Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
2. Bhikkhu 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 66

Laṭukikopama Suttaɱ

The Parable Of The Quail

 


[447] [318]

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

Once the Lord was staying in the Aŋga country,
where there is a township named Āpaṇa.

In the morning early,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
he went into town for alms and,
after his meal,
on his way back from his round,
went into a wood to rest
during the heat of the day
and seated himself at the foot of a tree.

Likewise, the reverend Udāyī had been into town for alms
and on his way back
had gone into that same wood to rest
during the heat of the day,
and was sitting under a tree
in solitary meditation
when there came to him the reflection
that their Lord had dispelled many an unhappy state of consciousness
and had implanted many a happy one,
had dispelled [319] many a wrong state
and implanted many a right one.

Arising towards evening from his meditations,
Udāyī betook him to the Lord and,
taking [448] his seat to One side after due salutations,
first related how there had come to him the foregoing reflection
and then went on to say:

In former times, sir,
we had meals in the evening
and in the morning
and in the afternoon,
in contravention of all proper hours.

Time came when the Lord bade Almsmen
give up having meals out of hours
in the afternoon;
and personally I felt it a painful wrench,
when the faithful laity came with excellent meals in the afternoon
out of hours,
to realize that by our Lord's bidding
they were to be rejected
and by our Blessed One's bidding
to be renounced.

Well, sir, out of our love and veneration for the Lord
and in our sense of duty and obligation,
we gave up these afternoon meals,
out of hours;
and we ate morning and evening.

Then came a time when the Lord bade Almsmen give up eating at night,
out of hours.

Here again it was a painful wrench
to realize that by our Lord's bidding
the better meal of the two was to be rejected
and by our Blessed One's bidding to be renounced.

The old custom had been,
when a man was given curry in the afternoon,
for him to say:
Carry it away
and we will have it for supper together.

For, dainty dishes, sir,
all come at night, -
rarely by day.

Well, out of our love and veneration for the Lord
and in our sense of duty and obligation,
we gave up eating at night,
out Of hours.

Time was when,
going in quest of alms
when it was too dark to see,
Almsmen used to walk straight into the village-pond
or the cesspool,
or stray into a hedge,
or blunder over a cow asleep,
or associate with young fellows
before or after crimes,
or were solicited by women.

I remember once being out for alms after dark
when a woman espied me for a flash
as she was scouring a pot
and screamed out:

Woe is me!
A goblin is after me!

I told her I was not a goblin
but an Almsman [449] standing there for alms.

Then you must be a poor orphan
with no father or mother left alive;
you would [320] do better to cut your belly out once for all
than to let it drive you
to prowl about for alms in the dark like this.

When I remember this, sir,
the reflection comes to me
that our Lord has dispelled many an unhappy state of consciousness
and has implanted many a happy one,
has dispelled many a wrong state
and implanted many a right one!

Yet, in their folly, Udāyī,
there are silly people who,
when told by me to give something up,
think that it is an insignificant matter of no moment
and that I am too particular, -
with the result that they do not give it up
but grow dissatisfied with me
and with the Almsmen who desire to be trained.

This insignificant, thing
grows into a bond strong enough to hold them fast,
a stout and solid bond,
a bond that rots not away,
a massive log round their necks.

Springe = spring = snare. — OED.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

It is like a quail caught in a springe,
there to abide slaughter
or captivity
or death.

Withy: the flexible branch of a Willow used as string — OED.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Would it be correct to say
that to the bird in this plight
the withy which holds it
is a bond without strength or might,
a bond that is flimsy and unsubstantial?

No, sir; to the quail it is a bond
strong enough to hold her fast,
a stout and solid bond to her,
a bond that rots not away,
a very log round her neck.

Just in the same way, Udāyī,
there are silly people ...
a log round their necks.

Take now the case of young men who,
when told by me to give something up,
[450] think that in itself
it is an insignificant matter of no moment,
but that their Lord, the Blessed One,
has bidden them to give it up and renounce it.

So they give it up,
without growing dissatisfied with me
or with the Almsmen who wish to be trained;
and the result is that, unruffled,
they live in meekness and contentment,
with hearts as free as wild things.

Unto these
the bonds prove to be without strength or might,
flimsy and unsubstantial.

It is like a king's elephant -
with tusks like the stilts of a plough,
the huge scion of a noble race,
the hero of many a battle -
who may be bound with stout straps and thongs,
but has only to give quite a little heave of his [321] body
in order to burst his bonds asunder
and go forth where he lists.

Would it be correct to say
that to the elephant
his bonds are strong enough to hold him fast, -
stout, solid bonds
that rot not away,
a massive log round his neck?

No, sir; to such an elephant
these bonds
which he can burst asunder
by a slight heave of his body,
are to him without strength or might,
flimsy and unsubstantial.

Just in the same way, Udāyī,
the young men who,
when told by me to give something up, ...
flimsy and unsubstantial.

It is like a poor wretch
with just a single crazy hovel
open to the crows
and squalid to view,
with just a single crazy pallet
squalid to view,
[451] with no store of grain
beyond just his sorry seed-corn in a solitary crock,
and with just his one ill-favoured wife.

If such a poor wretch sees an Almsman
from a pleasaunce
with clean hands and feet
seated after a good dinner
meditating in the cool shade,
he might think it a pleasant and healthful thing to be a recluse
and might like to become a Pilgrim too,
cutting off his hair and beard,
donning the yellow robe
and going forth from home to homelessness.

But suppose he could not bring himself,
as the first step to becoming a Pilgrim,
to give up his poor hovel and pallet,
his poor crock of seed-corn
and wife.

Would it be correct to say of him
that the bonds which keep him
from giving up his sorry belongings
in order to become a Pilgrim,
are to him weak bonds,
without strength or might,
flimsy and unsubstantial?

No, sir;
to him they are bonds
strong enough to hold him fast,
stout, solid bonds
that rot not away,
a massive log round his neck.

It is just the same, Udāyī,
with those silly people who,
when told by me to give something up,
think that it is an insignificant matter
of no moment
and that I am too particular, -
with the result that they do not give it up
but grow dissatisfied with me
and with the Almsmen who desire to be trained.

This insignificant thing
grows into a bond strong enough to hold them [322] fast,
a stout, solid bond,
a bond that rots not away,
a massive log round their necks.

Or it is like a rich man,
or his son,
[452] of great wealth and possessions,
with abounding treasure
and substance
and lands
and raiment
and wives
and slaves both male and female.

If he, likewise, sees an Almsman from a pleasaunce
with clean hands and feet
seated after a good dinner
meditating in the cool shade,
he too might think it a pleasant
and a healthful thing
to be a recluse
and might like to become a Pilgrim too,
cutting off his hair and beard,
donning the yellow robe
and going forth from home to homelessness.

And suppose he could bring himself,
as the first step to becoming a Pilgrim,
to give up all these riches
and to go forth from home to homelessness.

Would it be correct to say of him
that his bonds were strong enough to hold him fast,
stout solid bonds
that rot not away,
a massive log round his neck?

No, sir;
to him they are flimsy and unsubstantial.

It is just the same with those young men who,
when told by me to give something up,
think that in itself it is an insignificant matter
of no moment
but that their Lord ...
[453] flimsy and unsubstantial.

There are four types of individuals to be found in the world, Udāyī:

The first is progressing towards giving up ties
and renouncing them,
but in his progress is assailed by thoughts and ideas
into which ties enter;
he gives in to them,
does not give them up,
does not dispel and eject them,
does not annihilate them.

Him I call not detached but attached.

And why?

Because I have gauged his individuality.

The second is similarly progressing
and is similarly assailed,
but does not give in
to such thoughts and ideas,
he gives them up;
he dispels, ejects and annihilates them.

Him too do I call not detached but attached.

And why?

Because I have gauged his individuality.

The third is similarly progressing
but in his progress is
from time to time
assailed by distraction in mindful- [323] ness.

Mindfulness is slow of growth,
but he is quick to give up such distraction,
quick to dispel, eject and annihilate it.

It is like a man who lets fall two or three drops of water
into an iron pot heated all day long;
the drops of water are slow in falling
but quick to disappear and vanish.

And it is just the same with this third man
who is progressing ...
and annihilate it.

Him also do I call not detached but attached.

[454] And why?

Because I have gauged his individuality.

Last comes the man who,
recognizing that ties are a root of Ill,
frees himself from ties
and is Delivered by destroying ties.

Him do I call detached
and not attached.

And why?

Because I have gauged his individuality.

Five in number are the pleasures of sense,
namely,
visible shapes,
sounds,
odours,
tastes,
and touch, -
all of them pleasant,
agreeable
and delightful,
all of them bound up with passion and lusts.

The satisfaction and the gratification
derived from these five pleasures of sense
is called sensual pleasure,
filthy pleasure,
vulgar pleasure,
ignoble pleasure,
not to be practised,
not to be developed,
not to be fostered,
but to be dreaded,
say I.

Take the case of an Almsman who,
divested of pleasures of sense
and of wrong states of consciousness,
develops and dwells in the First Ecstasy ...
and successively in the Third
and Fourth Ecstasies.

This is called the pleasure of renunciation,
the pleasure of solitude,
the pleasure of tranquillity,
the pleasure of utter enlightenment,[1] -
to be practised,
to be developed,
to be fostered,
and not to be dreaded,
say I.

Take the case of an Almsman
who has developed
and dwells in the First Ecstasy.

Here there is no fixity, -
in that observation and reflection
are not yet stilled.

Nor is there fixity in the Second Ecstasy, -
in that [324] Zest and satisfaction are not yet stilled.

Nor again is there fixity in the Third Ecstasy, -
in that [455] the bliss of rapt concentration survives.

But when the Brother has developed
and dwells in the Fourth Ecstasy,
then I say there is fixity.

Of the First Ecstasy
I say that it sufficeth not;
I tell you to give it up
and pass beyond it, -
to the Second Ecstasy.

Of the Second Ecstasy
I say that it sufficeth not;
I tell you to give it up
and pass beyond it, -
to the Third Ecstasy.

Of the Third Ecstasy
I say that it sufficeth not;
I tell you to give it up
and pass beyond it, -
to the Fourth Ecstasy.

Of the Fourth Ecstasy I say
that it sufficeth not;
I tell you to give it up
and pass beyond it -
to the plane of Infinity and Space -
by passing beyond all perception of things material,
by eliminating perception of sense-reactions,
and by not heeding perception of differences.

This too sufficeth not
and you must give it up
and pass beyond it, -
to the plane of Infinity of Consciousness
and thence successively
to the planes of Naught
and of Neither-perception-nor-non-perception,
[456] till at last the Almsman develops
and dwells in the state
where perceptions and sensations cease to be.

Can you point, Udāyī,
to any bond,
big or small,
which I have omitted to order to be given up?

No, sir.

Thus spake the Lord.

Glad at heart, the reverend Udāyī rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

 


[1] Sambodha-sukha, - a term ordinarily restricted to the Buddha, but here used of Arahats in general.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page