A long time ago in India there was a King named Ashoka. Although King Ashoka had not attained enlightenment, he not only believed in Buddhism but also performed all kinds of good deeds. For example, he built eighty thousand pagodas in a single day! As well as building the pagodas, he made offerings to many Buddhist masters, and respectfully asked to receive their teachings. In this way he passed days without end.
One day, King Ashoka was giving meals to the monks when he noticed a particularly solemn-looking and learned young master. Perfectly at ease, he sat down next to the king and got ready to speak. All of a sudden, the king found that a pleasant fragrance came from the master’s mouth. Confused, the king thought to himself, “He must have something hidden in his mouth. Is he trying to deceive my people by means of this scent?” So he asked the young master to open his mouth. After careful examination, he found there was really nothing inside. In disbelief, the king asked the young master to rinse his mouth. He did so, but afterwards the fragrance was still there as powerful as before.
The king couldn’t help asking the master, “Please tell, Master. Why is there such a smell coming from your mouth? I have never smelt anything like it.” The master replied, “Your highness. This can be traced back to long ago. In the time of Kassapa Buddha, I was a wise and eloquent Master who publicly praised the Buddha’s virtues, and taught people how to cultivate themselves in the light of the true teachings. From that time on, in every incarnation, this rich fragrance, incomparable in nature, has emanated from my mouth, and whoever smells it is uplifted.”
After the king heard the young Master’s story, he was overjoyed, “So it turns out that the result of praising the Buddha is beyond compare!” The young Master went on to say, “Ten great blessings, yet more incredible, come from praising the Buddha. Your highness, please listen carefully…
1. Whoever praises the Buddha in word and deed, and allows sentient beings to hear his teachings, shall have a good name.
2. Whoever praises the Buddha and thus gladdens the hearts of sentient beings shall have a noble appearance.
3. Whoever instructs sentient beings in eradicating sin, and helps them find peace, shall attain boundless joy.
4. Whoever praises the Buddha, and thus dispels the afflictions of sentient beings, shall be always be respected by others.
5. Whoever by the light of their teaching brightens the spirits of sentient beings, and brings them to enlightenment, shall inspire feelings of awe like the sun.
6. Whoever uses every possible means to praise the Buddha and bring joy to sentient beings shall receive esteem and love.
7. Whoever uses every possible word to praise Buddha’s boundless virtue shall be rewarded with unmatched eloquence.
8. Whoever praises the Buddha’s matchless virtue and enables sentient beings to refrain from sin shall gain wisdom, pure and deep.
9. Whoever praises the Buddha and removes the vexations of sentient beings shall be free of ignorance and defilement.
10. Whoever by removing the afflictions of oneself and others reaches nirvana shall testify to the power of the Buddha’s teaching, which like heavy rain not only extinguishes the fire but also quells the smoldering ashes.
Having heard the young Master describe the unparalleled benefits of praising the Buddha’s virtue, King Ashoka reached a deep understanding and joyously said, “Those who are blessed with great good fortune are able to praise the virtues of the Buddha.”
Praising the Buddha brings unique rewards; in praising the Buddha with respectful words and gestures, such that one’s heart is filled with joy at the Buddha’s thirty-two aspects and eighty manifestations, one can escape sin and folly. When one single-mindedly chant the Buddha’s name and praise the Buddha, one can attain the ten great blessings of praising the Buddha.
When we are whole-heartedly praising and spreading the virtues of the Buddha, at that moment we are free from our false ego, selfishness and hatred. Thereafter, our attachment and affliction will diminish, and our inherent blessing and virtue will clearly manifest.