Home » Excerpts » All Sentient Beings Love Their Lives

As all love their own eyes, 
So too they love their young. 
The love for one’s own life is endless. 
Therefore, one should never kill sentient beings.

– Śākyamuni Buddha 
(Sūtra of Accepting the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts 受十善经) 

The Buddha told Śāriputra, “Know that the karma of killing sentient beings has grave consequences. Once you and I visited the city of Pāṭaliputra and there we met Devapatī, the daughter of an elder. She gave birth to a boy who was comely beyond comparison, just as the goddess-daughter Red Lotus Flower is unequaled. This mother loved her son very much. Holding the boy in her arms, she came to the place where I was. She said to me, ‘World-Honored One, My son is so lovely that he is like a celestial boy. My love for him is a billion times my love for myself.’

“Then I told her, ‘Good woman, know that ordinary beings love their own lives, and that their self-love is like an ocean swallowing all streams, never satiated. You say how much you love your son. What is your proof?’”

That woman answered, “World-Honored One, I love my son. Even if a fire is burning my body, I will never abandon my son.” To transform that woman, the World-Honored One, using His spiritual power, manifested four yakṣas [i.e. demonic ghosts who eat human flesh], who approached from the four directions, each holding a mountain of fire. When the fires were still far away, the woman used her body and her clothes to shield her son. When the fires drew near, she raised her hands and used her son to shield her face from the fire.

The Buddha asked the woman, “You say that you love your son. Why are you using your son to block the fire and save yourself?” Then the woman answered, “World-Honored One, to save myself, I would not save this son.” The Buddha used His spiritual power to give coolness to both mother and son. She then activated the unsurpassed bodhi mind [i.e. Bodhicitta]. The Buddha told that woman, “If you love yourself and your son, why would you kill and make others kill?”

Sūtra of Accepting the Ten Good Karmas as Precepts (受十善经) 
Translated by Rulu

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