At one time, the Blessed One was living in the city of Rājagaha on the Gijjhakūṭa Mountain. The Blessed One addressed the monks, saying, “O monks!”
“Bhante!” those monks replied.
The Blessed One said, “Monks, this cycle of rebirth is endless. The beginning of this extremely long journey cannot be discovered. These beings, hindered by lack of knowledge of the true nature of life and bound by craving, roam and wander on in this endless journey. Monks, if there was someone to collect the skeletons of a single person who roams and wanders on through one eon and if what was collected would not get destroyed, then there would be a stack of bones, a pile of bones, a heap of bones as large as this Vepulla mountain.
“What is the reason for that? It is because, monks, this cycle of rebirth is endless. The beginning of this extremely long journey cannot be discovered. These beings, hindered by lack of knowledge of the true nature of life and bound by craving, roam and wander on in this endless journey.
“For such a long time, monks, you have experienced various types of suffering, tragedies, and disasters. You have filled the cemetery with your dead bodies. Therefore, monks, the time has come for you to understand the meaningless nature of all conditioned things. The time has come for you to become detached from them. And the time has come for you to be liberated from them.”
The Blessed One taught this discourse. Having taught this, the Well Gone One, the Great Teacher, further said thus:
The Great Sage, the Buddha,
said that the heap of bones collected
of a single person wandering
through a single eon would make a heap
as high as Vepulla Mountain.
The massive Vepulla Mountain
is standing north of Gijjhakūṭa Mountain
in the Magadhan mountain range.
When a noble disciple understands suffering,
the cause of suffering,
the overcoming of suffering,
and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads
to the end of suffering,
having wandered on
in this journey of rebirths
for seven more times at most,
he will make an end to suffering
by destroying all the fetters of defilements.”