Watching the making of a Pottery Vase



Translated from Sutra of the Hundred Parables

Two men went to visit a pottery-maker and saw how he manipulated the wheel to make the vases.  They were fascinated by the skillful performance. 

After a while, one man left.  He arrived at the temple just in time for a ceremony (i.e., to perform charity).  He enjoyed a wonderful meal and received some valuable treasures. 

Meanwhile, the other man continued to be attracted by the pottery-making.  “I’ll not leave until he’s finished his work,” he said to himself.  He stayed until after sunset, not having accomplished anything, leaving with an empty stomach and of course he did not receive any precious gifts.

This is often the case in the world.  People spend their entire day focused on unnecessary tasks, day after day without awareness. Today they are busy doing this and tomorrow they are creating unwholesome karmas, always busy pursuing worldly pleasures.

Although the Buddhas appear in the world like the king of dragons*, the sound of Dharma is like thunder all over the world, and there is no obstacle for the rain of Dharma, sentient beings nevertheless live in ignorance because of the entanglement of worldly affairs. They pursue the happiness of five desires in vain and fail to encounter Buddhism.

Before they realize it, death arrives, and they’ve missed the chance of seeing the Buddha and hearing the Dharma.  Since they haven’t received the treasures of Buddhism yet, they often don’t act in accord with the Dharma, generating all kinds of bad deeds and end up in endless reincarnations. 

Just like the man who watched the potter making vases, wasting all day in the workshop doing nothing, the same is true of fools in the world. They live in a daze all day long.  Therefore, they will never be freed by the illuminating guidance of the Buddha Dharma.

* dragons: in Buddhism, a dragon represents auspicious signs or Buddhas’ teaching.  In Indian legend, dragons bring rain.  Rain represents Buddha’s teaching like Dharma rain purifying the mind.


  • Doesn’t life mean to grasp the present moment and enjoy what you like? What’s wrong with focusing on what you like?  In your life, what is the first priority? 
  • In your life, what do you attach to the most?  What kind of impact does it have on you?

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