DN30.12. Delicate Skin

Lakkhaṇa Sutta ("The Marks of a Great Man")

“Mendicants, in some past lives the Realized One was reborn as a human being. He approached an ascetic or brahmin and asked: ‘Sirs, what is skillful? What is unskillful? What is blameworthy? What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? Doing what leads to my lasting harm and suffering? Doing what leads to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ Due to performing those deeds he was reborn in a heavenly realm. When he came back to this state of existence he obtained this mark: he has delicate skin, so delicate that dust and dirt don’t stick to his body.

Possessing this mark, if he stays at home he becomes a wheel-turning monarch. And what does he obtain as king? He has great wisdom. Of those who enjoy sensual pleasures, none is his equal or better in wisdom. That’s what he obtains as king. And what does he obtain as Buddha? He has great wisdom, widespread wisdom, laughing wisdom, swift wisdom, sharp wisdom, and penetrating wisdom. No sentient being is his equal or better in wisdom. That’s what he obtains as Buddha.” That is what the Buddha said.

On this it is said:

“In olden days, in past lives,
eager to understand, he asked questions.
Keen to learn, he waited on renunciates,
heeding their explanation with pure intent.

Due to that deed of acquiring wisdom,
as a human being his skin is delicate.
At his birth the soothsayers expert in signs prophesied:
‘He’ll discern delicate matters.’

If he doesn’t choose the life gone forth,
he’ll roll the wheel and rule the land.
Among those with material possessions who have been educated,
none equal or better than him is found.

But if he chooses the life gone forth,
seeing clearly, loving renunciation,
gaining wisdom that’s supreme and eminent,
the one of superb, vast intelligence attains awakening.”

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