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Saɱyutta Nikāya
IV. Saḷāyatana Vagga
35: Saḷāyatana Saɱyutta
Paññāsa Catutthaɱ
4. Āsīvisa Vagga

Sutta 197

Asivisa Sutta

Vipers

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][pts][bodh] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove. Then he addressed the monks, "Monks, suppose there were four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom. Then a man would come along — desiring life, desiring not to die, desiring happiness, and loathing pain — and people would tell him: 'Good man, these four vipers, of utmost heat and horrible venom, are yours. Time after time they must be lifted up, time after time they must be bathed, time after time they must be fed, time after time put to rest. And if any of these vipers ever gets angered with you, then you will meet with death or death-like suffering. Do what you think should be done.'

Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom — would flee this way or that. They would tell him, 'Good man, there are five enemy executioners chasing right on your heels, [thinking,] "Wherever we see him, we'll kill him right on the spot." Do what you think should be done.'

Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners — would flee this way or that. They would tell him, 'Good man, there is a sixth executioner, a fellow-traveler, chasing right on your heels with upraised sword, [thinking,] "Wherever I see him, I'll kill him right on the spot." Do what you think should be done.'

Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword — would flee this way or that. He would see an empty village. Whatever house he entered would be abandoned, void, and empty as he entered it. Whatever pot he grabbed hold of would be abandoned, void, and empty as he grabbed hold of it. They would tell him, 'Good man, right now, village-plundering bandits are entering this empty village. Do what you think should be done.'

Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword, afraid of the village-plundering bandits — would flee this way or that. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, 'Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, and leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands and feet?' Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, and leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands and feet. Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman.

"Monks, I have made this simile to convey a meaning. Here the meaning is this: 'The four vipers of utmost heat and horrible venom' stands for the four great existents: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire-property, and the wind property. 'The five enemy executioners' stands for the five clinging-aggregates: the form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-aggregate, the fabrications clinging-aggregate, the consciousness clinging-aggregate. 'The sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword' stands for passion and delight.

"'The empty village' stands for the six internal sense media. If a wise, competent, intelligent person examines them from the point of view of the eye, they appear abandoned, void, and empty. If he examines them from the point of view of the ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the intellect, they appear abandoned, void, and empty. 'The village-plundering bandits' stands for the six external sense-media. The eye is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable forms. The ear is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable sounds. The nose is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable aromas. The tongue is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable flavors. The body is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable tactile sensations. The intellect is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable ideas.

"'The great expanse of water' stands for the fourfold flood: the flood of sensuality, the flood of becoming, the flood of views, and the flood of ignorance.

'The near shore, dubious and risky' stands for self-identification. 'The further shore, secure and free from risk' stands for Unbinding. 'The raft' stands for just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. 'Making an effort with hands and feet' stands for the arousing of persistence. 'Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman' stands for the arahant."

 


 

See also:
MN 22

 


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