[18] The Parable Of Accommodating Stairs To Sharpen A Knife From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之就楼磨刀喻

folding knife
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[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

(18) Parable [Of] Accommodating Stairs [To] Sharpen [A] Knife


[In the] past, [there] was a person, [who was] poor, [with] hardship [and] suffering, for [the] King doing work. [With] days [and] months long passing, [his] body [became] thin [and] weak. [The] King, seeing [this and] empathising, bestowed [him with] a dead camel.


[The] poor person, [having] gotten [it] already, immediately peeled [the] skin. Disliking [the] knife [for being] blunt thus, [he] sought [a] stone, desiring [to] sharpen [it]. Thus at upstairs, [he] got [to] a grindstone, [with which he] sharpened [the] knife, enabling [it to be] sharp, [before] coming down [to] then peel.


Thus repeatedly going [and] coming [to] sharpen [the] knife, [as this] later transformed [to be] toiling [with] suffering, dreading [that he might] not [be] able [to go] upstairs, hanging [the] camel upstairs [to] accommodate [the grind]stone [to] sharpen [the] knife, [he was] deeply by all people [as] that sneered [at].


Similar to [the] foolish person, [those who] destroy [and] break [the] prohibitive precepts, [are with] much obtained money [and] wealth, with [them] used [for] cultivating blessings, hoping [to] attain birth [in the] heavens. [They are] like [that person] hanging the] camel upstairs [to] sharpen [the] knife, using efforts extremely much, [with] that attained extremely little.

[Note: If the strife for a better rebirth is with breaking of the precepts, this is not possible, as doing so will karmically lead to a worse rebirth. Even if without breaking of precepts, there should not be shortsighted repeated toiling for just little short-lived benefits – be it in this one life, the next life, or from life to life.

Even if born in a heaven, the joys there will be neither permanent nor substantial, with one likely to fall later upon depletion of one’s blessings. This contrasts with birth in Āmítuófó’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土), where there will only be swift and non-retrogressive progress towards Buddhahood, with no possibility of depleting blessings, as ensured by one’s naturally motivated continual spiritual cultivation, with the Buddha’s additional blessings.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[17] The Parable Of The Debt Of Half A Coin

Next Parable:

[19] The Parable Of Riding A Ship And Losing An Alms Bowl

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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