II. Nidāna Vagga
I. Paṭhama Vagga
The Book of the Kindred Sayings
II. The Book Called the Nidāna-Vagga
Containing Kindred sayings on Cause
and Other Subjects
15. Kindred Sayings on the Incalculable Beginning
Originally Published by
The Pali Text Society
Now a certain brother came to the Exalted One,
and saluting him
sat down at one side.
Seated at one side
he said this to the Exalted One:
"How long, lord, is an aeon?"
"Long, brother, is an aeon.
It is not easy to reckon how long
by saying so many years,
so many centuries,
so many thousand centuries."
"Can it be told, lord, by a parable?"
"It can, brother", said the Exalted One.
"Suppose, brother, there were a great crag,
a hill one yojana wide,
one yojana across,
one yojana high
without chasms or clefts,
a solid mass.
And a man at the end of every hundred years
were to stroke it  once each time
with a Kasi cloth.
Well, that mountain
in this way
would be sooner done away with
than would an aeon.
So long, brother, is an aeon.
And of aeons thus long
more than one has passed,
more than a hundred have passed,
more than a thousand,
more than a hundred thousand.
Why is this?
Incalculable is the beginning, brother, of this faring on.
The earliest point is not revealed
of the faring on, running on,
of beings cloaked in ignorance,
tied to craving.
Thus many a day, brother,
have ye been suffering ill,
have ye been suffering pain,
have ye been suffering disaster,
have the charnel-fields been growing.
Thus far enough is there, brother,
for you to be repelled
by all the things of this world,
enough to lose all passion for them,
enough to be delivered therefrom."