DN23.2.6. The Simile of the Pregnant Woman

Pāyāsi Sutta ("With Pāyāsi")

“Well then, chieftain, I shall give you a simile. For by means of a simile some sensible people understand the meaning of what is said.

Once upon a time, a certain brahmin had two wives. One had a son ten or twelve years of age, while the other was pregnant and nearing her time. Then the brahmin passed away.

So the youth said to his mother’s co-wife, ‘Madam, all the wealth, grain, silver, and gold is mine, and you get nothing. Transfer to me my father’s inheritance.’

But the brahmin lady said, ‘Wait, my dear, until I give birth. If it’s a boy, one portion shall be his. If it’s a girl, she will be your reward.’

But for a second time, and a third time, the youth insisted that the entire inheritance must be his.

So the brahmin lady took a knife, went to her bedroom, and sliced open her belly, thinking, ‘Until I give birth, whether it’s a boy or a girl!’ She destroyed her own life and that of the fetus, as well as any wealth.

Being foolish and incompetent, she sought an inheritance irrationally and fell to ruin and disaster. In the same way, chieftain, being foolish and incompetent, you’re seeking the other world irrationally and will fall to ruin and disaster, just like that brahmin lady. Good ascetics and brahmins don’t force what is unripe to ripen; rather, they wait for it to ripen. For the life of clever ascetics and brahmins is beneficial. So long as they remain, good ascetics and brahmins make much merit, and act for the welfare and happiness of the people, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans. By this method, too, it ought to be proven that there is an afterlife.”

“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, place this man in a pot while he’s still alive. Close up the mouth, bind it up with damp leather, and seal it with a thick coat of damp clay. Then lift it up on a stove and light the fire.’ They agree, and do what I ask. When we know that that man has passed away, we lift down the pot and break it open, uncover the mouth, and slowly peek inside, thinking, ‘Hopefully we’ll see his soul escaping.’ But we don’t see his soul escaping. This is how I prove that there’s no afterlife.”

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