THE Blessed One said to Ananda: "There are various kinds of assemblies, O Ananda; assemblies of nobles, of Brahmans, of householders, of bhikkhus, and of other beings. When I used to enter an assembly, I always became, before I seated myself, in color like unto the color of my audience, and in voice like unto their voice. I spoke to them in their language and then with religious discourse I instructed, quickened, and gladdened them.
"My doctrine is like the ocean, having the same eight wonderful qualities. Both the ocean and my doctrine become gradually deeper. Both preserve their identity under all changes. Both cast out dead bodies upon the dry land. As the great rivers, when falling into the main, lose their names and are thenceforth reckoned as the great ocean, so all the castes, having renounced their lineage and entered the Sangha, become brethren and are reckoned the sons of Sakyamuni. The ocean is the goal of all streams and of the rain from the clouds, yet is it never overflowing and never emptied: so the Dharma is embraced by many millions of people, yet it neither increases nor decreases. As the great ocean has only one taste, the taste of salt, so my doctrine has only one flavor, the flavor of emancipation. Both the ocean and the Dharma are full of gems and pearls and jewels, and both afford a dwelling-place for mighty beings. These are the eight wonderful qualities in which my doctrine resembles the ocean.
"My doctrine is pure and it makes no discrimination between noble and ignoble, rich and poor. My doctrine is like unto water which cleanses all without distinction. My doctrine is like unto fire which consumes all things that exist between heaven and earth, great and small. My doctrine is like unto the heavens, for there is room in it, ample room for the reception of all, for men and women, boys and girls, the powerful and the lowly.
"But when I spoke, they knew me not and would say, 'Who may this be who thus speaks, a man or a god?' Then having instructed, quickened, and gladdened them with religious discourse, I would vanish away. But they knew me not, even when I vanished away."