Itivuttaka 109

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “Monks, suppose a man were being carried along by the flow of a river, lovely & alluring. And then another man with good eyesight, standing on the bank, on seeing him would say, ‘My good man, even though you are being carried along by the flow of a river, lovely & alluring, further down from here is a pool with waves & whirlpools, with seizers & demons. On reaching that pool you will suffer death or death-like pain.’ Then the first man, on hearing the words of the second man, would make an effort with his hands & feet to go against the flow.

“I have given you this simile to illustrate a meaning. The meaning is this: the flow of the river stands for craving. Lovely & alluring stands for the six internal sense-media. The pool further down stands for the five lower fetters.1 The waves stand for anger & distress. The whirlpools stand for the five strings of sensuality. The seizers & demons stand for the opposite sex. Against the flow stands for renunciation. Making an effort with hands & feet stands for the arousing of persistence. The man with good eyesight standing on the bank stands for the Tathāgata, worthy & rightly self-awakened.”

Even if it’s with pain,

you should abandon

sensual desires

if you aspire

to future safety from bondage.

Rightly discerning,

with a mind well released,

touch release now here,

now there.

An attainer-of-wisdom,

having fulfilled the holy life,

is said to have gone

to the end of the world, gone



1. The five lower fetters are self-identity view, uncertainty, attachment to habits & practices, sensual passion, and resistance. See also AN 7:48 and AN 10:13.