Anguttara Nikaya


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Anguttara Nikaya
Sattakanipata

Sutta 68

Aggikkhandopama Sutta

The Mass of Fire Comparison

Translated from the Pali the Yahoo! Pali Group.[1]

 


 

Translators' note

In this sutta, from the Anguttara Nikaya's Book of the Sevens, the Buddha compares seven pairs of situations a monk might hypothetically face and asks the monks to choose which of each pair is the better. While listening to the Buddha's explanations of the correct choice in each case, sixty monks become enlightened — another instance of enlightenment directly from hearing a talk by the Buddha.

 


 

[1][pts][bd] Thus have I heard.

Once the Blessed One was wandering among the Kosala people together with a large company of monks. Entering a major path, the Blessed One saw in a certain spot a great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing. After seeing it and stepping down from the path he sat on the appointed seat at the root of a tree. After sitting down the Blessed One said to the monks: "Do you see, monks, that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing?" — " Yes, venerable Sir."

[1] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? Embracing that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing, and sitting or lying down close to it? Or, embracing a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sitting or lying down close to her?" — "This, venerable Sir, would surely be the better: Embracing a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sitting or lying down close to her. For it would be painful, venerable Sir, to embrace that great, burning, blazing, glowing mass of fire, and sit or lie down close to it."

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, monks, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one: Embracing that great mass of fire, burning, blazing, glowing, and sitting or lying down close to it. What is the reason for this? Because on account of that, monks, he would go to death, or to a pain like that of death, but he would not, on account of that, on the break-up of the body after death be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory."

"But, monks, if one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one, were to embrace a kshatriya or brahman or householder woman with young and tender hands and feet, and sit or lie down close to her — for him, monks, there would be a long period of harm and suffering, and on the break-up of the body after death he would be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory."

[2] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having twisted a firm horse-hair rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin, and having cut the skin it cut the under-skin, and having cut the under-skin it cut the flesh, and having cut the flesh it cut the sinew, and having cut the sinew it cut the bone, and having cut the bone it left the marrow exposed? Or, to derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders?" — "This, venerable Sir, is surely the better: To derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders. For it would be painful, venerable Sir, if a strong man, having twisted a firm hair-rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin and so on until it left the marrow exposed."

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, monks, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having twisted a firm horse-hair rope around both calves, were to rub, so that the rope cut the skin and so on until it left the marrow exposed. What is the reason for this? Because on account of that, monks, he would go to death, or to a pain like that of death, but on account of that he would not, on the break-up of the body after death, be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory."

"But, monks, if one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness, an impure-natured one, were to derive enjoyment from the homage of rich kshatriyas, or rich brahmans, or rich householders — for him, monks, there would be a long period of harm and suffering, and on the break-up of the body after death he would be reborn into a place of woe, a realm of misery, a place of suffering, a purgatory."

[3] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man were to strike the nether-quarters with a sharp, oil-cleaned sword? Or, to derive enjoyment when rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders press the palms together in prayer?"

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man were to strike the nether-quarters with a sharp, oil-cleaned sword."

[4] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man were to wrap the body with a red-hot sheet of iron, burning, blazing, glowing? Or, to derive enjoyment from the robes given in faith by rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders?"

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man were to wrap the body with a red-hot sheet of iron."

[5] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having opened the mouth with a red-hot iron spike, were to hurl into the mouth a red-hot iron ball, burning, blazing, glowing, so that one's lips would burn, then the mouth would burn, then the tongue would burn, then the throat would burn, then the chest would burn, and when it was received by the lower intestine, it would be expelled from the lower part of the body? Or, to derive enjoyment from the food received on alms-round and given in faith by rich kshatriyas, brahmans, or householders?"

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having opened the mouth with a red-hot iron spike were to hurl into the mouth a red-hot iron ball."

[6] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having gripped the head or shoulder, were to force one sit or lie on a red-hot iron bed or chair? Or, to derive enjoyment from a chair given in faith by rich kshatriyas, or brahmans, or householders?"

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having gripped the head or shoulder, were to force one sit or lie on a red-hot iron bed or chair."

[7] "What do you think, monks? Which would in fact be the better? If a strong man, having gripped one, heels up, head down, were to force one down into a red-hot iron cauldron, burning, blazing, glowing, and where there is boiling scum on top, he were to go once up, once down, and then once sideways? Or, to derive enjoyment from an abode given in faith by rich kshatriyas, or brahmans, or householders?"

"Let me tell you, monks, let me explain to you, that this would surely be the better for one who is of poor conduct, an impure-natured one: If a strong man, having gripped one, heels up, head down, were to force one down into a red-hot iron cauldron."

"Because of what I have said here, monks, you should train yourselves such that the gifts of those whose requisites we use — the robes, alms-bowl, chair, bed, and medicine as a support when sick — will have great fruits, great merits [for the people who give them], and our going forth will not be in vain, will be fruitful, will have a result. Thus should you train yourselves, thoroughly seeing that for your own benefit, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness; thoroughly seeing that for the benefit of others, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness; and thoroughly seeing that for the benefit of both, monks, it is right to strive with heedfulness."

Thus spoke the Blessed One. And while this explanation was being delivered, hot blood rose out of the mouths of sixty monks; another sixty monks abandoned the training and returned to the lower life, saying, "It is too difficult to do, Blessed One, it is too difficult to do;" while the minds of another sixty monks abandoned clinging and were liberated from the aasava-s.

 


[1]Submitted by Derek Cameron. For information about the Yahoo! Pali Group, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pali/

 


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