Saṃyutta Nikāya 22

Connected Discourses on the Aggregates

101. The Adze Handle or The Ship

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and does not see. For one who knows what, who sees what, does the destruction of the taints come about? ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away; such is feeling … such is perception … such are volitional formations … such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away’: it is for one who knows thus, for one who sees thus, that the destruction of the taints comes about.

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu does not dwell devoted to development, even though such a wish as this might arise in him: ‘Oh, that my mind might be liberated from the taints by nonclinging!’ yet his mind is not liberated from the taints by nonclinging. For what reason? It should be said: because of nondevelopment. Because of not developing what? Because of not developing the four establishments of mindfulness … the four right strivings … the four bases for spiritual power … the five spiritual faculties … the five powers … the seven factors of enlightenment … the Noble Eightfold Path.

“Suppose, bhikkhus there was a hen with eight, ten, or twelve eggs that she had not covered, incubated, and nurtured properly. Even though such a wish as this might arise in her: ‘Oh, that my chicks might pierce their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and hatch safely!’ yet the chicks are incapable of piercing their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and hatching safely. For what reason? Because that hen with eight, ten, or twelve eggs had not covered, incubated, and nurtured them properly.

“So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu does not dwell devoted to development, even though such a wish as this might arise in him: ‘Oh, that my mind might be liberated from the taints by nonclinging! ’ yet his mind is not liberated from the taints by nonclinging. For what reason? It should be said: because of nondevelopment. Because of not developing what? Because of not developing … the Noble Eightfold Path.

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu dwells devoted to development, even though no such wish as this might arise in him: ‘Oh, that my mind might be liberated from the taints by nonclinging!’ yet his mind is liberated from the taints by nonclinging. For what reason? It should be said: because of development. Because of developing what? Because of developing the four establishments of mindfulness … the four right strivings … the four bases for spiritual power … the five spiritual faculties … the five powers … the seven factors of enlightenment … the Noble Eightfold Path.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a hen with eight, ten, or twelve eggs that she had covered, incubated, and nurtured properly. Even though no such wish as this might arise in her: ‘Oh, that my chicks might pierce their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and hatch safely!’ yet the chicks are capable of piercing their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and of hatching safely. For what reason? Because that hen with eight, ten, or twelve eggs had covered, incubated, and nurtured them properly.

“So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu dwells devoted to development, even though no such wish as this might arise in him: ‘Oh, that my mind might be liberated from the taints by nonclinging! ’ yet his mind is liberated from the taints by nonclinging. For what reason? It should be said: because of development. Because of developing what? Because of developing … the Noble Eightfold Path.

“When, bhikkhus, a carpenter or a carpenter’s apprentice looks at the handle of his adze, he sees the impressions of his fingers and his thumb, but he does not know: ‘So much of the adze handle has been worn away today, so much yesterday, so much earlier.’ But when it has worn away, the knowledge occurs to him that it has worn away.

“So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu dwells devoted to development, even though no such knowledge occurs to him: ‘So much of my taints has been worn away today, so much yesterday, so much earlier,’ yet when they are worn away, the knowledge occurs to him that they have been worn away.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a seafaring ship bound with rigging that had been worn away in the water for six months. It would be hauled up on dry land during the cold season and its rigging would be further attacked by wind and sun. Inundated by rain from a rain cloud, the rigging would easily collapse and rot away. So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu dwells devoted to development, his fetters easily collapse and rot away.”