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Saɱyutta Nikāya
5. Mahā-Vagga
56. Sacca Saɱyutta
5. Papāta Vagga

The Book of the Kindred Sayings
5. The Great Chapter
56. Kindred Sayings about the Truths
5. The Precipice

Sutta 47

Dutiya Chiggaḷa Suttaɱ

Yoke-hole (a)[1]

Translated by F. L. Woodward

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[1][bodh] THUS have I heard:

Once the Exalted One addressed the monks,


"Yes, lord," replied those monks to the Exalted One.

The Exalted One said:

"Suppose, monks, a man should throw into the mighty ocean
a yoke with a single hole,
and there were a blind turtle
to pop up to the surface
once in every hundred years.

Now what think ye, monks?

Would that blind turtle push his neck
through that yoke with one hole
whenever he popped up to the surface,
once at the end of every hundred years?"

"It might be so, lord,
now and again,
after the lapse of a long time."

"Well, monks, sooner I declare
would that blind turtle push his neck
through that yoke with one hole,
popping up to the surface
once in a hundred years,
than would a fool
who has gone to the Downfall
become a man again.[2]

What is the reason for that?

Because, monks, here prevails
no practice of the holy life,
no righteous living,
no doing of good deeds,
no working of merit,
but just cannibalism
and preying on weaker creatures.

Why so?

It is through not seeing
the four Ariyan truths,
to wit:

The Ariyan truth of Ill,
the Ariyan truth of the arising of Ill,
the Ariyan truth of the ceasing of Ill,
[384] the Ariyan truth of the practice that leads to the ceasing of Ill.'

Wherefore, monks, an effort must be made to realize:

'This is Ill'.

'This is the arising of Ill.'

'This is the ceasing of Ill.'

This is the practice that leads to the ceasing of Ill.'"


[1] Chiggaḷa. Cf. above and M. iii, 169; Expos. i, 80; Sisters, 173; Brethren, 30; Mil. Panh., 204.

"Thrown down" Whoh! There is nothing in the Suttas anything like this. Beings are reborn according to their kamma. The life of many devas spans kalpas and not all devas are streamwinners. The point of this sutta is that the difficulty of emerging from the lower births is that there is no doing of good deeds there, that is, kamma. Further, beings may be cast into hell with good kamma remaining, at the expiration of their time served they are reborn in accordance with that kamma.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] At M. iii, 169, he may become a man again, but only in a low caste, in miserable conditions. Apparently those who fail to reach the state of Stream-winning by the end of the kalpa are 'thrown down' and have to begin again an elementary condition when the next kalpa starts.

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