Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata Vagga

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

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

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

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1927
Public Domain

Sutta 129

Bāla Paṇḍita Suttaɱ

Wisdom and Folly

 


[163] [248]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
the Lord addressed the Almsmen as follows: -

There are three marks,
signs
and attributes of a fool.

He thinks what he should not,
he says what he should not,
and he does what he should not.

If the fool were not thus characterized,
how could the wise recognize
that here is a fool
and a bad man?

It is because he is so characterized
that they can recognize him for what he is.

In three modes does the fool, here and now,
experience pain and anguish.

If he is sitting in an assembly
or in the street
or at the cross-roads,
then, if talk turns on that sort of thing,
the fool, should he be a murderer
or a thief
or a lecher
or a liar,
or should he indulge in strong drink,
bethinks him that by nature
he is just what they are discussing
and that he will be branded as such accordingly. -

This is the first mode
in which, here and now,
the fool experiences pain and anguish.

Further, the fool sees how,
when a guilty robber is arrested,
he is punished by the authorities in divers ways, -
by flogging [164] ... (etc. as in Sutta No. 13) ...
are impaled alive
or are beheaded.

Hereon, the fool bethinks himself
that he has in himself all the qualities
which entail such punishment of guilt by the authorities,
and that, if they only knew him,
they would punish him too
in just the same way. -

This is the second mode in which,
here and now,
the fool experiences pain and anguish.

[249] Further, while the fool is upon his bench
or bed,
or is lying on the ground,
the sense of his wrongdoing
in act
speech
and thought
hangs round him,
rests on him
and envelops him.

Just as at eventide
the falling shadows from the great mountain-peaks
rest and lie upon the ground,
so rests the sense of his wrongdoing
upon the fool [165]. -

Herein, the fool thinks to himself
how, while he has not done what was good
and right
and reverent,
he has done what is bad
and cruel
and wrong,
and that his hereafter
will tally therewith.

Consequently, mourning and distress of heart is his;
he laments and beats his breast and is distraught.

This is the third mode in which,
here and now,
the fool experiences pain and anguish.

At the body's dissolution after death,
that foolish Almsman,
whose life here has been so wrong
in act and word and thought,
passes to a state of woe and misery
or to purgatory.

Now purgatory is all that is called unpleasing,
unpleasant
and disagreeable; -
it is far from easy
to picture the pains of purgatory.

At this point an Almsman asked
whether an illustration could be given.

Certainly said the Lord,
who then proceeded as follows: -

It is just like a guilty robber
who is hauled before the king for punishment,
and whom the king orders to be put to death
in the early morning by a hundred javelins;
and his people proceed accordingly.

At mid-day the king,
on asking,
is told the man is still alive
and then orders him to be put to death
by a hundred more javelins;
and his people proceed accordingly.

Towards evening,
he is again told the man is still alive
and then orders him to be put to death
by a hundred more javelins;
[166] and his people proceed accordingly.

What think you, Almsmen?

Would not the man
in the course of dying by the three hundred javelins
experience pain and anguish there-from?

Yes, sir;
pain and anguish would be his
even with a hundred javelins,
much more with thrice the number.

Taking up a small stone
as big as his hand,
the [250] Lord then asked which was the bigger, -
that stone
or Himavant, king of mountains.

The stone the Lord is holding is but small; -
as compared with Himavant, king of mountains,
that stone does not count;
it is an inconceivable fraction;
there is no comparison possible.

Just in the same way, Almsmen,
the pain and anguish the man felt
in dying by the three hundred javelins
does not count
as compared with the pains felt in purgatory;
it is an inconceivable fraction of them;
there is no comparison possible.

Him do the wardens of purgatory
subject to the fivefold pegging, -
they drive a red-hot peg
through each hand and each foot,
and a fifth through his chest.

Severe and acute pain is his,
but death comes not to him
before he has worked off his evil-doing.

When he is pegged down,
those wardens trim him with axes.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Next, sparing only his head and feet,
they trim him with razors.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then they harness him to a chariot
and drive him to and fro
over a fiery expanse,
all aflame and ablaze.

[167] Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then those wardens make him
climb up and down a huge mountain
of red-hot embers,
all afire and aflame and ablaze.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Next they plunge him
head over heels
into the glowing Cauldron of Brass,
all afire and aflame and ablaze,
where he is boiled in the seething foam, -
whirled now up,
now down,
now to this side
now to that.

Severe and acute ... evil-doing.

Then the wardens
cast him into Great Purgatory,
which is -

four-square, four-doored, a realm quadrangular,
walled all around with steel and roofed with steel,
with incandescent floor of molten steel;
a hundred leagues this way and that its range extends.

In many a figure, Almsmen,
could I tell of purgatory,
for it is far from easy to recount
all the pains of purgatory.

[251] Creatures there are, Almsmen,
in the animal world
which are graminivorous
and with their teeth
munch clean moist grass, -
like horses and oxen,
donkeys and goats and deer,
and all other grass-eating animals. -

The fool who in this world was fond of tastes
and has committed evil deeds,
at the body's dissolution after death
is reborn among these.

Creatures there are
in the animal world
which live on dung
and at the distant scent of dung
hurry up to enjoy the feast, -
for all the world like brahmins
scenting a sacrifice
and running up to enjoy the feast.

[168] Such are cocks and swine,
dogs and jackals,
and all other dung-eating animals. -

The fool ... reborn among these.

Creatures there are
in the animal world
which are born in darkness,
grow up in darkness
and in darkness die, -
like insects,
maggots,
delving worms,
and all other denizens of darkness. -

The fool ... reborn among these.

Creatures there are
in the animal world
which are born in water,
grow up in water
and in water die, -
like fish,
tortoises,
crocodiles,
and all other aquatic creatures. -

The fool ... reborn among these.

Creatures there are
in the animal world
that are born in filth,
grow up in filth
and die in filth, -
like the organisms in stinking fish
or in festering corpses
or putrid rice
or standing pond or pool.

[169] The fool ... reborn among these.

In many a figure, Almsmen,
could I tell of the animal world,
for it is far from easy to recount
all the pain of rebirth as an animal.

It is just like a man
who should cast into the sea
a yoke with a single aperture in it,
carried now west by an easterly wind,
now east by a westerly wind,
now north by a southern wind,
and now again south by a northerly blast;
and suppose there were in that sea
a blind turtle
who came out once a century.

What think you, Almsmen?

Would that blind turtle
get his neck into that single aperture?

He might, sir; -
some time or other,
after the lapse of a very long time.

[252] Well; the turtle would be quicker,
and find less difficulty,
in doing that,
say I,
than the fool
in his after misery and woe
can become a human being once again.

And why? -

Because here we have a case
not of holy and righteous life
and of right-doing,
but of mutual devouring
and of mutual slaughter.

Should he - some time or other,
after the lapse of a very long time -
become a human being again,
it is into one of the low stocks -
outcastes,
trappers,
rush-plaiters,
cartwrights
and rat catchers -
that he is reborn,
to a life of vagrancy and want and penury,
scarce getting food and drink for his belly
or clothes to his back.

He grows up ill-favoured and unsightly,
misshapen,
a weakling,
blind,
or deformed,
or lame,
or a cripple;
he gets no food drink and clothes,
[170] nor carriage,
garlands scents and perfumes;
he misconducts himself
in act word and thought;
his misconduct brings him at the body's dissolution after death
to a state of misery and woe
or to purgatory.

It is just as if a gamester,
by throwing the lowest possible cast with the dice,
loses son, wife, and all his possessions,
and finally goes into bondage
in his own person.

His ill-luck and loss
is but insignificant
as compared with the ill-luck and loss
of the man who,
by evil-doing in act word and thought,
passes at death
to a future of misery and woe or to purgatory, -
which is folly's consummation.

There are three marks
and signs
and attributes
of a wise man.

He thinks what he ought to think,
he says what he ought to say,
and he does what he ought to do.

If the wise man were not thus characterized,
how could the wise recognize
that here is a wise and good man?

It is because he is so characterized
that they can recognize him for what he is.

In three modes
does the wise man,
here and now,
experience well-being and satisfaction.

If he be seated in an assembly
or in the street
or at the cross-roads,
then, if talk turns on that sort of thing,
the wise man,
should he be guiltless of murder
theft
lechery [171] or lying
or indulgence in strong drink,
bethinks him [253] that he is just the guiltless man
whom they are discussing
and that he will be recognized as such accordingly. -

This is the first mode in which,
here and now,
the wise man experiences well-being and satisfaction.

Further, the wise man sees how,
when a guilty robber is arrested,
he is punished by the authorities in divers ways, -
by flogging ... (etc. as in Sutta No. 13) ...
are impaled alive
or are beheaded.

Hereon, the wise man bethinks himself
that he has in himself
none of those evil qualities
which entail such punishment of guilt by the authorities,
and that he will be recognized
as not having those evil qualities. -

This is the second mode in which,
here and now,
the wise man experiences well-being and satisfaction.

Further, while the wise man is upon his bench
or bed,
or is lying on the ground,
the sense of his right-doing
in act word and thought
hangs round him,
rests on him
and envelops him.

Just as at eventide
the falling shadows from the great mountain-peaks
rest and lie upon the ground,
so rests the sense of his right-doing
upon the wise man. -

Hereon, the wise man thinks to himself
how, while he has not done
what was bad cruel and wrong,
he has done what is good and right and reverent,
and that his hereafter
will tally therewith.

Consequently no mourning
or distress of heart is his;
he laments not
nor beats his breast
nor is he distraught. -

This is the third mode in which,
here and now,
the wise man experiences wellbeing and satisfaction.

At the body's dissolution after death,
that wise man,
whose life here has been so right
in act and word and thought,
[172] passes to a future state
of bliss in heaven.

Now heaven is all that is called
pleasing, pleasant and agreeable; -
it is far from easy
to picture the happiness of heaven.

At this point an Almsman asked
whether an illustration could be given.

Certainly said the Lord,
who then proceeded as follows:

It is just like a king of kings
who possesses [254] the Seven Treasures
and the Four Gifts,
and from them derives well-being and satisfaction.

What are the Seven? -

In the first place
when that Noble, anointed as king,
on the sabbath of the full moon,
has bathed all over
and gone up into the upper story of his palace
to keep the sacred day,
there appears to him
the Treasure of the Wheel,
with its nave,
its tire,
and all its thousand spokes complete.

When he beholds it
that Noble, anointed as king, thinks: -

This saying have I heard, -

Mutatis mutandis. "Things being changed that have to be changed." i.e. with the necessary changes; with due alteration of details (in comparing cases). — O.E.D.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

When a king of the warrior race,
an anointed king,
has purified himself
... (etc. as at Dialogues II, 202-9. mutatis mutandis, down to) ...

[173-177][178-7] These were the Four Gifts
with which the king of kings was endowed.

What do you think, Almsmen?

Would a king of kings
who possessed these Seven Treasures
and these Four Gifts,
derive from them well-being and satisfaction?

Any single one of them
would be sufficient for that,
not to speak of the whole Seven Treasures
and all Four Gifts together.

Taking up a small stone in his hand,
the Lord then asked which was the bigger, -
that stone or Himavant, king of mountains.

The stone the Lord is holding
is but small; -
as compared with Himavant, king of mountains,
that stone does not count;
it is an inconceivable fraction;
there is no comparison possible.

Just in the same way, Almsmen,
the well-being and satisfaction
which the king of kings derives
from the Seven Treasures
and the Four Gifts
does not count
as compared with pleasures celestial;
it is an inconceivable fraction of them;
there is no comparison possible.

Should that wise man -
some time or other,
after the lapse of a very long time -
become a human being again,
it is into one of the higher stocks -
rich nobles or brahmins
or masters of houses -
that he is reborn,
to a life of affluence
riches
and wealth,
with abundance of gold
and coins of silver,
and with abounding substance
and abounding possessions.

He grows up well-favoured
and well-liking,
with loveliest complexion,
with plenty [255] of food
and drink
and clothes
and carriages
and garlands
and scents
and perfumes;
he conducts him aright
in act word and thought
and [178] his right conduct
brings him at the body's dissolution after death
to well-being and satisfaction in heaven.

It is just as if a gamester
by the lucky cast of the dice
begins by winning a fortune.

His good luck and gain
are but insignificant
as compared with the good and gain
of that wise man
who, by right conduct
in act word and thought,
passes at death
to a future state of bliss in heaven. -

Such is wisdom's rich and ample sphere.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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


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