What is this sutta called, please?

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manas
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What is this sutta called, please?

Post by manas » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:21 pm

I'm placing this topic here, to avoid clogging up other subforums with a topic that only needs one reply.

[mikenz66] It's better to start posts in an appropriate place so I've moved it... Furthermore, it has a number of interesting replies.

I can recall a sutta in which an analogy is given: a man is inside a pit, hanging on for dear life; below are dangerous animals, and above also. Near him, there is a flower which sporadically drips nectar, and he is so obsessed with the taste of that nectar, that he neglects the impending, life-threatening dangers all around him.

Could someone tell me the name of that sutta, please?

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:23 am

It appears that story does not originate from a sutta:

The Tiger and the Strawberry
"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me in detail everything about the ways of that intelligence by which this wilderness of duties may be safely covered.’

"Vidura said, ‘Having bowed down to the Self-create, I will obey thy behest by telling thee how the great sages speak of the wilderness of life. A certain brahmana, living in the great world, found himself on one occasion in a large inaccessible forest teeming with beasts of prey. It abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. Such was the aspect of that forest that Yama himself would take fright at it. Beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly agitated. His hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested themselves, O scorcher of foes! Entering it, he began to run hither and thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out somebody whose shelter he might seek. Wishing to avoid those terrible creatures, he ran in fright. He could not succeed, however, in distancing them or freeing himself from their presence. He then saw that that terrible forest was surrounded with a net, and that a frightful woman stood there, stretching her arms. That large forest was also encompassed by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching the very heavens. Within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. The brahmana, in course of his wanderings, fell into that invisible pit. He became entangled in those clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. He continued to hang there, feet upwards and head downwards. While he was in that posture, diverse other calamities overtook him. He beheld a large and mighty snake within the pit. He also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. That elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. And the animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees. About the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), roved many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers. Repeatedly they desired, O bull of Bharata’s race, to taste that honey which though sweet to all creatures could, however, attract children only. The honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. The person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. Employed, in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst, however, could not be appeased. Unsatiated with repeated draughts, the person desired for more. Even then, O king, he did not become indifferent to life. Even there, the man continued to hope for existence. A number of black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. There was fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of that forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that elephant near its top, from the fall of the tree through the action of the rats, and lastly from those bees flying about for tasting the honey. In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life.’"

"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Alas, great was the distress of that person and very painful his mode of life! Tell me, O first of speakers, whence was his attachment to life and whence his happiness? Where is that region, so unfavourable to the practice of virtue, in which that person resides? Oh, tell me how will that man be freed from all those great terrors? Tell me all this! We shall then exert ourselves properly for him. My compassion has been greatly moved by the difficulties that lie in the way of his rescue!’

"Vidura said, ‘They that are conversant, O monarch, with the religion of moksha cite this as a simile. Understanding this properly, a person may attain to bliss in the regions hereafter. That which is described as the wilderness is the great world. The inaccessible forest within it is the limited sphere of one’s own life. Those that have been mentioned as beasts of prey are the diseases (to which we are subject). That woman of gigantic proportions residing in the forest is identified by the wise with Decrepitude which destroys complexion and beauty. That which has been spoken of as the pit is the body or physical frame of embodied creatures. The huge snake dwelling in the bottom of that pit is time, the destroyer of all embodied creatures. It is, indeed, the universal destroyer. The cluster of creepers growing in that pit and attached to whose spreading stems the man hangeth down is the desire for life which is cherished by every creature. The six-faced elephant, O king, which proceeds towards the tree standing at the mouth of the pit is spoken of as the year. Its six faces are the seasons and its twelve feet are the twelve months. The rats and the snakes that are cutting off the tree are said to be days and nights that are continually lessening the periods of life of all creatures. Those that have been described as bees are our desires. The numerous jets that are dropping honey are the pleasures derived from the gratification of our desires and to which men are seen to be strongly addicted. The wise know life’s course to be even such. Through that knowledge they succeed in tearing off its bonds.’" - http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m11/m11005.htm
:namaste:
Last edited by Polar Bear on Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by Zom » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:25 am

I remember this metaphor, but can't find the text )) I think it is somewhere in SN.

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:45 am

Also see The Hanging Man by Piya Tan


:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by santa100 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:50 am

The original story was from the ancient Indian epic Mahābhārata with excerpt here

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by Zom » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:04 am

Hm. This is interesting. I guess this text was in Canon. Maybe in Vinaya (in Khandhakas)?

Found this (non-theravadin):


The Parable Sutra (T217.4.801) simplified, from Charles D. Patton's translation:

This is how I heard it:

Once, the Lord was staying in Jetàvana Grove, near the city of Shrivasta.

At that time, The Famous Celebrity was part of a great gathering, and he was speaking to the King named Brilliance:

"Great king, for your majesty, I will now briefly discuss a story-lesson (parable) about the beings of samsara, who are bothered by feelings, attachments, mistakes, and troubles. Your majesty should now listen closely, and think carefully about it.

"Going back many, many ages ago, there was a person who went into the jungle. He was chased by an evil elephant. Full of fear, he ran, but he had nowhere to go for safety.

Then he saw a deep and empty well. Dangling into it was a tree root; so he quickly shinnied down it, and hid inside the well.

There were 2 rats, one dark and one light, that together kept gnawing on the root above the man.

And in the well, one at each of the directions, were 4 vipers trying to bite the man.

And below him, there was a great poisonous serpent.

So the man was terrified and also, worried about the tree root's breaking.

Now the tree had a beehive in it, and 5 drops of honey fell into his mouth.

But when the tree shook, the bees swarmed down to sting the person.

And [while the man was down there] brush fires came to burn the tree, over and over again."

The king asked, "How should a person deal with such a terrible situation?”

The Buddha answered:

“The jungle is like our ignorance, which is very great and unclear. When I say, ‘that person' I mean the mind of a person, reborn over and over again.

The elephant stands for impermanence. The well is like our situation in any life.

The dangerous climb down the tree roots is like our life’s journey.

The dark and light rats stand for night and day. Their gnawing at the root is like our constantly having annoying thoughts that keep leading to other thoughts, right up until we die.

Those 4 vipers stand for our existence in 4 elements [earth, air, fire, water.]

The honey drops are like our 5 desires [for food and drink, sleep, sexual comfort, wealth and fame] and the bees stand for false thinking.

The fire is old age, and illness that comes more than once. The great serpent represents death.

"That is why, great king, you should know that birth, old age, illness, and death are quite terrible. You should always remember them, and not become a slave to your desires."

BKh
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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by BKh » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:19 am

This story is not in the five nikayas or vinaya.
ReadingFaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas | becomeabuddhist.org
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manas
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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by manas » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:03 pm

I am surprised if it's not in the Pali Canon, because I seem to recall a Monk telling the story. It sounds like a Buddhist parable to me, because it shows how craving for sensuality, many neglect their true, long-term welfare, ie, how to get out of the pit (of Samsara) to get free from the dangers all around, and how the allure of sensuality, doesn't compare with the dangers of pursuing it (ie, the disadvantages are far greater). I seem to recall the Buddha as standing on the edge of the pit, offering a helping hand to the man in the pit, who only had to let go of his obsession with the honey dripping from the flower, to accept the help.

In any case it's a good parable, and I thank everyone who has replied and supplied possible sources for the story. I will keep my eye out for it in the Canon, unless there is someone here who has read EVERYTHING in the Canon and can definitively tell me it isn't from there. Anyway not to worry, there is still so much I need to read and study in the Canon, I will just get on with that...but I will retain a curiosity as to where the story originally came from, in my travels.
(My ancient mouse won't let me select an emoticon this morning...*anjali*)

BKh
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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by BKh » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:28 am

manas wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:03 pm
I am surprised if it's not in the Pali Canon, because I seem to recall a Monk telling the story. It sounds like a Buddhist parable to me,
Not to be flip, but monks tell lots of stories. Sometimes from the canon and sometimes not.

I can assure you this is not in the Nikayas or Vinaya. Doesn't mean one can't get a good meaning from it. I believe it is part of later Buddhist traditions. But not in Pali.

Heker mentions it in this book, but I don't have a copy with me now. I can't remember the citation, but it came up in a conversation and when we checked the book it was from some Sanscrit Suttra if I recall correctly.
https://www.bps.lk/cover.php?id=bp427s
ReadingFaithfully.org Daily Practice with the Suttas | becomeabuddhist.org
audtip. org Audio Sutta Recordings | BuddhaRupa Images of the Buddha across time and space

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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by No_Mind » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:41 am

It is from Mahabharata Stri Parva (or Sthri Parva)
"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me in detail everything about the ways of that intelligence by which this wilderness of duties may be safely covered.’

"Vidura said, ‘Having bowed down to the Self-create, I will obey thy behest by telling thee how the great sages speak of the wilderness of life. A certain brahmana, living in the great world, found himself on one occasion in a large inaccessible forest teeming with beasts of prey. It abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. Such was the aspect of that forest that Yama himself would take fright at it. Beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly agitated. His hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested themselves, O scorcher of foes! Entering it, he began to run hither and thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out somebody whose shelter he might seek. Wishing to avoid those terrible creatures, he ran in fright. He could not succeed, however, in distancing them or freeing himself from their presence. He then saw that that terrible forest was surrounded with a net, and that a frightful woman stood there, stretching her arms. That large forest was also encompassed by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching the very heavens. Within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. The brahmana, in course of his wanderings, fell into that invisible pit. He became entangled in those clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. He continued to hang there, feet upwards and head downwards. While he was in that posture, diverse other calamities overtook him. He beheld a large and mighty snake within the pit. He also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. That elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. And the animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees. About the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), roved many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers. Repeatedly they desired, O bull of Bharata’s race, to taste that honey which though sweet to all creatures could, however, attract children only. The honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. The person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. Employed, in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst, however, could not be appeased. Unsatiated with repeated draughts, the person desired for more. Even then, O king, he did not become indifferent to life. Even there, the man continued to hope for existence. A number of black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. There was fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of that forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that elephant near its top, from the fall of the tree through the action of the rats, and lastly from those bees flying about for tasting the honey. In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life.’"

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m11/m11005.htm
:namaste:
I know one thing: that I know nothing

manas
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Re: What is this sutta called, please?

Post by manas » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:33 pm

BKh wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:28 am
manas wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:03 pm
I am surprised if it's not in the Pali Canon, because I seem to recall a Monk telling the story. It sounds like a Buddhist parable to me,
Not to be flip, but monks tell lots of stories. Sometimes from the canon and sometimes not.

I can assure you this is not in the Nikayas or Vinaya. Doesn't mean one can't get a good meaning from it. I believe it is part of later Buddhist traditions. But not in Pali.

Heker mentions it in this book, but I don't have a copy with me now. I can't remember the citation, but it came up in a conversation and when we checked the book it was from some Sanscrit Suttra if I recall correctly.
https://www.bps.lk/cover.php?id=bp427s
Thank you (and everyone else who replied), I think my original question has been successfully resolved. A useful parable, but not from the Pali suttas.
:anjali:

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