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A Heap of Bones—John D. Ireland

Itivuttaka: The Buddha’s Sayings

The Section of the Ones

24. A Heap of Bones

This was said by the Lord…

“Bhikkhus, the skeletons of a single person, running on and wandering in saṃsāra for an aeon, would make a heap of bones, a quantity of bones as large as this Mount Vepulla, if there were someone to collect them and if the collection were not destroyed.”

The bones of a single person
Accumulated in a single aeon
Would make a heap like a mountain—
So said the Great Sage.

He declared it to be
As great as Mount Vepulla
To the north of Vulture’s Peak
In the hill-fort of Magadha.

But when one sees with perfect wisdom
The four noble truths as they are—
Suffering, the origin of suffering,
The overcoming of suffering,
And the noble eightfold path
Leading to relief from suffering—

Having merely run on
Seven times at the most,
By destroying all fetters
One makes an end of suffering.