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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Khuddaka Nikaya >> Milindapanha >> Book VII: The Similes - Opammakatha Panha Chapter 4


Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids


31. THE WHITE ANT.

1. 'Venerable Nâgasena, that quality of the white ant which you say he ought to have, which is it?'

'Just, O king, as the white ant goes on with his work only when he has made a roof over himself, and covered himself up; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, on his round for alms, cover up his mind with righteousness and self-restraint as a roof. For in so doing, O king, will he have passed beyond all fear. This, O king, is the one quality of the white ant he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Upasena Va ngantaputta, the Elder:

"The devotee who covers up his mind, Under the sheltering roof of righteousness And self-control, untarnished by the world Remains, and is set free from every fear ."' 32. THE CAT.

2. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those two qualities of the cat you say he ought to have, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the cat, in frequenting caves and holes and the interiors of storied dwellings, does so only in the search after rats; just so, O king, should

the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, whether he have gone to the village or to the woods or to the foot of trees or into an empty house , be continually and always zealous in the search after that which is his food, namely self-possession. This is the first quality of the cat he ought to have.

3. 'And again, O king, as the cat in pursuing its prey always crouches down ; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, continue conscious of the origin and end of those five groups of the characteristic marks of individuality which arise out of clinging to existence, thinking to himself: "Such is form, such is its origin, such its end. Such is sensation, such is its origin, such its end. Such are ideas, such is their origin, such their end. Such are the mental potentialities (the Confections, Samkhârâ), such is their origin, such their end. Such is self-consciousness, such is its origin, such its end ." This, O king, is the second quality of the cat he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods:

"Seek not rebirths afar in future states. Pray, what could heaven itself advantage you! Now, in this present world, and in the state In which you find yourselves, be conquerors!"' 33. THE RAT.

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

'Just, O king, as the rat, wandering about backwards and forwards, is always smelling after food ; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, be ever in his wanderings to and fro, bent upon thought. This is the quality of the rat he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Upasena Vanganta-putta, the Elder:

"Ever alert and calm, the man of insight, Esteeming wisdom as the best of all things, Keeps himself independent of all wants and cares ."' 34. THE SCORPION.

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

'Just, O king, as the scorpion, whose tail is its weapon, keeps its tail erect as it wanders about; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, have knowledge as his weapon,

and dwell with his weapon, knowledge, always drawn. This, O king, is the quality of the scorpion he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Upasena Vanganta-putta, the Elder:

"With his sword of knowledge drawn, the man of insight Should ever be unconquerable in the fight, Set free from every fear ."' 35. THE MUNGOOSE.

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

'Just, O king, as the mungoose, when attacking a snake, only does so when he has covered his body with an antidote; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when going into the world where anger and hatred are rife, which is under the sway of quarrels, strife, disputes, and enmities, ever keep his mind anointed with the antidote of love. This, O king, is the quality of the mungoose he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"Therefore should love be felt for one's own kin, And so for strangers too, and the whole wide world Should be pervaded with a heart of love-- This is the doctrine of the Buddhas all."' 36. THE OLD MALE JACKAL.

7. 'Venerable Nâgasena, the two qualities of the old male jackal you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the old male jackal, whatever kind of food he finds, feels no disgust, but eats of it as much as he requires; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, eat without disgust such food as he receives with the sole object of keeping himself alive. This, O king, is the first quality of the old male jackal he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Mahâ Kassapa, the Elder:

Leaving my dwelling-place, I entered once Upon my round for alms, the village street. A leper there I saw eating his meal, And, as was meet, deliberately, in turn, I stood beside him too that he might give a gift. He, with his hand all leprous and diseased, Put in my bowl--'twas all he had to give-- A ball of rice; and as he placed it there A finger, mortifying, broke and fell. Seated behind a wall, that ball of food I ate, and neither when I ate it, nay, Nor afterwards, did any loathing thought Arise within my breast ."

8. 'And again, O king, as the old male jackal, when he gets any food, does not stop to examine it; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, never stop to find out whether food given to him is bitter or sweet, well-flavoured or ill--just as it is should he be satisfied with it. This, O king, is the second quality of the old male jackal

he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Upasena Vanganta-putta, the Elder:

"Bitter food too should he enjoy, Nor long for what is sweet to taste. The mind disturbed by lust of taste Can ne'er enjoy the ecstacies Of meditations high. The man content With anything that's given--in him alone Is Samanaship made perfect ."' 37. THE DEER.

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

'Just, O king, as the deer frequents the forest by day, and spends the night in the open air; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, pass the day in the forest, and the night under the open sky. This, O king, is the first quality of the deer he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by the Blessed One, the god over all gods, in the exposition called the Lomaha msana Pariyâya:

"And I, Sâriputta, when the nights are cold and wintry, at the time of the eights (the Ashtakâ festivals ), when the snow is falling, at such times did I pass the night under the open sky, and the day in the woods. And in the last month of the hot season I spent the day under the open sky, and the night in the woods ."

10. 'And again, O king, as the deer, when a javelin or an arrow is falling upon him, dodges it and escapes, not allowing his body to remain in its way; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when evil inclinations fall upon him, dodge them, and escape, placing not his mind in their way. This, O king, is the second quality of the deer he ought to have.

11. 'And again, O king, as the deer on catching sight of men escapes this way or that, that they may not see him; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when he sees men of quarrelsome habits, given to contentions and strife and disputes, wicked men and inert, fond of society--then should he escape hither or thither that neither should they see him, nor he them . This, O king, is the third quality of the deer he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"Let not the man with evil in his heart, Inert, bereft of zeal, of wicked life, Knowing but little of the sacred words-- Let not that man, at any time or place, Be my companion, or associate with me ."


38. THE BULL.

12. 'Venerable Nâgasena, those four qualities of the bull you say he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the bull never forsakes its own stall; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, never abandon his own body on the ground that its nature is only the decomposition, the wearing away, the dissolution, the destruction of that which is impermanent . This, O king, is the first quality of the bull he ought to have.

13. 'And again, O king, as the bull, when he has once taken the yoke upon him, bears that yoke through all conditions of case or of pain; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when he has once taken upon himself the life of a recluse, keep to it, in happiness or in woe, to the end of his life, to his latest breath. This, O king, is the second quality of the bull he ought to have.

14. 'And again, O king, as the bull drinks water with never satiated desire; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, receive the instruction of his teachers and masters with a desire, love, and pleasure that is never satiated . This, O king, is the third quality of the bull he ought to have.

15. 'And again, O king, as the bull equally bears the yoke whoever puts it on him; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, accept with bowed head the admonitions and exhortations

of the elders, of the brethren of junior or of middle standing, and of the believing laity alike. This, O king, is the fourth quality of the bull he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Sâriputta, the Elder, the Commander of the Faith:

"A novice, seven years of age, a boy Only to-day received into our ranks, He too may teach me, and with bended head, His admonitions will I gladly bear. Time after time, where'er I meet him, still My strong approval, and my love, will I Lavish upon him--if he be but good,-- And yield the honoured place of teacher to him ."' 39. THE BOAR.

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

'Just, O king, as the boar, in the sultry and scorching weather of the hot season, resorts to the water; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, when his heart is distracted and ready to fall, all in a whirl, inflamed by anger, resort to the cool, ambrosial, sweet water of the meditation on love. This, O king, is the first quality of the boar he ought to have.

17. 'And again, O king, as the boar, resorting to muddy water, digs into the swamp with his snout, and making a trough for himself, lies down therein; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, put his body away in his mind, and

lie down in the midst of contemplation. This, O king, is the second quality of the boar he ought to have. For it was said, O king, by Pindola Bhâradvaga, the Elder:

"Alone, with no one near, the man of insight, Searching into and finding out the nature Of this body, can lay him down to rest On the sweet bed of contemplations deep ."' 40. THE ELEPHANT.

18. 'Venerable Nâgasena, the five qualities of the elephant he ought to take, which are they?'

'Just, O king, as the elephant, as he walks about, crushes the earth; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, mastering the nature of the body, crush out all evil. This, O king, is the first quality of the elephant he ought to have.

19. 'And again, O king, as the elephant turns his whole body when he looks, always looking straight before him, not glancing round this way and that ; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, turn his whole body when he looks, always looking straight before, not glancing round this way and that, not looking aloft, not looking at his feet, but keeping his eyes fixed about a yoke's length in front of him. This, O king, is the second quality of the elephant he ought to have.

20. 'And again, O king, as the elephant has no permanent lair, even in seeking his food does not always frequent the same spot, has no fixed place of

abode; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, have no permanent resting-place, but without a home should go his rounds for alms. Full of insight, wherever he sees a pleasant suitable agreeable place , whether in a hut or at the foot of a tree, or in a cave, or on a mountain side, there should he dwell, not taking up a fixed abode. This, O king, is the third quality of the elephant he ought to have.

21. 'And again, O king, as the elephant revels in the water, plunging into glorious lotus ponds full of clear pure cool water, and covered-over with lotuses yellow, and blue, and red, and white, sporting there in the games in which the mighty beast delights; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, plunge into the glorious pond of self-possession, covered with the flowers of emancipation, filled with the delicious waters of the pure and stainless clear and limpid Truth; there should he by knowledge shake off and drive away the Samkhâras , there should he revel in the sport that is the delight of the recluse. This, O king, is the fourth quality of the elephant he ought to have.

22. 'And again, O king, as the elephant lifts up his foot with care, and puts it down with care; just so, O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, be mindful and self-possessed in lifting

up his feet and in putting them down, in going or returning, in stretching his arm or drawing it back,--wherever he is he should be mindful and self-possessed. This, O king, is the fifth quality of the elephant 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:

"Good is restraint in action,
And good restraint in speech,
Good is restraint in mind,
Restraint throughout is good.
Well guarded is he said to be
Who is ashamed of sin, in all things self-controlled ."'

Here ends the Fourth Chapter.

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