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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Milindapanha >> Book VII: The Similes - Opammakatha Panha Chapter 2


Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids


11. THE GOURD.

1. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the gourd which you say he ought to take, which is it?'

'Just, O king, as the gourd, climbing up with its tendrils on to some other plant--whether a grass, or a thorn, or a creeper--grows all over it; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, who desires to grow up into Arahatship, do so by climbing up with his mind over the ideas that present themselves (as subjects for the Kammatthâna meditations). This, O king, is the one quality of the gourd which he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"As the gourd, clambering up with its tendrils, grows O'er the grass, or the thorn-bush, or creeper widespread, So the son of the Buddha on Ar'hatship bent, Climbs up o'er ideas, to perfection and peace ."'


12. THE LOTUS.

2. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those three qualities of the lotus which you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the lotus, though it is born in the water, and grows up in the water, yet remains undefiled by the water (for no water adheres to it); just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, remain undefiled by the support that he receives, or by the following of disciples that he obtains, or by fame, or by honour, or by veneration, or by the abundance of the requisites that he enjoys. This, O king, is the first of the qualities of the lotus that he ought to have.

3. 'And again, O king, as the lotus remains lifted up far above the water; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, remain far above all worldly things. This, O king, is the second of the qualities of the lotus that he ought to have.

4. 'And again, O king, as the lotus trembles when blown upon by the slightest breeze; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, exercise self-control in respect of the least of the evil dispositions, perceiving the danger (in the least offence). This, O king, is the third of the qualities of the lotus he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:

"Seeing danger in the least offence, he takes upon himself, trains himself in, the precepts ."'

13. THE SEED.

5. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of seed which you say he ought to have, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as seed, tiny though it be, yet if sown in good soil, and if the god rains aright, will give abundant fruit; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, so conduct himself aright that the righteousness of his life may give abundantly of the fruits of Samanaship. This, O king, is the first quality of seed which he ought to have.

6. 'And again, O king, as seed planted in well-weeded soil comes quickly to maturity; just so, O king, will his mind, when well-mastered , and well-purified in solitude, if it be cast by the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, into the excellent field of self-possession, come quickly to maturity. This, O king, is the second quality of seed which he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Anuruddha, the Elder:

"If seed be sown on a well-weeded field, Its fruit, abounding, will rejoice the sower. So the recluse's heart, in solitude made pure, Matures full fast in self-possession's field ."' 14. THE SAL-TREE.

7. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the Sal-tree which you say he ought to take, which is it?'

'Just, O king, as the Sal-tree grows within the ground to the depth of a hundred cubits or more; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, perfect in solitude the four Fruits of Samanaship, the four Discriminations, the six forms of transcendental Insight, and all the qualities befitting a recluse. This, O king, is the one quality of the Sal-tree he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Râhula, the Elder:

"The tree that's called the Sal-tree grows above the earth, And shoots beneath, a hundred cubits deep. As in the fullness of time, and at its highest growth That tree shoots in one day a hundred cubits high, Just so do I, O Buddha, like the Sal, Increase, in solitude, in inward good."' 15. THE SHIP.

8. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those three qualities of the ship that you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as a ship, by the combination of the quantity of the different kinds of timber of which it is composed, conveys many folk across; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, cross the whole world of existence, whether in heaven, or on earth, by the combination of a number of qualities arising out of good conduct, righteousness, virtue, and the performance of duty.

[paragraph continues] This, O king, is the first of the qualities of a ship he ought to have.

9. 'And again, O king, just as a ship can bear the onslaught of various thundering waves and of far-reaching whirlpools; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, be able to bear the onslaught of the waves of various evil inclinations, and the onslaught of the waves of varied evils--veneration and contempt, support and honour, praise and exaltation, offerings and homage, blame and commendation in families not his own. This, O king, is the second of the qualities of the ship he ought to have.

10. 'And again, O king, as the ship journeys over the great ocean, immeasurable and infinite though it be, without a further shore, unshaken in its depths, roaring with a mighty noise, and filled with crowds of fish and monsters and dragons of all sorts; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, make his mind journey through to penetration into the four Truths in their triple order, in their twelvefold form . This, O king, is the third of the qualities of the ship he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the most excellent Samyutta Nikâya, in the Samyutta on the Truths :

"Whenever you are thinking, O Bhikkhus, you should think: 'Such is sorrow,'--you should think 'Such is the origin of sorrow,'--you should think: 'Such is the end of sorrow,'--you should think: 'Such is the path that leads to the end of sorrow.'"'

16. THE ANCHOR.

11. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of the anchor which you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the anchor, even in the mighty sea, in the expanse of waters agitated by the crowding of ever-varying waves, will fasten the ship, and keep it still, not letting the sea take it in one direction or another; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, keep his mind stedfast in the mighty struggle of thoughts, in the waters of the waves of lust and malice and dullness, not letting them divert it in one direction or another. This, O king, is the first quality of the anchor he ought to have.

12. 'And again, O king, as the anchor floats not, but sinks down, and even in water a hundred cubits deep holds the ship fast, brings it to rest; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when he receives support, and fame, and honour, and veneration, and reverence, and offerings, and praise, be not lifted up on the summit of the support or the fame, but keep his mind fixed on the idea of merely keeping his body alive. This, O king, is the second quality of the anchor he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"As the anchor floats not, but sinks down beneath the waves, So be abased, not lifted up, by praise or gifts ."'


17. THE MAST.

13. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the mast which you say he ought to take, which is it?'

'Just, O king, as the mast carries ropes and braces and sails ; just so should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, always have mindfulness and self-possession--when going out or coming back, when looking ahead or looking round, when stretching forth his arm or bending it back, when wearing clothes or carrying his bowl, when eating or drinking or swallowing or tasting, when easing himself or walking or standing or sitting, when asleep or awake, when talking and when silent, never should he lose his mindfulness and self-possession. This, O king, is the one quality of the mast he ought to have . For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:

"Mindful, my brethren, should the Bhikshu remain, and self-possessed. This is my instruction to you ."' 18. THE PILOT.

14. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those three qualities of the pilot which you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the pilot, day and night, with

continuous and unceasing zeal and effort, navigates his ship; just so, O king, does the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when regulating his mind, continue night and day unceasingly zealous and earnest in regulating his mind by careful thought. This, O king, is the one quality of the pilot he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the Dhammapada (the Collection of scripture verses):

"Be full of zeal, watch over your own thoughts; Raise yourselves up out of the slough of endless births, As the strong elephant engulphed in depths of mud ."

15. 'And again, O king, as the pilot knows all that is in the sea, whether good or bad; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, know good from evil, and what is an offence from what is not, and what is mean from what is exalted, and what is dark from what is light. This, O king, is the second quality of the pilot he ought to have.

16. 'And again, O king, as the pilot puts a seal on the steering apparatus lest any one should touch it; so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, put the seal of self-control on his heart, lest any evil or wrong thoughts should arise within it. This is the third quality of the pilot he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the

Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the most excellent Samyutta Nikâya:

"Think, O Bhikshus, no evil or wrong thoughts, such as thoughts of lust, or of malice, or of delusion ."' 19. THE SAILOR .

17. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that one quality of the sailor which you say he ought to take, which is it?'

'Just as the sailor on board ship, O king, thinks thus: "I am a hireling, and am working for my wage on board this ship. By means of this ship is it that I get food and clothing. I must not be lazy, but zealously navigate the ship;" just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, think thus: "Gaining a thorough knowledge of this body of mine, put together of the four elements, continuously and unceasingly will I be self-possessed in mindfulness and thoughtfulness, and tranquil and peaceful will exert myself to be set free from births, old age, disease, and death, grief, lamentation, sorrow, suffering, and despair." This, O king, is the one quality of the sailor he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"Understand what the body is, realise that again and again, Seeing the nature of the body, put an end to grief ."'


20. THE SEA.

18. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those five qualities of the sea you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the sea brooks no contact with a corpse ; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, brook no association with the stains of evil--lust and malice and dullness and pride and delusion, concealing the faults one has and claiming virtues one has not , envy and avarice, deceit and treachery and trickiness, wickedness and sinfulness of life. This, O king, is the first quality of the sea he ought to have.

19. 'And again, O king, just as the sea carries within it stores of all kinds of gems--pearls and diamonds and cat's-eyes, and chank shells, and quartz , and coral, and crystal, but conceals them all; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, though he have attained to the various gems of character--the Path, and the Fruits

thereof, and the four Ghânas, and the eight Vimokkhas, and Samâdhi, and the five Attainments (forms of ecstatic contemplation and Insight), and the six forms of Transcendental Knowledge --conceal them and not bring them to the light. This, O king, is the second quality of the sea he ought to have.

20. 'And again, O king, just as the sea associates with mighty creatures; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, associate himself with a fellow-disciple who desires little and is contented, who is pure in speech , whose conduct is directed to the eradication of evil, who is given to righteousness, modest, amiable, dignified, venerable, a speaker of profitable words, meek, one who will point out his associate's faults, and blame him when he does wrong, clever in admonition, in instruction, and in education, able to arouse, to incite, and to gladden--with such a man as a friend, in righteousness should he dwell. This, O king, is the third quality of the sea he ought to have.

21. 'And again, O king, as the sea, though filled with the fresh water brought down by the Ganges, and the Jumna, and the Akiravatî, and the Sarabhû, and the Mahî, and by other rivers a hundred thousand in number, and by the rains of heaven, yet

never overflows its shore; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, never consciously transgress the precepts for the sake of support, or fame, or praise, or salutations, or reverence, or honour--no! not even for his life. This, O king, is the fourth of the qualities of the sea he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods  :

"Just, O king, as the great ocean has fixity as its characteristic, and never overflows its shores; just so, O king, should my disciples never overstep the regulations I have laid down for them--no! not even to save themselves alive ."

22. 'And again, O king, as the sea is not filled even by all the rivers--the Ganges, and the Jumna, and the Akiravatî, and the Sarabhû, and the Mahî--nor by the rains from heaven; just so, O king, should

the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, never be satisfied with receiving instruction, with asking and answering questions, with listening to the word, and learning it by heart, and examining into it, with hearing the Abhidhamma and the Vinaya, and the deep sayings of the Suttas, with analysis of forms, with learning the rules of right composition, conjunction, and grammatical construction , with listening to the ninefold teaching of the Conqueror. This, O king, is the fifth quality of the sea he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the Sutasoma Gâtaka :

"Just as the fire, in burning grass and sticks, Is never satisfied, nor the great sea Filled with the waters of all streams that flow-- So are these students wise, O king of kings, Listening, ne'er sated with the words of truth ."'

Here ends the Second Chapter.

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