ON a certain day when the Blessed One dwelt at jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika, a celestial deva came to him in the shape of a Brahman whose countenance was bright and whose garments were white like snow. The deva asked questions which the Blessed One answered.
The deva said: "What is the sharpest sword? What is the deadliest poison? What is the fiercest fire? What is the darkest night?" The Blessed One replied: "A word spoken in wrath is the sharpest sword; covetousness is the deadliest poison; passion is the fiercest fire; ignorance is the darkest night."
The deva said: "Who gains the greatest benefit? Who loses most? Which armor is invulnerable? What is the best weapon?" The Blessed One replied: "He is the greatest gainer who to others, and he loses most who greedily receives without gratitude. Patience is an invulnerable armor; wisdom is the best weapon."
The deva said: "Who is the most dangerous thief? What is the most precious treasure? Who is most successful in taking away by violence not only on earth, but also in heaven? What is the securest treasure-trove?" The Blessed One replied: "Evil thought is the most dangerous thief; virtue is the most precious treasure. The mind takes possession of everything not only on earth, but also in heaven, and immortality is its securest treasure-trove."
The deva said: "What is attractive? What is disgusting? What is the most horrible pain? What is the greatest enjoyment?" The Blessed One replied: "Good is attractive; evil is disgusting. A bad conscience is the most tormenting pain; deliverance is the height of bliss."
The deva asked: "What causes ruin in the world? What breaks off friendships? What is the most violent fever? Who is the best physician?" The Blessed One replied: "Ignorance causes the ruin of the world. Envy and selfishness break off friendships. Hatred is the most violent fever, and the Buddha is the best physician."
The deva then asked and said: "Now I have only one doubt to be solved; pray, clear it away: What is it fire can neither burn, nor moisture corrode, nor wind crush down, but is able to reform the whole world?" The Blessed One replied: "Blessing! Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of a good deed, and blessings reform the whole world."
The deva, having heard the words of the Blessed One, was full of exceeding joy. Clasping his hands, he bowed down before him in reverence, and disappeared suddenly from the presence of the Buddha.