Nyanaponika Thera

The Snake Simile

The Snake Simile

The discourse of the Buddha on the Snake Simile (Alagaddupama Sutta) that is presented here, together with explanatory notes taken mostly from the commentarial literature, is the 22nd text in the “Collection of Discourses of Medium Length” (Majjhima Nikaya).

It is a text rich of contents and graced by many similes. At the very beginning there is a sequence of ten pithy similes on the perils of sense desires; then follows the simile on correctly or wrongly getting hold of a snake (from which our text derives its name); further, and still better known, the parable of the raft; and finally the simile of the vegetation of the Jeta Grove.

The evocative power of these similes will strengthen the impact of the sutta’s message, in him who ponders on them deeply and repeatedly.

The main concern of this discourse is to warn against misconceptions, misrepresentations and dilution of the Teaching.

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About Nyanaponika Thera

Nyanaponika Thera (Siegmund Feniger) was born on 21 July 1901 in Hanau, Germany. He came into contact with Buddhism early in his youth and left for Sri Lanka in 1936, where he was ordained as a novice and a year later as a monk by the famous German monk Nyanatiloka.

Interned in camps like Dehra Dun's in India, he worked intensively during the war years on translations of Pali texts. Not only as author of the now classic The Heart of Buddhist Meditation and of many other books and translations, but also as co-founder in 1958, editor and president of the Buddhist Publication Society he made a great contribution to the international dissemination of the Theravāda teachings. He died on October 19, 1994 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276