Did The Buddha Ever Say The Disagreeable?

What the Buddhas
think, say and do is
out of perfect compassion
for all sentient beings.

– Simokwang

As recorded in the Abhayarājakumāra Sutta, Prince Abhaya asked the Buddha if he would ever say something disliked or disagreeable by others… to which the Buddha replied that such a question is one-sided (as the answer would depend on whether what said should had been said or not then). The Prince exclaimed that with this reply, the Jains have lost.

It turned out that Nātaputta the Jain had urged the Prince to ask the Buddha the question, so as to refute him (with ‘truth’ and ‘reasoning’). Nātaputta had told him that if the Buddha replied ‘yes’, he should rebut that there is no difference between the Buddha and an average person, since the latter could also say something disliked or disagreeable by others.

However, if he is to answer ‘no’, he should rebut that the Buddha did say to Devadatta (the wayward monk, so as to warn him though), that he would be reborn in hell for a kalpa, with which Devadatta became angry. Nātaputta had wanted to use this double-edged question to make the Buddha neither able to spew out nor swallow in what was like an iron hook stuck in the throat.

Seeing a baby boy on the Prince’s knees, the Buddha asked what he would do if the child happened to have a stick or stone in his mouth. The Prince replied that out of compassion, he would remove it, and if not possible at once, even holding his head with a hand, crooking a finger with the other (to hook it out), even if this drew some blood, (thus causing some discomfort).

The Buddha replied that likewise, out of compassion for all, what he knows to be true and connected with the goal of enlightenment, but disliked or disagreeable by others, he would find the right time (and skilful means) to explain it, just as he would if it is liked and agreeable. This is while what not true or not connected to the goal, even if liked and agreeable, would never be said.

What the Buddhas
do not think, say and do is
out of perfect compassion
for all sentient beings too.

– Simokwang

Related Articles:
How the Buddha Chooses What to Say
Discourse To Prince Abhaya

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