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The Impermanence of Beauty



The Impermanence of Beauty :



What Buddha said… : One should first establish oneself in what is proper and then teach others. A wise man should be beyond all reproach.

What Buddha said… : This body is built up with bones which are covered with flesh and blood. Within it dwell decay and death, pride and jealousy.

RUPANANDA was quite an attractive and graceful woman who was always surrounded by admirers. She never ceased to feel very lonely, however, because all those dear to her—mother, brother, and even husband—had all entered the Order. Missing her family badly, she went to visit them often and heard them speak of the Buddha in such a way that she longed to go and pay him homage too. But when she learned that the Buddha often talked about the impermanence of the body, she was afraid that he might disparage her for her beauty, and so hesitated to do so. In the end, however, she decided that no matter what the Buddha might say to her, she would go and see him anyway.

As soon as the Buddha saw Rupananda, he realized that she was someone very attached to her beauty. To teach her a lesson, he caused a vision of a ravishing young lady to appear before her. When Rupananda saw the young lady, she could not help but remark how extremely beautiful she was and exclaimed to herself, “My goodness, next to her I must look like an old crow!"

Then before Rupananda could realize what was happening, the beautiful young lady started to age and slowly deteriorate before her very eyes until she finally lay sick and helpless on the floor, rolling in her own excrement. Then she died, and Rupananda saw her corpse going through the different stages of decay, oozing pus and other foul liquids, and finally crawling with maggots.

Witnessing this rapid succession of images, Rupananda realized that there was a continuous process of change and decay in the body. “In the same way," she thought, “like this young girl who has grown old, died, and decayed before my very eyes, I, too, will grow old and decay one day." With that realization, the attachment that Rupananda had for her body diminished and she came to perceive its true nature. She then became a nun, and under the guidance of the Buddha, eventually attained arahatship.

What Buddha said… : This body is built up with bones which are covered with flesh and blood. Within it dwell decay and death, pride and jealousy.

What Buddha said… : One should first establish oneself in what is proper and then teach others. A wise man should be beyond all reproach.


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