Chapter VIII - SAHASSA VAGGA - Thousands

A BRIEF LIFE OF EFFORT IS BETTER THAN A LONG LIFE OF INACTION

A BRIEF LIFE OF EFFORT IS BETTER THAN A LONG LIFE OF INACTION

Yo ca vassasatam jive kusito hinaviriyo
Ekaham jivitam seyyo viriyam arabhato dalham.
[112]


Though one should live a hundred years idle and inactive, yet better, indeed, is a single day's life of one who makes an intense effort. [112]



VIII:11Attaining Sainthood while attempting suicide(Sappadasa)

Once a bhikkhu by the name of Sappadasa was not feeling happy with his religious way of life since he could not gain Sainthood and at the same time, he thought it would be improper and humiliating for him to return to the life of a householder. So he decided it would be better to die. He put his hand into a pot where there was a poisonous snake but the snake did not bite him. This was because the good deeds he had done in his past lives protected him. On another occasion, he took a razor to cut his throat; but as he placed the razor on his throat he reflected on the purity of his moral practices throughout his life as a bhikkhu and his whole body was suffused with delightful satisfaction (piti) and bliss (sukha). Then detaching himself from bliss, he directed his mind to the development of Insight Knowledge and soon attained Arahanthood.


On arrival at the monastery, other bhikkhus asked him where he had been. He told them he had tried to take his life and they asked him why he did not done so. He answered, 'I intended to cut my throat with this knife, but I have now cut off all moral defilements with the knife of Insight Knowledge.' The bhikkhus then reported to the Buddha, 'Venerable Sir, Sappadasa claims that he has attained Arahanthood while trying to kill himself. Is it possible to attain Arahanthood at such a critical moment?' The Buddha replied, 'Yes, it is possible; for one who is zealous and strenuous in the practice of Tranquility and Insight Development. Arahanthood can be gained in an instant. As the bhikkhu walks in meditation, he can attain Arahanthood even before his raised foot touches the ground.'

Notes:

*The attainment of Arahanthood is pure mental achievement which has no relevance to time and space in a mundane sense.