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Anguttara Nikaya

Aṅguttara Nikāya
7.74 Araka Sutta
The Teacher Araka

“Once upon a time, monks, there was a teacher called Araka. He started his own religion and was free of sensual desire. He had many hundreds of disciples, and he taught them like this: ‘Brahmins, life as a human is short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. Think about this and wake up! Do what’s good and live the spiritual life, for no-one born can escape death.

The Similes

“‘Life’s like a drop of dew on the tip of a blade of grass. When the sun comes up it quickly disappears and doesn’t last long. In the same way, life as a human is like a dewdrop. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. Think about this and wake up! Do what’s good and live the spiritual life, for no-one born can escape death.

“‘Life’s like when the rain falls heavily. The bubbles quickly disappear and don’t last long. In the same way, life as a human is like a bubble. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. …

“‘Life’s like a line drawn in water. It disappears quickly and doesn’t last long. In the same way, life as a human is like a line drawn in water. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. …

“‘Life’s like a mountain river travelling far, flowing fast, carrying all kinds of things with it. It doesn’t turn back—not for a moment, a second, an instant—but runs, rolls, and flows on. In the same way, life as a human is like a mountain river. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. …

“‘Life’s like a strong man who has formed a glob of spit on the tip of his tongue. He could easily spit it out. In the same way, life as a human is like a glob of spit. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. …

“‘Suppose there was a huge iron pot that had been heated all day. If you tossed a piece of meat in, it would quickly disappear and not last long. In the same way, life as a human is like a piece of meat. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. …

“‘Life’s like a cow being led to the slaughterhouse. With every step she comes closer to the butcher, closer to death. In the same way, life as a human is like a cow being led to the slaughterhouse. It’s short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. Think about this and wake up! Do what’s good and live the spiritual life, for no-one born can escape death.’

“Now, monks, at that time humans lived for 60,000 years. Girls could be married at 500 years of age. And humans only had six kinds of sickness: cold, heat, hunger, thirst, and the need to defecate and urinate. But even though humans were so long lived with so few sicknesses, the teacher Araka still taught in this way: ‘Life as a human is short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. Think about this and wake up! Do what’s good and live the spiritual life, for no-one born can escape death.’

Our days are numbered…

“Monks, these days it would be right to say: ‘Life as a human is short, brief, and goes by quickly, full of pain and suffering. Think about this and wake up! Do what’s good and live the spiritual life, for no-one born can escape death.’ Because, monks, these days a long life is a hundred years or a little more. Living for 100 years, there are just 300 seasons, a hundred each of the winter, summer, and rains. Living for 300 seasons, there are just 1,200 months, 400 in each of the winter, summer, and rains. Living for 1,200 months, there are just 2,400 half-months, eight hundred in each of the winter, summer, and rains. Living for 2,400 half-months, there are just 36,000 days, 12,000 in each of the summer, winter, and rains. Living for 36,000 days, you just eat 72,000 meals, 24,000 in each of the summer, winter, and rains, including when you’re sucking milk at your mother’s breast, and when you’re kept from eating.

“Things that keep you from eating include anger, pain, sickness, observing the fast,1 or being unable to get food. So monks, for a human being with a hundred years life span I have counted the life span, the limit of the life span, the seasons, the years, the months, the half-months, the nights, the days, the meals, and the things that keep one from eating. Out of compassion, I’ve done what a Compassionate One should do for the benefit of his disciples. Monks, here are these roots of trees, and here are these empty huts. Practice meditation, monks! Don’t be negligent! Don’t regret it later! This is my instruction to you.”

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Aṅguttara Nikāya 7.74 Araka Sutta: The Teacher Araka

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