「比丘！此是巢窟，夜則烟出，晝則火燃。有婆羅門，見是事已，破彼巢窟，并掘其地。時有智人，語婆羅門言： 『以刀掘地，見有一龜。』 婆羅門言： 『取是龜來！』 復語： 『掘地，見一蝮蛇。』 語令捉取。復語： 『掘地，見一肉段。』 語令挽取。復語： 『掘地，見一刀舍。』 婆羅門言： 『此是刀舍。』 語令掘取。復語： 『掘地，見楞祇芒毒蟲。』 語令掘取。復語： 『掘地，見有二道。』 復語： 『掘出。』 語： 『更掘地，見有石聚。』 語令出石。復語： 『掘地，見有一龍。』 婆羅門言： 『莫惱於龍！』 即跪彼龍。」
「世尊！云何巢窟，夜則烟出，晝則火 * 然？誰是婆羅門？誰是智人？云何是刀？云何是掘？云何為龜？云何蝮蛇？云何肉段？云何刀舍？云何楞祇芒毒虫？云何二道？云何石聚？云何名龍？」
「諦聽！諦聽！當為汝說。巢窟者，所謂是身──受於父母精氣，四大和合，衣、食長養，乃得成身──，而此身者會至散敗、膖脹、虫爛乃至碎壞。夜烟出者，種種覺、觀。晝火 * 然者，從身、口業廣有所作。婆羅門者，即是如來。有智人者，即諸聲聞。刀喻智慧。掘地者，喻於精進。龜者，喻於五蓋。蝮蛇者，喻瞋惱害。肉段者，喻慳貪、嫉妬。刀舍者，喻五欲。楞祇芒毒虫，喻如愚癡。二道者，喻於疑。諸石聚者，喻於我慢。龍者，喻於羅漢盡諸有結。」
造作如火 * 然 婆羅門如佛
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The parable of the smoking burrow
Translation of BZA 018. First version published in Buddhist Studies Review vol. 23-1 (2006).
Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying in Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove of Jialantuo.
At that time a monk went to the river in the early morning hours, undressed, and took a bath. When he came out to dry his body on the riverside, there was a deva, emitting rays and illuminating the riverbank. The deva asked him: ‘Monk! There is a burrow , from which smoke arises at night, but which is ablaze with fire during the day. A brāhmaṇa having seen this, [had it] broken open and dug up. There was a clever man [doing the digging], he told the brāhmaṇa: “Digging with the blade I found a tortoise”. And the brāhmaṇa said: “Take this tortoise out!”. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found a viper” , and [the brāhmaṇa] ordered him to catch it. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found a piece of meat” , and [the brāhmaṇa] ordered him to pull it out. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found a slaughter-house” . The brāhmaṇa: “Here is a place of slaughter” and ordered him to take it out. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found the poisonous insects of the thorn-apple” , and [the brāhmaṇa] ordered him to dig them out. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found a crossroad” , and [the brāhmaṇa:] “Out with it!”. Again he said: “Further digging up the ground I found a heap of stones” and [the brāhmaṇa] ordered him to take out the stones. Again he said: “Digging up the ground I found a dragon” . The brāhmaṇa said: “Don”t disturb the dragon’ and knelt to the dragon”’.
The deva said to the monk: ‘Don’t forget my words! Ask the Buddha [about this] and remember all he says! Why? Because I don’t see anyone, among the devas, the demons and the brāhmaṇas with the ability to distinguish, no one who could answer this question, but the Buddha and his disciples, the monks’.
Then the monk went to the Buddha, paid homage to his feet and stood to one side. He told the Buddha what the deva had said [and asked:] ‘World-honored One! What is this burrow that emits smoke at night and is on fire at day? Who is the brāhmaṇa? Who is the clever person? What is the blade? What does it mean “to dig”? What is the tortoise? What is the viper? What the piece of meat? What the slaughter-house? What the poisonous insects of the thorn-apple? What the crossing? What the heap of stones? What is the dragon?’. The Buddha replied: ‘Listen carefully! Listen carefully! I will tell you. The burrow is the body. Conceived through the essences of father and mother, made up from the four elements, sustained by clothes and food – by these a body is achieved. But in the end the body will fail, swell, become worm-eaten and break up. The smoke that arises at night are the various coarse and subtle applications of the mind. The fire of the day is the karma engendered by body and speech. The brāhmaṇa is the Tathāgata. The clever are the disciples (sāvakas). The blade is a metaphor for wisdom, and digging means diligent effort. The tortoise stands for the five hindrances, the viper for hatred and causing injury. The piece of meat means stinginess, greed and jealousy. The slaughter-house is the five sensual pleasures. The poisonous insects of the thorn-apple are a metaphor for ignorance, and the crossroad stands for doubt. The stones are for arrogance, and the dragon is the Arahat, who has ended all bonds of becoming [that lead to rebirth]’.
There the Buddha spoke this verse:
A burrow is the body / coarse and subtle thought its smoke, //
its deeds are like fire / the brāhmaṇa is the Tathāgata, //
the clever person is the sāvaka / the blade is wisdom, //
digging stands for diligent effort / the five hindrances are like the tortoise, //
hatred is like the viper / greed and jealousy like the piece of meat, //
the five sensual pleasures are like a slaughter-house / stupidity is like a bar, //
Doubt is like a crossroad / belief in a self like a heap of stones. //
But do not disturb the dragon / the dragon is the true Arahat //
To answer these questions well / is only for the Buddha, the World-honored One. //
When the Buddha had finished, the monks, having listened to what he had said, were happy and practised accordingly.
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