[25] The Parable Of Water And Fire From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之水火喻

bright bonfire near lake and mountains at night
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[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

(25) Parable [Of] Water [And] Fire


[In the] past, [there] was a person, [for] work needing fire [to be] used, as well as cold water. Immediately [with the] previous night’s [yet to be] extinguished fire, [and] with [a] wash [basin, he] poured into [it to] fill [it with] water, [and] placed [it] on [the] fire above. Later desiring [to] get fire, then [with the] fire all extinguished, desiring [to] get cold water, then [with the] water again hot, [with] fire and cold water, [these] two things together lost.


People of [the] world [are] likewise thus, [for] entering within [the] Buddha’s Dharma [teachings], leaving [the] household [life to] seek [the] path, [having] already attained leaving [of the] household [life], again thinking [about] their wives, children, [other] family members, matters of [the] world [and] joys of [the] five desires.


Because of this thus, losing their ‘fires’ of meritorious virtues, [and] ‘waters’ of upholding precepts, of people thinking [of] desires, [they are] likewise thus.

[Note: With inverted thinking, the foolish yearn for liberation when trapped in the cycle of birth and death, but when on the path towards liberation, yearn for matters of the cycle of birth and death. Ambivalently alternating between these two kinds of motivations, they thus lose both of what they yearn for.

There should be reasonable fulfilling of worldly (世间) responsibilities, before focusing on world-transcending (出世间) Dharma learning and practice. Even if not able to focus on the latter full time, there should be mindful switching between the duo in everyday life, to focus properly on each when dealing with each, without distracting oneself by thinking of the other then.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[24] The Parable Of Planting Roasted Sesame Seeds

Next Parable:

[26] The Parable Of The Person Imitating A King’s Eye-Twitching

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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