虔誠的信解 Earnest Faith
In the Dharmapada Sutra, there is a story about earnest faith.
At the time of the Buddha, there was once a big river southeast of the city Sravasti. Its waters were deep and wide. More than five hundred families lived along its banks as fishermen. They have not yet heard about the qualities of the Path or the way of salvation from the worldly. Their manners were violent, and were busy cheating each other. They coveted gain, and were licentious, rash, and extremely willful. The World-honored One constantly thought he should go there to save those among them who should be saved. He knew that these families should be saved by their merits. Thereupon the World-honored One went to the riverbank and sat down under a tree. When the villagers saw the Buddha’s bright appearance, they found it extraordinary, and there was none who was not impressed. They all went to pay their respects. Some saluted and some bowed, asking how he was.
The Buddha told them to sit down, and he expounded the Doctrine of the scriptural text. The crowd heard it, but they did not believe in it because they were used to fraud and were skeptical of any true words. The Buddha then magically caused someone to appear, coming from the south of the river. Walking on the water, just wet to his ankles, he came to the Buddha. He prostrated and greeted the Buddha.
When the crowd saw this, there was none who was not astonished. They asked the transformed person: “From the time of our ancestors we have lived on these shores, yet we have never seen anyone walking on the water. Who are you, sir? What kind of magic do you have that you are able to tread on water and not drown? Please explain it to us.”
The transformed person answered: “ I am a foolish person from south of the river. When I heard that the Buddha was here, I wanted to enjoy the virtues of the Path, but when I arrived at the southern shore, I could not cross in time. I asked someone on the shore whether the water was deep or shallow. He said: ‘The water may reach up to your ankles. Why do you not wade across?’ I trusted his words and just crossed over like that. There is nothing strange or miraculous about it.”
The Buddha then said in praise: “Excellent! Excellent! If you have faith, you may truly cross the abyss of birth and death. Why be astonished about walking across a river that is a few kilometers wide?”
The Buddha continued to explain other merits of faith and its benefits. When the villagers heard the Buddha’s exposition, their faith was realized. Their minds opened up and their faith was firm. They all received the five precepts and become people of pure faith.