The Buddha, His Life and Teachings

Ministering to the Sick

Great indeed, was the Master’s compassion for the sick. On one occasion the Blessed One found an ailing monk, Pûtigatta Tissa, with festering ulcers lying on his soiled bed. Immediately the Master prepared hot water, and with the help of the Venerable Ânanda washed him, tenderly nursed him with his own hands, and taught the Dhamma, thus enabling him to win arahatship before he died. On another occasion, too, the Master tended a sick monk and admonished his disciples thus:

"Whosoever, monks, would follow my admonition (would wait upon me, would honour me), he should wait upon the sick."n48

When the arahat Tissa passed away, the funeral rites were duly performed and the Buddha caused the relics to be enshrined in a stupa.n49

The Buddha’s mettâ or loving-kindness was all-pervading and immeasurable. His earnest exhortation to his disciples was:

"Just as with her own life
a mother shields from hurt
her own, her only child,
let all-embracing thoughts
for all that lives be thine."n50

Being one who always acted in constant conformity with what he preached, loving-kindness and compassion always dominated his actions.

While journeying from village to village, from town to town, instructing, enlightening, and gladdening the many, the Buddha saw how superstitious folk, steeped in ignorance, slaughtered animals in worship of their gods. He spoke to them:

"Of life, which all can take but none can give,
Life which all creatures love and strive to keep,
Wonderful, dear, and pleasant unto each,
Even to the meanest...."n51

Thus when people who prayed to the gods for mercy were merciless, and India was blood-stained with the morbid sacrifices of innocent animals at the desecrated altars of imaginary deities, and the harmful rites and rituals of ascetics and brahmins brought disaster and brutal agony, the Buddha, the Compassionate One, pointed out the ancient path of the Enlightened Ones, the path of righteousness, love, and understanding.

Mettâ or love is the best antidote for anger in oneself. It is the best medicine for those who are angry with us. Let us then extend love to all who need it with a free and boundless heart. The language of the heart, the language that comes from the heart and goes to the heart, is always simple, graceful, and full of power.