DN23.2.7. The Simile of the Dream

Pāyāsi Sutta ("With Pāyāsi")

“Well then, chieftain, I’ll ask you about this in return, and you can answer as you like. Do you recall ever having a midday nap and seeing delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds in a dream?”

“I do, sir.”

“At that time were you guarded by hunchbacks, dwarves, midgets, and younglings?”

“I was.”

“But did they see your soul entering or leaving?”

“No they did not.”

“So if they couldn’t even see your soul entering or leaving while you were still alive, how could you see the soul of a dead man? By this method, too, it ought to be proven that there is an afterlife, there are beings reborn spontaneously, and there is a fruit or result of good and bad deeds.”

“Even though Master Kassapa says this, still I think that there’s no afterlife.”

“Can you prove it?”

“I can.”

“How, exactly, chieftain?”

“Suppose they were to arrest a bandit, a criminal and present him to me, saying, ‘Sir, this is a bandit, a criminal. Punish him as you will.’ I say to them, ‘Well then, sirs, weigh this man with scales while he’s still alive. Then strangle him with a bowstring, and when he’s dead, weigh him again.’ They agree, and do what I ask. So long as they are alive, they’re lighter, softer, more flexible. But when they die they become heavier, stiffer, less flexible. This is how I prove that there’s no afterlife.”

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