omniscient Rigden Jigmed Lingpa, and it was translated by Lama Kunzang Dorjee and Jeffrey Wenger. Every effort was made to translate this text literally and at the same time make it accessible to English readers. Any errors of failures to grasp the vast meanings of the author's words are greatly regretted. Any misconceptions or configurations resulting from this text are solely due to the ignorance of the translators. By reading this story may all the living brings be inspired to the path of Ahinsa (non-violence), which brings great peace in this life leading to the attainment of Buddhahood. Whatever virtue we may have accumulated in the process of bringing this work to completion is dedicated to all mother beings. May the flower of Bodhichitta blossom in the minds of sentient beings swiftly bringing enlightment to all.
- Deity of self-born awareness:
- Samsara: The cycle of existence in which one is endlessly propelled by negative emotions and the karmic force from birth to birth.
- e.g. The pitcher flower attracts insects by both by its color and nectar, and traps them.
- Kye Ho: Exclamation of amazement.
- Gods: Beings of one of the 6 Samsaric realms.
- Wish-Fulfilling Gem: a fabulous jewel that fulfills all ones wishes.
- Rahula: According to the myth, eclipses are caused by an Asura (a powerful Demigod), known as Rahula, trying to swallow the sun and the moon.
Karma: Principal of cause and effect.
- Boddhisattva: A being who has decided to bring all beings to enlightenment.
- Bodhicitta: The wish to obtain Buddhahood for the sake of all beings.
- Mandala: Concept of the universe, with the palace of the deity at the center.
- Hell of Ultimate Torment: In Buddhism there are 18 hells. This is the ultimate hell for those with the worst karmic actions.
- Five Kinds of Bonds: The five poisons - desire, anger, ignorance, pride, and jealousy.
- Three sufferings: 1) suffering of suffering - We experience suffering upon suffering when, before one suffering is over, we are subjected to another. e.g. when one loses a mother, then a father, and then suffers other calamities. 2) Suffering of change- suffering brought about by instability and change in the present state of happiness, which causes suffering. e.g. though one might possess a beautiful house, a fire can burn the house down. 3) All-pervasive suffering- suffering which outwardly may not appear as suffering. For those whose life is going well it might seem that there is no suffering but they are totally immersed in the causes of suffering as per karmic law. Our very food and clothing, our homes, the adornments and celebrations that give us pleasure, are all produced with harmful actions. As everything we do is just a concoction of negative actions, it can only lead to suffering. e.g. Where tea is grown many small creatures are killed during planting and picking. So even drinking a sip of tea has karmic consequences.
- Dodpai Chuchoks view is incorrect. Actually all peace and suffering are caused by the mind's perception of objects, and not by the objects themselves. e.g. A pure Brahmin (traditionally vegetarian), and a non Brahmin do not perceive meat in the same way. For the one, meat is impure, for the other, it is delicious.
- Gandharva: Spirits who feed on smells and can play beautiful music.
- Twelve Constituents of Interdependent Origination: Ignorance, Habitual Tendencies, Consciousness, Name and Form, Six Sense Fields, Touch, Feelings, Craving, Grasping, Coming into Being (Existence), Birth, and Aging and Dying.
Four places: These four places symbolize the principal causes of suffering in the human realm.
- Illusory: Illusion is understood as referring to the view of everything as being like a magical display, without any inherent reality.
- Pleasure in Seeing: The Sage, having meditated on great compassion and love, emanated these qualities, thus giving happiness even to those who gaze at him.
- Attachment: We are tied by present relations, which cause attachment. Because of this attachment, impartiality of emotion is not present and we do not realize that all sentient beings are parents.
- Sravaka: A follower of the root vehicle of Buddhism, whose goal is to attain liberation from the sufferings of Samsara.
- Vinaya: "Discipline". One of the three parts of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni showing ethics; the discipline and moral conduct that is the foundation of all dharma practice.
- The 253 root laws: These are the rules that should be observed by fully ordained monks. See the Vinaya Sutra.
- Hells: There are 8 hot hells, 8 cold hells, the ephemeral hells, and the neighbouring hells. See 'Words of my Perfect Teacher' by Patrul Rinpoche. Chapter 3.
- Dharma: The teachings of the Buddha.
- Jataka Tales: There are times when Bodhisattvas are permitted to commit the 7 non-virtuous acts of the body and speech as long as their minds are pure and free from all selfish desire. In a previous life, the Buddha was Captain Compassionate Heart, sailing with 500 merchants who were all non-returning Boddhisattvas (Boddhisattvas who had reached a level where they were no longer obliged to return to samsaric existence). An evil pirate, Dung Thungchen (Blackspear) appeared, threatening to kill them all. The Captain realized that if Dung Thungchen killed the Boddhisattvas he would have to suffer in the hells for an incalculable number of eons. Moved by an intense feeling of compassion he realized that if he killed Dung Thungchen he could save him from hell. Having no choice he then killed the pirate, and in doing so gained as much merit as would normally take 70,000 eons to achieve. On the face of it, the act was a harmful one, since the Captain was committing the act of murder, but it was done without any selfish motivation. In the short term, it saved the lives of the 500 Boddhisattvas and in the long term it saved Dung Thungchen from the sufferings of hell. In reality it was very powerful positive act. See the 'Jataka Tales.'
- Luminosity of Emptiness: State of realization of the illusory nature of life and understanding the truth of existence, which dispels the darkness of ignorance.
- Great Anger: Anger that is not motivated by personal perception but based on compassion for all beings. This is a wrathful display, which is powerful method to help those who are not susceptible to a peaceful approach.
- Twenty-One Curses of the Sage.
- The Three Jewels: The Enlightened One (Buddha), His teaching (Dharma), and the Spiritual Community (Sangha).
- Four directions and sub directions: East, South, West, North, and Southeast, Southwest, Northwest and Northeast.
- Four aggregate mental bodies: In fact there are five aggregate mental bodies - the 5 psycho-physical constituents that characterize sentient beings: form, feeling, discernment, impulse, and consciousness. However in the 'Hell of Ultimate Torment', the body (form) is indistinguishable from the flames.
- Precious human birth.
- The three worlds of Samsara: The world of desire, the world of form, and the world of formlessness.
- Ten non-virtuous activities: 3 physical - killing, taking what is not given, sexual misconduct: 4 verbal - lying, uttering divisive talk, using harsh words, gossiping: 3 mental - covetousness, malicious thoughts, and wrong views.
- Three lower realms: The animal realm, the preta realm (hungry ghosts), and the hell realms.
- Ground of All –‘Kuen zhi’, the base or the primordial condition of mind: very pure and all peaceful.
- Arhat: To become an Arhat is the final goal of the Sravakayana, and literally means one who has subdued the negative emotions.
- Arhat Katyayana: Indian Arhat who was one of the chief disciples of the Buddha.
- The ten virtuous actions consist of renouncing the ten non-virtuous actions. See footnote 30.
- Protector Deity: Sometimes an emanation of a Buddha or Boddhisattva. Sometimes a spirit, god, or demon that has been subjugated by a great spiritual master and bound under oath to protect the dharma.
- Dharmakaya: The emptiness aspect of Buddhahood.
- Spontaneously born, unborn nature.
- AH: The unborn syllable of emptiness.
- Illusory Yogi: Male practitioner of the path of the union of wisdom and skillful means.
- Unimpeded and unimpaired relaxation: The state of the pure nature of mind.
- Bodhi Tree.
- Tseringjong: Long Life Land in Tonkha valley of Chongye in Southern Tibet that became the residence of Jigme Lingpa, from the age of 34 and for the rest of his life.
- Mind Terma.
- Sarva Mangalam: Sarva, meaning all, Mangalam, meaning auspicious - may all be auspicious!