Thus I have heard. On a certain day the Blessed one (Buddha) dwelt at Srasvati, at the Jeta grove, in the garden of Anatapindaka. When the night was far advanced, a radiant celestial one (Deva), whose countenance was exceedingly sublime and whose refulgent splendor illuminated the whole of the grove, approached the Bhagavat (Buddha) and worshipped him, standing aside. He then addressed the Bhagavat in verse — What is the sharpest sword? What the deadliest poison? What the fiercest fire? What the grossest darkness?
Bhagavat replied in verse — A harsh word is the sharpest word; covetousness, the deadliest poison; anger, the fiercest fire; ignorance, the grossest darkness.
The Deva asked: Who does gain the greatest benefit? Who does lose the most? What is the most invulnerable armor? What the best weapon?
Bhagavat replied: He is the greatest gainer who gives to other, and he loses the most who receives from other. Patience is the most invulnerable armor; wisdom the best weapon.
Deva: Who is a thief? What is the most precious treasure for the wise? Who is a robber (not only on the earth, but also in the heaven)?
Bhagavat: Evil thought is a stealer; virtue, the most precious treasure for the wise. Immorality is a robber, not only on the earth but also in the heaven.
Deva: Who enjoys the greatest happiness? Who is the richest? Who is the noblest? Who the most ignoble?
Bhagavat: He whose desires are moderate is most happy; he is richest who is contented; the virtuous is noblest; the vicious is basest.
Deva: What is that which is attractive? What is that which is disgusting? What is the most horrible pain? What is the greatest enjoyment?
Bhagavad: Good is attractive; evil, disgusting. Of all the pains, the hell is the most tormenting; the deliverance from rebirth is the height of bliss.
Deva: What wish is right and proper? What wish is wrong and improper? What is the most violent fever? Who the best physician?
Bhagavat: Emancipation from transmigratory existence is right and proper to wish for; but not all the evil desires. Concupiscence is the most violent fever; Buddha, the best physician.
Deva: What power is able to ruin all the world? By what influence is all the world confused? What makes us forsake our friends? What does prevent our being born in the heaven?
Bhagavat: It is by ignorance that all the world is ruined, and by sceptics that it is confused. A cruel, covetous heart causes us to forsake our friends. Our attachment to agreeable objects renders it impossible for us to be born in the heaven.
Deva: What is it that neither fire can burn, nor water corrode, nor wind crush down, but that is able to make good the whole world? What was secure from the attack of a malefactor who would come to take it away?
Deva then asked and said: Now I have only one doubt left to be resolved; pray clear it away for me: — Who has been, is, and will be the greatest self-deceiver?
Bhagavat answered and said: Whoever possesses great riches, and yet fails to use them for promoting his blessings, has been, is, and will be the greatest self-deceiver.
The Deva, having heard the words of the Bhagavat, was full of exceeding joy, and worshipped him, throwing himself down at his feet. And he disappeared suddenly from the presence of the Bhagavat.
1. A Sutra, translated from the Chinese by M. Matzuyama. From Tracts of Buddhist Prop. Soc. of Kyoto, Japan. (return to text)
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