LONG IS SAMSARA TO THOSE WHO KNOW NOT THE DHAMMA
Digha jagarato ratti digham santassa yojanam
Digho balanam samsaro saddhammam avijanatam.
Long is the night to the wakeful; long is the journey to the weary; long issamsara1to the foolish who know not the Sublime Truth.
One day king Pasenadi, while going out in the city, happened to see a beautiful young woman standing at the window of her house and he instantly fell in love with her. So the king tried to find ways and means of getting her. Finding that she was a married woman, he sent for her husband and made him serve at the palace. Later, the king sent the husband on an impossible mission. The young man had to go to an underground world to collect some lotus flowers and some red earth and return to Savatthi the same evening, in time for the king's bath. The king's intention was to kill the husband if he failed to arrive back in time, and to take the wife for himself.
Hurriedly taking a food packet from his wife, the young man set out on his mission. On the way, he shared his food with a traveller. He then threw some rice into the water and said loudly, 'O guardian spirits and nagas inhabiting this river! King Pasenadi has commanded me to get some lotus flowers and red earth for him. I have today shared my food with a traveller; I have also fed the fish in the river; I now share with you the merits of the good deeds I have done today. Please get the lotus and red earth for me.' A supernatural being, hearing him, took the appearance of an old man and brought the lotus flower and the red earth.
That evening, King Pasenadi, fearing that the young husband might arrive back in time, had the city-gates closed early. The young man, finding the city-gates closed, placed the red earth on the city wall and stuck the flowers on the earth. Then he declared loudly, 'O citizens! Be my witnesses! I have today accomplished my mission in time as instructed. The king without any justification, plans to kill me.' After that, the young man left for Jetavana monastery to take shelter and find solace in the peaceful atmosphere there.
Meanwhile, the king, obsessed with his desire, could not sleep, and kept thinking about how he would get rid of the husband in the morning and take his wife. About midnight, he heard some eerie sounds. The king was frightened and did not know what to do. Queen Mallika, the chief consort, advised the king to seek the advice of the Buddha. The Buddha explained that the eerie sounds came from four men who had lived an earthly existence during the time of the previous Buddha. They were now suffering in hell due to the bad kamma that they had accumulated because of sexual misconduct. The king came to realise the depravity of his own actions and the severity of the effect of bad kamma. He decided he would no longer crave for another man's wife. 'After all, it was on account of my intense desire for another man's wife that I was tormented and could not sleep the whole of last night,' he reflected. Then King Pasenadi said to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir, now I know how long the night is for one who cannot sleep.' The young man who was close at hand also said, 'Venerable Sir, because I had travelled a long distance yesterday, I, too, know how long the journey is to one who is weary.' So both the king and his subject benefited from their experiences. Then the Buddha said, 'Long is Samsara to the foolish who know not the Sublime Truth.'
- Lit, wandering again and again. It is the ocean of life or existence.
Samsarais defined as the unbroken flow of the stream of aggregates, elements, and sense-faculties.
Samsarais also explained as the 'continued flow of the stream of being from life to life, from existence to existence'.