The Story of Suddhipanthaka

@Margaret_Scott via twitter was nice enough to send me this link to one of my favorite Buddhist stories and also the one that I named this blog for. My earlier rendition of this tale was somewhat lacking and I was unable to find the source of the tale to improve it. Originally from the Amitabha Sutra.

The Story of Suddhipanthaka

Suddhipanthaka was in the group of people that represents foolishness and dull capacity. His foolishness and dull capacity were the workings of the law of cause and effect. He was also in the group that was diligent in eliminating karmic obstacles.

He was the slowest of the Buddha’s students and had the poorest memory. When he was taught a four-line verse, he could not memorize the lines even after several days of trying to learn them. When he chanted the first line, he forgot the next lines. When he was taught the second line, he forgot the first line.

His elder brother, also a monastic, told him that he was too slow to learn from the Buddha and that he should go home. Suddhipanthaka burst into tears. The Buddha saw this and asked Suddhipanthaka why he was crying. He told the Buddha that his brother wanted him to go home.

The Buddha told him to stay and gave him a broom. He then taught Suddhipanthaka to concentrate on the broom and sweep the floor every day. As he swept, Suddhipanthaka was to repeat just two words, “sweep” and “clean.”

Before long, Suddhipanthaka attained enlightenment and arhatship. The other monastics wondered how he had accomplished this. The Buddha said that Suddhipanthaka had been a highly accomplished Dharma master in the previous lifetime. But he always held back when he gave lectures because he was afraid that others would surpass him in their achievement if he taught everything he knew. His slowness in this lifetime was a karmic result of teaching grudgingly.

I love this tale. Thanks @Margaret_Scott, I am in your dept!



5 thoughts on “The Story of Suddhipanthaka

  1. I believe it is from the Amitabha Sutra. I included a link in the post. The translation of the story in the link isn't the best but it gives the general idea.

  2. This makes me want to buy a broom.

    This is why I practice mindful cleaning. When I try to just sit my mind is too cluttered and noisy but when I clean I can achieve a sense of calm and quietness.

  3. Oops, sorry I missed the link, thanks. I love this sutra. With the mom role and primary house-cleaner, this has been my practice for many years. I'm also touched by how the Buddha could see an opportunity and how he was so intuitive in offering another a way. It is so touching, really.

  4. Yep, knowing a lot doesn't mean automatic enlightenment. In fact, some of the most life-changing insights I've had came from doing things like sweeping the floor. 84,000 ways…

Comments are closed.