The Parable of the Burning House from the Lotus Sutra
The Parable of the Burning House appears in Chapter 3 ( the Hiyu Chapter ) of the Lotus Sutra.
In this parable a scenario is presented where children are in great danger in a house on fire :-
One day, a fire broke out in the house of a wealthy
man who had many children. The wealthy man shouted at his children inside the
burning house to flee. But, the children were absorbed in their games and
did not heed his warning, though the house was being consumed by flames.
Then, the wealthy man devised a practical way to lure the children from the burning house.
Knowing that the children were fond of interesting playthings, he called out to them,
"Listen! Outside the gate are the carts that you have always wanted: carts pulled
by goats, carts pulled by deer, and carts pulled by oxen. Why don't you come out
and play with them?"
The wealthy man knew that these things would be irresistible to his children.
The children, eager to play with these new toys rushed out of the house but,
instead of the carts that he had promised, the father gave them a cart much better than any he
has described - a cart draped with precious stones and pulled by white bullocks. The important
thing being that the children were saved from the dangers of the house on fire.
In this parable the father, of course, is the Buddha and sentient beings
are the children trapped in the burning house. The Burning House represents the world burning with the
fires of old age,
sickness and death. The teachings of the Buddha are like the father getting the boys
to leave their pleasures for a greater pleasure, Nirvana.
A further interpretation
is to see the the goat, deer, and ox carts as representing the early teachings of Buddhism, as
the teachings of Hinayana Buddhism (the Mahayana
term for the Buddhism that preceded it),
and the cart pulled by white bullocks to 'The Lotus Sutra' which, when followed,
leads to Buddhahood.
Christianity and Enlightenment
Buddhism is well known fo accepting that sincere Spirituality can lead to Enlightenment!
One of the best examples of Chistianity making similar claims lies in a central teaching known as the Parable of the Sower.
"The Parable of the Sower" is a teaching which, alongside an
unmistakable, Gnostic, message, shows Jesus' own words as
suggesting that individual human nature has several aspects. In
effect suggesting that spirituality is relative to other facets
of human being!!!
The Parable of the Sower
And he began to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered
unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and
sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was beside the sea on the
And he taught them many things by parables, and he said unto
them in his doctrine,
Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side,
and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and
immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no
root, it withered away.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked
it, and it yielded no fruit.
And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang
up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, some sixty, and
some an hundred.
And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him
And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve
asked of him the parable.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery
of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these
things are done in parables:
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they
may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be
converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then
will ye know all parables?
The sower soweth the word.
And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but
when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away
the word that was sown in their hearts.
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground;
who, when they have heard the word immediately receive it with
And have no root in themselves, and so endure for a time:
afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's
sake, immediately they are offended.
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,
and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it
And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear
the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold,
some sixty, and some an hundred.
And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a
bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?
For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested;
neither was anything secret, but that it should come
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that
hear shall more be given.
For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not,
from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast
seed into the ground;
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should
spring and grow up, he knoweth not how,
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade,
then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in
the sickle, because the harvest is come.