Simile of the Puppet

Q. How should one determine the elements through “puppet”?

A. It is comparable to a skilful master of puppets who makes of wood (effigies) of humans, complete in every part, in the form of man or woman, and makes them walk, dance, sit or squat through the pulling of strings. Thus these puppets are called bodies; the master of puppets is the past defilement by which this body is made complete; the strings are the tendons; the clay is flesh; the paint is the skin; the interstices are space. (By) jewels, raiment and ornaments (they) are called men and women. Thoughts (of men and women) are to be known as the tugging by the element of air. Thus they walk, dwell, go out, or come in, stretch out, draw in, converse or speak.

These puppet men, born together with the element of consciousness, are subject to anxiety, grief and suffering through the causes and conditions of anxiety and torment. They laugh or frolic or shoulder. Food sustains these puppets; and the faculty of life keeps these puppets going. The ending of life results in the dismembering of the puppet. If there happens to be defiling kamma, again a new puppet will arise. The first beginning of such a puppet cannot be seen; also the end of such a puppet cannot be seen. Thus one determines the elements through “puppet”. And that yogin by these ways and through these activities discerns the body through “puppet” thus: “There is no being; there is no soul”.

When that yogin has investigated through the object of the elements and through the arising of feeling, perception, the formations and consciousness, he discerns name and form. Thenceforward he sees that name and form is suffering, is craving, is the source of suffering; and he discerns that in the destruction of craving lies the destruction of suffering, and that the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the complete destruction of suffering. Thus that yogin discerns the Four Noble Truths fully. At that time he sees the tribulation of suffering through impermanence, sorrow and not-self. Always attending to these the mind is undisturbed. He sees the merit of the destruction of suffering through wisdom, tranquillity and dispassion. In this way that yogin sees the tribulation of suffering and the merits of cessation, dwells peacefully endowed with the faculties, the powers and the factors of enlightenment. He makes manifest the consciousness that proceeds from perception of the formations and attains to the element of the most excellent.

The determining of the elements has ended.

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