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It is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and kinsmen were to get a surgeon to heal him, and he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know by what man I was wounded, whether he is of the warrior caste, or a brahmin, or of the agricultural, or the lowest caste.

Or if he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know of what name of family the man is;–or whether he is tall, or short, or of middle height; or whether he is black, or dark, or yellowish; or whether he comes from such and such a village, or town, or city; or until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a chapa or a kodanda, or until I know whether the bow-string was of swallow-wort, or bamboo fiber, or sinew, or hemp, or of milk-sap tree, or it was feathered from a vulture’s wing or a heron’s or a hawk’s, or a peacock’s; or of a ruru-deer, or of a monkey; or until I know whether it was an ordinary arrow, or a razo-arrow, or an iron arrow, or a calf-tooth arrow.

Before knowing all this, that man would die.


 This is Dr. Huston Smith’s paraphrasing of the Majjhima Nikaya Sutta, a parable taught by the Buddha.

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