Just Stop! Everyone Can Change Themselves - Story of Anugulimala | Ajahn Dhammasiha | Dhammagiri
Ajahn Dhammasiha shares the story of Angulimāla, the most infamous mass murderer ('terrorist') in the time of the Buddha. He had already killed 999 persons, and was wearing their thumb bones as a kind of macabre necklace, when the Buddha visited the forest that was his main haunt.
Once he had noticed the Buddha, Angulimāla rushed after him, trying to catch up. However, the Buddha used his supreme psychic powers in such a way that it appeared as if he was walking slowly and gracefully, but still moving too fast for Angulimala to reach him.
Exasperated, in the end Angulimāla cried out to the Buddha:
The Buddha replied:
"I have stopped, please stop yourself, too!"
Puzzled, Angulimāla enquired what the Buddha meant.
After all, he was too fast for him to catch up, so how could he have stopped?
The Buddha explains that he has stopped harming any being, that he has completely stopped using any form of violence.
This simple teaching had such a profound impact on Angulimāla that he took refuge in the Buddha, completely abandoned his violent lifestyle, and even asked for ordination as a monk. The Buddha granted him ordination, and practising with supreme commitment and determination, Angulimala later fully realized the Dhamma and became an Arahant.
Ajahn points out that we often may feel hopeless, or not quite good enough, or have doubts and feeling of guilt about past mistakes - but compared to Angulimāla, whatever we have done wrong is probably much, much less serious. Therefore, if even such an extreme murderer could completely change his ways, it's certainly possible for us as well to overcome whatever bad things we may have done in the past!
You can read the whole story in:
Majjhima Nikāya / Middle Length Discourses
Sutta #86 "Angulimāla Sutta
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