T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.1. The Person and His Name

Then the king asked Nāgasena, “Revered Sir, what is your name?” Nāgasena replied, “My parents gave me the name Nāgasena and called me Nāgasena. Sometimes they called me Sihasena, sometimes they called me Surasena, sometimes they called me Virasena. It is by all these names that people come to recognize me. People in the world are concerned with names only.”

The king asked, “Who is Nāgasena?” He asked further, “Is the head Nāgasena?”

“No,” answered Nāgasena,” the head is not Nāgasena.”

“Is the eye, ear, nose, or tongue Nāgasena?”

asked the king.

“No,” answered Nāgasena, “the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue—all of them—are not Nāgasena.”

“Is the neck, nape, shoulder, arm, leg, or hand Nāgasena?” asked the king.

“No, none of them is Nāgasena,” answered Nāgasena.

“Is the thigh or foot Nāgasena?” asked the king.

“No, neither of them is Nāgasena.”

“Is form Nāgasena?”

“No, it is not Nāgasena.”

“Is feeling Nāgasena?”

“No, it is not Nāgasena.”

“Is perception Nāgasena?”

“No, it is not Nāgasena.”

“Is volition Nāgasena?”

“No, it is not Nāgasena.”

“Are the liver, lungs, heart, spleen, arteries, intestines or stomach Nāgasena?”

“No, none of them is Nāgasena.”

“Is the combination of the five—form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness—Nāgasena?”

“No, the combination of the five is not Nāgasena either.”

“But is the non-coming together of the five things five—form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness—Nāgasena?”

“No, Great King.”

“Then, is sound or breath Nāgasena? “And he still answered No.

“But then what is Nāgasena?” asked the king. Then Nāgasena asked about the name of carriage, “What is a carriage? Is it the axle the carriage?”

“The axle is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the rim the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The rim is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the spoke the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The spoke is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the hub the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The hub is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the shaft the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The shaft is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the yoke the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The yoke is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the framework the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The framework is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is the pole the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The pole is not the carriaget” the king said.

“Is the canopy the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“The canopy is not the carriage,” the king said.

“Then are all these parts of the wood assembled and left aside the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“No, Sir, all these parts put together and left aside is also not the carriage,” the king said.

“Is all these parts of the wood not assembled the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“If all these parts of the wood are not assembled it is the carriage,” the king said.

“Then is sound the carriage?” Nāgasena asked.

“No, Sir, sound is not the carriage,” the king said.

“What is the carriage?” asked Nāgasena. Nāgasena told the king, “In a the Buddhist sutras it says, ‘On account of all those pieces of wood coming together, it comes under the generally understood term, the designation ‘carriage.’ So is a human.’”

It is on account of the coming together of all of those things: the head, the face, the ears, the mouth, the neck, the nape, the shoulder, the arms, the bones, the flesh, the hands, the feet, the livers, the lungs, the heart, the spleen, the kidney, the intestines, the stomach, the complexion, the voice, the breath, the feeling, the inclination, that the general term is understood. The designation in common usage is ‘person’.”

“Excellent, excellent, Nāgasena.”