Sister Selā
Selā Sutta  (SN 5:9)

Near Sāvatthī. Then, early in the morning, Selā the nun adjusted her robes and, taking her bowl & outer robe, went into Sāvatthī for alms. When she had gone for alms in Sāvatthī and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Grove of the Blind to spend the day. Having gone deep into the Grove of the Blind, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day’s abiding.

Then Māra the Evil One, wanting to arouse fear, horripilation, & terror in her, wanting to make her fall away from concentration, approached her & addressed her in verse:

“By whom         was this doll created?

Where      is the doll’s maker?

Where      has the doll originated?

Where      does it cease?”

Then the thought occurred to Selā the nun: “Now who has recited this verse—a human being or a non-human one?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Māra the Evil One who has recited this verse wanting to arouse fear, horripilation, & terror in me, wanting to make me fall away from concentration.”

Then, having understood that “This is Māra the Evil One,” she replied to him in verses:

“This doll isn’t self-made,

nor is this misery made by another.*

In dependence on a cause

it comes into play.

With the dissolution of the cause

it ceases.

Just as a seed grows

—when planted in a field—

because of the soil’s savor

together with moisture;

in the same way, these



sense media

—in dependence on a cause—

come into play.

With the dissolution of the cause

they cease.”

Then Māra the Evil One—sad & dejected at realizing, “Selā the nun knows me”—vanished right there.

*Alternative reading:

This doll, this misery,

isn’t created.

See also: SN 12:25; SN 22:53–55