[19] The Parable Of Riding A Ship And Losing An Alms Bowl From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之乘船失釪喻

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[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

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


[In the] past, [there] was [a] person riding [a] ship crossing [the] ocean, [where he] lost a silver alms bowl, [with it] falling within [the] water. [He] immediately thought, ‘I [will] now draw [on the] water [to] make [a] mark, [temporarily] giving [it] up, then leaving, [I] will later retrieve it.’


Passing by two months, reaching Lion [Kingdom’s] [i.e. Siṃhala; Ceylon; Sri Lanka] many countries, [when] seeing a river’s water, [he] then entered it [to] seek [his] originally lost alms bowl.


Many people asked, saying, ‘What [is] that [you] desire [to] do?’


[He] replied, saying, ‘[For] my earlier lost alms bowl, [I] now desire [to] seek [and] retrieve [it].’


[Those] asking said, ‘At which place [was it] lost?’


[He] replied, saying, ‘[Where I] first entered [the] ocean, [it was] lost.’


Also again asking, saying, ‘[Since] losing [it], how [much] time [has] passed?’


[He] said, ‘Since losing [it, it has been] two months.’


[Those] asking said, ‘[If] since losing [it, it has been] two months, why [are you in] this [place] seeking [it]?’


[He] replied, saying, ‘When I lost [the] alms bowl, [I] drew [on the] water [to] make [a] mark, [with] that originally drawn water with this without difference, therefore [am I] seeking it [here].’


Also again asking, saying, ‘Although [the] water [is] not different, when you lost [it, it is] thus at that [place], now [at] this [place] seeking, how can [you] get [it]?’


At that time, [the] crowd [of] people [were] without [those] not laughing greatly [at him].


[He is] also like [those of] external paths [who do] not cultivate right practices, [with what] resembles good within, perversely planning [to be with practices of] suffering [and] hardship [i.e. extreme asceticism], with [these] seeking liberation. [They are] similar to [the] foolish person losing [the] alms bowl at that [place], yet at this [place] seeking [it].

[Note: What more treacherous than more obviously evil (i.e. wrong) teachings (邪法) are those that ‘resemble the (Right) Dharma’ (相似法), which are not the actual Good Dharma (善法) or the Right Dharma (正法). These dangerous teachings are ‘seemingly right yet wrong’ (似是而非). Those misled by such teachings will be searching for what is right (i.e. liberation) with wrong methods (at the wrong places and times).]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[18] The Parable Of Accommodating Stairs To Sharpen A Knife

Next Parable:

[20] The Parable Of A Person Saying A King Is Recklessly Brutal

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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