The Arrow Parable From The Buddha – Myth and Legand

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Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”  – Gautama Buddha

BUDDHA’S PARABLE OF THE ARROW

“Imagine a man that has been pierced by an arrow well soaked in poison, and his relatives and friends go at once to fetch a physician or a surgeon. Imagine now that this man says:

“I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know the name of the man who shot it, and the name of his family, and whether he is tall or short or of medium height; until I know whether he is black or dark or yellow; until I know his village or town. I will not have the arrow pulled out until I know about the bow that shot it, whether it was a long bow or a cross bow.

I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know about the bow-string, and the arrow, and the feathers of the arrow, whether they are feathers of a vulture, or kite or peacock.

I will not have the arrow pulled out until I know whether the tendon which binds it is of ox, or deer, or monkey.

I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know whether it is an arrow, or the edge of a knife, or a splinter, or the tooth of a calf, or the head of a javelin.”

Well, that man would die, but he would die without having found out all these things.

In the same way, any one who would say: ‘I will not follow the holy life of Buddha until he tells me whether the world is eternal or not; whether the life and the body are two things, or one thing; whether the one who has reached the Goal is beyond death or not; whether he is both beyond death and not beyond death; whether he is neither beyond death nor is not beyond death.”

Well, that man would die, but he would die without Buddha having told these things.

Because I am one who says: Whether the world is eternal or not, there is birth, and death, and suffering, and woe, and lamentation, and despair. And what I do teach is the means that lead to the destruction of these things.

Remember therefore that what I have said, I have said; and that what I have not said, I have not said. And why have I not given an answer to these questions? Because these questions are not profitable, they are not a principle of the holy life, they lead not to peace, to supreme wisdom, to Nirvana.”

- Majjhima Nikaya