诈言马死喻 - The Horse Was Dead

Ancient Chinese Fable (for Advanced Learners)


Once upon a time, there was a man who rode on a black horse to a battle. Out of fear, he was incapable to combat. He daubed his face and eyes with blood and dirt. Pretending to be dead, he laid down in the midst of corpses. The horse on which he had rode was taken away. After the battle was through, he went home bringing with him the cut-off tail of a white horse that belonged to another soldier. Back at home, he was asked, „Where is your old horse?“


The man replied, „My horse is dead. I have brought back with me its tail.“


People said, „But your old horse was black. How did its tail turn white?“ Speechless, the man was laughed at.


So are the people at large. Despite of their pretending to be good, pious, compassionate and restraining themselves to eat meat and drink wine, people indulge themselves in killing and injuring other sentient beings and thus raising to pain and cruelty. Furthermore, they boast that they do good deeds, but there is nothing they will not do to commit sins, just like the stupid man and his horse.

Modern Chinese Translation - 白话:

从前有一个人骑着一匹 黑马入阵与敌作战,由于恐惧害怕,不敢战斗了;便用血污涂在面孔上,装出死的模样来,卧在死人中间。所骑的马便被别人夺走了,军队离去后,他便想回家,就 截了人家的白马尾回来。到了家,有人问他:「你骑的那匹马如今在哪里? 为何不骑呢?」他答道:「我的马已死了,就拿了尾巴回来。」傍人说道:「你的马原本是黑的,尾巴怎么是白的呢?』他默然无答,遭到众人的嗤笑。


Ancient Chinese Fable (for Advanced Learners)

§74 出家凡夫贪利养喻
(74) Becoming a Common Monk


Once upon a time, there was a kingdom which had a law that all Brahmans in the country should keep their bodies clean and those who do not would be subject to all kinds of hard works.


There was a Brahman who was always holding an empty pot pretending that he was a clean man. When someone poured water info his pot, he spilled it and said in these words, „I don’t want to wash myself. Let the king do it himself. I have been lying to shun hard labor, because of the king’s law.“


This is also held to be true with the common monks. A monk, who has shaved his head and worn dyed gannets, could break commandments while pretending to be following them outwardly. Thus he wants to receive gain and offerings and avoids labor work, superficially he looks like a monk, but in reality, he cheats, just like the Brahman holding an empty pot and keeping up appearances.


  • 制抑:制,束缚;抑,压;意为必须。
  • 染衣:即僧衣,以木兰等色染之,故名染衣。古印度平民一般身着白衣。

Modern Chinese Translation - 白话:

从 前有位国王,设立了一条教法:凡是婆罗门等教徒居住在我国内,必须将身体洗净,若不洗净,则驱使他做种种苦役。有位婆罗门空提着澡罐,谎说洗净了。别人替 他注了水,他随即就泻弃掉,说:「我不洗净,国王自己洗身去吧!」迫于国王的命令,为了避开苦役,就妄说洗净了,其实并没有洗。


Ancient Chinese Fable (for Advanced Learners)

75 驼瓮俱失喻
(75) The Camel and the Jar are Both Lost

Once upon a time, there was a man who had a jar used to hold grain. A camel put its head into it to eat the grain, but it could not get its head out. The man became angry and worried. An old man came up to him and said, „Don’t be upset. I’ll tell you how to get him out. It’ll get its head out in no time if you listen to me. You should cut off its head and he’ll be out.“


The man followed his words. He killed the camel and also broke the jar. Such an idiot was jeered by the people at large.


This is also held to be true with the common stupid men. Those who hope for Enlightened minds through the Three Vehicles, must keep commandments and avoid doing evil deeds. However, they indulge themselves in the Five Desires, which will destroy them. Not only do they end up breaking commandments, but also giving up the Three Vehicles. In addition, they follow their own inclination and yield to their whims at the same time. There is nothing evil they will not do. Thus they abandon both the Three Vehicles and the pure commandments like that stupid man losing both the camel and the jar.

Modern Chinese Translation - 白话:

从前有个人,先是在瓮中盛了谷子。骆驼伸头进瓮中吃谷子,过后伸不出来 了。如此,这人很是忧恼。有一位老人来对他说:「你不要愁啊!我教你怎样弄出来,你听我的话,必定能快快弄出。你应斩掉它的头,自然可出来了。」就采用了 他的话,以刀斩头。既杀了骆驼,又破了瓮,如此愚人,世间所笑。


Ancient Chinese Fable (for Advanced Learners)

§76 田夫思王女喻
The Farmer Longed for the Princess

Once upon a time, there was a farmer who went to the city and saw the princess who was very graceful. He found she was quite a rare beauty. Afterwards he thought of nothing else but the princess day and night. Since he could not find a way to have a talk with liar, he became yellow and fell very ill from his love-sickness. His parents and relatives asked him what had happened to him. He replied, „Yesterday I saw the graceful princess with whom I would like to get acquainted. But I’ve been unable to think of a way. This is why I have fallen ill. I’ll die soon!“


The parents and relatives said, „We’ll find a way. Don’t be so upset.“ Two days later, they said to him, „We have found away. Unfortunately, she didn’t like it at all.“ Upon hearing these words the farmer got very happy and said with a big smile to other people that she would come to him if he sent for her.


This is also held to be true with the stupid men of the world. A stupid man knows of no seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. He sows the land with seeds in winter hoping that they will grow. He gains nothing except wasting his energy in vain. All are lost as buds, stalks branches and leaves. Getting a little merit, the stupid of the world are satisfied with what they think are the attainment of Enlightenment, like the farmer who longed for the princess.

Modern Chinese Translation - 白话:

曾有一个农夫,至京 城游玩,见国王的女儿颜貌端正,世所稀有,便昼夜想念,情不能已。渴望与她接近,又没有路径可以达到,便思念得面色瘀黄,遂即成了重病。亲友邻里便问他为 什么会这样,他答道:「我往日见及国王的女儿,颜貌端正,渴想着与她接近,不能办到的缘故,这就病了。我若是得不到,必死无疑。」亲友说道:「我们会替你 想好办法的,让你得到她,先不要愁呵!」大家日后见了他,对他说:「我们为你想的办法以为是可以得到的,只是公主不肯。」田夫听了,欣然而笑,高呼着必可 得到的,必可得到的。世上的愚人也是这样,不分别春夏秋冬的时节,便在冬天将种子掷撒土中,祈望得到果实,却是白白浪费功夫,一无所获,芽茎枝叶之类都不 会有。世间的愚人修习了一点点福业,便以为圆满具足了,菩提道果已可证得,就像那位渴望得到公主的田夫一样。

Ancient Chinese Fable (for Advanced Learners)

§77 搆驴乳喻
(77) To Milk a Donkey

Once upon a time, there was a group of frontiersmen who had never seen a monkey before. Thus they could not identify it. They were told that its milk was delicious. It happened that they found a male donkey and they tried to milk it. They began their wrangling about apprehending it.


One seized its head: another, its ears; the third, its tail; the fourth, its feet; and finally the fifth, its penis. All wanted to be the first to drink its milk. The one who grasped the donkey’s penis called out that he could get milk there from. Then he began to extract. Finally, this group of people felt tired and bored, for they could not get what they had wanted. They got nothing in return, despite of their effort. They were all laughed at by the people at large.


This is also held to be true with the common heretics. The heretics who learn their religious faith from some inadequate sources, might lead to illusions giving rise to all kinds of heterodox views such as to go naked, to fast, to jump into precipice or go through fire. With all these kinds of heterodox views, they fall to the evil paths, like those stupid men seeking in vain for milk from a male donkey.

Modern Chinese Translation - 白话:

从 前,边远国家的人不认得驴,听说驴乳甚美,也都没有尝到过。当时一些人得了一头公驴,想捋挤它的乳来尝尝,便争着将它捉住。其中有捉头的,有捉耳的,有捉 尾的,有捉脚的,又有捉生殖器的,各人都想先得,就上前去,吮吸了一番。其中有捉住驴鞭的,叫道,啊哈!这是乳了,随即捋挤起来,祈望得到乳汁。众人一无 所得,疲厌了。徒然地劳苦了一番,毫无结果,遭到世人的嗤笑。