Sakka is patient in the face of insult
Translation of BZA 039. First version published in Buddhist Studies
Review vol. 23-1 (2006).
Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī at the Jeta Grove in
the Anāthapiṇḍika Park.
At that time the World-honored One told the monks: “Long time ago, Sakka Devānam
Indo was about to do battle with the asuras, when everything had been readied ,
he addressed the devas: ‘If we devas should attain victory, we will with five
bonds bind [the king of the] asuras, and bring him to our palace.’ The asura
[king] also ordered his host: ‘If we win, we also will with five bonds bind
Sakka Devānam Indo, and bring him to our palace.’
At that time, the devas won, and they bound Vepacitti with five bonds and brought
him into their palace. When Vepacitti saw Sakka, he got angry and insulted him,
using extremely foul language. When Sakka heard these insults, he stayed silent,
did not react. His charioteer Mātali addressed him with a verse:
Sakka! Husband of Suja! Maghavā! // Are you afraid or weak?
Vepacitti insults you to your face // how can you suffer this foul
And Sakka answered with a verse:
It is not that I am afraid that I engender patience // neither is it that I
And therefore suffer Vepacitti’s insults // I have by victorious wisdom
The foolish of shallow knowledge, unwise // always argue and quarrel without
If I use force to chastise him // I am not different from this fool
Again the charioteer said:
If one loosens the bonds of the naïve and foolish // they will behave worse
and worse 轉劇不休息
[They are] like a cow that walks behind // [and suddenly] tries to charge
over those in front of it
A firm one will forcefully // restrain the foolish
Again Sakka spoke a verse:
I reckon in order to restrain the foolish // there is nothing better than
At a time when someone is incensed by hatred and anger // he can only be
restrained by patience
What the foolish call strong // is not truly strong
The foolish do not distinguish between good and bad // have no way to
If I can find the courage in me // to patiently endure the foolish and
This is called foremost patience // and to be skillful in patience.
The inferior person when facing someone strong // can not but practice it
this is called timid patience // not true patience.
Power gives the freedom // to counter those who insult [us]
with silence, not reacting // this is the best [form of] patience.
Weakness is afraid of power // it is silent [because] it cannot react
this is called fear // not the practice of patience.
The naïve and foolish without wisdom // afflict others by harming them,
seeing the other’s silent patience // they believe they are victorious.
A wise and saintly person // takes patience to be the best [way to behave].
Thus among the saintly // the meritorious power of patience is always
It diminishes for oneself and also for others // eradicates many hindrances
Seeing the other full of hatred and anger // but being able to practice
the other’s hatred will vanish naturally // no need for the strength of blade
For the great benefit of both // benefiting oneself and benefiting others.
What the foolish deem patience because of fear // is praised by the wise and
We are patient with those superior to us // because we are afraid of being
When struggling with equals // one too is patient, because one fear’s harm.
To be able to be patient with people inferior to us // is the best form of
The Buddha told the monks: “Sakka in the heaven of the thirty-three in freely
exercising his rulership, if he can practice and praise patience, how much more
should you, oh monks, who have abandoned form and entered the teaching, how much
more should you practice and praise patience. Practicing and praising patience
is the manner of [those having gone forth into] homelessness.
When the Buddha had finished, the monks, having listened to what he had said,
were happy and practiced accordingly.
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