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An Excerpt from “The Questions of King Milinda”

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By The Editor

Translated by Thomas William Rhys Davids

The king said: “What is the root, Nagasena, of past time, and what of present, and what of future time?”

“Ignorance. By reason of Ignorance came the Confections, by reason of the Confections consciousness, by reason of consciousness name-and-form, by reason of name-and-form the six organs of sense, by reason of them contact, by reason of contact sensation, by reason of sensation thirst, by reason of thirst craving, by reason of craving becoming, by reason of becoming birth, by reason of birth old age and death, grief, lamentation, sorrow, pain and despair. Thus is it that the ultimate point in the past of all this time is not apparent.”

“You are ready, Nagasena, in reply.”


The king said: “Can even the most minute thing, Nagasena, be divided?”

“Yes, it can.”

“And what, Sir, is the most minute of all things?”

“Truth, O king, is the most minute and subtle. But this is not true of all qualities. Subtleness or the reverse are epithets of qualities. But whatever can be divided that can wisdom divide, and there is no other quality which can divide wisdom.”

“Very good, Nagasena!”

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