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SN 17.3 Kummasutta: A Turtle

At Sāvatthī.

“Possessions, honor, and popularity are brutal, bitter, and harsh. They’re an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

Once upon a time in a certain lake there was a large family of turtles that had lived there for a long time. Then one of the turtles said to another, ‘My dear turtle, don’t you go to that place.’

But that turtle did go to that place, and a hunter pierced her with a harpoon.

Then that turtle went back to the other turtle. When the other turtle saw her coming off in the distance, he said, ‘My dear turtle, I hope you didn’t go to that place!’

‘I did.’

‘But my dear turtle, I hope you’re not hurt or injured!’

‘I’m not hurt or injured. But this cord keeps dragging behind me.’

‘Indeed, my dear turtle, you’re hurt and injured! Your father and grandfather met with tragedy and disaster because of such a cord. Go now, you are no longer one of us.’

‘Hunter’ is a term for Māra the Wicked.

‘Harpoon’ is a term for possessions, honor, and popularity.

‘Cord’ is a term for greed and relishing.

Whoever enjoys and likes arisen possessions, honor, and popularity is called a mendicant who has been pierced with a harpoon. They’ve met with tragedy and disaster, and the Wicked One can do with them what he wants.

So brutal are possessions, honor, and popularity—bitter and harsh, an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

So you should train like this: ‘We will give up arisen possessions, honor, and popularity, and we won’t let them occupy our minds.’ That’s how you should train.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 17.3 Kummasutta: A Turtle by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Bengali, Indonesian, 日本語, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Norsk, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, ไทย, Tiếng Việt, or 汉语. Learn how to find your language.

AN 5.30 Nāgitasutta: With Nāgita

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was wandering in the land of the Kosalans together with a large Saṅgha of mendicants when he arrived at a village of the Kosalan brahmins named Icchānaṅgala. He stayed in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. The brahmins and householders of Icchānaṅgala heard:

“It seems the ascetic Gotama—a Sakyan, gone forth from a Sakyan family—has arrived at Icchānaṅgala. He is staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. He has this good reputation: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ He has realized with his own insight this world—with its gods, Māras and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, gods and humans—and he makes it known to others. He teaches Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And he reveals a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. It’s good to see such perfected ones.”

Then, when the night had passed, they took many fresh and cooked foods and went to the forest near Icchānaṅgala, where they stood outside the gates making a dreadful racket.

Now, at that time Venerable Nāgita was the Buddha’s attendant. Then the Buddha said to Nāgita, “Nāgita, who’s making that dreadful racket? You’d think it was fishermen hauling in a catch!”

“Sir, it’s these brahmins and householders of Icchānaṅgala. They’ve brought many fresh and cooked foods, and they’re standing outside the gates wanting to offer it specially to the Buddha and the mendicant Saṅgha.”

“Nāgita, may I never become famous. May fame not come to me. There are those who can’t get the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of awakening when they want, without trouble or difficulty like I can. Let them enjoy the filthy, lazy pleasure of possessions, honor, and popularity.”

“Sir, may the Blessed One please relent now! May the Holy One relent! Now is the time for the Buddha to relent. Wherever the Buddha now goes, the brahmins and householders will incline the same way, as will the people of town and country. It’s like when it rains heavily and the water flows downhill. In the same way, wherever the Buddha now goes, the brahmins and householders will incline the same way, as will the people of town and country. Why is that? Because of the Buddha’s ethics and wisdom.”

“Nāgita, may I never become famous. May fame not come to me. There are those who can’t get the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of awakening when they want, without trouble or difficulty like I can. Let them enjoy the filthy, lazy pleasure of possessions, honor, and popularity.

What you eat, drink, chew, and taste ends up as excrement and urine. This is its outcome.

When loved ones decay and perish, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress arise. This is its outcome.

When you pursue meditation on the feature of ugliness, revulsion at the feature of beauty becomes stabilized. This is its outcome.

When you meditate observing impermanence in the six fields of contact, revulsion at contact becomes stabilized. This is its outcome.

When you meditate observing rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates, revulsion at grasping becomes stabilized. This is its outcome.”


Note: To learn more about the dangers of gain and praise, check out SN 17 Lābhasakkāra Saṁyutta.

Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.30 Nāgitasutta: With Nāgita by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Bengali, Français, Indonesian, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Português, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, ไทย, Tiếng Việt, or 汉语. Learn how to find your language.