T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.49. Deeds remain

The king asked Nāgasena again, “Is there a spirit?”

Nāgasena replied, “There is no spirit.”

Then Nāgasena gave a simile, “Suppose a man were to steal another man’s fruit. Is the thief guilty?”

“Yes, he is guilty,” said the king. When the fruit tree is planted, there is no fruit on it. Then how can you say that the thief is guilty?”

“Suppose, if the trees were not planted, then how can there be fruit? Therefore the thief is guilty.”

“So it is for people. By performing good and bad deeds with this body in the present life, he will be born in the next life and obtain a new body.”

“Where are the good and bad deeds done by this old body when he is reborn with a new body?” asked the king.

Then Nāgasena said, “The good and bad deeds done by a person always follow him, just like the shadow follows the body. When a person dies, only his body is dissolved, but his deeds remain. It is just as when a person writes under a lamp at night, when the fire is extinguished, the writing still remains. When the fire is lit again, the writing can be seen again. Thus, the deeds done in this life lead to the formation in the next life and then the doer receives the result accordingly.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”