Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
3. Tatiya Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers
G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1926
Public Domain

Sutta 21

Kakacūpama Suttaɱ

The Parable Of The Saw

 


 

[1][pts][than][ntbb][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
the reverend Moliya-Phagguna was always in the society of the Almswomen,
so much so indeed that, if in his presence
any Almsmen ever said a word against those Almswomen,
he was annoyed and displeased
and made a fuss about it.

With the Almswomen it was just the same; -
they were annoyed and displeased and made a fuss,
if in their presence
any Almsman ever said a word against him.

Such were the terms he was on with the Almswomen.

Now, a certain Almsman reported all this to the Lord,
who bade an Almsman summon Moliya-Phagguna to his presence.

In obedience to the summons,
the Elder came,
with due obeisance took his seat to one side,
and, being questioned about the report
concerning him and the Almswomen, admitted its truth.

"Was it not for faith's sake, Phagguna,
that you went forth
from a comfortable home to homelessness
as a Pilgrim?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then it becomes you not,
having so gone forth on Pilgrimage,
to associate so much with Almswomen.

Even if you hear things said in your presence against them,
you should put from you
every mundane impulse and thought,
schooling yourself never to let your heart be led away,
never to let wicked words pass your lips,
but always to be kindly and compassionate,
with your heart full of love
and void of enmity.

You should be the same,
if in your presence
anyone were [86] to strike those Almswomen with fist,
clod,
cudgel
or knife.

You should school yourself to be the same, too,
if you yourself were reviled or struck.

Turning to the Almsmen, the Lord said:

I was much pleased with the Almsmen once,
when I told them how, personally,
I only sat down to food once a day
and found that on this regimen
I was healthful and well,
buoyant,
hale,
and hearty.

I urged them to do likewise
and they would benefit therefrom as I had.

I had no need to instruct them in this;
all I had to do was to draw their attention to it.[1]

It was just like a carriage -
with thoroughbreds harnessed to it
and with the goad lying ready to hand,
on level ground
at the crossroads, -
into which there mounts a skilled driver
who knows how to manage horses;
he takes the reins in his left hand
and the goad in his right,
and away he drives,
up and down,
where he likes
and as he likes; -
even so, I had no need to instruct those Almsmen in this;
all I had to do was to draw their attention to it.

So put from you
what is wrong
and yoke yourselves to right states of mind,
because thereby you will develop
and grow
and increase
in this Doctrine and Rule.

It is just like a great grove of Sal-trees
near a village or township,
which is overgrown with creepers,
and to which there comes a man
who wants the grove to thrive and flourish
and has amiable and kindly feeling towards it;
he cuts out and carries off all crooked and hurtful growths
so that the grove is cleaned and clean within;
he tends with every care
whatever wood grows straight and fair,
so that later on
the grove may develop
and grow
and increase.

Even so should you put from you
what is wrong
and yoke yourselves to right states of mind,
because thereby you will develop
and grow
and increase
in this Doctrine and Rule.

Once on a time in this same Sāvatthī
there was a lady named Videhika,
who was reputed gentle,
and [87] meek,
and mild.

She had a maid-servant named Darkie,
a bright girl,
an early riser
and a good worker.

"I wonder," thought Darkie,
"whether my mistress,
who is so well spoken of,
has really got a temper of her own
which she does not show
or whether she has got no temper at all?

Or do I do my work so well that,
though she has got a temper,
she does not show it?

I will try her."

So next morning she got up late.

"Darkie! Darkie!" -
cried the mistress.

"Yes, madam," answered the girl.

"Why did you get up so late?"

"Oh, that's nothing, madam."

"Nothing, indeed, the naughty girl!"
thought the mistress,
frowning with anger and displeasure.

"So she has got a temper,
though she does not show it,"
thought the maid;
"it is because I do my work so well
that she does not show it;
I will try her further."

So she got up later next morning.

"Darkie! Darkie!"
cried the mistress.

"Yes madam, answered the girl."

"Why did you get up so late?"

"Oh, that's nothing, madam."

"Nothing, indeed, you naughty girl!"
exclaimed the mistress,
giving vent in words
to her anger and displeasure.

"Yes," thought the maid;
"she has got a temper,
though she does not show it
because I do my work so well;
I will try her yet further."

So next morning she got up later still.

"Darkie! Darkie!"
cried her mistress.

"Yes, madam, answered the girl."

"Why did you get up so late?"

"Oh, that's nothing, madam."

"Nothing indeed, you naughty girl,
to get up so late!"
exclaimed the mistress;
and in her anger and displeasure
she snatched up the lynch-pin
and struck the girl on the head with it,
drawing blood.

With her broken head streaming with blood,
Darkie roused the neighbourhood
with shrieks of -

"See, lady, what the gentle one has done!

See, lady, what the meek one has done!

See, lady, what the mild one has done!

What for?

Just because her only maid got up late,
she was so angry and displeased
that she must up with the lynch-pin
to strike her on the head and break it.

[88] In the result
the lady Videhika got the repute
of being violent
and anything but meek and mild.

In like manner an Almsman may be gentle,
and meek,
and mild enough
so long as nothing unpleasant is said against him.

It is only when unpleasant things are said against him
that you can begin to dub him gentle,
and meek,
and mild.

I do not call that Almsman docile
who is docile
and evinces docility
only to get clothes
and food
and so forth.

For, if he fails to get these things,
he is not docile
and evinces no docility.

Him only do I call docile
whose docility springs from honouring
and venerating
and revering the Doctrine.

Be it your task, Almsmen,
to become docile
and to evince docility
by honouring
and venerating
and revering the Doctrine.

There are five ways in which you may be addressed, -
(i.) in or out of season,
(ii.) truthfully or untruthfully,
(iii.) mildly or harshly,
(iv.) profitably or unprofitably, and
(v.) in love or in hate;
people may speak to you from time to time
in each of these ways.

Your task should be
to preserve your hearts unmoved,
never to allow an ill word to pass your lips,
but always to abide in compassion and goodwill,
with no hate in your hearts,
enfolding in radiant thoughts of love
the person addressing you
and proceeding thence
to enfold the whole world in your radiant thoughts of love, -
thoughts like the solid earth beneath
thoughts great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.

It is like a man who comes with basket and shovel
to do away with the solid earth!

So here he digs
and there he digs;
dumps it down here
and dumps it down there;
spits here
and stales there; -
confident that the earth
is being got rid of bit by bit!

Do you think he will succeed
in doing away with the earth?"

"No, sir; -
because the solid earth
is so deep
and so measureless,
that it will not readily cease to exist
before the man is tired out
and worn out himself.

Even so (futile)
are the five ways in which others may address you, -
... thoughts of love, -
thoughts [89] like the solid earth,
great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.

It is like a man who comes with lac and colours,
yellow
or blue
or madder,
to paint pictures on the air.

Do you think he could do so?"

"No, sir;
because the air is void of form
and attributes,
so that pictures will not readily be painted on it
before the man himself is tired out
and worn out.

Even so (futile)
are the five ways in which others may address you
... thoughts of love,
thoughts like the air above,
great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.

It is like a man who comes with a blazing wisp of bracken
to set the river Ganges on fire
and burn it all up.

Do you think he could do so?"

"No, sir;
because the Ganges is so deep
and so measureless
that it will not readily be fired
and burnt up
by wisps of bracken
before the man himself is tired out
and worn out."

Even so (futile)
are the five ways in which others may address you
... thoughts of love,
thoughts like the Ganges,
great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.

It is like a wallet of cat's skin
that has been rubbed and scrubbed
until it is as supple as supple can be,
and as soft now as gossamer,
with never a purr or a hiss left in it;
and if there came along a man
with a chip of wood
or a potsherd,
professing therewith to start it purring
and hissing again; -
do you think he could succeed?"

"No, sir;
because that cat's skin
has been rubbed and scrubbed
till it is as supple as supple can be,
and as soft now as gossamer,
with never a purr or a hiss left in it;
so that it will not readily be started purring and hissing again,
with his chip or potsherd,
before the man himself is tired out
and worn out.

Even so (futile)
are the five ways in which others may address you
... thoughts of love,
thoughts like that supple and tempered wallet of cat's [90] skin,
thoughts great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.[2]

If villainous bandits
were to carve you limb from limb
with a two-handled saw,
even then the man that should give way to anger
would not be obeying my teaching.

Even then be it your task
to preserve your hearts unmoved,
never to allow an ill word to pass your lips,
but always to abide in compassion and goodwill,
with no hate in your hearts,
enfolding in radiant thoughts of love
the bandit (who tortures you)
and proceeding thence
to enfold the whole world
in your radiant thoughts of love,
thoughts great,
vast
and beyond measure,
in which no hatred is
or thought of harm.

If, Almsmen, you were to ponder again and again
over this parable of the saw,
do you perceive anything,
great or small,
which you could not endure to have said to you?"

"No, sir."

Then, Almsmen, ponder again and again
on this parable of the saw;
it will make for your abiding good and welfare.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
those Almsmen rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

 


[1] But in the 65th Sutta he had trouble with Bhaddali on this.

[2] As the cat cannot be brought back to life, nor can its dressed skin rustle or crackle when handled, so is the Arahat who 'answers not again.'


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