[14] The Parable Of Killing The Merchants’ Leader To Offer A ‘Heavenly God’ From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之杀商主祀天喻

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[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

(14) Parable [Of] Killing [The] Merchants’ Leader [To] Offer [A] ‘Heavenly [God]’


[In the] past, [there] were merchants [who] desired [to] enter [the] great ocean. [As for the] method of entering [the] great ocean, [there] must [be a] guiding teacher, after that can [they] go [forth, they] then together sought [to] attain a guiding teacher. [Having] attained him already, [with] one another, [they] intended [to] set off, [and were] guided [to] arrive within wilderness.


[There] was a hall [for] sacrifices [to a] ‘heavenly [god’], ‘needing’ [a] person [to be] offered, after that getting [to] pass [through]. Thereupon, all [the] merchants together considered [and] said, ‘[As] we companions are completely close relatives, how can [any be] killed? Only this guiding teacher within [can be] used [for] offering [to the] “heavenly [god].”‘


[They] then killed [their] guiding teacher, with [him] used [for] sacrificial offering. [With] offering [to the] ‘heavenly [god’] completed, [they were] confused [and] lost [their] path, not knowing that [to] turn towards, [with] poverty [and] death [in the] end.


All [of the] world’s people [are] likewise thus. [If] desiring [to] enter [the] Dharma ocean [to] obtain its precious treasures, [they] should cultivate good Dharma practices, with [them] as [their] guiding teachers.


[If] destroying good practices, [they are with the cycle of] birth [and] death’s extensive path, forever without exit’s date, passing through [the] three realms, receiving suffering far-reaching, [they are] like those merchants, intending [to] enter [the] great ocean, [yet] killing their guide, confused [and] losing [their] shipping route, in the end leading [to] poverty [and] death.

[Note 1: The three realms (三界) are the (i) Desire Realm (欲界), (ii) Form Realm (色界) and (iii) Formless Realm (无色界).]

[Note 2: To walk the path to Buddhahood, at least one good (or main) spiritual guiding teacher (such as the Buddha through his teachings, and the Patriarchs through their explanations) must be found, and the right Dharma instructions given must be followed. If an evil guide’s instructions are heeded, or if the good guide’s instructions are not heeded, Buddhahood will never be attained.

For discovering spiritual wealth and deathlessness, which are the opposites of worldly poverty and death respectively, a good guide is thus crucial and very precious, not to be given up when found, unless proven to be evil or inadequate. Otherwise, we will remain existentially confused and lost in the wilderness of ongoing rebirths.

According to the Buddha’s teachings, no truly heavenly god (天神), being with greater good than the average human being, will need or want any lesser sentient being to be sacrificed for him or her – unless that being is actually a heavenly demon (天魔), thus evil, but mistaken to be good.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[13] The Parable Of The Person Easily Angry

Next Parable:

[15] The Parable Of The Doctor Giving The King’s Daughter Medicine To Enable Hastening Of Growing Up

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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