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Samyutta Nikaya
Sacca Saṁyutta

56.47 Chiggala Sutta
A Hole 1

The Buddha explains how rare the human birth is with a simile.

“Monks, suppose a person was to throw a piece of wood with a single hole in it, into the ocean. And there was a blind turtle in the ocean who popped up once every hundred years. What do you think, monks? Would that blind turtle, popping up once every hundred years, still poke its neck through the hole in that piece of wood?”

“Only after a very long time, bhante, if ever.”

“Monks, I say, that blind turtle, popping up once every hundred years, would poke its neck through the hole in that piece of wood sooner than a foolish person who has fallen to the lower worlds, would be reborn as a human being.

“Why is that? Monks, because in lower worlds there’s no Dhamma practice or collecting merit. In lower worlds, they just prey on each other, preying on the weak. Why is that? It’s because they haven’t seen The Four Noble Truths. What four? The Noble Truth of suffering, the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering, the Noble Truth of the end of suffering, and the Noble Truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

“Therefore, monks, you should make an effort to understand: ‘This is suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the origin of suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the end of suffering.’ You should make an effort to understand: ‘This is the path that leads to the end of suffering.’”

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Saṁyutta Nikāya 56.47 Chiggala Sutta: A Hole 1

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