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This is part 26 of a course going through the similes and metaphors of the Buddha.

Illustration by Ayya Vimalayani aka "Ven Yodha"

That's enough, venerable sir — what you have done, what you have offered. ~ SN 41.4


In this final sutta, we see the Princess Sumedhā pull out all the stops: reviewing many of the Buddha’s greatest similes and showing us all how to put them to good use!

Final Reflections

Thinking back to all the similes we read in this class: What similes do you remember most vividly? Did they have anything in common? Do you remember any similes involving water? Fire? Animals? Crafts?

What do these similes say about Indian society at the time of the Buddha? Can you come up with any similes that might speak to a more modern audience?

As you leave this course and continue your life, I hope that you will take some of the wisdom and attentiveness of this course with you and stay on the lookout for situations and images that remind you of the Buddha’s wisdom. In this way, we can begin to transform our everyday world into a “pure land” where every tree, fish and stream teaches us the precious Dharma.


Further Reading


Canonical Works

A long and entertaining debate with a skeptic who went to extravagant lengths to prove that there is no such thing as an afterlife.

So this holy life, bhikkhus, does not have gain, honour, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of virtue for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakeable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood, and its end.

When your harp’s strings were tuned too tight, was it resonant and playable?

Judging by this fish’s approach, by the ripples it makes, and by its force, it’s a big fish, not a little one.

Good man, didn’t you see the third divine messenger that appeared among human beings?

… you should ignore that person’s impure behavior

Insofar as it disintegrates, it is called the ‘world.’

Move in your own resort, bhikkhus, in your own ancestral domain. Mara will not gain access to those who move in their own resort.

What do you think, mendicants? Which is more: the little bit of dirt under my fingernail, or this great earth?

Once upon a time, I was a seer called Rohitassa of the Bhoja people. I was a sky-walker with psychic powers. I was as fast as a light arrow easily shot across the shadow of a palm tree…

I am not lazy nor conceited,
so why have I not attained Nirvana?

Coming out from my day’s abiding
on Vulture Peak Mountain…

… in a future time there will be mendicants who won’t want to listen when discourses spoken by the Realized One—deep, profound, transcendent, dealing with emptiness—are being recited.


The notion of poetry I have in mind relates not so much to its formal properties, but to the realms of experience or types of consciousness it involves.

Buddhist literature offers us the only narratives from this period that feature to any great extent the nautical or maritime traveller as hero.

This article proposes to “decode” the twin miracle and the miracle to convert Aṅgulimāla as coded repudiations of rival karma theories, and to examine their relevance to the modern world.


On how Buddhist narratives of pregnancy deconstruct the traditional feminine and open a space for female renunciation.

An incredible music video, perfectly capturing the world-weary feeling of saṃvega.

Advanced Courses

The Majjhima Nikāya
A course on the Majjhima Nikāya taught by the one and only Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Nibbāna: The Goal of Buddhist Practice
In this course, we do a deep dive into the imagery surrounding and the meaning of just a single, crucially important term in the Early Buddhist Texts: nibbāna.
An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy
An overview of Theravada Buddhist philosophy which provides a systematic frame for the themes we've covered in this course
or feel free to check out any of our University's other fine offerings.