Saṃyutta Nikāya 56

Connected Discourses on the Truths

35. A Hundred Spears

“Bhikkhus, suppose there were a man with a life span of a hundred years, who could live a hundred years. Someone would say to him: ‘Come, good man, in the morning they will strike you with a hundred spears; at noon they will strike you with a hundred spears; in the evening they will strike you with a hundred spears. And you, good man, being struck day after day by three hundred spears will have a life span of a hundred years, will live a hundred years; and then, after a hundred years have passed, you will make the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths, to which you had not broken through earlier.’

“It is fitting, bhikkhus, for a clansman intent on his good to accept the offer. For what reason? Because this saṃsara is without discoverable beginning; a first point cannot be discerned of blows by spears, blows by swords, blows by axes. And even though this may be so, bhikkhus, I do not say that the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths is accompanied by suffering or displeasure. Rather, the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths is accompanied only by happiness and joy. What four? The noble truth of suffering … the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”