Why the Buddha Suffered

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[8. Cut with a Knife]

In the eighth enquiry, called cut with a knife, we hear about how an abscess was lanced with a knife, how with a knife, or a scalpel, it was cut.

In the past, it seems, the Buddha-to-be was a King in a border country. Through association with bad people in the border country, and because of living with a violent scoundrel, one day while walking through the town on foot with a sword in his hand he went around cutting guiltless people down with the sword.

Through that unwholesome deed and its result, after boiling in Niraya hell for many thousands of years, and undergoing suffering in the animal world and so on, through the remainder of the result of that deed, after becoming the Buddha in his last state of existence, it is recorded that while he was below Walking on the slopes of Gijjhakūta near Rājagaha.1 Devadatta struck him a blow with a stone splinter he had thrown and an abscess arose on his foot. Jīvaka The Buddha was carried in great pain to the Mango Wood where Jīvaka Komārabhacca, who acted as physician for the Buddha and for the monks, treated him.2 lanced that abscess with his mind full of loving-kindness.

Through that deed of causing blood to flow in a Buddha there was a result immediately after this life for Devadatta, Anantarika, means a deed that causes a result that follows immediately and irrecoverably after this life (not immediately after the deed itself), and this happened before some of the other attacks Devadatta made on the Buddha. Eventually the ground opened and Devadatta fell into the Avīci (unmitigated) hell, where, it is said, he will suffer for one hundred thousand kappas, before being reborn and becoming an Independent Buddha called Atthissara.3 whose mind was full of hate; through lancing that abscess there was great merit for Jīvaka, whose mind was full of loving-kindness. There is an interesting emphasis on the state of mind in this sentence. Devadatta and Jīvaka both did the same thing: they cut the Buddha's foot, but one acted out of hatred and the other out of loving-kindness, and so the result was different.4

Therefore it is said:

When I was a King going round on foot I killed men with my sword;
Through that deed and its result I suffered much in Niraya hell,

Through the remainder of that deed, at this time all the unbroken
Skin on my foot was cut – deeds are never destroyed without result. Not destroyed without producing results first, is what is meant.5