Buddha Stories: Don’t Judge a Person by His Appearance

In Sakyamuni’s time, there was a disciple of Sakyamuni whose appearance was ugly. Even though he cultivated really well, he was looked down upon by the other monks due to his not so good looking appearance. One day this ugly looking monk went to Sakyamuni’s lecturing place to listen to Sakyamuni teaching Fa.

When many monks saw him coming from far away, some disciples who were already at the lecturing place started to feel contempt and even aversion towards him. The Buddha quickly sensed these disciples’ feelings. Sakyamuni then told his disciples: “You all saw that monk who came here and his appearance is very ugly. No one wanted to look at him. His ugly face made you feel like looking down on him. Is this true?” The disciples all answered to their master: “Yes.”

Sakyamuni then told his disciples: “You should not have thoughts of contempt towards that monk. Why? Because he has already eliminated all kinds of attachments, with nothing left.... All of his heart is kind and his mind is free of pursuit. You can’t carelessly guess about others. Only a Tathagata is capable of inferring others.” Then Sakyamuni continued to tell his disciples: “Don’t just look at one’s appearance and then dislike that person.”

After reading this story, I thought that we really should not judge a person by his/her looks. In the mean time, I personally have the following thoughts: we have good feelings towards people who are handsome, and we want to look at them several times; whereas, for those who are not pretty, we do not like to look at them that many times. Isn’t it that we are short of compassion and can’t treat all sentient beings the same? In addition, using appearance to judge a person suggests that we only evaluate a person from the surface and don’t care about the person’s morality or heart. Isn’t it that the desire of lust is hidden somewhere?

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