SN 35.205
PTS: S iv 195
CDB ii 1253 (corresponds to CDB SN 35.246)
Vii.naa Sutta: The Lute
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
Alternate translation: Thanissaro
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

The Ox

"Suppose, monks, there is some ripe corn, and a lazy guardian. And an ox,[1] fond of corn, gets into the field and eats his fill with ravenous delight. In the same way, monks, the ignorant worldling, being uncontrolled in the six sense-spheres, eats his fill with ravenous delight among the five kinds of sense-pleasure.[2]

"But suppose, monks, there is some ripe corn, and a vigilant guardian. And an ox, fond of corn, gets into the field. The guardian seizes him firmly by the muzzle. Holding him by the muzzle, he gets a firm grip on his forehead and holds him fast. He then gives him a sound thrashing with a stick, and then lets him go [a second and a third time he does this.] So it comes about monks, that that ox, fond of corn, though he wanders about in the village or the forest, whether he stands still or lies down, will not go into that field again because he remember the beating he got there before. In the same way, monks, when a monk's mind is strongly stirred by the six sense-spheres, nevertheless he stands firm inwardly, becomes calm, one-pointed and concentrated."[3]


1. definitely an ox and not, as Woodward translates, a cow. It is very odd how much confusion exists in English versions of Buddhist scriptures in regard to these well-known bovine creatures: thus we hear of Zen "ox-herding" pictures, whereas it is obvious that the creature to be tamed is no ox but a ferocious bull! See Ven. W. Rahula, Zen and the Taming of the Bull, Bedford 1978, pp. 15ff.
Kaama-gu.naa: sense-pleasures associated with the five external sense objects: visual forms, sounds, scents, tastes and tangibles.
According to SA [SN commentary], these adjectives refer to the four jhaanas (see SN 40.9, n. 2). The remainder of this sutta is translated in Vol. 1, No 61.