Three Explanations With Two Recommendations On The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables
There are usually three explanations on why there are 98 parables instead of 100 in the Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》.
[a] The first explanation is that they were rounded up to be 100 for the convenience of naming and remembering.
[c] The third explanation is that somehow, there were two parables lost in the sands of time.
In any case, the following are two very appropriate ‘bonus’ parables to share, for those who would like to learn more, and to ‘fill the gap’ present, if perceived.
[i] The first is the Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Analogies《佛说譬喻经》, which is perhaps one of the most elaborate parables taught by the Buddha.
It is recommended to be studied first, before all 98 parables (as Parable #-1), because it sets a universally urgent tone, priming us with the right attitude, with which we should study all other parables. It reminds all to sincerely and diligently take up the challenge of learning and practising the Dharma in time, in the face of ever impending death.
[ii] The second is the Parable Of Two Rivers And The White Path (二河白道喻) from the Commentary On The Contemplation Sūtra In Four Fascicles《观经四帖疏》, which is also a parable loaded with rich meanings, as taught by the Pure Land Tradition’s Second Patriarch Great Master Shàndǎo (净土宗二祖善导大师).
It is recommended to be studied last, after all 98 parables (as Parable #+1), because it exhorts all to, as a most skilful follow-up, sincerely and diligently take up the task of learning and practising the Pure Land teachings in time, also in the face of ever impending death.
After all, it is with reaching of the Pure Land that all of the Dharma learnt and practised will be remembered, for most swiftly expediting progress to Buddhahood, without any spiritual backsliding.
If neither reaching enlightenment nor Pure Land by the end of this life, all learnt and practised, including these 100 parables will be forgotten in the next life. With this recurring confusion from separation (from previous lives) by death (隔阴之迷), is this not why we are still trapped in the cycle of birth and death in this deepening Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期)?
The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables
The Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Analogies
The Parable Of Two Rivers And The White Path
How Death Hinders Progress To Liberation
Brief Introduction To The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables