"The heart that boundless pity feels,"--This story the Master told at Jetavana, about the Scripture on Loving-kindness.
On one occasion the Master thus addressed the Brotherhood: "Brethren, charity practiced with all devotion of thought, meditated upon, increased, made a vehicle of progress, made your one object, practiced, well begun, may be expected to produce Eleven Blessings, What are these eleven? Happy he sleeps and happy he awakes; he sees no bad dreams; men love him; spirits guard him; fire, poison, and sword come not near him; quickly he becomes absorbed in mind; his look grows calm; he dies undismayed; without need of further wisdom he goes to Brahma's heaven. Charity, Brethren, practiced with renunciation of one's wishes"--and so forth--"may be expected to produce these Eleven Blessings. Praising the Charity which holds these Eleven Blessings, Brethren, a Brother ought to show kindness to all creatures, whether expressly commanded or not, he should be a friend to the friendly, aye a friend to the unfriendly, and a friend to the indifferent: thus to all without distinction, whether expressly bidden or not, he should show Charity: he should show sympathy with joy and sorrow and practice equanimity; he should do his work by means of the Four Excellences. By so doing he will go to Brahma's heaven even without Path or Fruit. Wise men of old by cultivating charity for seven years, have dwelt in Brahma's heaven seven ages, each with its one period to wax and one to wane." And he told them a story of the past.
"Once upon a time, in a former age, the Bodhisattva was born in a Brahmin's family. When he grew up, he forsook his lusts and embraced the religious life, and attained the Four Excellences. His name was Araka, and he became a Teacher, and lived in Himalaya region, with a large body of followers. Admonishing his band of sages, he said, 'A recluse must show Charity, sympathetic must he be both in joy and sorrow, and full of equanimity; for this thought of charity attained by resolve prepares him for Brahma's heaven.' And explaining the blessing of charity, he repeated these verses:--
"'The heart that boundless pity feels for all things that have birth,
"'Filled full of pity infinite, infinite charity,
"Thus did the Bodhisattva discourse to his pupils on the practice of charity and its blessings. And without a moment's interruption of his mystic trance, he was born in the heaven of Brahma, and for seven ages, each with his time to wax and wane, he came no more to this world."
After finishing this discourse, the Master identified the Birth: "The band of sages of that time are now the Buddha's followers; and I myself am he that was the Teacher Araka."