THE BUDDHA REPLIES TO THE DEVA
 
††††††††† ON a certain day when the Blessed One dwelt at Jetavana, the 
garden of Anathapindika, a celestial deva came to him in the shape 
of a Brahman whose countenance was bright and whose garments 
were white like snow. The deva asked questions which the Blessed 
One answered.
 
††††††††† The deva said: "What is the sharpest sword? What is the 
deadliest poison? What is the fiercest fire? What is the darkest 
night?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "A word spoken in wrath is the 
sharpest sword; covetousness is the deadliest poison; 
passion is the fiercest fire; ignorance is the darkest night."
 
††††††††† The deva said: "Who gains the greatest benefit? Who loses 
most? Which armor is invulnerable? What is the best weapon?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "The greatest gainer is one who gives to others,
and the one who greedily receives without gratitude loses most. 
Patience is an invulnerable armor; wisdom is the best weapon."
 
††††††††† The deva said: "Who is the most dangerous thief? What is the 
most precious treasure? Who is most successful in taking away by 
violence not only on earth, but also in heaven? What is the securest 
treasure-trove?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "Evil thought is the most dangerous thief; 
virtue is the most precious treasure. The mind takes possession of 
everything not only on earth, but also in heaven, and immortality is its 
securest treasure-trove."
 
††††††††† The deva said: "What is attractive? What is disgusting? What 
is the most horrible pain? What is the greatest enjoyment?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "Good is attractive; evil is disgusting. A bad 
conscience is the most tormenting pain; deliverance is the height of 
bliss."
 
††††††††† The deva asked: "What causes ruin in the world? What breaks 
off friendships? What is the most violent fever? Who is the best 
physician?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "Ignorance causes the ruin of 
the world. Envy and selfishness break off friendships. Hatred is the 
most violent fever, and the Buddha is the best physician."
 
††††††††† The deva then asked and said: "Now I have only one doubt to 
be solved; pray, clear it away: What is it fire can neither burn, nor 
moisture corrode, nor wind crush down, but is able to reform the 
whole world?" 
 
The Blessed One replied: "Blessing! Neither fire, nor 
moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of a good deed, and 
blessings reform the whole world."
 
††††††††† The deva, having heard the words of the Blessed One, was full 
of exceeding joy. Clasping his hands, he bowed down before him in 
reverence, and disappeared suddenly from the presence of the 
Buddha.

 

 

 

(Paul Carus 1915, reprinted in The Teachings of Buddha, St. Martinís Press, NY, 1998)