[34] The Parable Of Delivering Sweet Water From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之送美水喻

a person carrying buckets of water
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[The] Sūtra [Of A] Hundred Parables

(34) Parable [Of] Delivering Sweet Water


[In the] past, [there] was a village, [from the] King’s city five yojanas away, [with the] village within having good [and] sweet water.


[The] King ordered [the] villagers, constantly making [them, to] every day deliver that sweet water [to him. As the] villagers [became] tired [with] suffering, [they] all desired [to] move, [to] far away avoid this village.


Then, that village’s chief said [to] all [the] people, saying, ‘You [should] not go! I will for you speak [to the] King, [to] change [the] five yojanas [to] be three yojanas, [to] make you get nearer [to him, with] coming [and] going [that is] not tiring.’


[He] then went [to the] King, [and the] King for [him] changed that [to be] three yojanas, [with] all [the] people hearing [this] already, then [having] great joy.


[There] was [a] person [who] said, ‘This thus is originally five yojanas, again without having differences.’ Although hearing these words, believing [the] King’s words thus, in the end, [they were] not willing [to] abandon [them].


People of [the] world [are] likewise thus, cultivating practice [of the] Right Dharma [to be] delivered from [the] five paths, [going] towards [Ultimate] Nirvāṇa’s city [i.e. Buddhahood], [with their] minds giving rise [to] weariness, then desiring [to] abandon [this, hoping to] suddenly transcend [the cycle of] birth [and] death, not able [to] again advance.

[Note 1: The five paths (五道) are essentially the same as the six paths (六道) of rebirth, with the (i) hell path (地狱道), (ii) hungry ghost path (饿鬼道), (iii) animal path (畜生道), (iv) human path (人道), (v) asura path (阿修罗道) and (vi) heavenly path (天道), but without (v), as this path can also arise within any of the other five paths (五道).]


[The] Thus Come [One, the] Dharma King has great skilful means, with [the] One Vehicle’s Dharma [teachings (i.e. for Buddhahood)] differentiated, spoke [of the] Three [Vehicles] [i.e. of Voice-Hearers (声闻), Those By Conditions Awakened (缘觉) and Bodhisattvas (菩萨)]. People of [the] Small Vehicle [who] hear [about] it [are] joyful, assuming [it is] easy [to] practise, cultivate good [and] advance virtues [to] seek deliverance [from the cycle of] birth [and] death. Later hearing people saying [that there] are no Three Vehicles, [that they] thus are one path, with faith [in the] Buddha’s words [first heard], in the end, not willing [to] abandon [them], like those villagers, [they are] likewise thus.

[Note 2: The Small Vehicle’s (小乘) teachings for Voice-Hearers’ (声闻) self-liberation (自了) are a smaller subset of the Great Vehicle’s (大乘) teachings, meant to lead eventually to Buddhahood, for the liberation of one and all (自了了他). Thus is there actually One Vehicle (一乘) with one path only.]

[Note 3: This parable has parallels with the Parable Of The Manifested City (化城喻) in the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sūtra《妙法莲华经》, in which it is revealed that the Small Vehicle’s teachings were originally taught by the Buddha, for those not ready to receive the Great Vehicle’s teachings directly, as a nearer stepping stone, that leads towards the Great Vehicle’s teachings later. However, some spiritually shortsightedly only cling to the Small Vehicle’s teachings, which they might not even learn, practise and realise fully, what more to advance from them.]

[Note 4: The actual Easy Practice Path (易行道), that is even easier to practise than the path to self-liberation is the Pure Land Dharma Door (净土法门). This is so because it connects to the immeasurably great supportive powers of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛). The Pure Land path is thus the swiftest and most skilful means of the Great Vehicle as it leads to self-liberation in the Pure Land, where skilful means for guiding one and all to Buddhahood will be mastered.]

[Note 5: The Small Vehicle is also called the Two Vehicles (二乘), of Voice-Hearers (声闻) and Those By Conditions Awakened (缘觉), with the first having heard the Buddha’s teachings by voice or reading, and the latter being sharp enough to realise liberation by themselves from mindfulness of their minds and nature. The Great Vehicle is also called the Bodhisattva Vehicle (菩萨乘) and the Buddha Vehicle (佛乘), as the Bodhisattva path leads to Buddhahood.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Previous Parable:

[33] The Parable Of Cutting The Tree To Obtain Its Fruits

Next Parable:

[35] The Parable Of The Treasure Trunk’s Mirror

All Hundred Parables:

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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