Saṃyutta Nikāya 47

Connected Discourses on the Establishments of Mindfulness

20. The Most Beautiful Girl of the Land

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sumbhas, where there was a town of the Sumbhas named Sedaka. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”

“Venerable sir!” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, suppose that on hearing, ‘The most beautiful girl of the land! The most beautiful girl of the land!’ a great crowd of people would assemble. Now that most beautiful girl of the land would dance exquisitely and sing exquisitely. On hearing, ‘The most beautiful girl of the land is dancing! The most beautiful girl of the land is singing!’ an even larger crowd of people would assemble. Then a man would come along, wishing to live, not wishing to die, wishing for happiness, averse to suffering. Someone would say to him: ‘Good man, you must carry around this bowl of oil filled to the brim between the crowd and the most beautiful girl of the land. A man with a drawn sword will be following right behind you, and wherever you spill even a little of it, right there he will fell your head.’

“What do you think, bhikkhus, would that man stop attending to that bowl of oil and out of negligence turn his attention outwards?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“I have made up this simile, bhikkhus, in order to convey a meaning. This here is the meaning: ‘The bowl of oil filled to the brim’: this is a designation for mindfulness directed to the body. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate mindfulness directed to the body, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus, bhikkhus, should you train yourselves.”