༺ Pali Canon Anthology ༻

Water and Well

SN 12.68 Kosambi Sutta: At Kosambi

A monk is asked whether he has personal knowledge of all twelve nidanas (the links of dependent origination) and Nirvana. He says he does and the questioner concludes that it must mean that the monk is fully enlightened, an arahant. Another monk asks to be questioned in the same way but shows that it was a false conclusion. He says that even though he has personal knowledge:

“Though I have clearly seen as it really is with correct wisdom ‘Nibbana is the cessation of existence’ I am not an arahant. (..) Suppose there was a well along a desert road but it had neither rope nor bucket. Then a man would come along, oppressed and afflicted by heat, tired, parched and thirsty. He would look down into the well and the knowledge would occur to him ‘There is water’ but he would not be able to make bodily contact with it”

Full text