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Samyutta Nikaya
IV. Salayatana Vagga
35: Salayatana Samyutta
Pannasa Catuttham
4. Asivisa Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
IV. Kindred Sayings on the 'Six-Fold Sphere' of Sense and Other Subjects
35: Kindred Sayings the Sixfold Sphere of Sense The 'Fourth Fifty' Suttas
4. The Chapter on the Snake

Sutta 199

Kummopama Suttam

The Tortoise

Translated by F. L. Woodward
Edited by Mrs. Rhys Davids

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[177] [112]

[1][than][bodh] Thus have I heard:

The Exalted One once addressed the brethren, saying:

"Brethren."

"Lord," responded those brethren to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One thus spake:

"Formerly, Brethren, a tortoise,
a shell-back,
was questing for its prey
at eventide
along a river bank.

A jackal also, Brethren,
was questing for its prey
at eventide
along that river bank.

Now, Brethren, that tortoise,
that shell-back
saw from afar
that jackal
questing for its prey.

So drawing its neck and four limbs[1]
into its shell
it crouched down at leisure
and kept still.

Then the jackal,
seeing that tortoise,
the shell-back,
from afar,
came up to it,
and on reaching it
kept watching it
with the thought:[2]

'As soon as the tortoise,
the shell-back,
puts out one or other of its five limbs,
I'll seize it,
crack and eat it.

But, Brethren, as the tortoise,
the shell-back,
did not put out one or other of its five limbs,
the jackal was disgusted with the tortoise
and went away,
not having got a chance.

Even so, Brethren, Mara,
the Evil One,
is for ever on the watch
unceasingly,
with the thought:

'Maybe I shall get a chance
to catch one of these,
by way of eye
by way of the ear,
by way of the nose,
by way of the tongue,
by way of the body,
by way of the mind.'

Wherefore, Brethren, do ye abide keeping watch over the doors of the faculties.

Seeing an object with the eye,
be not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of eye uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of eye,
attain control thereof.

Hearing a sound with the ear,
be not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of ear uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of ear,
attain control thereof.

When with the nose smelling a scent,
be is not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of nose uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of nose,
attain control thereof.

When with the tongue tasting a savour,
be is not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of tongue uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of tongue,
attain control thereof.

When with body contacting tangibles,
be is not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of body uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of body,
attain control thereof.

When with mind he cognizing a mind-state,
be is not misled by its outer view
nor by its lesser details.

Since coveting and dejection,
those evil, unprofitable states,
might overwhelm one
who dwells with the faculty of ear uncontrolled,
do ye apply yourselves to such control,
set a guard over the faculty of ear,
attain control thereof.

So long, Brethren, as ye abide
keeping watch over the doors of the faculties,
Mara, the Evil One, will go away in disgust,
not getting a chance,
as the jackal did not get a chance
from the tortoise.

[113] E'en as the tortoise in its own shell's shelter[3]
Withdraws its limbs, so may the brother holding,
Composed, intent, thoughts in his mind arisen,[4]
Leaning on naught,[5] injuring ne'er his neighbour,
From evil freed wholly,[6] speak ill of no man.

 


[1] Sondi-pancimani.

[2] Cf. S. ii, 270 for the simile of the cat and mouse.

[3] I give Mrs. Rhys Davids' version of the same stanza, occurring at K.S. 1, 12, which well preserves the rhythm of the Pali here.

[4] Attano mano-vitakke. Comy.

[5] Anissito, 'not on craving or view.' Comy.

[6] Parinibbuto, 'freed from kilesas utterly.' Comy.


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