Following The Master Over The Stream
South of Savatthi is a great river, on the banks of which lay a
hamlet of five hundred houses. Thinking of the salvation of the
people, the World-honored One resolved to go to the village and
preach the doctrine. Having come to the riverside he sat down
beneath a tree, and the villagers seeing the glory of his
appearance approached him with reverence; but when he began to
preach, they believed him not.
When the world-honored Buddha had left Savatthi Sariputta felt a
desire to see the Lord and to hear him preach. Coming to the
river where the water was deep and the current strong, he said to
himself: "This stream shall not prevent me. I shall go and see
the Blessed One," and he stepped upon the water which was as firm
under his feet as a slab of granite.
When he arrived at a place in the middle of the stream where the
waves were high, Sariputta's heart gave way, and he began to
sink. But rousing his faith and renewing his mental effort, he
proceeded as before and reached the other bank.
The people of the village were astonished to see Sariputta, and
they asked how he could cross the stream where there was nether a
bridge nor a ferry.
And Sariputta replied: "I lived in ignorance until I heard the
voice of the Buddha. As I was anxious to hear the doctrine of
salvation, I crossed the river and I walked over its troubled
waters because I had faith. Faith, nothing else, enabled me to do
so, and now I am here in the bliss of the Master's presency."
The World-honored One added: "Sariputta, thou hast spoken well.
Faith like thine alone can save the world from the yawning gulf
of migration and enable men to walk dryshod to the other shore."
And the Blessed One urged to the villagers the necessity of ever
advancing in the conquest of sorrow and of casting off all
shackles so as to cross the river of worldliness and attain
deliverance from death.
Hearing the words of the Tathagata, the villagers were filled
with joy and believing in the doctrines of the Blessed One
embraced the five rules and took refuge in his name.