WARREN: BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS

306

 

 


 

 

Ī 66. Spiritual Law in the Natural World
The First High Power

Translated from the Milindapañha (p. 82.12)

Said the king, "Bhante Nāgasena, how far is it hence to the Brahma-world?"

"Your majesty, it is a long way hence to the Brahma-world. If a rock of the size of a pagoda were to fall thence, and descend forty-eight thousand leagues in a day and a night, it would reach the earth in four months' time."[mo.1]

"Bhante Nāgasena, you priests say as follows: 'As quickly as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm, or might bend his stretched-out arm, even so a priest who possesses magical power and has obtained the mastery over his mind, can disappear from the continent of India and reappear in the Brahma-world,' This I cannot believe, that he should go so very quickly so many hundreds of leagues."

Said the elder, "Your majesty, in what country were you born?"

"Bhante, there is an island named Alexandria, and there was I born."

"Your majesty, how far is it hence to Alexandria?"

"Bhante, it is about two hundred leagues."

"Call to mind, your majesty, something you may have done there."

"Yes, bhante, I am doing so."

"Your majesty, you have gone those two hundred leagues very nimbly."

"You are an able man, bhante Nāgasena."

Said the king, "Bhante Nāgasena, if two men were to die here, and one of them were to be reborn in the Brahma-world and the other in Cashmere, which would arrive first?"

"Your majesty, they would take the same length of time."

"Give an illustration."

[307]"Your majesty, in what city were you born?"

"Bhante, there is a town called Kalasi, and there was I born."

"Your majesty, how far is it hence to the town of Kalasi?"

"Bhante, it is about two hundred leagues."

"Your majesty, how far is it hence to Cashmere?"

"Bhante, it is twelve leagues."

"Be so good, your majesty, as to think of the town of Kalasi."

"Bhante, I have thought of it."

"Your majesty, be so good as to think of Cashmere."

"Bhante, I have thought of it."

"Your majesty, which took the longer to think of?"

"Bhante, it took the same length of time."

"In exactly the same way, your majesty, if two men were to die here, and one of them were to be reborn in the Brahma-world and the other in Cashmere, it would take them the same length of time."

"Give another illustration."

"What do you say to this, your majesty? Two birds are flying through the air; one settles on a high tree, and the second on a low one. If now they have alighted at the same time, which one's shadow will first reach the ground?"

"Bhante, both shadows will reach the ground at the same time."

"In exactly the same way, your majesty, if two men were to die here, and one of them were to be reborn in the Brahma-world and the other in Cashmere, it would take them the same length of time."

"You are an able man, bhante Nāgasena."

 


[mo.1]That's 17,856,000 miles; the Hubble telescope should have a good view of the pool. Notice how in the suttas the Buddha never uses similes which can be disproven by science. Nagasana is particularly vulnerable to such things...as for example his description of the place of gestation of babies as being in the stomach. See: How Existence in Hell Is Possible.


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