Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Handful Of Leaves


On one occasion the Lord was staying at Kosambi in a grove of simsapa trees. Then he took  a handful of simsapa leaves and said to the monks; “What do you think? Which is the more numerous, this handful of leaves or those in this grove?” “Lord, the leaves in your hand are few but the leaves in this simsapa grove are many.” “So too, monks, those things I know directly but have not taught you are many, while the things I have taught you are few in comparison. Any why have I not taught you those many things? Because they are not connected  with the goal, not fundamental to the holy life, they do not conduce to the good,  to turning away, to fading, to calming, to higher knowledge or to Nirvana. And what have I taught? The Four Noble Truths. And why have I taught this? Because it is connected with the goal, fundamental to the holy life, conducive to the good, to turning away, to fading, calming, higher knowledge and to Nirvana.” (S.V,437-8)
This sutta tells us that enlightenment makes available to  those who attain  it vistas of knowledge that we can only imagine. It also underlines the Buddha’s pragmatism, that his   principle concern was to free us from dukkha, and by implication, that it should be our main concern too. But the sutta might also raise curiosity in some people at least about the simpapa tree and leaves.  For your information simpapa is Indian Rosewood, (Dalbergia sissoo) and here is a picture of its leaves  

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