WARREN: BUDDHISM IN TRANSLATIONS

436

 

 


 

 

Ī 98. No Buddhist Should Commit Suicide

Translated from the Milindapañha (195.1)

"Bhante Nāgasena! The Blessed One has said as follows: 'Priests, let no one destroy himself, and whosoever would destroy himself, let him be dealt with according to law.' But on the other hand you priests say, 'Whenever The Blessed One taught the Doctrine to his disciples, he would in many different ways teach the extirpation of birth, old age, disease, and death. And, verily, if anyone overcame birth, old age, disease, and death, him he would praise in the highest terms.'

"If, bhante Nāgasena, The Blessed One has said as follows: 'Priests, let no one destroy himself, and whosoever would destroy himself, let him be dealt with according to law,' then, surely, it was a mistake to say that he would teach the extirpation of birth, old age, disease, and death. If he would teach the extirpation of birth, old age, disease, and [437]death, then surely, it was a mistake to say, 'Priests, let no one destroy himself, and whosoever would destroy himself, let him be dealt with according to law.'

"This is another dilemma come to you to solve."

"The Blessed One, your majesty, has said as follows: 'Priests, let no one destroy himself, and whosoever would destroy himself, let him be dealt with according to law.' And whenever The Blessed One taught the Doctrine to his disciples, he would in many different ways teach the extirpation of birth, old age, disease, and death. But there was a reason for the interdiction, and also for the exhortation of The Blessed One."

"But what was the reason, bhante Nāgasena, for the interdiction, and what also for the exhortation of The Blessed One?"

"The virtuous and well-conducted man, your majesty, is like a medicine in destroying the poison of human corruption; is like a healing herb in quieting the disease of human corruption; is like water in removing the dirt and defilement of human corruption; is like the magic jewel in giving all good fortune to men; is like a ship in crossing to the further shore of the four torrents of human viciousness; is like a caravan-leader in conducting men through the wilderness of birth; is like the wind in extinguishing the heat of man's threefold fever; is like a great cloud in satisfying man's longings; is like a teacher in training men in the acquirement of merit; and is like a skilful preceptor in pointing out to men the way of peace.

"It was, your majesty, in order that the virtuous man, whose good qualities are so many, so numerous, so infinitely multiplied, who is such an embodiment and aggregation of good qualities, such a cause of welfare to men, might not perish, that The Blessed One, your majesty, out of compassion for men, laid down this precept: 'Priests, let no one destroy himself, and whosoever would destroy himself, let him be dealt with according to law.'

"This, your majesty, was the reason for the interdiction of The Blessed One.

[438] "Moreover, your majesty, the following was said by the brilliant preacher, the elder Kumāra-Kassapa, in an exposition of the next world which he made to prince Pāyāsi: 'The longer, O prince, virtuous and noble monks and Brahmans live, the more they avail for the welfare of the multitude, for the happiness of the multitude, for compassionating the world, for the advantage, the welfare, and the happiness of gods and men.'

"But what was the reason for the exhortation of The Blessed One?

"Your majesty, birth is misery; old age is misery; disease is misery; death is misery; sorrow is misery; lamentation is misery; misery is misery; grief is misery; despair is misery; association with those we do not love is misery; separation from those we love is misery; to have a mother die is misery; to have a father die is misery; to have a brother die is misery; to have a sister die is misery; to have a son die is misery; to have a wife die is misery; to have a relative die is misery; to have misfortunes happen to a relative is misery; the loss of health is misery; the loss of wealth is misery; the loss of character is misery; the loss of orthodoxy is misery; to be in danger from the king is misery; to be in danger from bandits is misery; to be in danger from enemies is misery; to be in danger of famine is misery; to be in danger from fire is misery; to be in danger from water is misery; to be in danger from the waves is misery; to be in danger from whirlpools is misery; to be in danger from crocodiles is misery; to be in danger from sea-monsters is misery; self-reproach is misery; the reproach of others is misery; to be fined is misery; poverty is misery; stage-fright is misery; to be in danger from the naked ascetics is misery; to be in danger of death is misery; to be beaten with rattans is misery; to be beaten with whips is misery; to be beaten with short sticks is misery; to have one's hands cut off is misery; to have one's feet cut off is misery; to have one's hands and feet cut off is misery; to have one's ears cut off is misery; to have one's nose cut off is misery; to have one's ears and nose cut off is misery; the 'kettle of gruel' [439] is misery; the 'sea-shell tonsure' is misery; the 'Rāhu-mouth' is misery; the 'wreath of flame' is misery; the 'hands of flame' is misery; the 'blades of grass' is misery; the 'bark-dress' is misery; the 'black antelope' is misery; the 'hook-meat' is misery; the 'penny-bit' is misery; 'carving by caustics' is misery; the 'pivot' is misery; the 'straw-bolster'[1] is misery; to be sprinkled with boiling oil is [440] misery; to be devoured by dogs is misery; to be impaled alive is misery; to be beheaded with a sword is misery. Such, such, your majesty, are the various and manifold miseries which one encounters in the course of rebirth.

"As the water, your majesty, of the Ganges River, after having rained down in the Himalaya Mountains, encounters on its way stones, grit, . . . whirlpools, eddies, . . . obstructions, hindrances, roots, and branches; in exactly the same way, your majesty, men have to encounter various and manifold miseries in the course of rebirth.

"The existent, your majesty, is misery; the non-existent is happiness; and it was, your majesty, while The Blessed One was explaining how good is the non-existent, and how terrible the existent, that he gave the exhortation to realize the non-existent by overcoming birth, old age, disease, and death.

"This, your majesty, is the reason for the exhortation of The Blessed One."

"Well done, bhante Nāgasena! The difficulty has been well straightened out; the reason ably presented. You have my assent that thus it is."


[1]Extract from the Native Commentary to the Anguttara-Nikāya, ii.1,1:
Kettle of gruel: -- In the pot-of-gruel torture they cut open the skull, and with a pair of tongs take up a heated iron ball, and throw it in; whereby the brains boil, and run over.
Sea-shell tonsure:--In the sea-shell-tonsure torture they first make an incision through the skin, beginning on either side of the upper lip, and continuing by the roots of the ears, and around by the neck. And drawing together all the hair into one knot, they twist it "by means of a stick until they have raised the scalp. Then they rub the dome of the skull with coarse gravel, and wash it until it presents the appearance of a polished sea-shell.
Rāhu-mouth: -- In the Rāhu-mouth torture they keep the mouth open by means of a peg, and burn a candle inside. Or, beginning from the roots of the ears, they dig out the teeth, so that the blood gushes forth, and fills the mouth.
Wreath of flame:--They envelop the entire body in cloth that has been steeped in oil, and then set fire.
Hands of flame:--Having enveloped the hands in cloth that has been steeped in oil, they cause them to flame up like torches.
Blades of grass: -- In the blades-of-grass torture they begin at the neck, and cut the skin downwards in blade-like strips as far as to the ankles, and then let them fall. Then they put a halter on the man, and drag him forward, so that he stumbles and falls over the blade-like strips of his own skin.
Bark-dress: -- In the bark-dress torture they cut strips the same as before, leaving off at the hips; and from the hips they cut other strips, leaving off at the ankles. Then the strips of the upper part of the body form, as it were, a bark tunic for the lower part.
Black antelope: -- In the black-antelope torture they drive the points of four iron stakes through the two elbows and the two knees, so that the man remains pinioned to the ground by means of these four iron stakes. Then they build a fire all around him; and in order to make the fire-surrounded black antelope, mentioned in the text, they remove the stakes from time to time, and set the man on his protruding bones. There is no torture equal to this one.
Hook-meat: -- They strike him with double hooks, and thus tear away skin, flesh, and tendons.
Penny-bit: -- Beginning at the top, they cut off bits of the size of a penny from the whole body by means of sharp razors, and let them fall to the ground.
Carving by caustics: -- They cut the man's body here and there with weapons, and then, by means of combs, they rub in caustic, so that skin, flesh, and gristle trickle away, and only the bony skeleton remains.
Pivot: -- Having made him lie down on one side, they drive an iron stake through his ear, and make him fast to the ground. Then they take him by the feet and whirl him around.
Straw-bolster: -- A skilful executioner, without cutting through the skin, will break his bones by means of small hand-millstones, so that when lifted up by the hair, he hangs a limp mass of flesh. Then they wind him round and round with his hair, and dispose him in a coil like a straw-pad.

 


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