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Translation by Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna
I heard thus. At one time the Blessed One was living in the monastery offered by Anàthapiõóika in Jeta's grove in Sàvatthi.
Then a certain monk approached the Blessed One, worshipped and sat on a side.
Sitting on a side the monk said to the Blessed One: "Venerable sir, how long is a world cycle?"
"Monk, a world cycle is very long and it is not easy to innumerate it as, `it's this amount of years' or `this amount of hundred years,' or `this amount of thousand years,' or `this amount of hundred thousand years'."
"Venerable sir, is it possible to give a comparison?"
The Blessed One said: "Possible. Monk, in a poor city there is a block of mustard seeds seven miles by the length, breath and the height bound together by the roots. After the lapse of one hundred years a man comes and takes out one of the seeds. By this method the mustard seeds diminish and vanish but the world cycle does not come to an end.
"Monk, so long is the world cycle. Many of these world cycles make a several world cycle and a collection of a hundred of the several world cycles make a several hundred world cycle and a collection of a thousand of the several world cycles make a several thousand world cycle and a collection of a hundred thousand of the several world cycles make a several hundred thousand world cycle.
"What is the reason? Monks, without an end is the train of existence, a beginning cannot be pointed out of beings enveloped in ignorance and bound by craving, running from one existence to another.
"Monks, it is suitable that you should turn away from all determinations, fade and be released from them."