Nagasena Bhiksu Sutra 2.53

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T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues 2.53. The Function of a Sramana’s Body

The king asked Nāgasena again, “Is the body dear to sramanas?”

Nāgasena replied, “No, the body is not dear to the recluses.”

“If the recluses do not love their bodies, then why do they, when taking rest or sleeping, want to be comfortable; or when eating want palatable and delicious food. They take good care of themselves?”

“But, have you ever been to the middle of a battlefield?”

“Yes, I have been to the battlefield.”

“Have you ever been wounded by knife, spear or arrow?”

“Yes, I have been wounded by knife.”

“Then, how did you treat the wound which was caused by knife, by spear, or by arrow?”

“I treated the wound by anointing it with balm and bandaging it with cotton and wool.”

“Then, great king, it is because the wound is dear to you that you treated it by anointing it with balm and bandaging it with cotton and wool?”

“No, it is not dear to me.”

“If the wound is not dear to you, then why do you treat it so carefully by anointing it with balm and bandaging it with cotton and wool?”

“I only want the wound to get cured quickly. I do not love the wound.”

Then Nāgasena said, “So are the recluses. They do not love their body. Although they have to eat, have to drink, yet their mind does not cling to it, they do not want their food to be delicious, to be well prepared or for the beauty of the skin. They just want to keep the body going, so as to follow the Buddha’s teachings and precepts. In the Buddhist sutras, it says, ‘There are nine apertures on a person’s body, and they are like nine wounds caused by a spear. The nine apertures are ill-smelling and impure.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”