Fistful of Sand

The buddha taught nothing but the truth. If something wasn’t true, he wouldn’t say it. He taught the Dhamma in such a way that anyone who contemplated it could confirm what he was saying. If there were things that other people, on consideration, couldn’t see or know, he wouldn’t teach them or lay them down as rules. This is why his teachings are sandiṭṭhiko, visible here and now. If people who listen to them practice correctly in line with them, they can see the truth of his every word for themselves. This way they can develop self-confidence.

Once, when the Buddha had come to a river, he picked up a fistful of sand and asked the monks who were following him, “Which is greater, this fistful of sand or the sand in all the rivers and oceans?” The monks answered, “The sand in the Blessed One’s fist is a small amount, lord. The sand in all the rivers and oceans is far more.”

The Buddha then responded, “In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are like the sand in all the rivers and oceans. The things I have taught are like this fistful of sand.”

Any teaching that was true but wouldn’t serve a purpose — in other words, things that his listeners couldn’t confirm for themselves — the Buddha wouldn’t teach. And he wouldn’t deceive the world by teaching anything useless or untrue. He taught only the genuine truth that his listeners could understand and confirm for themselves through the practice.

I’ve explained quite a lot already. When there’s a lot of speaking, there’s simply a lot of breath. My hope is that you all will learn from listening, in line with your mindfulness, and then take what you’ve learned and put it into practice so that it will serve a purpose. Even though it may not be much, my hope is that it’s enough to serve a purpose.

You’ve sacrificed a lot — your work, all kinds of things — in coming here to practice. Coming together like this doesn’t happen easily. Our interpreter has sacrificed his time, too, inspired by his sense that you want to practice. The organizer, Larry Rosenberg, has given a lot of his time and energy to the arrangements that have enabled us to come together to practice, out of a similar desire: the desire that all of you learn and practice the correct way to lead your lives, so that you’ll reach purity in line with the principles of the Buddha’s teachings — the same teachings he taught his disciples in the past, so that they too were able to reach purity. The teachings of the Buddha are still with us. Those of us in the present should listen to them and put them into practice so as to serve a purpose, just like the people in the past. That way we’ll find happiness and prosperity in our lives.

So I ask that you remember what you’ve learned here, contemplate it, and put it into practice so that all of you — each and every one — will benefit in line with your aims.

That’s enough for now, so I’ll ask to stop here.