DN14.6. The Sick Man

Mahāpadāna Sutta ("The Great Discourse on the Harvest of Deeds")

Then King Bandhuma thought, ‘Prince Vipassī must not renounce the throne. He must not go forth from the lay life to homelessness. And the words of the brahmin soothsayers must not come true.’ To this end he provided the prince with even more of the five kinds of sensual stimulation, with which the prince amused himself.

Then, after many thousand years had passed, Prince Vipassī had his charioteer drive him to the park once more.

Along the way he saw a man who was ill, suffering, gravely ill, collapsed in his own urine and feces, being picked up by some and put down by others. He addressed his charioteer, ‘My dear charioteer, what has that man done? For his eyes and his voice are unlike those of other men.’

‘That, Your Majesty, is called a sick man.’

‘But why is he called a sick man?’

‘He’s called an sick man; hopefully he will recover from that illness.’

‘But my dear charioteer, am I liable to fall sick? Am I not exempt from sickness?’

‘Everyone is liable to fall sick, Your Majesty, including you. No-one is exempt from sickness.’

‘Well then, my dear charioteer, that’s enough of the park for today. Let’s return to the royal compound.’

‘Yes, Your Majesty,’ replied the charioteer and did so.

Back at the royal compound, the prince brooded, miserable and sad: ‘Damn this thing called rebirth, since old age and sickness will come to anyone who’s born.’

Then King Bandhuma summoned the charioteer and said, ‘My dear charioteer, I hope the prince enjoyed himself at the park? I hope he was happy there?’

‘No, Your Majesty, the prince didn’t enjoy himself at the park.’

‘But what did he see on the way to the park?’ And the charioteer told the king about seeing the sick man and the prince’s reaction.

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