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Sacetana Suttaṃ

The Chariot Maker

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling near Benares in the deer park at Isipatana. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks, “Monks.” “Yes Lord,” the monks replied, and the Blessed One said:

“At one time, monks, there was a king named Sacetana. Then, monks, King Sacetana asked his chariot-maker, ‘Six months from now, good chariot-maker, there will be a battle. Can you make a new pair of wheels for my chariot?’

‘I can, master, the chariot-maker replied to King Sacetana.’

“Then, monks, in six days short of the six months, one wheel was finished. Then, monks, King Sacetana asked the chariot-maker, ‘Six days from now, good chariot-maker, there will be a battle, is the new pair of wheels finished?’

‘Master, in six days short of six months, one wheel is finished.’

‘Are you able, good chariot-maker, to finish the second wheel in six days?’

“Monks, having said, ‘I can, master,’ in six days, having finished the second wheel, he took the new pair of wheels and went to see King Sacetana, and having approached him, he said, ‘This new pair of wheels is finished, master.’

‘Good chariot-maker, is there any difference between this wheel made in six days short of six months and this wheel made in six days? I cannot see any difference.’

‘There is a difference, master. Please watch.

“Then, monks, the chariot-maker set rolling the wheel made in six days, and having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, it fell over onto the ground. Then he set rolling the wheel made in six days short of six months. Having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, the wheel stood upright just where it stopped rolling.”

“[The king asked] ‘What is the reason, good chariot-maker, that this wheel made in six days, having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, fell over on the ground? What is the reason that this wheel made in six days short of six months, having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, stood upright just where it stopped rolling?’

‘Master, this wheel that was made in six days, its rim, spokes, and hub are crooked,¹ with knots,² and defects,³ that is why, having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, it fell over on the ground. The wheel that was made in six days short of six months, its rim, spokes, and hub are not crooked, and are free from knots and defects, that is why, having rolled as far as the momentum carried it, it stood upright just where it stopped rolling.

“Monks, you should not think that the chariot-maker at that time was someone else. It should not be taken like that. I myself was the chariot-maker at that time. Then, monks, I was skilful in the crookedness, knots, and defects of wood. Now, monks, I am a Worthy Fully Enlightened One, who is skilled in bodily, verbal, and mental crookedness, knots, and defects.

Monks, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuṇī is negligent, with bodily, verbal, or mental crookedness, knots, and defects, will fall away from this Dhamma-vinaya, just like that wheel completed in six days will fall.

“Monks, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuṇī is not negligent, without bodily, verbal, or mental crookedness, knots, and defects, will not fall away from this Dhamma-vinaya, just like that wheel completed in six days short of six months.

“Therefore, monks, you should train yourselves, ‘We will eliminate bodily, verbal, and mental crookedness, knots, and defects.’ Thus you should train yourselves.”

Notes

Avankā: crooked. Not properly seasoned, planed, and sanded. A simile for bodily misconduct.

Sadosā: knotted. Not carefully selected pieces of wood, but just whatever was available. A simile for verbal misconduct.

Sakasāvā: defective. A simile for mental misconduct, i.e. irascibility or wrong-views.