Came across many interesting similes when reading the nikayas…jotted down some of them. Hopefully there will be follow-ups.
心 – 鱼｜mind – fish
Like a fish thrown up on dry land, pulled out from its watery home, the mind is agitated, one ought to throw off the sway of Māra. (Bhikkhu Ānandajoti)
- MN10：念处经｜Satipatthana Sutta
身体 – 谷袋｜body – sack
“… just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain—wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice—and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, ‘This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice,’ in the same way, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: ‘In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.’” (Bhikkhu Thanissaro)
- MN63：摩伦迦小经｜Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
“摩伦迦子，如果有人这样说： ‘如果世尊不为我解说 “世间是常” 、 “世间是断” 、 “世间有边” 、 “世间没有边” 、 “生命和身体是同一样东西” 、 “生命是一样东西，身体是另一样东西” 、 “如来死后还存在” 、 “如来死后不存在” 、 “如来死后既存在也不存在” 、 “如来死后既不存在也不是不存在” ，我便不会在世尊座下修习梵行。’ 摩伦迦子，这人将会直至命终，如来也不会为他解说这些问题。
“Malunkyaputta, if anyone were to say, ‘I won’t live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that “The cosmos is eternal,” or “The cosmos is not eternal,” or “The cosmos is finite,” or “The cosmos is infinite,” or “The soul & the body are the same,” or “The soul is one thing and the body another,” or “After death a Tathagata exists,” or “After death a Tathagata does not exist,” or “After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,” or “After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,”’ the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.
“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker…the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me…whether he was tall, medium, or short…whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored…his home village, town, or city…whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow…whether the bowstring was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark…whether the shaft was wild or cultivated… whether the feathers of the shaft were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird…whether the shaft was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey…whether the shaft was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.” (Bhikkhu Thanissaro)
- MN39：马城大经｜Maha-Assapura Sutta
五盖 – 债｜five hindrances – debt, sickness, prison, slavery, road through desolate country
He cleanses his mind of covetousness…of ill will and anger…of sloth and drowsiness…of restlessness and anxiety…of uncertainty.
“Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and has extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, ‘Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and have extra left over for maintaining my wife.’ Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.
“Now suppose that a man falls sick — in pain & seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals and has no measure of strength in his body. At a later time he is released from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and has a measure of strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, ‘Before, I was sick… Now I am released from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and have a measure of strength in my body.’ Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.
“Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. At a later time he is released from that bondage, safe & sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, ‘Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe & sound, with no loss of my property.’ Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.
“Now suppose that a man, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. At a later time he is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, ‘Before, I was a slave… Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.’ Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.
“Now suppose that a man, carrying money & goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. At a later time he emerges from that desolate country, safe & sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, ‘Before, carrying money & goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe & sound, with no loss of my property.’ Because of that he would gain joy & experience happiness.
In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. (Bhikkhu Thanissaro)
- MN19：二种寻经｜ Dvedhavitakka Sutta
牛 – 法｜cow – mental qualities
“Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing. (Bhikkhu Thanissaro)