This story is very much related to jhana meditation.
The Kimsuka Tree SN 35.45 Kimsuka means "what if", that itself is kind of a puzzle.
Sutta refers to the wisdom gained through jhana meditation, but on the first glance it does not appear to be clearly so.
In the sutta, four men describe the Kimsuka tree just as they've seen it, but in four different ways.
Four bhikkhus who attained Arahantship describe the purification of their vision, just as they've seen it, but in four different ways, when asked.
"Friend, when a monk truly understands the origin and ending of the six spheres of contact, at that point their vision is well purified.”
Friend, when a monk truly understands the origin and ending of the five grasping aggregates, at that point their vision is well purified
Friend, when a monk truly understands the origin and ending of the four primary elements, at that point their vision is well purified
Friend, when a monk truly understands that everything that has a beginning has an end, at that point their vision is well purified
Then this questioner not satisfied with the monks' answers approach the Buddha, repeats the answers and asked in which way is one's vision purified. Buddha says to him
suppose there was a man who had never seen a kimsuka tree, might see it, for the first time. Based on the time he sees it, his answer would vary from "blackish like a charred stump" (at the time buds are sprouting) "reddish like a piece of meat" (at the time of blossoming) "tree has strips of bark hanging down and burst pods" (when bearing fruit) " gives abundant shade" (when covered with leaves)So too bhikkhu those superior men answered as they were disposed in just the way, their own vision had been well purified
Then the Blessed One gives a second metaphor, to the newbie bhikkhu. Why?
If that bhikkhu understood the Kimsuka simile then it is relied upon to teach him the Dhmma. If he did not understand it, then the simile of the city
is introduced to clarify the meaning.
The metaphor in the sutta itself is too brief to be helpful, here is the one from the BB footnotes.
The lord of the city is a prince, son of a virtuous world monarch, who had been appointed by his father to administer one of the outlying provinces. Under the influence of bad friends the prince had been dissolute and passed his time drinking and enjoying music and dance. The king sent the two messengers to admonish the prince to abandon his heedless ways and resume his duties. One messenger is a brave warrior the other a wise minister. The brave warrior grabs hold of the wayward prince by the head and threatens to decapitate him if he does not change his ways, this is like the time mind has been grabbed and made motionless by concentration arisen through first jhana, the fleeing of the prince's dissolute friends is like the disappearance of the five hindrances when the first jhana has arisen. When the minister delivers the king's command, this is like the time when the meditator, with his mind made pliable through concentration develops insight meditation. When the two messengers raised the white canopy over the prince after he has become coronated, this is like the time the white canopy of liberation is raised over the meditator after he has attained arahanttship by means of serenity and insight
Interestingly, this metaphor reminds me of an even more apt metaphor used in the Expositor/Atthasalini, to explain the jhanas, it is the one metaphor, that conveys the urgent need for
jhana meditation, most efficiently.
It woke me up to the importance of jhanas, so I am copying this more lame metaphor from BB foot notes of Kimsuka sutta, in case it helps some one. The other one is way too long, but if anyone wants the
page numbers pl ask. It can be found online.
The point of the Kimsuka story, there is more than one way to get to Nibbana, but they all need to go via Right concentration.