The Greater Discourse on the Elephant-footprint Simile (Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta) is the 28th sutta of the Majjhima-Nikāya (Middle Collection). This discourse was spoken by the great chief disciple of the Buddha, the Venerable Sāriputta, whose wisdom, it is said, was surpassed only by that of the Buddha himself.
How profoundly the Great Elder had understood the vast range of the Four Noble Truths is illustrated by the discourse translated in the following pages.
To impress upon his hearers the all-comprehensive scope of the Four Noble Truths, the Venerable Sāriputta begins by comparing these Truths with the great footprint of the elephant, which can encompass the foot mark of any smaller being. Similarly, the Four Noble Truths comprise as the Elder says, all that is beneficial; i.e., all that is truly worth knowing and following after. This he illustrates by making explicit some of the insights contained in the Truths and the practical conduct deriving from those insights.
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You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the wayBuddha, Dhp 276