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Kakacūpama Suttaṃ

(M.i.122)

The Simile of the Saw

222. Thus have I heard:– At one time the Blessed one was dwelling at Prince Jeta’s grove, in Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then on that occasion the Venerable Moliya Phagguna dwelt associating too much with the nuns. He was associating with the nuns so much that if any monk reproached the nuns in his presence he would be angry and displeased, and make a dispute about it. If any monk reproached Venerable Moliya Phagguna in the presence of those nuns, those nuns would be angry and displeased, and make a dispute about it. So much was the Venerable Moliya Phagguna associating with the nuns.

Then a certain monk approached the Blessed One, and having approached, paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, he told the Blessed One about this matter.

223. Then the Blessed One called a certain monk, saying; “Come bhikkhu, [123] in my name ask the monk Moliya Phagguna to come: “The teacher calls you, friend Phagguna.” Having replied, “Very well, venerable sir,” to the Blessed One, that monk approached the Venerable Moliya Phagguna, and having approached said to him: “The teacher calls you, friend Phagguna.” Having replied, “Very well,” to that monk, Moliya Phagguna approached the Blessed One, and having approached, paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side. As he was sitting down at one side, the Blessed One said to the Venerable Moliya Phagguna:–

“Is it true, Phagguna, that you are associating too much with the nuns? That you are associating so much with the nuns that if any monk reproaches the nuns in your presence that you become angry and displeased, and make a dispute about it? If any monk reproaches you in the presence of the nuns, those nuns become angry and displeased, and make a dispute about it? So much you are associating with the nuns?”

“Indeed it is, venerable sir.”

“Are you, Phagguna, not a son of a good family who has gone forth out of faith from household life into homelessness?”

“Indeed I am, venerable sir.”

224. “It is not suitable, Phagguna, for one gone forth from a good family out of faith from household life into homelessness, to dwell associating too closely with the nuns. Therefore, Phagguna, if anyone reproaches the nuns in your presence, you should expel any desires and thoughts of a householder, and train yourself thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will dwell compassionate with thoughts of loving-kindness, without ill-will.’ Thus, Phagguna, you should train yourself.”

“Therefore, Phagguna, if anyone gives the nuns a blow with the hand, with a clod, with a stick, with a knife [124] in your presence, you should expel any desires and thoughts of a householder, and train yourself thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will dwell compassionate with thoughts of loving-kindness, without ill-will.’ Thus, Phagguna, you should train yourself.”

225. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks: “At one time, monks, my mind was satisfied. Herein, monks, I addressed the monks — I, monks, eat at one session. Eating at one session, monks, I have few ailments and diseases, enjoy bodily lightness and strength, and abide at ease. Come, monks, eat at one session. Eating at one session, monks, you will have few ailments and diseases, you will enjoy bodily lightness and strength, and will abide at ease. I did not need, monks, to instruct those monks; I only had to arouse mindfulness in them.

“It is as if, monks, a chariot yoked to thoroughbreds stood ready on solid ground at the crossroads. Then a skilled trainer, a charioteer of tamed horses could climb on it, having taken the reins in his left hand and the goad in his right hand, could drive wherever he wished, whenever he wished. In the same way, monks, I did not have to instruct those monks, I only had to arouse mindfulness in them. Therefore, monks, expel any unwholesome states, and devote yourselves to wholesome states. Thus you will come to growth, increase, and fulfilment in this teaching and discipline.

“It is as if, monks, not far from a village or a market town there was a great Sal grove, covered with castor-oil plants. Then a certain man would appear desiring its benefit, welfare, and freedom from bondage. He would cut the crooked off-shoots that were harming the sap, and drag them outside, cleaning up the interior of the grove. Whatever shoots were straight and well-formed, he would foster. Thus, monks, the Sal grove would come to growth, increase, and fulfilment. In the same way, monks, you should expel any unwholesome states, and devote yourselves to wholesome states. [125] Thus you will come to growth, increase, and fulfilment in this teaching and discipline.

226. “At one time, monks, here in Sāvatthi there was a housewife named Vedehikā. A good reputation had spread regarding Vedehikā: ‘The housewife Vedehikā is gentle, humble, and peaceful.’ The housewife Vedehikā, monks, had a slave named Kāḷī who was skilful, diligent, and did her work attentively.

“Then, monks, it occurred to Kāḷī: ‘A good reputation has spread regarding my mistress Vedehikā: “The housewife Vedehikā is gentle, humble, and peaceful.” Is it that my mistress does not manifest anger because I do my work well, is it because anger is absent, or is anger present, but she does not show it? What if I were to test my mistress?’

“Then, monks, the slave Kāḷī got up late. Then, monks, the housewife Vedehikā said to the slave Kāḷī, ‘Hey, Kāḷī!’ ‘What is it mistress?’ ‘Why do you get up late?’ ‘For no reason.’ ‘You get up late for no reason, wicked girl,’ she said, angry, displeased, and frowning. Then, monks, Kāḷī thought, ‘My mistress does not manifest anger, not because it is absent, but because I do my work well. What if I were to test my mistress further?’

“Then, monks, the slave Kāḷī got up even later. Then, monks, the housewife Vedehikā said to the slave Kāḷī, ‘Hey, Kāḷī!’ ‘What is it mistress?’ ‘Why do you get up even later?’ ‘For no reason.’ ‘You get up even later for no reason, wicked girl,’ she said, angry, displeased, she uttered harsh words. Then, monks, Kāḷī thought, ‘My mistress does not manifest anger, not because it is absent, but because I do my work well. What if I were to test my mistress further?’

“Then, monks, the slave Kāḷī got up later still. Then, monks, the housewife Vedehikā [126] said to the slave Kāḷī, ‘Hey, Kāḷī!’ ‘What is it mistress?’ ‘Why do you get up later still?’ ‘For no reason.’ ‘You get up later still for no reason, wicked girl,’ she said, angry, displeased, she took a door-bolt ¹ and hit her on the head, splitting her head. Then, monks, Kāḷī, with her head split, with blood flowing, complaining to the neighbours: ‘See, ladies, the actions of the gentle one; see ladies, the actions of the humble one; see ladies, the actions of the peaceful one. How can she get angry with her only slave for getting up late, and being angry and displeased, take a door-bolt and give her a blow to her head, splitting her head‽’

“Then, monks, after that, a bad reputation spread regarding the housewife Vedehikā: ‘The housewife Vedehikā is violent, proud, and uncomposed.”

“In the same way, monks, here some monks is gentle, humble, and peaceful as long as no displeasing words touch him. However, it is when disagreeable words touch him that one can know that he is gentle, humble, and peaceful. Monks, I do not call a monk ‘Compliant,’ if he exhibits compliance for the sake of robes, almsfood, medicine, or medicinal requisites. Why is that? If a monk does not obtain robes, almsfood, medicine, or medicinal requisites, he is not compliant. Whatever monk, monks, respects the truth, reveres the truth, esteems the truth, honours the truth, pays homage to the truth, so exhibits compliance, I call him ‘Compliant.’ Therefore, monks, ‘We respect the truth, revere the truth, esteem the truth, honour the truth, pay homage to the truth, so we will be obedient and compliant.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

227. “There are five ways of speech, monks, with which others may address you — timely or untimely, truthful or false, kind or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with loving-kindness or with anger. When others address you in these ways [127], monks, you should train yourselves thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

228. “It is as if, monks, a man should come having taken a hoe and a basket, would speak thus: ‘I will make this great earth become without earth.’ He would dig here and there, scatter here and there, spit here and there, urinate here and there: ‘Become without earth, become not earth.’ What do you think, monks, could this man make this great earth without earth?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Why is that?”

“Venerable sir, this great earth is deep and immeasurable. It is not easy to make it without earth; that man would only get weariness and vexation.

“In the same way, monks, there are these five ways of speech with which others may address you … you should train yourselves thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

229. “It is as if, monks, a man should come having taken yellow, blue, and red dye, would speak thus: ‘I will draw on the sky, I will make pictures appear.’ What do you think, monks, could this man draw on the sky, could he make pictures appear?’

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Why is that?”

“Venerable sir, the sky is formless and invisible. It is not easy to draw on the sky, to make pictures appear. [128] That man would only get weariness and vexation.”

“In the same way, monks, there are these five ways of speech with which others may address you … you should train yourselves thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

230. “It is as if, monks, a man should come having taken a grass torch, would speak thus: ‘With this grass torch I will heat up and vaporise this river Ganges.’ What do you think, monks, could this man heat up and vaporise this river Ganges with a grass torch?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Why is that?”

“Venerable sir, the river Ganges is deep and immeasurable It is not easy, having taken a grass torch, to heat it up and vaporise it. That man would only get weariness and vexation.”

“In the same way, monks, there are these five ways of speech with which others may address you … you should train yourselves thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

231. “It is as if, monks, there were a cat-skin bag that was beaten, well beaten, thoroughly beaten, soft, silky, and free from rustling and crackling, and a man should come along having taken a piece of firewood or a pebble, would speak thus: ‘I will make this cat-skin bag that was beaten, well beaten, thoroughly beaten, soft, silky, and free from rustling and crackling, rustle and crackle.’ What do you think, monks, would he make this cat-skin bag rustle and crackle?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Why is that?”

“Venerable sir, this cat-skin bag was beaten, well beaten, thoroughly beaten, soft, silky, and free from rustling and crackling. It is not easy to make it rustle and crackle. That man would only get weariness and vexation.”

“In the same way, monks, there are these five ways of speech with which others may address you … [129] you should train yourselves thus: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

232. “Monks, even if robbers were to sever your limbs with a two-handled saw, whoever would set his mind on hatred would not be carrying out my teaching. Herein, monks, you should train yourselves: ‘My mind will not become altered, I will not utter evil words, I will abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner anger. I will abide pervading that person with loving-kindness, making him the object of loving-kindness, pervading the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness, extensive, exalted, immeasurable, without enmity, without ill-will.’ Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.

233. “Monks, if you constantly bear in mind this exhortation on the simile of the saw, do you see any way of speech, subtle or coarse, that you could not tolerate?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Therefore, monks, constantly bear in mind this simile of the saw. That will be for you welfare and happiness for a long time.”

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Delighted, those monks, rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said.

Notes:

1. A door-bolt (aggaḷasūciṃ). A bolt of wood or iron for securing something.