Parable of Sewing Pearl


"World Honored One, it is like a person who goes to a close friend’s house, gets drunk on wine, and lies down. His friend who is about to go away on official business, sews a priceless pearl inside his clothing as a gift, and then leaves.

"That person, in a drunken stupor, is not aware of anything. On arising, he sets out on his travels and reaches another country, where, for the sake of clothing and food, he expends much effort, endures great hardships, and is content with whatever little he may get.

"Later, his close friend happens to meet him again and says, ‘Hey man! How can you, for the sake of food and clothing, have come to this?’

‘Long ago, wishing you to gain peace, happiness, and enjoyment of the Five Desires, on such and such a day, month, and year I sewed a priceless pearl into your clothing. From of old until now, it has been present, but you did not know of it. Thus you have toiled and suffered to gain your livelihood. How stupid of you.

‘You may now take this jewel, exchange it for what you need, and you will always have whatever you wish and be free from want.’

"The Buddha is also like this. When he was a Bodhisattva, he taught and transformed us, causing us to bring forth the thought of All-Wisdom.

"But, we later completely forgot, and were unknowing and unaware.

"Having attained the way of Arhatship, we said of ourselves that we had gained extinction. In the difficulty of maintaining our livelihood, we were content with what little we had gained."

"Still, our vows for All Wisdom remain; they have not been lost. Now, the World Honored One has caused us to wake up, saying, ‘Bhikshus! What you have obtained is not ultimate extinction!

‘For a long time, I have been leading you to plant good roots with the Buddha. As an expedient device, I manifested the marks of Nirvana. You said of yourself however, that you had actually attained extinction.’

"World Honored One, now at last we know that we are actually Bodhisattvas, having obtained a prediction for Annuttarasamyaksambodhi. For this reason we rejoice greatly, having gained what we never had before."