Saṃyutta Nikāya 56
Connected Discourses on the Truths
45. The Hair
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesali in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Then, in the morning, the Venerable Ānanda dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Vesali for alms. The Venerable Ānanda saw a number of Licchavi youths practising archery in the training hall, shooting arrows from a distance through a very small keyhole, head through butt, without missing. When he saw this, the thought occurred to him: “These Licchavi youths are indeed trained! These Licchavi youths are indeed well trained, in that they shoot arrows from a distance through a very small keyhole, head through butt, without missing.”
Then, when the Venerable Ānanda had walked for alms in Vesali and had returned from his alms round, after his meal he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported what he had seen.
The Blessed One said: “What do you think, Ānanda, which is more difficult and challenging: to shoot arrows from a distance through a very small keyhole, head through butt, without missing, or to pierce with the arrowhead the tip of a hair split into seven strands?”
“But, Ānanda, they pierce something even more difficult to pierce who pierce as it really is: ‘This is suffering’ …; who pierce as it really is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’