[14] The Parable Of Killing The Merchants’ Leader To Offer A ‘Heavenly God’ From The Sūtra Of A Hundred Parables《百喻经》之杀商主祀天喻

a man rowing a small boat with a sail
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In the past, there were merchants who desired to enter the great ocean. As for the method of entering the great ocean, there must be a guiding teacher, after that can they go forth, they then together sought to attain a guiding teacher. Having attained him already, with one another, they intended to set off, and were guided to arrive within wilderness.


There was a hall for sacrifices to a ‘heavenly god’, ‘needing’ a person to be offered, after that getting to pass through. Thereupon, all the merchants together considered and said, ‘As we companions are completely close relatives, how can any be killed? Only this guiding teacher within can be used for offering to the “heavenly god.”‘


They then killed their guiding teacher, with him used for sacrificial offering. With offering to the ‘heavenly god’ completed, they were confused and lost their path, not knowing that to turn towards, with poverty and death in the end.


All of the world’s people are likewise thus. If desiring to enter the Dharma ocean to obtain its precious treasures, they should cultivate good Dharma practices, with them as their guiding teachers.


If destroying good practices, they are with the cycle of birth and death’s extensive path, forever without exit’s date, passing through the three realms, receiving suffering far-reaching, they are like those merchants, intending to enter the great ocean, yet killing their guide, confused and losing their shipping route, in the end leading to poverty and death.

[Note 1: The three realms (三界) are the (i) Desire Realm (欲界), (ii) Form Realm (色界) and (iii) Formless Realm (无色界).]

[Note 2: To walk the path to Buddhahood, at least one good (or main) spiritual guiding teacher (such as the Buddha through his teachings, and the Patriarchs through their explanations) must be found, and the right Dharma instructions given must be followed. If an evil guide’s instructions are heeded, or if the good guide’s instructions are not heeded, Buddhahood will never be attained.

For discovering spiritual wealth and deathlessness, which are the opposites of worldly poverty and death respectively, a good guide is thus crucial and very precious, not to be given up when found, unless proven to be evil or inadequate. Otherwise, we will remain existentially confused and lost in the wilderness of ongoing rebirths.

According to the Buddha’s teachings, no truly heavenly god (天神), being with greater good than the average human being, will need or want any lesser sentient being to be sacrificed for him or her – unless that being is actually a heavenly demon (天魔), thus evil, but mistaken to be good.]

All Hundred Parables:


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