Saṃyutta Nikāya 56

Connected Discourses on the Truths

39. Indra’s Pillar

“Bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who do not understand as it really is ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—they look up at the face of another ascetic or brahmin, thinking: ‘This worthy is surely one who really knows, who really sees.’

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a tuft of cotton wool or kapok, light, wafted by the wind, had settled on an even piece of ground. An easterly wind would drive it westward; a westerly wind would drive it eastward; a northerly wind would drive it southward; a southerly wind would drive it northward. For what reason? Because of the lightness of the tuft.

“So too, bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who do not understand as it really is ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—they look up at the face of another ascetic or brahmin, thinking: ‘This worthy is surely one who really knows, who really sees.’ For what reason? Because they have not seen the Four Noble Truths.

“But, bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who understand as it really is ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—they do not look up at the face of another ascetic or brahmin, thinking: ‘This worthy is surely one who really knows, who really sees.’

“Suppose, bhikkhus, there was an iron pillar or an Indra’s pillar with a deep base, securely planted, immobile, unshaking. Even if a forceful blast of wind comes—whether from the east, the west, the north, or the south—that pillar would not shake, quake, or tremble. For what reason? Because the pillar has a deep base and is securely planted.

“So too, bhikkhus, those ascetics or brahmins who understand as it really is ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—they do not look up at the face of another ascetic or brahmin, thinking: ‘This worthy is surely one who really knows, who really sees.’ For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, they have clearly seen the Four Noble Truths. 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.’”