Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara-Nikāya
III. Tika Nipāta
X. Loṇaphala Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
or
More-Numbered Suttas

Part III
The Book of the Threes

Chapter X. A Grain of Salt

Sutta 99

Loṇakaphala Suttaɱ

A Grain of Salt[1]

Translated from the Pali by
F.L. Woodward, M.A.

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[227]

[1][bit][than][olds] Thus have I heard:

Once the Exalted One was dwelling near Sāvatthī.

There the Exalted One addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Yes, lord," they replied, and the Exalted One said:

"Monks, if anyone should say:

"Just as this man does a deed,
so does he[2] experience it," -

this being so
there is no living of the holy life,
there is no opportunity manifested
for the utter destruction of Ill.

But if one should say:

"Just as this man does a deed
that is to be experienced,[3]
so does he experience its fulfilment," -

this being so, monks,
there is living of the holy life,
there is opportunity manifested
for the[4] utter ending of Ill.

Now, for instance,
there may be some trifling evil deed
of some person or other
which may take him to hell (to atone for it).

Or again there may be
a like trifling evil deed
of some person or other
which is to be experienced
in this very life.

Not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it
is seen (hereafter).[5]

2. Now, monks, of what sort of person
does the small offence
take him to hell?

Herein, monks, a certain person
is careless in culture[6] of body,
habits
and thought.

He has not developed insight,
he is insignificant,
his soul is restricted,[71]
his life is restricted
and [228] miserable.[8]

Of such a person, monks,
even a trifling evil deed
brings him to hell.

Now, monks, of what sort of being
does the small offence
to be experienced in this very life, -
for what sort of being is not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, seen?

In this case some person or other
has carefully cultured body,
habits
and thought:
he has developed insight,
he is not insignificant,
he is a great soul,[9]
his life is immeasurable.

By such a being, monks,
a similar small offence
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, is seen.'

3. 'Now, monks, suppose a man throws a grain of salt
into a little cup of water.

What think ye, monks?

Would that trifling amount of water in the cup
become salt
and undrinkable
owing to that grain of salt?

'It would, lord.'

'Why so?'

'That water in the cup, lord,
being but little,
would become salt
and undrinkable thereby.'

'Again, suppose a man throws a grain of salt
into the river Granges.

What think ye, monks?

Would that river Ganges
become salt
and undrinkable
owing to that grain of salt?'

'Surely not, lord.'

'Why not?'

'Great, lord,
is that mass of water
in the river Ganges.

It would not become salt
and undrinkable thereby.'

'Well, monks, just in the same way
the small offence
of such and such a person here
takes him to hell:
or yet again a similar small offence
of another person
is to be experienced
[229] (by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it,
is to be seen (hereafter).

4. Now again, of what sort of person
does the small offence
take him to hell?

Herein, monks, a certain person
is careless in culture of body,
habits
and thought.

He has not developed insight,
he is insignificant,
his soul is restricted,
his life is restricted and miserable.

Of such a person, monks,
even a trifling evil deed
brings him to hell.

Now, monks, of what sort of being
does the small offence
to be experienced in this very life, -
for what sort of being is not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, seen?

In this case some person or other
has carefully cultured body,
habits
and thought:
he has developed insight,
he is not insignificant,
he is a great soul,
his life is immeasurable.

By such a being, monks,
a similar small offence
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, is seen.'

5. Now again in this connexion, monks,
suppose a certain man
has to go to prison
for a (debt of a) halfpenny[10]
or a penny,
or has to go to prison
for a theft of a hundred pence.

And again, suppose another person
does not have to go to prison,
for a (debt of a) halfpenny
or a penny,
or has to go to prison
for a theft of a hundred pence.

Of what sort is the former?

He is a poor fellow,
owing little,
of small means.

Such an one has to go to prison for his debt.

6. And of what sort is he
who does not have to go to prison
for the same offence?

In this case, monks,
it is a rich man,
owning much,
of great means.

Such an one does not have to go to prison.[11]

'Well, monks, just in the same way
the small offence
of such and such a person here
takes him to hell:
or yet again a similar small offence
of another person
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it,
is to be seen (hereafter).

7. Now again, of what sort of person
does the small offence
take him to hell?

Herein, monks, a certain person
is careless in culture of body,
habits
and thought.

He has not developed insight,
he is insignificant,
his soul is restricted,
his life is restricted and miserable.

Of such a person, monks,
even a trifling evil deed
brings him to hell.

Now, monks, of what sort of being
does the small offence
to be experienced in this very life, -
for what sort of being is not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, seen?

In this case some person or other
has carefully cultured body,
habits
and thought:
he has developed insight,
he is not insignificant,
he is a great soul,
his life is immeasurable.

By such a being, monks,
a similar small offence
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, is seen.'

8. Now, monks, suppose a butcher,
one who kills goats,
has power to strike
or bind
or slay
or treat as he pleases
a certain man who steals a goat,
but not another man
who does the same.

What sort of man can the butcher strike
or bind
or slay[12]
or treat as he pleases
when he steals a goat?

In this case, monks,
it is a poor fellow,
owning little,
of small means.

That is the sort of man he can strike
or bind
or slay
or treat as he pleases when he steals a goat.

And what sort of man
is he whom the butcher has not power
to strike
or bind
or slay
or treat as he pleases
if he steal a goat?

In this case it is a rich man,
owning much,
of great means,
[230] or a rajah
or rajah's minister.

Such a man as that
the butcher cannot strike
or bind
or slay
or treat as he pleases
if he steal a goat.

There is nothing[13] for him to do
but beg him with clasped hands thus:

"0 sir![14]

Give me back my he-goat or the price of it."

'Well, monks, just in the same way
the small offence
of such and such a person here
takes him to hell:
or yet again a similar small offence
of another person
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it,
is to be seen (hereafter).

9. Now what sort of person
does his small offence take to hell?

Herein, monks, a certain person
is careless in culture of body,
habits
and thoughts.

He has not developed insight.

He is insignificant.

His soul is restricted.

His life is restricted and miserable.[15]

Of such a person
even a small offence
takes him to hell.

And of what sort of person
does a similar offence
have to be experienced
in this very life?

For what sort of person
is not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it
seen thereafter?

In this case
some person has carefully cultured body,
habits
and thought.

He has developed insight.

He is not insignificant,
he is a great soul.[16]

His life is immeasurable.

That is the sort of person
a similar small offence
is to be experienced
(by expiation) in this very life,
and not much of it,
nay, not a jot of it, is seen.'

Now, monks, if one should say:

"Exactly according as this man does a deed,
in such manner
will he experience (the result of) it," -

that being so
there is no holy living,
there is no opportunity afforded
for the perfect ending of Ill.

But, monks, if one should say:

"Exactly according as a man does a deed
that can be experienced (hereafter),
exactly in such manner
does he experience the fruition thereof," -
that being so
there is living of the holy life:
there is opportunity afforded
for the utter ending of Ill.'

 


[1] This sutta is trans. by Warren, Buddhism in Translations, 218, and Grimm, The Doctrine of the Buddha, 255.

[2] This does not controvert the doctrine of the deed, but means that the particular kind of action does not find its exact replica in fulfilment, because times and men and things are always changing.

[3] Vedanīyaɱ.

[4] Text wrongly joins sammā with dukkhassa throughout, as if it were 'utter' Ill.

[5] Text should read Nāṇum pi khāyati, bahu-d-eva (ne minimum quidem videtur, ne multum dicam), which Comy. paraphrases thus: dutiye attabhāve aṇum pi na khāyati: aṇumattam pi dutiye attabhāve vipākaɱ na deti, 'in his next birth not a jot of it is seen: in his next birth it does not produce even a trifling result. Grimm follows this rendering (loc. cit.) which the Pali may bear, but it does not harmonize with the Gangā simile. Warren gives just the opposite meaning, translating 'not slight, but grievous.'

[6] Abhāvita.

[7] App'ātumo ('a small ego'). Comy. ātumo vuccati aitabhāvo, tasmiɱ mahante pi (?) guṇa-parittatāya app'ātumo yeva. Cf. Nid. i, 69 (ātumā vuccati attā).

[8] Appa-dukkha-vihārī. The words would ordinarily mean 'he lives in but little pain,' but apparently it is contrasted with appamāṇa-vihārī below. Warren trans. 'abides in what is finite (?).' Does it mean 'he is a little man and has but little care in the world'?

[9] Mahattā = mahātmā. (Comy. avoids this 'soul' or 'self' idea by saying he is great by his great qualities, though his person be small (?), but in dealing with the next word, appamāṇa-vihārī, admits that he is Arahant.)

[10] Kahāpaṇa = ? a farthing. It may be a case of theft or debt; the comparison with the rich man suggests the latter alternative.

[11] The conclusion is that one man is unable to pay off his karma, while the other can do so. The rich man is the one who has more ability and merit.

[12] Text jhāpetuɱ. Comy. =jāpetuɱ 'deprive of his property.' The latter reading is perhaps preferable.

[13] Aññadatthu.

[14] Mārisa.

[15] As above, appadukkha-vihārī.

[16] As above, mahattā.


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