IV. Saḷāyatana Vagga
35: Saḷāyatana Saɱyutta
4. Āsīvisa Vagga
The Connected Discourses of the Buddha
IV. The Book of the Six Sense Bases
35: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases
The Fourth Fifty
4. The Vipers
The Simile of the Tortoise
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Copyright Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)
This selection from The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Saɱyutta Nikāya by Bhikkhu Bodhi is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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On that same evening a jackal was also searching for food along the bank of that same river.
When the tortoise saw the jackal in the distance searching for food,  it drew its limbs and neck inside its shell and passed the time keeping still and silent.
"The jackal had also seen the tortoise in the distance searching for food, so he approached and waited close by, thinking,
'When this tortoise extends one or another of its limbs or its neck, I will grab it right on the spot, pull it out, and eat it.'
But because the tortoise did not extend any of its limbs or its neck, the jackal, failing to gain access to it, lost interest in it and departed.
"So too, bhikkhus, Mārathe Evil One is constantly and continually waiting close by you, thinking,
'Perhaps I will gain access to him through the eye or through the ear ... or through the mind.'
Therefore, bhikkhus, dwell guarding the doors of the sense faculties.
Having seen a form with the eye, do not grasp its signs and features.
Since, if you leave the eye faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the eye faculty, undertake the restraint of the eye faculty.
Having heard a sound with the ear ...
Having smelt an odour with the nose ...
Having savoured a taste with the tongue ...
Having felt a tactile object with the body ...
Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, do not grasp its signs and features.
Since, if you leave the mind faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the mind faculty, undertake the restraint of the mind faculty.
"When, bhikkhus, you dwell guarding the doors of the sense faculties, Māra the Evil One, failing to gain access to you, will lose interest in you and depart, just as the jackal departed from the tortoise."
 Drawing in the mind's thoughts
As a tortoise draws its limbs into its shell,
Independent, not harassing others, fully quenched,
A bhikkhu would not blame anyone.