Samyukta Āgama (2) 2

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

The Ugly Monk

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, the Anāthapiṇḍika Park.

At that time the World-honored One was teaching surrounded by a huge crowd, when a monk approached him, his face gaunt, not in the least impressive. The monk paid homage to the Buddha’s feet, raised his hands with palms together in salutation to the other monks and sat to one side. There the monks all had this thought: “How is it that this monk looks so wasted, not in the least impressive?” The World-honored One, now, knew what they were thinking and said to them: “Monks, have you seen the monk who just saluted me?” The monks answered the Buddha: “Yes, World-honored One, we have seen him.” Then the Buddha further said: “You must not think that he is inferior. Why? This monk has done what is to be done, attained Arahatship, cast off the heavy burden, ended all bonds of becoming that lead to rebirth, found true liberation. You should not allow yourselves to think disparagingly of him. Once you have attained my level of insight, you may attempt to judge him. If you judge him presumptuously, you harm yourselves.”

Then the World-honored One spoke a verse:

“The peacock, though his body may be endowed with beautiful colors /
cannot soar as high as the swan.
Outward appearance may be beautiful /
but not as worthy as the merit of ending one’s defilements.
Now this monk has the activities of his mind /
well trained and controlled, as one would a good horse.
He has cut off desire, destroyed all fetters, gone beyond birth and death /
he wears his final body (and) has vanquished Māra’s armies.”

When the Buddha had finished speaking, the monks, having listened to what he had said, were happy and remembered it well.