Even though the Buddha renounced a lay person’s way of life, he remained a good father and did an outstanding job teaching his son, Rahula. We can conclude by the results that Rahula was probably an apt pupil, but that may only be because the Buddha was swift enough to re-focus his adolescent son’s mind on the proper topics for contemplation, or Rahula might have been a Brahmin-style Right Said Fred.
Rahula was hot, and he knew he was hot. Or at least that’s how the stories go. For example, in the notes to the Maharahulovada Sutta (MN 62), also known as The Greater Discourse of Advice to Rahula, we learn the reason why the Buddha directed his then-18-year-old son to perfect the meditation technique of contemplation of the body as body.
“According to (Majjhima Nikaya Atthakatha) … While Rahula was following the Buddha, he noted with admiration the physical perfection of the Master and reflected that he himself was of similar appearance, thinking: ‘I too am handsome like my father the Blessed One. The Buddha’s form is beautiful and so too is mine.’ The Buddha read Rahula’s thought and decided to admonish him at once, before such vain thoughts led him into greater difficulties. Hence the Buddha framed his advice in terms of contemplating the body as neither a self nor the possession of a self.” (Notes are from the hardbound text, not the online text)
So dang! Rahula was a hottie twink thinking he had it goin’ on, but the Buddha was wise to that nonsense and immediately re-directed his son before he started wearing Daisy Dukes and dancing on a box at a backwoods discotheque.
Contemplation of body as body is also a technique I use from time to time when I have difficultly remaining focused on my breath. It’s just a different focus point and it is very effective. Besides being a necessary step in meditation – if all you do is focus on your breath, you’re in a rut – when you learn to see body as just body, you come to realize that body isn’t so glamorous. As my teacher once said: “Isn’t it funny that the items we attribute beauty to on our body are dead – like the outside of our skin, our teeth, our hair – but the living parts of our body – internal organs and such – we describe as gross.”
Rahula learned well and became a significant member of the Sangha. A section of the Theragatha is attributed to him where Rahula explains how the root of sensuality has been cut out of him: “Cooled am I, unbound.”
I'm a content director for a television company, guiding content on Web sites. I'm an avid listener of Frank Zappa and a practicing Buddhist who follows the Theravada vehicle. I'm an insatiable traveler who calls Chicago home.