The "Gospel of Buddha" is a 19th century compilation from a
variety of Buddhist texts by Paul Carus. It is modelled on the New
Testament as was very widely read. It was even recommended by
Ceylonese Buddhist leaders as a teaching tool for Buddhist
This version originates from the Internet, via World Wide
Web, at gopher://gopher.vt.edu:10010/11/
THE DISCIPLE SPEAKS
REJOICE at the glad tidings! The Buddha our Lord has found
the root of all evil; he has shown us the way of salvation. The
Buddha dispels the illusions of our mind and redeems us from the
terror of death.
The Buddha, our Lord, brings comfort to the weary and
sorrow-laden; he restores peace to those who are broken down under
the burden of life. He gives courage to the weak when they would
fain give up self-reliance and hope. You who suffer from the
tribulations of life, you who have to struggle and endure, you who
yearn for a life of truth, rejoice at the glad tidings! There is balm for
the wounded, and there is bread for the hungry. There is water for
the thirsty, and there is hope for the despairing. There is light for
those in darkness, and there is inexhaustible blessing for the upright.
Heal your wounds, you wounded, and eat your fill, you hungry.
Rest, you weary, and you who are thirsty quench your thirst. Look
up to the light, you who sit in darkness; be full of good cheer, you
who are forlorn.
Trust in truth, You who love the truth, for the kingdom of
righteousness is founded upon earth. The darkness of error is
dispelled by the light of truth. We can see our way and take firm and
certain steps. The Buddha, our Lord, has revealed the truth. The
truth cures our diseases and redeems us from perdition; the truth
strengthens us in life and in death; the truth alone can conquer the
evils of error. Rejoice at the glad tidings!
SAMSARA AND NIRVANA
LOOK about and contemplate life! Everything is transient and
nothing endures. There is birth and death, growth and decay; there is
combination and separation. The glory of the world is like a flower:
it stands in full bloom in the morning and fades in the heat of the
Wherever you look, there is a rushing and a struggling, and an
eager pursuit of pleasure. There is a panic flight from pain and
death, and hot are the flames of burning desires. The world is Vanity
Fair, full of changes and transformations. All is Samsara, the
turning Wheel of Existence.
Is there nothing permanent in the world? Is there in the
universal turmoil no resting-place where our troubled heart can find
peace? Is there nothing everlasting? Oh, that we could have
cessation of anxiety, that our burning desires would be
extinguished! When shall the mind become tranquil and composed?
The Buddha, our Lord, was grieved at the ills of life. He saw
the vanity of worldly happiness and sought salvation in the one
thing that will not fade or perish, but will abide for ever and ever.
You who long for life, learn that immortality is hidden in
transiency. You who wish for happiness without the sting of regret,
lead a life of righteousness. You who yearn for riches, receive
treasures that are eternal. Truth is wealth, and a life of truth is
All compounds will be dissolved again, but the verities which
determine all combinations and separations as laws of nature endure
for ever and aye. Bodies fall to dust, but the truths of the mind will
not be destroyed.
Truth knows neither birth nor death; it has no beginning and no
end. Welcome the truth. The truth is the immortal part of mind.
Establish the truth in your mind, for the truth is the image of the
eternal; it portrays the immutable; it reveals the everlasting; the truth
gives unto mortals the boon of immortality.
The Buddha has proclaimed the truth; let the truth of the
Buddha dwell in your hearts. Extinguish in yourselves every desire
that antagonizes the Buddha, and in the perfection of your spiritual
growth you will become like unto him. That of your heart which
cannot or will not develop into Buddha must perish, for it is mere
illusion and unreal; it is the source of your error; it is the cause of
You attain to immortality by filling your minds with truth.
Therefore, become like unto vessels fit to receive the Master's
words. Cleanse yourselves of evil and sanctify your lives. There is
no other way of reaching truth.
Learn to distinguish between Self and Truth. Self is the cause
of selfishness and the source of evil; truth cleaves to no self; it is
universal and leads to justice and righteousness. Self, that which
seems to those who love their self as their being, is not the eternal,
the everlasting, the imperishable. Seek not self, but seek the truth.
If we liberate our souls from our petty selves, wish no ill to
others, and become clear as a crystal diamond reflecting the light of
truth, what a radiant picture will appear in us mirroring things as
they are, without the admixture of burning desires, without the
distortion of erroneous illusion, without the agitation of clinging and
Yet you love self and will not abandon self-love. So be it, but
then, verily, you should learn to distinguish between the false self
and the true self. The ego with all its egotism is the false self. It is
an unreal illusion and a perishable combination. He only who
identifies his self with the truth will attain Nirvana; and he who has
entered Nirvana has attained Buddhahood; he has acquired the
highest good; he has become eternal and immortal.
All compound things shall be dissolved again, worlds will
break to pieces and our individualities will be scattered; but the
words of Buddha will remain for ever.
The extinction of self is salvation; the annihilation of self is the
condition of enlightenment; the blotting out of self is Nirvana.
Happy is he who has ceased to live for pleasure and rests in the
truth. Verily his composure and tranquility of mind are the highest
Let us take our refuge in the Buddha, for he has found the
everlasting in the transient. Let us take our refuge in that which is
the immutable in the changes of existence. Let us take our refuge in
the truth that is established through the enlightenment of the
Buddha. Let us take our refuge in the community of those who seek
the truth and endeavor to live in the truth.
THE things of the world and its inhabitants are subject to
change. They are combinations of elements that existed before, and
all living creatures are what their past actions made them; for the
law of cause and effect is uniform and without exception.
But in the changing things there is a constancy of law, and
when the law is seen there is truth. The truth lies hidden in Samsara
as the permanent in its changes.
Truth desires to appear; truth longs to become conscious; truth
strives to know itself.
There is truth in the stone, for the stone is here; and no power
in the world, no god, no man, no demon, can destroy its existence.
But the stone has no consciousness. There is truth in the plant and
its life can expand; the plant grows and blossoms and bears fruit. Its
beauty is marvelous, but it has no consciousness. There is truth in
the animal; it moves about and perceives its surroundings; it
distinguishes and learns to choose. There is consciousness, but it is
not yet the consciousness of Truth. It is a consciousness of self only.
The consciousness of self dims the eyes of the mind and hides
the truth. It is the origin of error, it is the source of illusion, it is the
germ of evil. Self begets selfishness. There is no evil but what flows
from self. There is no wrong but what is done by the assertion of
self. Self is the beginning of all hatred, of iniquity and slander, of
impudence and indecency, of theft and robbery, of oppression and
bloodshed. Self is Mara, the tempter, the evil-doer, the creator of
mischief. Self entices with pleasures. Self promises a fairy's
paradise. Self is the veil of Maya, the enchanter. But the pleasures
of self are unreal, its paradisian labyrinth is the road to misery, and
its fading beauty kindles the flames of desires that never can be
Who shall deliver us from the power of self? Who shall save us
from misery? Who shall restore us to a life of blessedness?
There is misery in the world of Samsara; there is much misery
and pain. But greater than all the misery is the bliss of truth. Truth
gives peace to the yearning mind; it conquers error; it quenches the
flames of desires; it leads to Nirvana. Blessed is he who has found
the peace of Nirvana. He is at rest in the struggles and tribulations
of life; he is above all changes; he is above birth and death; he
remains unaffected by the evils of life.
Blessed is he who has found enlightenment. He conquers,
although he may be wounded; he is glorious and happy, although he
may suffer; he is strong, although he may break down under the
burden of his work; he is immortal, although he will die. The
essence of his being is purity and goodness.
Blessed is he who has attained the sacred state of Buddhahood,
for he is fit to work out the salvation of his fellow beings. The truth
has taken its abode in him. Perfect wisdom illumines his
understanding, and righteousness ensouls the purpose of all his
actions. The truth is a living power for good, indestructible and
invincible! Work the truth out in your mind, and spread it among
mankind, for truth alone is the savior from evil and misery. The
Buddha has found the truth and the truth has been proclaimed by the
Buddha! Blessed be the Buddha!
There was in Kapilavatthu a Sakya king, strong of purpose and
reverenced by all men, a descendant of the Okkakas, who call
themselves Gotama, and his name was Suddhodana or Pure-Rice.
His wife Mayadevi was beautiful as the water-lily and pure in mind
as the lotus. As the Queen of Heaven, she lived on earth, untainted
by desire, and immaculate.
The king, her husband, honored her in her holiness, and the
spirit of truth, glorious and strong in his wisdom like unto a white
elephant, descended upon her. When she knew that the hour of
motherhood was near, she asked the king to send her home to her
parents; and Suddhodana, anxious about his wife and the child she
would bear him, willingly granted her request.
At Lumbini there is a beautiful grove, and when Mayadevi
passed through it the trees were one mass of fragrant flowers and
many birds were warbling in their branches. The Queen, wishing to
stroll through the shady walks, left her golden palanquin, and, when
she reached the giant sala tree in the midst of the grove, felt that her
hour had come. She took hold of a branch. Her attendants hung a
curtain about her and retired. When the pain of travail came upon
her, four pure-minded angels of the great Brahma held out a golden
net to receive the babe, who came forth from her right side like the
rising sun bright and perfect.
The Brahma-angels took the child and placing him before the
mother said: "Rejoice, O queen, a mighty son has been born unto
At her couch stood an aged woman imploring the heavens to
bless the child. All the worlds were flooded with light. The blind
received their sight by longing to see the coming glory of the Lord;
the deaf and dumb spoke with one another of the good omens
indicating the birth of the Buddha to be. The crooked became
straight; the lame walked. All prisoners were freed from their chains
and the fires of all the hells were extinguished.
No clouds gathered in the skies and the polluted streams
became clear, whilst celestial music rang through the air and the
angels rejoiced with gladness. With no selfish or partial joy but for
the sake of the law they rejoiced, for creation engulfed in the ocean
of pain was now to obtain release. The cries of beasts were hushed;
all malevolent beings received a loving heart, and peace reigned on
earth. Mara, the evil one, alone was grieved and rejoiced not.
The Naga kings, earnestly desiring to show their reverence for
most excellent law, as they had paid honor to former Buddhas, now
went to greet the Bodhisattva. They scattered before him mandara
flowers, rejoicing with heartfelt joy to pay their religious homage.
The royal father, pondering the meaning of these signs, was
now full of joy and now sore distressed. The queen mother,
beholding her child and the commotion which his birth created, felt
in her timorous heart the pangs of doubt.
Now there was at that time in a grove near Lumbini Asita, a
rishi, leading the life of a hermit. He was a Brahman of dignified
mien, famed not only for wisdom and scholarship, but also for his
skill in the interpretation of signs. And the king invited him to see
the royal babe.
The seer, beholding the prince, wept and sighed deeply. And
when the king saw the tears of Asita he became alarmed and asked:
"Why has the sight of my son caused thee grief and pain?"
But Asita's heart rejoiced, and, knowing the king's mind to be
perplexed, he addressed him, saying: "The king, like the moon when
full, should feel great joy, for he has begotten a wondrously noble
son. I do not worship Brahma, but I worship this child; and the gods
in the temples will descend from their places of honor to adore him.
Banish all anxiety and doubt. The spiritual omens manifested
indicate that the child now born will bring deliverance to the whole
"Recollecting that I myself am old, on that account I could not
hold my tears; for now my end is coming on and I shall not see the
glory of this babe. For this son of thine will rule the world. The
wheel of empire will come to him. He will either be a king of kings
to govern all the lands of the earth, or verily will become a Buddha.
He is born for the sake of everything that lives. His pure teaching
will be like the shore that receives the shipwrecked. His power of
meditation will be like a cool lake; and all creatures parched with
the drought of lust may freely drink thereof. On the fire of
covetousness he will cause the cloud of his mercy to rise, so that the
rain of the law may extinguish it. The heavy gates of despondency
will he open, and give deliverance to all creatures ensnared in the
self-entwined meshes of folly and ignorance. The king of the law
has come forth to rescue from bondage all the poor, the miserable,
When the royal parents heard Asita's words they rejoiced in
their hearts and named their new-born infant Siddhattha, that is he
who has accomplished his purpose."
And the queen said to her sister, Pajapati: "A mother who has
borne a future Buddha will never give birth to another child. I shall
soon leave this world, my husband, the king, and Siddhattha, my
child. When I am gone, be thou a mother to him." And Pajapati wept
When the queen had departed from the living, Pajapati took the
boy Siddhattha and reared him. And as the light of the moon
increases little by little, so the royal child grew from day to day in
mind and in body; and truthfulness and love resided in his heart.
When a year had passed Suddhodana the king made Pajapati his
queen and there was never a better stepmother than she.
TIES OF LIFE
WHEN Siddhattha had grown to youth, his father desired to
see him married, and he sent to all his kinsfolk, commanding them
to bring their princesses that the prince might select one of them as
But the kinsfolk replied and said: "The prince is young and
delicate; nor has he learned any of the sciences. He would not be
able to maintain our daughter, and should there be war he would be
unable to cope with the enemy."
The prince was not boisterous, but pensive in his nature. He
loved to stay under the great jambu-tree in the garden of his father,
and, observing the ways of the world, gave himself up to meditation.
And the prince said to his father: "Invite our kinsfolk that they may
see me and put my strength to the test." And his father did as his son
When the kinsfolk came, and the people of the city
Kapilavatthu had assembled to test the prowess and scholarship of
the prince, he proved himself manly in all the exercises both of the
body and of the mind, and there was no rival among the youths and
men of India who could surpass him in any test, bodily or mental.
He replied to all the questions of the sages; but when he questioned
them, even the wisest among them were silenced.
Then Siddhattha chose himself a wife. He selected his cousin
Yasodhara, the gentle daughter of the king of Koli. In their wedlock
was born a son whom they named Rahula which means "fetter" or
"tie," and King Suddhodana, glad that an heir was born to his son,
said: "The prince having begotten a son, will love him as I love the
prince. This will be a strong tie to bind Siddhattha's heart to the
interests of the world, and the kingdom of the Sakyas will remain
under the scepter of my descendants."
With no selfish aim, but regarding his child and the people at
large, Siddhattha, the prince, attended to his religious duties, bathing
his body in the holy Ganges and cleansing his heart in the waters of
the law. Even as men desire to give happiness to their children, so
did he long to give peace to the world.
THE palace which the king had given to the prince was
resplendent with all the luxuries of India; for the king was anxious
to see his son happy. All sorrowful sights, all misery, and all
knowledge of misery were kept away from Siddhattha, for the king
desired that no troubles should come nigh him; he should not know
that there was evil in the world.
But as the chained elephant longs for the wilds of the jungles,
so the prince was eager to see the world, and he asked his father, the
king, for permission to do so. And Suddhodana ordered a jewel-
fronted chariot with four stately horses to be held ready, and
commanded the roads to be adorned where his son would pass.
The houses of the city were decorated with curtains and
banners, and spectators arranged themselves on either side, eagerly
gazing at the heir to the throne. Thus Siddhattha rode with Channa,
his charioteer, through the streets of the city, and into a country
watered by rivulets and covered with pleasant trees.
There by the wayside they met an old man with bent frame,
wrinkled face and sorrowful brow, and the prince asked the
charioteer: "Who is this? His head is white, his eyes are bleared, and
his body is withered. He can barely support himself on his staff."
The charioteer, much embarrassed, hardly dared speak the
truth. He said: "These are the symptoms of old age. This same man
was once a suckling child, and as a youth full of sportive life; but
now, as years have passed away, his beauty is gone and the strength
of his life is wasted."
Siddhattha was greatly affected by the words of the charioteer,
and he sighed because of the pain of old age. "What joy or pleasure
can men take," he thought to himself, when they know they must
soon wither and pine away!"
And lo! while they were passing on, a sick man appeared on
the way-side, gasping for breath, his body disfigured, convulsed and
groaning with pain. The prince asked his charioteer: "What kind of
man is this?" And the charioteer replied and said: "This man is sick.
The four elements of his body are confused and out of order. We are
all subject to such conditions: the poor and the rich, the ignorant and
the wise, all creatures that have bodies are liable to the same
And Siddhattha was still more moved. All pleasures appeared
stale to him, and he loathed the joys of life.
The charioteer sped the horses on to escape the dreary sight,
when suddenly they were stopped in their fiery course. Four persons
passed by, carrying a corpse; and the prince, shuddering at the sight
of a lifeless body, asked the charioteer: "What is this they carry?
There are streamers and flower garlands; but the men that follow are
overwhelmed with grief!"
The charioteer replied: "This is a dead man: his body is stark;
his life is gone; his thoughts are still; his family and the friends who
loved him now carry the corpse to the grave." And the prince was
full of awe and terror: "Is this the only dead man, he asked, or does
the world contain other instances?"
With a heavy heart the charioteer replied: "All over the world
it is the same. He who begins life must end it. There is no escape
With bated breath and stammering accents the prince
exclaimed: "O worldly men! How fatal is your delusion! Inevitably
your body will crumble to dust, yet carelessly, unheedingly, ye live
on." The charioteer observing the deep impression these sad sights
had made on the prince, turned his horses and drove back to the city.
When they passed by the palace of the nobility, Kisa Gotami, a
young princess and niece of the king, saw Siddhattha in his
manliness and beauty, and, observing the thoughtfulness of his
countenance, said: "Happy the father that begot thee, happy the
mother that nursed thee, happy the wife that calls husband this lord
The prince hearing this greeting, said: "Happy are they that
have found deliverance. Longing for peace of mind, I shall seek the
bliss of Nirvana."
Then asked Kisa Gotami: "How is Nirvana attained?" The
prince paused, and to him whose mind was estranged from wrong
the answer came: "When the fire of lust is gone out, then Nirvana is
gained; when the fires of hatred and delusion are gone out, then
Nirvana is gained; when the troubles of mind, arising from blind
credulity, and all other evils have ceased, then Nirvana is gained!"
Siddhattha handed her his precious pearl necklace as a reward
for the wisdom she had inspired in him, and having returned home
looked with disdain upon the treasures of his palace.
His wife welcomed him and entreated him to tell her the cause
of his grief. He said: "I see everywhere the impression of change;
therefore, my heart is heavy. Men grow old, sicken, and die. That is
enough to take away the zest of life."
The king, his father, hearing that the prince had become
estranged from pleasure, was greatly overcome with sorrow and like
a sword it pierced his heart.
IT was night. The prince found no rest on his soft pillow; he
arose and went out into the garden. "Alas!" he cried "all the world is
full of darkness and ignorance; there is no one who knows how to
cure the ills of existence." And he groaned with pain.
Siddhattha sat down beneath the great jambu-tree and gave
himself to thought, pondering on life and death and the evils of
decay. Concentrating his mind he became free from confusion. All
low desires vanished from his heart and perfect tranquility came
In this state of ecstasy he saw with his mental eye all the
misery and sorrow of the world; he saw the pains of pleasure and
the inevitable certainty of death that hovers over every being; yet
men are not awakened to the truth. And a deep compassion seized
While the prince was pondering on the problem of evil, he
beheld with his mind's eye under the jambu tree a lofty figure
endowed with majesty, calm and dignified. "Whence comest thou,
and who mayst thou be asked the prince.
In reply the vision said: "I am a samana. Troubled at the
thought of old age, disease, and death I have left my home to seek
the path of salvation. All things hasten to decay; only the truth
abideth forever. Everything changes, and there is no permanency;
yet the words of the Buddhas are immutable. I long for the
happiness that does not decay; the treasure that will never perish;
the life that knows of no beginning and no end. Therefore, I have
destroyed all worldly thought. I have retired into an unfrequented
dell to live in solitude; and, begging for food, I devote myself to the
one thing needful.
Siddhattha asked: "Can peace be gained in this world of
unrest? I am struck with the emptiness of pleasure and have become
disgusted with lust. All oppresses me, and existence itself seems
The samana replied: "Where heat is, there is also a possibility
of cold; creatures subject to pain possess the faculty of pleasure; the
origin of evil indicates that good can be developed. For these things
are correlatives. Thus where there is much suffering, there will be
much bliss, if thou but open thine eyes to behold it. Just as a man
who has fallen into a heap of filth ought to seek the great pond of
water covered with lotuses, which is near by: even so seek thou for
the great deathless lake of Nirvana to wash off the defilement of
wrong. If the lake is not sought, it is not the fault of the lake. Even
so when there is a blessed road leading the man held fast by wrong
to the salvation of Nirvana, if the road is not walked upon, it is not
the fault of the road, but of the person. And when a man who is
oppressed with sickness, there being a physician who can heal him,
does not avail himself of the physician's help, that is not the fault of
the physician. Even so when a man oppressed by the malady of
wrong-doing does not seek the spiritual guide of enlightenment, that
is no fault of the evil-destroying guide."
The prince listened to the noble words of his visitor and said:
"Thou bringest good tidings, for now I know that my purpose will
be accomplished. My father advises me to enjoy life and to
undertake worldly duties, such as will bring honor to me and to our
house. He tells me that I am too young still, that my pulse beats too
full to lead a religious life."
The venerable figure shook his head and replied: "Thou
shouldst know that for seeking a religious life no time can be
A thrill of joy passed through Siddhattha's heart. "Now is the
time to seek religion," he said; "now is the time to sever all ties that
would prevent me from attaining perfect enlightenment; now is the
time to wander into homelessness and, leading a mendicant's life, to
find the path of deliverance."
The celestial messenger heard the resolution of Siddhattha with
approval. "Now, indeed he added, is the time to seek religion. Go,
Siddhattha, and accomplish thy purpose. For thou art Bodhisatta, the
Buddha-elect; thou art destined to enlighten the world. Thou art the
Tathagata, the great master, for thou wilt fulfill all righteousness
and be Dharmaraja, the king of truth. Thou art Bhagavat, the
Blessed One, for thou art called upon to become the savior and
redeemer of the world. Fulfill thou the perfection of truth. Though
the thunderbolt descend upon thy head, yield thou never to the
allurements that beguile men from the path of truth. As the sun at all
seasons pursues his own course, nor ever goes on another, even so if
thou forsake not the straight path of righteousness, thou shalt
become a Buddha. Persevere in thy quest and thou shalt find what
thou seekest. Pursue thy aim unswervingly and thou shalt gain the
prize. Struggle earnestly and thou shalt conquer. The benediction of
all deities, of all saints of all that seek light is upon thee, and
heavenly wisdom guides thy steps. Thou shalt be the Buddha, our
Master, and our Lord; thou shalt enlighten the world and save
mankind from perdition.
Having thus spoken, the vision vanished, and Siddhattha's
heart was filled with peace. He said to himself: "I have awakened to
the truth and I am resolved to accomplish my purpose. I will sever
all the ties that bind me to the world, and I will go out from my
home to seek the way of salvation. The Buddhas are beings whose
words cannot fail: there is no departure from truth in their speech.
For as the fall of a stone thrown into the air, as the death of a
mortal, as the sunrise at dawn, as the lion's roar when he leaves his
lair, as the delivery of a woman with child, as all these things are
sure and certain-even so the word of the Buddhas is sure and cannot
fail. Verily I shall become a Buddha."
The prince returned to the bedroom of his wife to take a last
farewell glance at those whom he dearly loved above all the
treasures of the earth. He longed to take the infant once more into
his arms and kiss him with a parting kiss. But the child lay in the
arms of his mother, and the prince could not lift him without
awakening both. There Siddhattha stood gazing at his beautiful wife
and his beloved son, and his heart grieved. The pain of parting
overcame him powerfully. Although his mind was determined, so
that nothing, be it good or evil, could shake his resolution, the tears
flowed freely from his eyes, and it was beyond his power to check
their stream. But the prince tore himself away with a manly heart,
suppressing his feelings but not extinguishing his memory.
The Bodhisattva mounted his noble steed Kanthaka, and when
he left the palace, Mara stood in the gate and stopped him: "Depart
not, O my Lord," exclaimed Mara. "In seven days from now the
wheel of empire will appear, and will make thee sovereign over the
four continents and the two thousand adjacent islands. Therefore,
stay, my Lord."
The Bodhisattva replied: "Well do I know that the wheel of
empire will appear to me; but it is not sovereignty that I desire. I
will become a Buddha and make all the world shout for joy."
Thus Siddhattha, the prince, renounced power and worldly
pleasures, gave up his kingdom, severed all ties, and went into
homelessness. He rode out into the silent night, accompanied only
by his faithful charioteer Channa. Darkness lay upon the earth, but
the stars shone brightly in the heavens.
SIDDHATTHA had cut his waving hair and had exchanged his
royal robe for a mean dress of the color of the ground. Having sent
home Channa, the charioteer, together with the noble steed
Kanthaka, to King Suddhodana to bear him the message that the
prince had left the world, the Bodhisattva walked along on the
highroad with a beggar's bowl in his hand.
Yet the majesty of his mind was ill-concealed under the
poverty of his appearance. His erect gait betrayed his royal birth and
his eyes beamed with a fervid zeal for truth. The beauty of his youth
was transfigured by holiness and surrounded his head like a halo.
All the people who saw this unusual sight gazed at him in wonder.
Those who were in haste arrested their steps and looked back; and
there was no one who did not pay him homage.
Having entered the city of Rajagaha, the prince went from
house to house silently waiting till the people offered him food.
Wherever the Blessed One came, the people gave him what they
had; they bowed before him in humility and were filled with
gratitude because he condescended to approach their homes. Old
and young people were moved and said: "This is a noble muni! His
approach is bliss. What a great joy for us!"
And King Bimbisara, noticing the commotion in the city,
inquired the cause of it, and when he learned the news sent one of
his attendants to observe the stranger. Having heard that the muni
must be a Sakya and of noble family, and that he had retired to the
bank of a flowing river in the woods to eat the food in his bowl, the
king was moved in his heart; he donned his royal robe, placed his
golden crown upon his head and went out in the company of aged
and wise counselors to meet his mysterious guest.
The king found the muni of the Sakya race seated under a tree.
Contemplating the composure of his face and the gentleness of his
deportment, Bimbisara greeted him reverently and said: "O samana,
thy hands are fit to grasp the reins of an empire and should not hold
a beggar's bowl. I am sorry to see thee wasting thy youth. Believing
that thou art of royal descent, I invite thee to join me in the
government of my country and share my royal power. Desire for
power is becoming to the noble-minded, and wealth should not be
despised. To grow rich and lose religion is not true gain. But he who
possesses all three, power, wealth, and religion, enjoying them in
discretion and with wisdom, him I call a great master."
The great Sakyamuni lifted his eyes and replied: "Thou art
known, O king, to be liberal and religious, and thy words are
prudent. A kind man who makes good use of wealth is rightly said
to possess a great treasure; but the miser who hoards up his riches
will have no profit. Charity is rich in returns; charity is the greatest
wealth, for though it scatters, it brings no repentance.
"I have severed all ties because I seek deliverance. How is it
possible for me to return to the world? He who seeks religious truth,
which is the highest treasure of all, must leave behind all that can
concern him or draw away his attention, and must be bent upon that
one goal alone. He must free his soul from covetousness and lust,
and also from the desire for power.
"Indulge in lust but a little, and lust like a child will grow.
Wield worldly power and you will be burdened with cares. Better
than sovereignty over the earth, better than living in heaven, better
than lordship over all the worlds, is the fruit of holiness. The
Bodhisattva has recognized the illusory nature of wealth and will
not take poison as food. Will a fish that has been baited still covet
the hook, or an escaped bird love the net? Would a rabbit rescued
from the serpent's mouth go back to be devoured? Would a man who
has burnt his hand with a torch take up the torch after he had
dropped it to the earth? Would a blind man who has recovered his
sight desire to spoil his eyes again?
"The sick man suffering from fever seeks for a cooling
medicine. Shall we advise him to drink that which will increase the
fever? Shall we quench a fire by heaping fuel upon it?
"I pray thee, pity me not. Rather pity those who are burdened
with the cares of royalty and the worry of great riches. They enjoy
them in fear and trembling, for they are constantly threatened with a
loss of those boons on whose possession their hearts are set, and
when they die they cannot take along either their gold or the kingly
"My heart hankers after no vulgar profit, so I have put away
my royal inheritance and prefer to be free from the burdens of life.
Therefore, try not to entangle me in new relationships and duties,
nor hinder me from completing the work I have begun. I regret to
leave thee. But I will go to the sages who can teach me religion and
so find the path on which we can escape evil.
"May thy country enjoy peace and prosperity, and may wisdom
be shed upon thy rule like the brightness of the noon-day sun. May
thy royal power be strong and may righteousness be the scepter in
The king, clasping his hands with reverence, bowed down
before Sakyamuni and said: "Mayest thou obtain that which thou
seekest, and when thou hast obtained it, come back, I pray thee, and
receive me as thy disciple." The Bodhisattva parted from the king in
friendship and goodwill, and purposed in his heart to grant his
THE BODHISATTVA'S SEARCH
ALARA and Uddaka were renowned as teachers among the
Brahmans, and there was no one in those days who surpassed them
in learning and philosophical knowledge. The Bodhisattva went to
them and sat at their feet. He listened to their doctrines of the atman
or self, which is the ego of the mind and the doer of all doings. He
learned their views of the transmigration of souls and of the law of
karma; how the souls of bad men had to suffer by being reborn in
men of low caste, in animals, or in hell, while those who purified
themselves by libation, by sacrifices, and by self-mortification
would become kings, or Brahmans, or devas, so as to rise higher and
higher in the grades of existence. He studied their incantations and
offerings and the methods by which they attained deliverance of the
ego from material existence in states of ecstasy.
Alara said: "What is that self which perceives the actions of
the five roots of mind, touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing? What
is that which is active in the two ways of motion, in the hands and in
the feet? The problem of the soul appears in the expressions 'I say,'
'I know and perceive,' 'I come,' and 'I go' or 'I will stay here.' Thy
soul is not thy body; it is not thy eye, not thy ear, not thy nose, not
thy tongue, nor is it thy mind. The I is the one who feels the touch in
thy body. The I is the smeller in the nose, the taster in the tongue,
the seer in the eye, the hearer in the ear, and the thinker in the mind.
The I moves thy hands and thy feet. The I is thy soul. Doubt in the
existence of the soul is irreligious, and without discerning this truth
there is no way of salvation. Deep speculation will easily involve
the mind; it leads to confusion and unbelief; but a purification of the
soul leads to the way of escape. True deliverance is reached by
removing from the crowd and leading a hermit's life, depending
entirely on alms for food. Putting away all desire and clearly
recognizing the non-existence of matter, we reach a state of perfect
emptiness. Here we find the condition of immaterial life. As the
munja grass when freed from its horny case, as a sword when drawn
from its scabbard, or as the wild bird escaped from its prison, so the
ego liberating itself from all limitations, finds perfect release. This
is true deliverance, but those only who will have deep faith will
The Bodhisattva found no satisfaction in these teachings. He
replied: "People are in bondage, because they have not yet removed
the idea of the ego. The thing and its quality are different in our
thought, but not in reality. Heat is different from fire in our thought,
but you cannot remove heat from fire in reality. You say that you
can remove the qualities and leave the thing, but if you think your
theory to the end, you will find that this is not so.
"Is not man an organism of many aggregates? Are we not
composed of various attributes? Man consists of the material form,
of sensation, of thought, of dispositions, and, lastly, of
understanding. That which men call the ego when they say 'I am' is
not an entity behind the attributes; it originates by their co-
operation. There is mind; there is sensation and thought, and there is
truth; and truth is mind when it walks in the path of righteousness.
But there is no separate ego-soul outside or behind the thought of
man. He who believes the ego is a distinct being has no correct
conception. The very search for the atman is wrong; it is a wrong
start and it will lead you in a false direction.
"How much confusion of thought comes from our interest in
self, and from our vanity when thinking 'I am so great,' or 'I have
done this wonderful deed?' The thought of thine ego stands between
thy rational nature and truth; banish it, and then wilt thou see things
as they are. He who thinks correctly will rid himself of ignorance
and acquire wisdom. The ideas 'I am' and 'I shall be' or 'I shall not
be' do not occur to a clear thinker.
"Moreover, if our ego remains, how can we attain true
deliverance? If the ego is to be reborn in any of the three worlds, be
it in hell, upon earth, or be it even in heaven, we shall meet again
and again the same inevitable doom of sorrow. We shall remain
chained to the wheel of individuality and shall be implicated in
egotism and wrong. All combination is subject to separation, and we
cannot escape birth, disease, old age, and death. Is this a final
Said Uddaka: "Consider the unity of things. Things are not
their parts, yet they exist. The members and organs of thy body are
not thine ego, but thine ego possesses all these parts. What, for
instance, is the Ganges? Is the sand the Ganges? Is the water the
Ganges? Is the hither bank the Ganges? Is the hither bank the
Ganges? Is the farther bank the Ganges? The Ganges is a mighty
river and it possesses all these several qualities. Exactly so is our
But the Bodhisattva replied: "Not so, sir! If we remove the
water, the sand, the hither bank and the farther bank where can we
find any Ganges? In the same way I observe the activities of man in
their harmonious union, but there is no ground for an ego outside its
The Brahman sage, however, insisted on the existence of the
ego, saying: "The ego is the doer of our deeds. How can there be
karma without a self as its performer? Do we not see around us the
effects of karma? What makes men different in character, station,
possessions, and fate? It is their karma, and karma includes merit
and demerit. The transmigration of the soul is subject to its karma.
We inherit from former existences the evil effects of our evil deeds
and the good effects of our good deeds. If that were not so, how
could we be different?'
The Tathagata meditated deeply on the problems of
transmigration and karma, and found the truth that lies in them.
"The doctrine of karma, he said, is undeniable, but the theory of the
ego has no foundation. Like everything else in nature, the life of
man is subject to the law of cause and effect. The present reaps
what the past has sown, and the future is the product of the present.
But there is no evidence of the existence of an immutable ego-being,
of a self which remains the same and migrates from body to body.
There is rebirth but no transmigration.
"Is not this individuality of mine a combination, material as
well as mental? Is it not made up of qualities that sprang into being
by a gradual evolution? The five roots of sense perception in this
organism have come from ancestors who performed these functions.
The ideas which I think, came to me partly from others who thought
them, and partly they rise from combinations of the ideas in my own
mind. Those who have used the same sense-organs, and have
thought the same ideas before I was composed into this individuality
of mine, are my previous existences; they are my ancestors as much
as the I of yesterday is the father of the I of today, and the karma of
my past deeds affects the fate of my present existence.
"Supposing there were an atman that performs the actions of
the senses then if the door of sight were torn down and the eye
plucked out, that atman would be able to peep through the larger
aperture and see the forms of its surroundings better and more
clearly than before. It would be able to hear sounds better if the ears
were torn away; smell better if the nose were cut off; taste better if
the tongue were pulled out; and feel better if the body were
"I observe the preservation and transmission of character; I
perceive the truth of karma, but see no atman whom your doctrine
makes the doer of your deeds. There is rebirth without the
transmigration of a self. For this atman, this self, this ego in the 'I
say' and in the 'I will' is an illusion. If this self were a reality, how
could there be an escape from selfhood? The terror of hell would be
infinite, and no release could be granted. The evils of existence
would not be due to our ignorance and wrong-doing, but would
constitute the very nature of our being."
Then the Bodhisattva went to the priests officiating in the
temples. But the gentle mind of the Sakyamuni was offended at the
unnecessary cruelty performed on the altars of the gods. He said:
"Ignorance only can make these men prepare festivals and hold vast
meetings for sacrifices. Far better to revere the truth than try to
appease the gods by shedding blood. What love can a man possess
who believes that the destruction of life will atone for evil deeds?
Can a new wrong expiate old wrongs? And can the slaughter of an
innocent victim blot out the evil deeds of mankind? This is
practicing religion by the neglect of moral conduct. Purify your
hearts and cease to kill; that is true religion. Rituals have no
efficacy; prayers are vain repetitions; and incantations have no
saving power. But to abandon covetousness and lust, to become free
from evil passions, and to give up all hatred and ill-will, that is the
right sacrifice and the true worship."
URUVELA, PLACE OF MORTIFICATION
THE Bodhisattva went in search of a better system and came
to a settlement of five bhikkhus in the jungle of Uruvela; and when
the Blessed One saw the life of those five men, virtuously keeping
in check their senses, subduing their passions, and practicing austere
self-discipline, he admired their earnestness and joined their
company. With holy zeal and a strong heart, the Sakyamuni gave
himself up to meditative thought and a rigorous mortification of the
body. Whereas the five bhikkhus were severe, the Sakyamuni was
severer still, and so they revered him, their junior, as their master.
So the Bodhisattva continued for six years patiently torturing
himself and suppressing the wants of nature. He trained his body
and exercised his mind in the modes of the most rigorous ascetic
life. At last, he ate each day one hemp grain only, seeking to cross
the ocean of birth and death and to arrive at the shore of deliverance.
And when the Bodhisattva was ahungered, lo! Mara, the Evil
One, approached him and said: "Thou art emaciated from fasts, and
death is near. What good is thy exertion? Deign to live, and thou
wilt be able to do good work." But the Sakyamuni made reply: "O
thou friend of the indolent, thou wicked one; for what purpose hast
thou come? Let the flesh waste away, if but the mind becomes more
tranquil and attention more steadfast. What is life in this world?
Death in battle is better to me than that I should live defeated."
And Mara withdrew, saying: "For seven years I have followed
the Blessed One step by step, but I have found no fault in the
The Bodhisattva was shrunken and attenuated, and his body
was like a withered branch; but the fame of his holiness spread in
the surrounding countries, and people came from great distances to
see him and receive his blessing. However, the Holy One was not
satisfied. Seeking true wisdom he did not find it, and he came to the
conclusion that mortification would not extinguish desire nor afford
enlightenment in ecstatic contemplation.
Seated beneath a jambu-tree, he considered the state of his
mind and the fruits of his mortification. His body had become
weaker, nor had his fasts advanced him in his search for salvation,
and therefore when he saw that it was not the right path, he
proposed to abandon it. He went to bathe in the Neranjara River, but
when he strove to leave the water he could not rise on account of his
weakness. Then espying the branch of a tree and taking hold of it,
he raised himself and left the stream. But while returning to his
abode, he staggered and lay as though dead.
There was a chief herdsman living near the grove whose eldest
daughter was called Nanda; and Nanda happened to pass by the spot
where the Blessed One had swooned, and bowing down before him
she offered him rice-milk and he accepted the gift. When he had
partaken of the rice-milk all his limbs were refreshed, his mind
became clear again, and he was strong to receive the highest
After this occurrence, the Bodhisattva again took some food.
His disciples, having witnessed the scene of Nanda and observing
the change in his mode of living, were filled with suspicion. They
feared that Siddhattha's religious zeal was flagging and that he
whom they had hitherto revered as their Master had become
oblivious of his high purpose.
When the Bodhisattva saw the bhikkhus turning away from
him, he felt sorry for their lack of confidence, and was aware of the
loneliness of his life. Suppressing his grief he wandered on alone,
and his disciples said, "Siddhattha leaves us to seek a more pleasant
THE EVIL ONE
THE Holy One directed his steps to that blessed Bodhitree
beneath whose shade he was to accomplish his search. As he
walked, the earth shook and a brilliant light transfigured the world.
When he sat down the heavens resounded with joy and all living
beings were filled with good cheer. Mara alone, lord of the five
desires, bringer of death and enemy of truth, was grieved and
rejoiced not. With his three daughters, Tanha, Raga and Arati, the
tempters, and with his host of evil demons, he went to the place
where the great samana sat. But Sakyamuni heeded him not. Mara
uttered fear-inspiring threats and raised a whirlwind so that the skies
were darkened and the ocean roared and trembled.
But the Blessed One under the Bodhi-tree remained calm and
feared not. The Enlightened One knew that no harm could befall
The three daughters of Mara tempted the Bodhisattva, but he
paid no attention to them, and when Mara saw that he could kindle
no desire in the heart of the victorious samana, he ordered all the
evil spirits at his command to attack him and overawe the great
muni. But the Blessed One watched them as one would watch the
harmless games of children. All the fierce hatred of the evil spirits
was of no avail. The flames of hell became wholesome breezes of
perfume, and the angry thunderbolts were changed into lotus-
When Mara saw this, he fled away with his army from the
Bodhi-tree, whilst from above a rain of heavenly flowers fell, and
voices of good spirits were heard: "Behold the great muni! his heart
unmoved by hatred. The wicked Mara's host 'gainst him did not
prevail. Pure is he and wise, loving and full of mercy. As the rays of
the sun drown the darkness of the world, so he who perseveres in his
search will find the truth and the truth will enlighten him."
THE Bodhisattva, having put Mara to flight, gave himself up
to meditation. All the miseries of the world, the evils produced by
evil deeds and the sufferings arising therefrom, passed before his
mental eye, and he thought:
"Surely if living creatures saw the results of all their evil
deeds, they would turn away from them in disgust. But selfhood
blinds them, and they cling to their obnoxious desires. They crave
pleasure for themselves and they cause pain to others; when death
destroys their individuality, they find no peace; their thirst for
existence abides and their selfhood reappears in new births. Thus
they continue to move in the coil and can find no escape from the
hell of their own making. And how empty are their pleasures, how
vain are their endeavors! Hollow like the plantain-tree and without
contents like the bubble. The world is full of evil and sorrow,
because it is full of lust. Men go astray because they think that
delusion is better than truth. Rather than truth they follow error,
which is pleasant to look at in the beginning but in the end causes
anxiety, tribulation, and misery."
And the Bodhisattva began to expound the Dharma. The
Dharma is the truth. The Dharma is the sacred law. The Dharma is
religion. The Dharma alone can deliver us from error, from wrong
and from sorrow.
Pondering on the origin of birth and death, the Enlightened
One recognized that ignorance was the root of all evil; and these are
the links in the development of life, called the twelve nidanas: In the
beginning there is existence blind and without knowledge; and in
this sea of ignorance there are stirrings formative and organizing.
From stirrings, formative and organizing, rises awareness or
feelings. Feelings beget organisms that live as individual beings.
These organisms develop the six fields, that is, the five senses and
the mind. The six fields come in contact with things. Contact begets
sensation. Sensation creates the thirst of individualized being. The
thirst of being creates a cleaving to things. The cleaving produces
the growth and continuation of selfhood. Selfhood continues in
renewed birth. The renewed births of selfhood are the causes of
sufferings, old age, sickness, and death. They produce lamentation,
anxiety, and despair.
The cause of all sorrow lies at the very beginning; it is hidden
in the ignorance from which life grows. Remove ignorance and you
will destroy the wrong desires that rise from ignorance; destroy
these desires and you will wipe out the wrong perception that rises
from them. Destroy wrong perception and there is an end of errors
in individualized beings. Destroy the errors in individualized beings
and the illusions of the six fields will disappear. Destroy illusions
and the contact with things will cease to beget misconception.
Destroy misconception and you do away with thirst. Destroy thirst
and you will be free of all morbid cleaving. Remove the cleaving
and you destroy the selfishness of selfhood. If the selfishness of
selfhood is destroyed you will be above birth, old age, disease, and
death, and you will escape all suffering.
The Enlightened One saw the four noble truths which point out
the path that leads to Nirvana or the extinction of self: The first
noble truth is the existence of sorrow. The second noble truth is the
cause of suffering. The third noble truth is the cessation of sorrow.
The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path that leads to the
cessation of sorrow.
This is the Dharma. This is the truth. This is religion. And the
Enlightened One uttered this stanza:
"Through many births I sought in vain
The Builder of this House of Pain.
Now, Builder, You are plain to see,
And from this House at last I'm free;
I burst the rafters, roof and wall,
And dwell in the Peace beyond them all."
There is self and there is truth. Where self is, truth is not.
Where truth is, self is not. Self is the fleeting error of samsara; it is
individual separateness and that egotism which begets envy and
hatred. Self is the yearning for pleasure and the lust after vanity.
Truth is the correct comprehension of things; it is the permanent and
everlasting, the real in all existence, the bliss of righteousness.
The existence of self is an illusion, and here is no wrong in this
world, no vice, no evil, except what flows from the assertion of self.
The attainment of truth is possible only when self is recognized as
an illusion. Righteousness can be practiced only when we have freed
our mind from passions of egotism. Perfect peace can dwell only
where all vanity has disappeared.
Blessed is he who has understood the Dharma. Blessed is he
who does no harm to his fellow-beings. Blessed is he who
overcomes wrong and is free from passion. To the highest bliss has
he attained who has conquered all selfishness and vanity. He has
become the Buddha, the Perfect One.
THE Blessed One tarried in solitude seven times seven days,
enjoying the bliss of emancipation. At that time Tapussa and
Bhallika, two merchants, came traveling on the road near by, and
when they saw the great samana, majestic and full of peace, they
approached him respectfully and offered him rice cakes and honey.
This was the first food that the Enlightened One ate after he
And the Buddha addressed them and pointed out to them the
way of salvation. The two merchants, seeing the holiness of the
conqueror of Mara, bowed down in reverence and said: "We take
our refuge, Lord, in the Blessed One and in the Dharma." Tapussa
and Bhallika were the first that became followers of the Buddha and
they were lay disciples.
THE BRAHMA'S REQUEST
THE Blessed One having attained Buddhahood while resting
under the shepherd's Nigrodha tree on the banks of the river
Neranjara, pronounced this solemn utterance:
"How sure his pathway in this wood,
Who follows truth's unchanging call!
How blessed, to be kind and good,
And practice self-restraint in all!
How light, from passion to be free,
And sensual joys to let go by!
And yet his greatest bliss will be
When he has quelled the pride of 'I'.
have recognized the deepest truth, which is sublime and
peace-giving' but difficult to understand; for most men move in a
sphere of worldly interests and find their delight in worldly desires.
The worldling will not understand the doctrine, for to him there is
happiness in selfhood only, and the bliss that lies in a complete
surrender to truth is unintelligible to him. He will call resignation
what to the enlightened mind is the purest joy. He will see
annihilation where the perfected one finds immortality. He will
regard as death what the conqueror of self knows to be life
everlasting. The truth remains hidden from him who is in the
bondage of hate and desire. Nirvana remains incomprehensible and
mysterious to the vulgar whose minds are beclouded with worldly
interests. Should I preach the doctrine and mankind not comprehend
it, it would bring me only fatigue and trouble."
Mara, the Evil One, on hearing the words of the Blessed
Buddha, approached and said: "Be greeted, thou Holy One. Thou
hast attained the highest bliss and it is time for thee to enter into the
Then Brahma Sahampati descended from the heavens and,
having worshiped the Blessed One, said: "Alas! the world must
perish, should the Holy One, the Tathagata, decide not to teach the
Dharma. Be merciful to those that struggle; have compassion upon
the sufferers; pity the creatures who are hopelessly entangled in the
snares of sorrow. There are some beings that are almost free from
the dust of worldliness. If they hear not the doctrine preached, they
will be lost. But if they hear it, they will believe and be saved."
The Blessed One, full of compassion, looked with the eye of a
Buddha upon all sentient creatures, and he saw among them beings
whose minds were but scarcely covered by the dust of worldliness,
who were of good disposition and easy to instruct. He saw some
who were conscious of the dangers of lust and wrong doing. And the
Blessed One said to Brahma Sahampati: "Wide open be the door of
immortality to all who have ears to hear. May they receive the
Dharma with faith."
Then the Blessed One turned to Mara, saying: "I shall not pass
into the final Nirvana, O Evil One, until there be not only brethren
and sisters of an Order, but also lay disciples of both sexes, who
shall have become true hearers, wise, well trained, ready and
learned, versed in the scriptures, fulfilling all the greater and lesser
duties, correct in life, walking according to the precepts-until they,
having thus themselves learned the doctrine, shall be able to give
information to others concerning it, preach it, make it known,
establish it, open it, minutely explain it, and make it clear-until they,
when others start vain doctrines, shall be able to vanquish and refute
them, and so to spread the wonderworking truth abroad. I shall not
die until the pure religion of truth shall have become successful,
prosperous, widespread, and popular in all its full extent-until, in a
word, it shall have been well proclaimed among men!"
Then Brahma Sahampati understood that the Blessed One had
granted his request and would preach the doctrine.
FOUNDING THE KINGDOM
UPAKA SEES THE BUDDHA
Now the Blessed One thought: "To whom shall I preach the
doctrine first? My old teachers are dead. They would have received
the good news with joy. But my five disciples are still alive. I shall
go to them, and to them shall I first proclaim the gospel of
At that time the five bhikkhus dwelt in the Deer Park at
Benares, and the Blessed One rose and journeyed to their abode, not
thinking of their unkindness in having left him at a time when he
was most in need of their sympathy and help, but mindful only of
the services which they had ministered unto him, and pitying them
for the austerities which they practiced in vain.
Upaka, a young Brahman and a Jain, a former acquaintance of
Siddhattha, saw the Blessed One while he journeyed to Benares,
and, amazed at the majesty and sublime joyfulness of his
appearance, said to him: "Thy countenance, my friend, is serene;
thine eyes are bright and indicate purity and blessedness."
The holy Buddha replied: "I have obtained deliverance by the
extinction of self. My body is chastened, my mind is free from
desire, and the deepest truth has taken abode in my heart. I have
obtained Nirvana, and this is the reason that my countenance is
serene and my eyes are bright. I now desire to found the kingdom of
truth upon earth, to give light to those who are enshrouded in
darkness and to open the gate of deathlessness."
Upaka replied: "Thou professest then, friend, to be Jina, the
conqueror of the world, the absolute one and the holy one.
The Blessed One said: "Jinas are all those who have conquered
self and the passions of self; those alone are victorious who control
their minds and abstain from evil. Therefore, Upaka, I am the Jina."
Upaka shook his head. "Venerable Gotama, he said, "thy way
lies yonder," and taking another road he went away.
SERMON AT BENARES
ON seeing their old teacher approach, the five bhikkus agreed
among themselves not to salute him, nor to address him as a master,
but by his name only. "For," so they said, "he has broken his vow
and has abandoned holiness. He is no bhikkhu, but Gotama, and
Gotama has become a man who lives in abundance and indulges in
the pleasures of worldliness." But when the Blessed One
approached in a dignified manner, they involuntarily rose from their
seats and greeted him in spite of their resolution. Still they called
him by his name and addressed him as "friend Gotama."
When they had thus received the Blessed One, he said: "Do not
call the Tathagata by his name nor address him as 'friend,' for he is
the Buddha, the Holy One. The Buddha looks with a kind heart
equally on all living beings, and they therefore call him 'Father.' To
disrespect a father is wrong; to despise him, is wicked. The
Tathagata, the Buddha continued, does not seek salvation in
austerities, but neither does he for that reason indulge in worldly
pleasures, nor live in abundance. The Tathagata has found the
"There are two extremes, O bhikkhus, which the man who has
given up the world ought not to follow-the habitual practice, on the
one hand, of self-indulgence which is unworthy, vain and fit only
for the worldly-minded and the habitual practice, on the other hand,
of self-mortification, which is painful, useless and unprofitable.
"Neither abstinence from fish and flesh, nor going naked, nor
shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough
garment, nor covering oneself with dirt, nor sacrificing to Agni, will
cleanse a man who is not free from delusions. Reading the Vedas,
making offerings to priests, or sacrifices to the gods, self-
mortification by heat or cold and many such penances performed for
the sake of immortality, these do not cleanse the man who is not free
from delusions. Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry, deception,
envy, self-praise, disparaging others, superciliousness and evil
intentions constitute uncleanness; not verily the eating of flesh.
"A middle path, O bhikkhus avoiding the two extremes, has
been discovered by the Tathagata-a path which opens the eyes, and
bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher
wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana! What is that middle path,
O bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, discovered by the
Tathagata-that path which opens the eyes, and bestows
understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom,
to full enlightenment, to Nirvana? Let me teach you, O bhikkhus,
the middle path, which keeps aloof from both extremes. By
suffering, the emaciated devotee produces confusion and sickly
thoughts in his mind. Mortification is not conducive even to worldly
knowledge; how much less to a triumph over the senses!
"He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness,
and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail. And how
can any one be free from self by leading a wretched life, if he does
not succeed in quenching the fires of lust, if he still hankers after
either worldly or heavenly pleasures? But he in whom self has
become extinct is free from lust; he will desire neither worldly nor
heavenly pleasures, and the satisfaction of his natural wants will not
defile him. However, let him be moderate, let him eat and drink
according to the need of the body.
"Sensuality is enervating; the self-indulgent man is a slave to
his passions, and pleasure-seeking is degrading and vulgar. But to
satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in good
health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp
of wisdom, and keep our minds strong and clear. Water surrounds
the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals. This is the middle path,
O bhikkhus, that keeps aloof from both extremes." And the Blessed
One spoke kindly to his disciples, pitying them for their errors, and
pointing out the uselessness of their endeavors, and the ice of ill-will
that chilled their hearts melted away under the gentle warmth of the
Now the Blessed One set the wheel of the most excellent law
rolling, and he began to preach to the five bhikkhus, opening to
them the gate of immortality, and showing them the bliss of
The Buddha said: "The spokes of the wheel are the rules of
pure conduct: justice is the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the
tire; modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which the
immovable axle of truth is fixed. He who recognizes the existence of
suffering, its cause, its remedy, and its cessation has fathomed the
four noble truths. He will walk in the right path.
"Right views will be the torch to light his way. Right
aspirations will be his guide. Right speech will be his dwelling-
place on the road. His gait will be straight, for it is right behavior.
His refreshments will be the right way of earning his livelihood.
Right efforts will be his steps: right thoughts his breath; and right
contemplation will give him the peace that follows in his footprints.
"Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning
suffering: Birth is attended with pain, decay is painful, disease is
painful, death is painful. Union with the unpleasant is painful,
painful is separation from the pleasant; and any craving that is
unsatisfied, that too is painful. In brief, bodily conditions which
spring from attachment are painful. This, then, O bhikkhus, is the
noble truth concerning suffering.
"Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin
of suffering: Verily, it is that craving which causes the renewal of
existence, accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now
here, now there, the craving for the gratification of the passions, the
craving for a future life, and the craving for happiness in this life.
This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of
"Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the
destruction of suffering: Verily, it is the destruction, in which no
passion remains, of this very thirst; it is the laying aside of, the
being free from, the dwelling no longer upon this thirst. This, then,
O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction of
"Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the way
which leads to the destruction of sorrow. Verily, it is this noble
eightfold path; that is to say: Right views; right aspirations; right
speech; right behavior; right livelihood; right effort; right thoughts;
and right contemplation. This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth
concerning the destruction of sorrow.
"By the practice of loving-kindness I have attained liberation
of heart, and thus I am assured that I shall never return in renewed
births. I have even now attained Nirvana."
When the Blessed One had thus set the royal chariot wheel of
truth rolling onward, a rapture thrilled through all the universes. The
devas left their heavenly abodes to listen to the sweetness of the
truth; the saints that had parted from life crowded around the great
teacher to receive the glad tidings; even the animals of the earth felt
the bliss that rested upon the words of the Tathagata: and all the
creatures of the host of sentient beings, gods, men, and beasts,
hearing the message of deliverance, received and understood it in
their own language.
And when the doctrine was propounded, the venerable
Kondanna, the oldest one among the five bhikkhus, discerned the
truth with his mental eye, and he said: "Truly, O Buddha, our Lord,
thou hast found the truth!" Then the other bhikkhus too, joined him
and exclaimed: "Truly, thou art the Buddha, thou hast found the
And the devas and saints and all the good spirits of the
departed generations that had listened to the sermon of the
Tathagata, joyfully received the doctrine and shouted: "Truly, the
Blessed One has founded the kingdom of righteousness. The
Blessed One has moved the earth; he has set the wheel of Truth
rolling, which by no one in the universe, be he god or man, can ever
be turned back. The kingdom of Truth will be preached upon earth;
it will spread; and righteousness, good-will, and peace will reign
SANGHA OR COMMUNITY
HAVING pointed out to the five bhikkhus the truth, the
Buddha said: "A man that stands alone, having decided to obey the
truth, may be weak and slip back into his old ways. Therefore, stand
ye together, assist one another, and strengthen one another efforts.
Be like unto brothers; one in love, one in holiness, and one in your
zeal for the truth. Spread the truth and preach the doctrine in all
quarters of the world, so that in the end all living creatures will be
citizens of the kingdom of righteousness. This is the holy
brotherhood; this is the church, the congregation of the saints of the
Buddha; this is the Sangha that establishes a communion among all
those who have taken their refuge in the Buddha."
Kondanna was the first disciple of the Buddha who had
thoroughly grasped the doctrine of the Holy One, and the Tathagata
looking into his heart said: "Truly, Kondanna has understood the
truth." Therefore the venerable Kondanna received the name
"Annata-Kondanna that is, "Kondanna who has understood the
doctrine." Then the venerable Kondanna spoke to the Buddha and
said: "Lord, let us receive the ordination from the blessed One." And
the Buddha said: "Come, O bhikkhus! Well taught is the doctrine.
Lead a holy life for the extinction of suffering."
Then Kondanna and the other bhikkhus uttered three times
these solemn vows: "To the Buddha will I look in faith: He, the
Perfect One, is holy and supreme. The Buddha conveys to us
instruction, wisdom, and salvation; he is the Blessed One, who
knows the law of being; he is the Lord of the world, who yoketh
men like oxen, the Teacher of gods and men, the Exalted Buddha.
Therefore, to the Buddha will I look in faith.
"To the doctrine will I look in faith: well-preached is the
doctrine by the Exalted One. The doctrine has been revealed so as to
become visible; the doctrine is above time and space. The doctrine
is not based upon hearsay, it means 'Come and see'; the doctrine to
welfare; the doctrine is recognized by the wise in their own hearts.
Therefore to the doctrine will I look in faith.
"To the community will I look in faith; the community of the
Buddha's disciples instructs us how to lead a life of righteousness;
the community of the Buddha's disciples teaches us how to exercise
honesty and justice; the community of the Buddha's disciples shows
us how to practice the truth. They form a brotherhood in kindness
and charity, and their saints are worthy of reverence. The
community of the Buddha's disciples is founded as a holy
brotherhood in which men bind themselves together to teach the
behests of rectitude and to do good. Therefore, to the community
will I look in faith."
The gospel of the Blessed One increased from day to day, and
many people came to hear him and to accept the ordination to lead
thenceforth a holy life for the sake of the extinction of suffering.
And the Blessed One seeing that it was impossible to attend to all
who wanted to hear the truth and receive the ordination, sent out
from the number of his disciples such as were to preach the Dharma,
and said unto them:
"The Dharma and the Vinaya proclaimed by the Tathagata
shine forth when they are displayed, and not when they are
concealed. But let not this doctrine, so full of truth and so excellent,
fall into the hands of those unworthy of it, where it would be
despised and contemned, treated shamefully, ridiculed and censured.
I now grant you, O bhikkhus, this permission. Confer henceforth in
the different countries the ordination upon those who are eager to
receive it, when you find them worthy.
"Go ye now, O bhikkhus, for the benefit of the many, for the
welfare of mankind, out of compassion for the world. Preach the
doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle,
and glorious in the end, in the spirit as well as in the letter. There
are beings whose eyes are scarcely covered with dust, but if the
doctrine is not preached to them they cannot attain salvation.
Proclaim to them a life of holiness. They will understand the
doctrine and accept it."
And it became an established custom that the bhikkhus went
out preaching while the weather was good, but in the rainy season
they came together again and joined their master, to listen to the
exhortations of the Tathagata.
THE YOUTH OF BENARES
AT that time there was in Benares a noble youth, Yasa by
name, the son of a wealthy merchant. Troubled in his mind about the
sorrows of the world, he secretly rose up in the night and stole away
to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw Yasa coming from afar.
Yasa approached and exclaimed: "Alas, what distress! What
The Blessed One said to Yasa: "Here is no distress; here are no
tribulations. Come to me and I will teach you the truth, and the truth
will dispel your sorrows."
When Yasa, the noble youth, heard that there were neither
distress, nor tribulations, nor sorrows, his heart was comforted. He
went into the place where the Blessed One was, and sat down near
him. Then the Blessed One preached about charity and morality. He
explained the vanity of the thought "I am"; the dangers of desire,
and the necessity of avoiding the evils of life in order to walk on the
path of deliverance.
Instead of disgust with the world, Yasa felt the cooling stream
of holy wisdom, and, having obtained the pure and spotless eye of
truth, he looked at his person, richly adorned with pearls and
precious stones, and his heart was shamed.
The Tathagata, knowing his inward thoughts, said: "Though a
person be ornamented with jewels, the heart may have conquered
the senses. The outward form does not constitute religion or affect
the mind. Thus the body of a samana may wear an ascetic's garb
while his mind is immersed in worldliness. A man that dwells in
lonely woods and yet covets worldly vanities, is a worldling, while
the man in worldly garments may let his heart soar high to heavenly
thoughts. There is no distinction between the layman and the hermit,
if but both have banished the thought of self."
Seeing that Yasa was ready to enter upon the path, the Blessed
One said to him: "Follow me!" And Yasa joined the brotherhood,
and having put on a bhikkhu's robe, received the ordination.
While the Blessed One and Yasa were discussing the doctrine,
Yasa's father passed by in search of his son; and in passing he asked
the Blessed One: "Pray, Lord, hast thou seen Yasa, my son?"
The Buddha said to Yasa's father: "Come in, sir, thou wilt find
thy son"; and Yasa's father became full of joy and he entered. He sat
down near his son, but his eyes were holden and he knew him not;
and the Lord began to preach. And Yasa's father, understanding the
doctrine of the Blessed One, said:
"Glorious is the truth, O Lord! The Buddha, the Holy One, our
Master, sets up what has been overturned; he reveals what has been
hidden; he points out the way to the wanderer who has gone astray;
he lights a lamp in the darkness so that all who have eyes to see can
discern the things that surround them. I take refuge in the Buddha,
our Lord: I take refuge in the doctrine revealed by him: I take refuge
in the brotherhood which he has founded. May the Blessed One
receive me from this day forth while my life lasts as a lay disciple
who has taken refuge in him." Yasa's father was the first lay-
member who became the first lay disciple of the Buddha by
pronouncing the three-fold formula of refuge.
When the wealthy merchant had taken refuge in the Buddha,
his eyes were opened and he saw his son sitting at his side in a
bhikkhu's robe. "My son, Yasa, he said, thy mother is absorbed in
lamentation and grief. Return home and restore thy mother to life."
Then Yasa looked at the Blessed One, who said: "Should Yasa
return to the world and enjoy the pleasures of a worldly life as he
did before?" Yasa's father replied: "If Yasa, my son, finds it a gain
to stay with thee, let him stay. He has become delivered from the
bondage of worldliness."
When the Blessed One had cheered their hearts with words of
truth and righteousness, Yasa's father said: "May the Blessed One,
O Lord, consent to take his meal with me together with Yasa as his
attendant?" The Blessed One, having donned his robes, took his
alms-bowl and went with Yasa to the house of the rich merchant.
When they had arrived there, the mother and also the former wife of
Yasa saluted the Blessed One and sat down near him.
Then the Blessed One preached, and the women having
understood his doctrine, exclaimed: "Glorious is the truth, O Lord!
We take refuge in the Buddha, our Lord. We take refuge in the
doctrine revealed by him. We take refuge in the brotherhood which
has been founded by him. May the Blessed One receive us from this
day forth while our life lasts as lay disciples who have taken refuge
in him." The mother and the wife of Yasa, the noble youth of
Benares, were the first women who became lay disciples and took
their refuge in the Buddha.
Now there were four friends of Yasa belonging to the wealthy
families of Benares. Their names were Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji,
When Yasa's friends heard that Yasa had cut off his hair and
put on bhikkhu robes to give up the world and go forth into
homelessness, they thought: "Surely that cannot be a common
doctrine, that must be a noble renunciation of the world.
And they went to Yasa, and Yasa addressed the Blessed One
saying: "May the Blessed One administer exhortation and
instruction to these four friends of mine." And the Blessed One
preached to them, and Yasa's friends accepted the doctrine and took
refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
AT that time there lived in Uruvela the Jatilas, Brahman
hermits with matted hair, worshiping the fire and keeping a fire-
dragon; and Kassapa was their chief. Kassapa was renowned
throughout all India, and his name was honored as one of the wisest
men on earth and an authority on religion. And the Blessed One
went to Kassapa of Uruvela the Jatila, and said: "Let me stay a night
in the room where you keep your sacred fire."
Kassapa, seeing the Blessed One in his majesty and beauty,
thought to himself: "This is a great muni and a noble teacher.
Should he stay overnight in the room where the sacred fire is kept,
the serpent will bite him and he will die." And he said: "I do not
object to your staying overnight in the room where the sacred fire is
kept, but the serpent lives there; he will kill you and I should be
sorry to see you perish."
But the Buddha insisted and Kassapa admitted him to the room
where the sacred fire was kept. And the Blessed One sat down with
body erect, surrounding himself with watchfulness. In the night the
dragon came, belching forth in rage his fiery poison, and filling the
air with burning vapor, but could do him no harm, and the fire
consumed itself while the World-honored One remained composed.
And the venomous fiend became very wroth so that he died in his
anger. When Kassapa saw the light shining forth from the room he
said: "Alas, what misery! Truly, the countenance of Gotama the
great Sakyamuni is beautiful, but the serpent will destroy him."
In the morning the Blessed One showed the dead body of the
fiend to Kassapa, saying: "His fire has been conquered by my fire."
And Kassapa thought to himself. "Sakyamuni is a great samana and
possesses high powers, but he is not holy like me."
There was in those days a festival, and Kassapa thought: "The
people will come hither from all parts of the country and will see the
great Sakyamuni. When he speaks to them, they will believe in him
and abandon me." And he grew envious. When the day of the
festival arrived, the Blessed One retired and did not come to
Kassapa. And Kassapa went to the Buddha on the next morning and
said: "Why did the great Sakyamuni not come?"
The Tathagata replied: "Didst thou not think, O Kassapa, that
it would be better if I stayed away from the festival?" And Kassapa
was astonished and thought: "Great is Sakyamuni; he can read my
most secret thoughts, but he is not holy like me."
The Blessed One addressed Kassapa and said: "Thou seest the
truth, but acceptest it not because of the envy that dwells in thy
heart. Is envy holiness? Envy is the last remnant of self that has
remained in thy mind. Thou art not holy, Kassapa; thou hast not yet
entered the path." And Kassapa gave up his resistance. His envy
disappeared, and, bowing down before the Blessed One, he said:
"Lord, our Master, let me receive the ordination from the Blessed
And the Blessed One said: "Thou, Kassapa, art chief of the
Jatilas. Go, then, first and inform them of thine intention, and let
them do as thou thinkest fit." Then Kassapa went to the Jatilas and
said: "I am anxious to lead a religious life under the direction of the
great Sakyamuni, who is the Enlightened One, the Buddha. Do as ye
The Jatilas replied: "We have conceived a profound affection
for the great Sakyamuni, and if thou wilt join his brotherhood, we
will do likewise." The Jatilas of Uruvela now flung their
paraphernalia of fire-worship into the river and went to the Blessed
Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa, brothers of the great Uruvela
Kassapa, powerful men and chieftains among the people, were
dwelling below on the stream, and when they saw the instruments
used in fire-worship floating in the river, they said: "Something has
happened to our brother. And they came with their folk to Uruvela.
Hearing what had happened, they, too, went to the Buddha.
The Blessed One, seeing that the Jatilas of Nadi and Gaya,
who had practiced severe austerities and worshiped fire, were now
come to him, preached a sermon on fire, and said: "Everything, O
Jatilas, is burning. The eye is burning, all the senses are burning,
thoughts are burning. They are burning with the fire of lust. There is
anger, there is ignorance, there is hatred, and as long as the fire
finds inflammable things upon which it can feed, so long will it
burn, and there will be birth and death, decay, grief, lamentation,
suffering, despair, and sorrow. Considering this, a disciple of the
Dharma will see the four noble truths and walk in the eightfold path
of holiness. He will become wary of his eye, wary of all his senses,
wary of his thoughts. He will divest himself of passion and become
free. He will be delivered from selfishness and attain the blessed
state of Nirvana."
And the Jatilas rejoiced and took refuge in the Buddha, the
Dharma, and the Sangha.
SERMON AT RAJAGAHA
THE Blessed One having dwelt some time in Uruvela went to
Rajagaha, accompanied by a number of bhikkhus, many of whom
had been Jatilas before. The great Kassapa, chief of the Jatilas and
formerly a fire worshiper, went with him.
When the Magadha king, Seniya Bimbisara, heard of the
arrival of Gotama Sakyamuni, of whom the people said, "He is the
Holy One, the blessed Buddha, guiding men as a driver curbs
bullocks, the teacher of high and low," he went out surrounded with
his counselors and generals and came to the grove where the
Blessed One was. There they saw the Blessed One in the company
of Kassapa, the great religious teacher of the Jatilas, and they were
astonished and thought: "Has the great Sakyamuni placed himself
under the spiritual direction of Kassapa, or has Kassapa become a
disciple of Gotama?"
The Tathagata, reading the thoughts of the people, said to
Kassapa: "What knowledge hast thou gained, O Kassapa, and what
has induced thee to renounce the sacred fire and give up thine
Kassapa said: "The profit I derived from adoring the fire was
continuance in the wheel of individuality with all its sorrows and
vanities. This service I have cast away, and instead of continuing
penances and sacrifices I have gone in quest of the highest Nirvana.
Since I have seen the light of truth, I have abandoned worshiping the
The Buddha, perceiving that the whole assembly was ready as
a vessel to receive the doctrine, spoke thus to Bimbisara the king:
"He who knows the nature of self and understands how the senses
act, finds no room for selfishness, and thus he will attain peace
unending. The world holds the thought of self, and from this arises
false apprehension. Some say that the self endures after death, some
say it perishes. Both are wrong and their error is most grievous. For
if they say the self is perishable, the fruit they strive for will perish
too, and at some time there will be no hereafter. Good and evil
would be indifferent. This salvation from selfishness is without
"When some, on the other hand, say the self will not perish,
then in the midst of all life and death there is but one identity unborn
and undying. If such is their self, then it is perfect and cannot be
perfected by deeds. The lasting, imperishable self could never be
changed. self would be lord and master, and there would be no use
in perfecting the perfect; moral aims and salvation would be
"But now we see the marks of joy and sorrow. Where is any
constancy? If there is no permanent self that does our deeds, then
there is no self; there is no actor behind our actions, no perceiver
behind our perception, no lord behind our deeds.
"Now attend and listen: The senses meet the object and from
their contact sensation is born. Thence results recollection. Thus, as
the sun's power through a burning-glass causes fire to appear, so
through the cognizance born of sense and object, the mind originates
and with it the ego, the thought of self, whom some Brahman
teachers call the lord. The shoot springs from the seed; the seed is
not the shoot; both are not one and the same, but successive phases
in a continuous growth. Such is the birth of animated life.
"Ye that are slaves of the self and toil in its service from morn
until night, ye that live in constant fear of birth, old age, sickness,
and death, receive the good tidings that your cruel master exists not.
Self is an error, an illusion, a dream. Open your eyes and awaken.
See things as they are and ye will be comforted. He who is awake
will no longer be afraid of nightmares. He who has recognized the
nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent will cease to tremble.
"He who has found there is no self will let go all the lusts and
desires of egotism. The cleaving to things, covetousness, and
sensuality inherited from former existences, are the causes of the
misery and vanity in the world. Surrender the grasping disposition
of selfishness, and you will attain to that calm state of mind which
conveys perfect peace, goodness, and wisdom."
And the Buddha breathed forth this solemn utterance:
"Do not deceive, do not despise
Each other, anywhere.
Do not be angry, and do not
Secret resentment bear;
For as a mother risks her life
And watches over her child,
So boundless be your love to all,
So tender, kind and mild.
"Yea cherish good-will right and left,
For all, both soon and late,
And with no hindrance, with no stint,
From envy free and hate;
While standing, walking, sitting down,
Forever keep in mind:
The rule of life that's always best
Is to be loving-kind.
"Gifts are great, the founding of viharas is
meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart, comprehension
of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is loving-kindness.
As the light of the moon is sixteen times stronger than the light of
all the stars, so loving-kindness is sixteen times more efficacious in
liberating the heart than all other religious accomplishments taken
together. This state of heart is the best in the world. Let a man
remain steadfast in it while he is awake, whether he is standing,
walking, sitting, or lying down."
When the Enlightened One had finished his sermon, the
Magadha king said to the Blessed One: "In former days, Lord, when
I was a prince, I cherished five wishes. I wished: O, that I might be
inaugurated as a king. This was my first wish, and it has been
fulfilled. Further, I wished: Might the Holy Buddha, the Perfect
One, appear on earth while I rule and might he come to my
kingdom. This was my second wish and it is fulfilled now. Further I
wished: Might I pay my respects to him. This was my third wish and
it is fulfilled now. The fourth wish was: Might the Blessed One
preach the doctrine to me, and this is fulfilled now.
"The greatest wish, however, was the fifth wish: Might I
understand the doctrine of the Blessed One. And this wish is
"Glorious Lord! Most glorious is the truth preached by the
Tathagata! Our Lord, the Buddha, sets up what has been overturned;
he reveals what has been hidden; he points out the way to the
wanderer who has gone astray; he lights a lamp in the darkness so
that those who have eyes to see may see. I take my refuge in the
Buddha. I take my refuge in the Dharma. I take my refuge in the
The Tathagata, by the exercise of his virtue and by wisdom,
showed his unlimited spiritual power. He subdued and harmonized
all minds. He made them see and accept the truth, and throughout
the kingdom the seeds of virtue were sown.
THE KING'S GIFT
SENIYA BIMBISARA, the king, having taken his refuge in
the Buddha, invited the Tathagata to his palace, saying: "Will the
Blessed One consent to take his meal with me tomorrow together
with the fraternity of bhikkhus?" The next morning the king
announced to the Blessed One that it was time for taking food:
"Thou art my most welcome guest, O Lord of the world, come; the
meal is prepared."
The Blessed One having donned his robes, took his alms-bowl
and, together with a great number of bhikkhus, entered the city of
Rajagaha. Sakka, the king of the Devas, assuming the appearance of
a young Brahman, walked in front, and said: "He who teaches self-
control with those who have learned self-control; the redeemer with
those whom he has redeemed; the Blessed One with those to whom
he has given peace, is entering Rajagaha Hail to the Buddha, our
Lord! Honor to his name and blessings to all who take refuge in
him." Sakka intoned this stanza:
is the place in which the Buddha walks,
And blessed the ears which hear his talks;
Blessed his disciples, for they are
The tellers of his truth both near and far.
"If all could hear this truth so good
Then all men's minds would eat rich food,
And strong would grow men's brotherhood."
When the Blessed One had finished his meal, and had cleansed
his bowl and his hands, the king sat down near him and thought:
"Where may I find a place for the Blessed One to live in, not
too far from the town and not too near, suitable for going and
coming, easily accessible to all people who want to see him, a place
that is by day not too crowded and by night not exposed to noise,
wholesome and well fitted for a retired life? There is my pleasure-
garden, the bamboo grove Veluvana, fulfilling all these conditions. I
shall offer it to the brotherhood whose head is the Buddha."
The king dedicated his garden to the brotherhood, saying:
"May the Blessed One accept my gift." Then the Blessed One,
having silently shown his consent and having gladdened and edified
the Magadha king by religious discourse, rose from his seat and
AT that time Sariputta and Moggallana, two Brahmans and
chiefs of the followers of Sanjaya, led a religious life. They had
promised each other: "He who first attains Nirvana shall tell the
Sariputta seeing the venerable Assaji begging for alms,
modestly keeping his eyes to the ground and dignified in
deportment, exclaimed: "Truly this samana has entered the right
path; I will ask him in whose name he has retired from the world
and what doctrine he professes." Being addressed by Sariputta,
Assaji replied: "I am a follower of the Buddha, the Blessed One, but
being a novice I can tell you the substance only of the doctrine."
Said Sariputta: "Tell me, venerable monk; it is the substance I
want." And Assaji recited the stanza:
we seek to touch or see
Can represent Eternity.
They spoil and die: then let us find
Eternal Truth within the mind."
Having heard this stanza, Sariputta obtained the pure and
spotless eye of truth and said: "Now I see clearly, whatsoever is
subject to origination is also subject to cessation. If this be the
doctrine I have reached the state to enter Nirvana which heretofore
has remained hidden from me." Sariputta went to Moggallana and
told him, and both said: "We will go to the Blessed One, that he, the
Blessed One, may be our teacher."
When the Buddha saw Sariputta and Moggallana coming from
afar, he said to his disciples, These two monks are highly
auspicious." When the two friends had taken refuge in the Buddha,
the Dharma and the Sangha, the Holy One said to his other
disciples: "Sariputta, like the first-born O son of a world-ruling
monarch, is well able to assist the king as his chief follower to set
the wheel of the law rolling."
Now the people were annoyed. Seeing that many distinguished
young men of the kingdom of Magadha led a religious life under the
direction of the Blessed One, they became angry and murmured:
"Gotama Sakyamuni induces fathers to leave their wives and causes
families to become extinct." When they saw the bhikkhus, they
reviled them, saying: "The great Sakyamuni has come to Rajagaha
subduing the minds of men. Who will be the next to be led astray by
The bhikkhus told it to the Blessed One, and the Blessed One
said: "This murmuring, O bhikkhus, will not last long. it will last
seven days. If they revile you, answer them with these words: 'It is
by preaching the truth that Tathagatas lead men. Who will murmur
at the wise? Who will blame the virtuous? Who will condemn self-
control, righteousness, and kindness?" And the Blessed One
"Commit no wrong, do only good,
And let your heart be pure.
This is the doctrine Buddhas teach,
And this doctrine will endure."
THE MAN OF WEALTH
AT this time there was Anathapindika, a man of unmeasured
wealth, visiting Rajagaha. Being of a charitable disposition, he was
called "the supporter of orphans and the friend of the poor." Hearing
that the Buddha had come into the world and was stopping in the
bamboo grove near the city, he set out on that very night to meet the
And the Blessed One saw at once the sterling quality of
Anathapindika's heart and greeted him with words of religious
comfort. And they sat down together, and Anathapindika listened to
the sweetness of the truth preached by the Blessed One. And the
Buddha said: "The restless, busy nature of the world, this, I declare,
is at the root of pain. Attain that composure of mind which is resting
in the peace of immortality. Self is but a heap of composite
qualities, and its world is empty like a fantasy.
"Who is it that shapes our lives? Is it Isvara, a personal
creator? If Isvara be the maker, all living things should have silently
to submit to their maker's power. They would be like vessels formed
by the potter's hand; and if it were so, how would it be possible to
practice virtue? If the world had been made by Isvara there should
be no such thing as sorrow, or calamity, or evil; for both pure and
impure deeds must come from him. If not, there would be another
cause beside him, and he would not be self-existent. Thus, thou
seest, the thought of Isvara is overthrown.
"Again, it is said that the Absolute has created us. But that
which is absolute cannot be a cause. All things around us come from
a cause as the plant comes from the seed; but how can the Absolute
be the cause of all things alike? If it pervades them, then, certainly,
it does not make them.
"Again, it is said that Self is the maker. But if self is the
maker, why did it not make things pleasing? The causes of sorrow
and joy are real and touchable. How can they have been made by
"Again, if we adopt the argument that there is no maker, our
fate is such as it is, and there is no causation, what use would there
be in shaping our lives and adjusting means to an end? Therefore,
we argue that all things that exist are not without cause. However,
neither Isvara, nor the absolute, nor the self nor causeless chance, is
the maker, but our deeds produce results both good and evil
according to the law of causation.
"Let us, then, abandon the heresy of worshiping Isvara and of
praying to him; let us no longer lose ourselves in vain speculations
or profitless subtleties; let us surrender self and all selfishness, and
as all things are fixed by causation, let us practice good so that good
may result from our actions."
And Anathapindika said: "I see that thou art the Buddha, the
Blessed One the Tathagata, and I wish to open to the my whole
mind. Having listened to my words advise me what I shall do. My
life is full of work, and having acquired great wealth, I am
surrounded with cares. Yet I enjoy my work, and apply myself to it
with all diligence. Many people are in my employ and depend upon
the success of my enterprises.
"Now, I have heard thy disciples praise the bliss of the hermit
and denounce the unrest of the world. 'The Holy One,' they say, 'has
given up his kingdom and his inheritance, and has found the path of
righteousness, thus setting an example to all the world how to attain
Nirvana.' My heart yearns to do what is right and to be a blessing
unto my fellows. Let me then ask thee, Must I give up my wealth,
my home, and my business enterprises, and, like thyself, go into
homelessness in order to attain the bliss of a religious life?"
And the Buddha replied: "The bliss of a religious life is
attainable by every one who walks in the noble eightfold path. He
that cleaves to wealth had better cast it away than allow his heart to
be poisoned by it; but he who does not cleave to wealth, and
possessing riches, uses them rightly, will be a blessing unto his
fellows. It is not life and wealth and power that enslave men, but the
cleaving to life and wealth and power. The bhikkhu who retires
from the world in order to lead a life of leisure will have no gain, for
a life of indolence is an abomination, and lack of energy is to be
despised. The Dharma of the Tathagata does not require a man to go
into homelessness or to resign the world, unless he feels called upon
to do so; but the Dharma of the Tathagata requires every man to free
himself from the illusion of self, to cleanse his heart, to give up his
thirst for pleasure, and lead a life of righteousness. And whatever
men do, whether they remain in the world as artisans, merchants,
and officers of the king, or retire from the world and devote
themselves to a life of religious meditation, let them put their whole
heart into their task; let them be diligent and energetic, and, if they
are like the lotus, which, although it grows in the water, yet remains
untouched by the water, if they struggle in life without cherishing
envy or hatred, if they live in the world not a life of self but a life of
truth, then surely joy, peace, and bliss will dwell in their minds."
SERMON ON CHARITY
ANATHAPINDIKA rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One
and said: I dwell at Savatthi, the capital of Kosala, a land rich in
produce and enjoying peace. Pasenadi is the king of the country, and
his name is renowned among our own people and our neighbors.
Now I wish to found there a vihara which shall be a place of
religious devotion for your brotherhood, and I pray you kindly to
The Buddha saw into the heart of the supporter of orphans; and
knowing that unselfish charity was the moving cause of his offer, in
acceptance of the gift, the Blessed One said: "The charitable man is
loved by all; his friendship is prized highly; in death his heart is at
rest and full of joy, for he suffers not from repentance; he receives
the opening flower of his reward and the fruit that ripens from it.
Hard it is to understand: By giving away our food, we get more
strength, by bestowing clothing on others, we gain more beauty; by
donating abodes of purity and truth, we acquire great treasures.
"There is a proper time and a proper mode in charity; just as
the vigorous warrior goes to battle, so is the man who is able to
give. He is like an able warrior a champion strong and wise in
action. Loving and compassionate he gives with reverence and
banishes all hatred, envy, and anger.
"The charitable man has found the path of salvation. He is like
the man who plants a sapling, securing thereby the shade, the
flowers, and the fruit in future years. Even so is the result of charity,
even so is the joy of him who helps those that are in need of
assistance; even so is the great Nirvana. We reach the immortal path
only by continuous acts of kindliness and we perfect our souls by
compassion and charity."
Anathapindika invited Sariputta to accompany him on his
return to Kosala and help him in selecting a pleasant site for the
ANATHAPINDIKA, the friend of the destitute and the
supporter of orphans, having returned home, saw the garden of the
heir-apparent, Jeta, with its green groves and limpid rivulets, and
thought: "This is the place which will be most suitable as a vihara
for the brotherhood of the Blessed One." And he went to the prince
and asked leave to buy the ground. The prince was not inclined to
sell the garden, for he valued it highly. He at first refused but said at
last, "If thou canst cover it with gold, then, and for no other price,
shalt thou have it." Anathapindika rejoiced and began to spread his
gold; but Jeta said: "Spare thyself the trouble, for I will not sell."
But Anathapindika insisted. Thus they contended until they resorted
to the magistrate.
Meanwhile the people began to talk of the unwonted
proceeding, and the prince, hearing more of the details and knowing
that Anathapindika was not only very wealthy but also
straightforward and sincere, inquired into his plans. On hearing the
name of the Buddha, the prince became anxious to share in the
foundation and he accepted only one-half of the gold, saying:
"Yours is the land, but mine are the trees. I will give the trees as my
share of this offering to the Buddha."
Then Anathapindika took the land and Jeta the trees, and they
placed them in trust of Sariputta for the Buddha. After the
foundations were laid, they began to build the hall which rose loftily
in due proportions according to the directions which the Buddha had
suggested; and it was beautifully decorated with appropriate
carvings. This vihara was called Jetavana, and the friend of the
orphans invited the Lord to come to Savatthi and receive the
donation. And the Blessed One left Kapilavatthu and came to
While the Blessed One was entering Jetavana, Anathapindika
scattered flowers and burned incense, and as a sign of the gift he
poured water from a golden dragon decanter, saying, "This Jetavana
vihara I give for the use of the brotherhood throughout the world."
The Blessed One received the gift and replied: "May all evil
influences be overcome; may the offering promote the kingdom of
righteousness and be a permanent blessing to mankind in general, to
the land of Kosala, and especially also to the giver."
Then the king Pasenadi, hearing that the Lord had come, went
in his royal equipage to the Jetavana vihara and saluted the Blessed
One with clasped hands, saying: "'Blessed is my unworthy and
obscure kingdom that it has met with so great a fortune. For how
can calamities and dangers befall it in the presence of the Lord of
the world, the Dharmaraja, the King of Truth. Now that I have seen
thy sacred countenance, let me partake of the refreshing waters of
thy teachings. Worldly profit is fleeting and perishable, but religious
profit is eternal and inexhaustible. A worldly man, though a king, is
full of trouble, but even a common man who is holy has peace of
Knowing the tendency of the king's heart, weighed down by
avarice and love of pleasure, the Buddha seized the opportunity and
said: "Even those who, by their evil karma, have been born in low
degree, when they see a virtuous man, feel reverence for him. How
much more must an independent king, on account of merits acquired
in previous existences, when meeting a Buddha, conceive reverence
for him. And now as I briefly expound the law, let the Maharaja
listen and weigh my words, and hold fast that which I deliver!
"Our good or evil deeds follow us continually like shadows.
That which is most needed is a loving heart! Regard thy people as
men do an only son. Do not oppress them, do not destroy them; keep
in due check every member of thy body, forsake unrighteous
doctrine and walk in the straight path. Exalt not thyself by trampling
down others, but comfort and befriend the suffering. Neither ponder
on kingly dignity, nor listen to the smooth words of flatterers.
There is no profit in vexing oneself by austerities, but meditate
on the Buddha and weigh his righteous law. We are encompassed on
all sides by the rocks of birth, old age, disease, and death, and only
by considering and practicing the true law can we escape from this
sorrow-piled mountain. What profit, then, in practicing iniquity?
"All who are wise spurn the pleasures of the body. They loathe
lust and seek to promote their spiritual existence. When a tree is
burning with fierce flames, how can the birds congregate therein?
Truth cannot dwell where passion lives. He who does not know this,
though he be a learned man and be praised by others as a sage, is
beclouded with ignorance. To him who has this knowledge true
wisdom dawns, and he will beware of hankering after pleasure. To
acquire this state of mind, wisdom is the one thing needful. To
neglect wisdom will lead to failure in life. The teachings of all
religions should center here, for without wisdom there is no reason.
"This truth is not for the hermit alone; it concerns every human
being, priest and layman alike. There is no distinction between the
monk who has taken the vows, and the man of the world living with
his family. There are hermits who fall into perdition, and there are
humble householders who mount to the rank of rishis. Hankering
after pleasure is a danger common to all; it carries away the world.
He who is involved in its eddies finds no escape. But wisdom is the
handy boat, reflection is the rudder. The slogan of religion calls you
to overcome the assaults of Mara, the enemy.
"Since it is impossible to escape the result of our deeds, let us
practice good works. Let us guard our thoughts that we do no evil,
for as we sow so shall we reap. There are ways from light into
darkness and from darkness into light. There are ways, also, from
the gloom into deeper darkness, and from the dawn into brighter
light. The wise man will use the light he has to receive more light.
He will constantly advance in the knowledge of truth.
"Exhibit true superiority by virtuous conduct and the exercise
of reason; meditate deeply on the vanity of earthly things, and
understand the fickleness of life. Elevate the mind, and seek sincere
faith with firm purpose; transgress not the rules of kingly conduct,
and let your happiness depend, not upon external things, but upon
your own mind. Thus you will lay up a good name for distant ages
and will secure the favor of the Tathagata."
The king listened with reverence and remembered all the words
of the Buddha in his heart.
THREE CHARACTERISTICS AND THE UNCREATE
WHEN the Buddha was staying at the Veluvana, the bamboo
grove at Rajagaha, he addressed the brethren thus: "Whether
Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise, it
remains a fact and the fixed and necessary constitution of being that
all conformations are transitory. This fact a Buddha discovers and
masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it, he announces,
publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains and makes it
clear that all conformations are transitory.
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not
arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of
being, that all conformations are suffering. This fact a Buddha
discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are suffering.
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not
arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of
being, that all conformations are lacking a self. This fact a Buddha
discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely
explains and makes it clear that all conformations are lacking a
And on another occasion the Blessed One dwelt at Savatthi in
the Jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika. At that time the Blessed
One edified, aroused, quickened and gladdened the monks with a
religious discourse on the subject of Nirvana. And these monks
grasping the meaning, thinking it out, and accepting with their
hearts the whole doctrine, listened attentively. But there was one
brother who had some doubt left in his heart. He arose and clasping
his hands made the request: "May I be permitted to ask a question?"
When permission was granted he spoke as follows:
"The Buddha teaches that all conformations are transient, that
all conformations are subject to sorrow, that all conformations are
lacking a self. How then can there be Nirvana, a state of eternal
And the Blessed One, this connection, on that occasion,
breathed forth this solemn utterance: "There is, O monks, a state
where there is neither earth, nor water, nor heat, nor air; neither
infinity of space nor infinity of consciousness, nor nothingness, nor
perception nor non-perception; neither this world nor that world,
neither sun nor moon. It is the uncreate. That O monks, I term
neither coming nor going nor standing; neither death nor birth. It is
without stability, without change; it is the eternal which never
originates and never passes away. There is the end of sorrow.
"It is hard to realize the essential, the truth is not easily
perceived; desire is mastered by him who knows, and to him who
sees aright all things are naught. There is, O monks, an unborn,
unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this
unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no
escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed.
Since, O monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and
unformed, therefore is there an escape from the born, originated,
THE BUDDHA'S FATHER
THE Buddha's name became famous over all India and
Suddhodana, his father, sent word to him saying: "I am growing old
and wish to see my son before I die. Others have had the benefit of
his doctrine, but not his father nor his relatives." And the messenger
said: "O world-honored Tathagata, thy father looks for thy coming
as the lily longs for the rising of the sun."
The Blessed One consented to the request of his father and set
out on his journey to Kapilavatthu. Soon the tidings spread in the
native country of the Buddha: "Prince Siddhattha, who wandered
forth from home into homelessness to obtain enlightenment, having
attained his purpose, is coming back."
Suddhodana went out with his relatives and ministers to meet
the prince. When the king saw Siddhattha, his son, from afar, he
was struck with his beauty and dignity, and he rejoiced in his heart,
but his mouth found no words to utter. This, indeed, was his son;
these were the features of Siddhattha. How near was the great
samana to his heart, and yet what a distance lay between them! That
noble muni was no longer Siddhattha, his son; he was the Buddha,
the Blessed One, the Holy One, Lord of truth, and teacher of
mankind. Suddhodana the king, considering the religious dignity of
his son, descended from his chariot and after saluting his son said:
"It is now seven years since I have seen thee. How I have longed for
Then the Sakyamuni took a seat opposite his father, and the
king gazed eagerly at his son. He longed to call him by his name,
but he dared not. "Siddhattha," he exclaimed silently in his heart,
"Siddhattha, come back to thine aged father and be his son again!"
But seeing the determination of his son, he suppressed his
sentiments, and, desolation overcame him. Thus the king sat face to
face with his son, rejoicing in his sadness and sad in his rejoicing.
Well might he be proud of his son, but his pride broke down at the
idea that his great son would never be his heir.
"I would offer thee my kingdom," said, the king, "but if I did,
thou wouldst account it but as ashes."
And the Buddha said: "I know that the king's heart is full of
love and that for his son's sake he feels deep grief. But let the ties of
love that bind him to the son whom he lost embrace with equal
kindness all his fellow-beings, and he will receive in his place a
greater one than Siddhattha; he will receive the Buddha, the teacher
of truth, the preacher of righteousness, and the peace of Nirvana will
enter into his heart."
Suddhodana trembled with joy when he heard the melodious
words of his son, the Buddha, and clasping his hands, exclaimed
with tears in his eyes: "Wonderful in this change! The
overwhelming sorrow has passed away. At first my sorrowing heart
was heavy, but now I reap the fruit of thy great renunciation. It was
right that, moved by thy mighty sympathy, thou shouldst reject the
pleasures of royal power and achieve thy noble purpose in religious
devotion. Now that thou hast found the path, thou canst preach the
law of immortality to all the world that yearns for deliverance." The
king returned to the palace, while the Buddha remained in the grove
before the city.
THE FORMER WIFE
ON next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out to beg
his food. And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhattha is going
from house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride
in a chariot attended by his retinue. His robe is like a red clod, and
he holds in his hand an earthen bowl."
On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great
haste and when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why dost thou thus
disgrace me? Knowest thou not that I can easily supply thee and thy
bhikkhus with food?" And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of
But the king said: "how can this be? Thou art descended from
kings, and not one of them ever begged for food."
"O great king," rejoined the Buddha thou and thy race may
claim descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas of old.
They, begging their food, lived on alms." The king made no reply,
and the Blessed One continued: "It is customary, O king, when one
has found a hidden treasure, for him to make an offering of the most
precious jewel to his father. Suffer me, therefore, to open this
treasure of mine which is the Dharma, and accept from me this
gem": And the Blessed One recited the following stanza:
from dreams and delusions,
Awaken with open mind.
Seek only Truth. Where you find it,
Peace also you will find."
Then the king conducted the prince into the palace, and the
ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him with
great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did not make
her appearance. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she replied:
"Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha will come and
The Blessed One, having greeted all his relatives and friends,
asked: "Where is Yasodhara?" And on being informed that she had
refused to come, he rose straightway and went to her apartments.
"I am free, the Blessed One said to his disciples, Sari putta and
Moggallana, whom he had bidden to accompany him to the
princess's chamber; "the princess, however, is not as yet free. Not
having seen me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless
her grief be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she
touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."
Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in mean garments, and her
hair cut. When Prince Siddhattha entered, she was, from the
abundance of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to
contain her love. Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the
Buddha, the Lord of the world, the preacher of truth, she held him
by his feet and wept bitterly.
Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt
ashamed, and rising, seated herself reverently at a little distance.
The king apologized for the princess, saying: "This arises from
her deep affection, and is more than a temporary emotion. During
the seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard that
Siddhattha had shaved his head, she did likewise; when she heard
that he had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she also
refused their use. Like her husband she had eaten at appointed times
from an earthen bowl only. Like him she had renounced high beds
with splendid coverings, and when other princes asked her in
marriage, she replied that she was still his. Therefore, grant her
And the Blessed One spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her
great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been again
and again of great assistance to him. Her purity, her gentleness, her
devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisattva when he aspired to
attain enlightenment, the highest aim of mankind. And so holy had
she been that she desired to become the wife of a Buddha. This,
then, is her karma, and it is the result of great merits. Her grief has
been unspeakable, but the consciousness of the glory that surrounds
her spiritual inheritance increased by her noble attitude during her
life, will be a balm that will miraculously transform all sorrows into
MANY people in Kapilavatthu believed in the Tathagata and
took refuge in his doctrine, among them Nanda Sidhattha's half-
brother, the son of Pajapati; Devadatta, his cousin and brother-in-
law; Upali the barber; and Anuruddha the philosopher. Some years
later Ananda, another cousin of the Blessed One, also joined the
Ananda was a man after the heart of the Blessed One; he was
his most beloved disciple, profound in comprehension and gentle in
spirit. And Ananda remained always near the Blessed Master of
truth, until death parted them.
On the seventh day after the Buddha's arrival in Kapilavatthu,
Yasodhara dressed Rahula, now seven years old, in all the splendor
of a prince and said to him: "This holy man, whose appearance is so
glorious that he looks like the great Brahma, is thy father. He
possesses four great mines of wealth which I have not yet seen. Go
to him and entreat him to put thee in possession of them, for the son
ought to inherit the property of his father."
Rahula replied: "I know of no father but the king. Who is my
father?" The princess took the boy in her arms and from the window
she pointed out to him the Buddha, who happened to be near the
palace, partaking of food.
Rahula then went to the Buddha, and looking up into his face
said without fear and with much affection: "My father!" And
standing near him, he added: "O samana, even thy shadow is a place
When the Tathagata had finished his repast, he gave blessings
and went away from the palace, but Rahula followed and asked his
father for his inheritance. No one prevented the boy, nor did the
Blessed One himself.
Then the Blessed One turned to Sariputta, saying: "My son
asks for his inheritance. I cannot give him perishable treasures that
will bring cares and sorrows, but I can give him the inheritance of a
holy life, which is a treasure that will not perish."
Addressing Rahula with earnestness, the Blessed One said:
"Gold and silver and jewels are not in my possession. But if thou art
willing to receive spiritual treasures, and art strong enough to carry
them and to keep them, I shall give thee the four truths which will
teach thee the eightfold path of righteousness. Dost thou desire to be
admitted to the brotherhood of those who devote their life to the
culture of the heart seeking for the highest bliss attainable?"
Rahula replied with firmness: "I do. I want to join the
brotherhood of the Buddha."
When the king heard that Rahula had joined the brotherhood of
bhikkhus he was grieved. He had lost Siddhattha and Nanda, his
sons, and Devadatta, his nephew. But now that his grandson had
been taken from him, he went to the Blessed One and spoke to him.
And the Blessed One promised that from that time forward he would
not ordain any minor without the consent of his parents or
LONG before the Blessed One had attained enlightenment,
self-mortification had been the custom among those who earnestly
sought for salvation. Deliverance of the soul from all the necessities
of life and finally from the body itself, they regarded as the aim of
religion. Thus, they avoided everything that might be a luxury in
food, shelter, and clothing, and lived like the beasts in the woods.
Some went naked, while others wore the rags cast away upon
cemeteries or dung-heaps.
When the Blessed One retired from the world, he recognized at
once the error of the naked ascetics, and, considering the indecency
of their habit, clad himself in cast-off rags.
Having attained enlightenment and rejected all unnecessary
self-mortifications, the Blessed One and his bhikkhus continued for
a long time to wear the cast-off rags of cemeteries and dung-heaps.
Then it happened that the bhikkhus were visited with diseases of all
kinds, and the Blessed One permitted and explicitly ordered the use
of medicines, and among them he even enjoined, whenever needed,
the use of unguents. One of the brethren suffered from a sore on his
foot, and the Blessed One enjoined the bhikkhus to wear foot-
Now it happened that a disease befell the body of the Blessed
One himself, and Ananda went to Jivaka, physician to Bimbisara,
the king. And Jivaka, a faithful believer in the Holy One, ministered
unto the Blessed One with medicines and baths until the body of the
Blessed One was completely restored.
At that time, Pajjota, king of Ujjeni, was suffering from
jaundice, and Jivaka, the physician to king Bimbisara, was
consulted. When King Pajjota had been restored to health, he sent to
Jivaka a suit of the most excellent cloth. And Jivaka said to himself:
"This suit is made of the best cloth, and nobody is worthy to receive
it but the Blessed One, the perfect and holy Buddha, or the Magadha
king, Senija Bimbisara."
Then Jivaka took that suit and went to the place where the
Blessed One was; having approached him, and having respectfully
saluted the Blessed One, he sat down near him and said: "Lord, I
have a boon to ask of the Blessed One." The Buddha replied: "The
Tathagatas, Jivaka, do not grant boons before they know what they
Jivaka said: "Lord, it is a proper and unobjectionable request."
"Speak, Jivaka, said the Blessed One.
"Lord of the world, the Blessed One wears only robes made of
rags taken from a dung-heap or a cemetery, and so also does the
brotherhood of bhikkhus. Now, Lord, this suit has been sent to me
by King Pajjota, which is the best and most excellent, and the finest
and the most precious, and the noblest that can be found. Lord of the
world, may the Blessed One accept from me this suit, and may he
allow the brotherhood of bhikkhus to wear lay robes."
The Blessed One accepted the suit, and after having delivered a
religious discourse, he addressed the bhikkhus thus: "Henceforth ye
shall be at liberty to wear either cast-off rags or lay robes. Whether
ye are pleased with the one or with the other, I will approve of it."
When the people at Rajagaha heard, The Blessed One has
allowed the bhikkhus to wear lay robes, those who were willing to
bestow gifts became glad. And in one day many thousands of robes
were presented at Rajagaha to the bhikkhus.
WHEN Suddhodana had grown old, he fell sick and sent for
his son to come and see him once more before he died; and the
Blessed One came and stayed at the sick-bed, and Suddhodana,
having attained perfect enlightenment, died in the arms of the
And it is said that the Blessed One, for the sake of preaching to
his mother Maya-devi, ascended to heaven and dwelt with the devas.
Having concluded his pious mission, he returned to the earth and
went about again, converting those who listened to his teachings.
WOMEN IN THE SANGHA
YASODHARA had three times requested of the Buddha that
she might be admitted to the Sangha, but her wish had not been
granted. Now Pajapati, the foster-mother of the Blessed One, in the
company of Yasodhara, and many other women, went to the
Tathagata entreating him earnestly to let them take the vows and be
ordained as disciples.
The Blessed One, foreseeing the danger that lurked in
admitting women to the Sangha, protested that while the good
religion ought surely to last a thousand years it would, when women
joined it, likely decay after five hundred years; but observing the
zeal of Pajapati and Yasodhara for leading a religious life he could
no longer resist and assented to have them admitted as his disciples.
Then the venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One thus:
"Are women competent, venerable Lord, if they retire from
household life to the homeless state, under the doctrine and
discipline announced by the Tathagata, to attain to the fruit of
conversion, to attain to a release from a wearisome repetition of
rebirths, to attain to saintship?" The Blessed One declared: "Women
are competent, Ananda, if they retire from household life to the
homeless state, under the doctrine and discipline announced by the
Tathagata, to attain to the fruit of conversion, to attain to a release
from a wearisome repetition of rebirths, to attain to saintship.
"Consider, Ananda, how great a benefactress Pajapati has
been. She is the sister of the mother of the Blessed One, and as
foster-mother and nurse, reared the Blessed One after the death of
his mother. So, Ananda, women may retire from household life to
the homeless state, under the doctrine and discipline announced by
Pajapati was the first woman to become a disciple of the
Buddha and to receive the ordination as a bhikkhuni.
CONDUCT TOWARD WOMEN
THE bhikkhus came to the Blessed One and asked him: "O
Tathagata, our Lord and Master, what conduct toward women dost
thou prescribe to the samanas who have left the world?"
The Blessed One said: "Guard against looking on a woman. If
ye see a woman, let it be as though ye saw her not, and have no
conversation with her. If, after all, ye must speak with her, let it be
with a pure heart, and think to yourself, 'I as a samana will live in
this sinful world as the spotless leaf of the lotus, unsoiled by the
mud in which it grows.'
"If the woman be old, regard her as your mother, if young, as
your sister, if very young, as your child. The samana who looks on a
woman as a woman, or touches her as a woman, has broken his vow
and is no longer a disciple of the Tathagata. The power of lust is
great with men, and is to be feared withal; take then the bow of
earnest perseverance, and the sharp arrow-points of wisdom. Cover
your heads with the helmet of right thought, and fight with fixed
resolve against the five desires. Lust beclouds a man's heart, when it
is confused with woman's beauty, and the mind is dazed.
"Better far with red-hot irons bore out both your eyes, than
encourage in yourself sensual thoughts, or look upon a woman's
form with lustful desires. Better fall into the fierce tiger's mouth, or
under the sharp knife of the executioner, than dwell with a woman
and excite in yourself lustful thoughts.
"A woman of the world is anxious to exhibit her form and
shape, whether walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping. Even when
represented as a picture, she desires to captivate with the charms of
her beauty, and thus to rob men of their steadfast heart. How then
ought ye to guard yourselves? By regarding her tears and her smiles
as enemies, her stooping form, her hanging arms, and her
disentangled hair as toils designed to entrap man's heart. Therefore,
I say, restrain the heart, give it no unbridled license."
AND HER GIFTS
VISAKHA, a wealthy woman in Savatthi who had many
children and grandchildren, had given to the order the Pubbarama or
Eastern Garden, and was the first in Northern Kosala to become a
matron of the lay sisters.
When the Blessed One stayed at Savatthi, Visakha went up to
the place where the Blessed One was, and tendered him an
invitation to take his meal at her house, which the Blessed One
accepted. And a heavy rain fell during the night and the next
morning; and the bhikkhus doffed their robes to keep them dry and
let the rain fall upon their bodies.
When on the next day the Blessed One had finished his meal,
she took her seat at his side and spoke thus: "Eight are the boons,
Lord, which I beg of the Blessed One."
Said the Blessed One: "The Tathagatas, O Visakha, grant no
boons until they know what they are." Visakha replied: "Befitting,
Lord, and unobjectionable are the boons I ask."
Having received permission to make known her requests,
Visakha said: "I desire, Lord, through all my life long to bestow
robes for the rainy season on the Sangha, and food for incoming
bhikkhus, and food for outgoing bhikkhus, and food for the sick,
and food for those who wait upon the sick, and medicine for the sick
and a constant supply of rice milk for the Sangha, and bathing robes
for the bhikkhunis, the sisters." Said the Buddha: "But what
circumstance is it, O Visakha, that thou hast in view in asking these
eight boons of the Tathagata?"
Visakha replied: "I gave command, Lord, to my maidservant,
saying, 'Go, and announce to the brotherhood that the meal is ready.'
And the maid went, but when she came to the vihara, she observed
that the bhikkhus had doffed their robes while it was raining, and
she thought: 'These are not bhikkhus, but naked ascetics letting the
rain fall on them. So she returned to me and reported accordingly,
and I had to send her a second time. Impure, Lord, is nakedness, and
revolting. It was this circumstance, Lord, that I had in view in
desiring to provide the Sangha my life long with special garments
for use in the rainy season.
"As to my second wish, Lord, an incoming bhikkhu, not being
able to take the direct roads, and not knowing the place where food
can be procured, comes on his way tired out by seeking for alms. It
was this circumstance, Lord, that I had in view in desiring to
provide the Sangha my life long with food for incoming bhikkhus.
Thirdly, Lord, an outgoing bhikkhu, while seeking about for alms,
may be left behind, or may arrive too late at the place whither he
desires to go, and will set out on the road in weariness.
"Fourthly, Lord, if a sick bhikkhu does not obtain suitable
food, his sickness may increase upon him, and he may die. Fifthly,
Lord, a bhikkhu who is waiting upon the sick will lose his
opportunity of going out to seek food for himself. Sixthly, Lord, if a
sick bhikkhu does not obtain suitable medicines, his sickness may
increase upon him, and he may die.
"Seventhly, Lord, I have heard that the Blessed One has
praised rice-milk, because it gives readiness of mind, dispels hunger
and thirst; it is wholesome for the healthy as nourishment, and for
the sick as a medicine. Therefore I desire to provide the Sangha my
life long with a constant supply of rice-milk.
"Finally, Lord, the bhikkhunis are in the habit of bathing in the
river Achiravati with the courtesans, at the same landing-place, and
naked. And the courtesans, Lord, ridicule the bhikkhunis, saying,
'What is the good, ladies, of your maintaining chastity when you are
young? When you are old, maintain chastity then; thus will you
obtain both worldly pleasure and religious consolation.' Impure,
Lord, is nakedness for a woman, disgusting, and revolting. These
are the circumstances, Lord, that I had in view."
The Blessed One said: "But what was the advantage you had in
view for yourself, O Visakha, in asking the eight boons of the
Visakha replied: "Bhikkhus who have spent the rainy seasons
in various places will come, Lord, to Savatthi to visit the Blessed
One. And on coming to the Blessed One they will ask, saying: 'Such
and such a bhikkhu, Lord, has died. What, now, is his destiny?'
Then will the Blessed One explain that he has attained the fruits of
conversion; that he has attained arahatship or has entered Nirvana,
as the case may be.
"And I, going up to them, will ask, "Was that brother, Sirs, one
of those who had formerly been at Savatthi?' If reply to me, He has
formerly been at Savatthi then shall I arrive at the conclusion, For a
certainty did that brother enjoy either the robes for the rainy season,
or the food for the incoming bhikkhus, or the food for the outgoing
bhikkhus, or the food for the sick, or the food for those that wait
upon the sick, or the medicine for the sick, or the constant supply of
"Then will gladness spring up within me; thus gladdened, joy
will come to me; and so rejoicing all my mind will be at peace.
Being thus at peace I shall experience a blissful feeling of content;
and in that bliss my heart will be at rest. That will be to me an
exercise of my moral sense, an exercise of my moral powers, an
exercise of the seven kinds of wisdom! This Lord, was the
advantage I had in view for myself in asking those eight boons of
the Blessed One."
The Blessed One said: "It is well, it is well, Visakha. Thou
hast done well in asking these eight boons of the Tathagata with
such advantages in view. Charity bestowed upon those who are
worthy of it is like good seed sown on a good soil that yields an
abundance of fruits. But alms given to those who are yet under the
tyrannical yoke of the passions are like seed deposited in a bad soil.
The passions of the receiver of the alms choke, as it were, the
growth of merits." And the Blessed One gave this thanks to
"O noble woman of an upright life,
Disciple of the Blessed One, thou givest
Unstintedly in purity of heart.
"Thou spreadest joy, assuagest pain,
And verily thy gift will be a blessing
As well to many others as to thee."
THE UPOSATHA AND PATIMOKKHA
WHEN Seniya Bimbisara, the king of Magadha, was advanced
in years, he retired from the world and led a religious life. He
observed that there were Brahmanical sects in Rajagaha keeping
sacred certain days, and the people went to their meeting-houses and
listened to their sermons. Concerning the need of keeping regular
days for retirement from worldly labors and religious instruction,
the king went to the Blessed One and said: "The Parivrajaka, who
belong. to the Titthiya school, prosper and gain adherents because
they keep the eighth day and also the fourteenth or fifteenth day of
each half-month. Would it not be advisable for the reverend brethren
of the Sangha also to assemble on days duly appointed for that
The Blessed One commanded the bhikkhus to assemble on the
eighth day and also on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of each half-
month, and to devote these days to religious exercises.
A bhikkhu duly appointed should address the congregation and
expound the Dharma. He should exhort the people to walk in the
eightfold path of righteousness; he should comfort them in the
vicissitudes of life and gladden them with the bliss of the fruit of
good deeds. Thus the brethren should keep the Uposatha. Now the
bhikkhus, in obedience to the rule laid down by the Blessed One,
assembled in the vihara on the day appointed, and the people went
to hear the Dharma, but they were greatly disappointed, for the
bhikkhus remained silent and delivered no discourse.
When the Blessed One heard of it, he ordered the bhikkhus to
recite the Patimokkha, which is a ceremony of disburdening the
conscience; and he commanded them to make confession of their
trespasses so as to receive the absolution of the order. A fault, if
there be one, should be confessed by the bhikkhu who remembers it
and desires to be cleansed, for a fault, when confessed, shall be light
And the Blessed One said: "The Patimokkha must be recited in
this way: Let a competent and venerable bhikkhu make the
following proclamation to the Sangha: "May the Sangha hear me
Today is Uposatha, the eighth, or the fourteenth or fifteenth day of
the half-month. If the Sangha is ready, let the Sangha hold the
Uposatha service and recite the Patimokkha. I will recite the
Patimokkha.' And the bhikkhus shall reply: 'We hear it well and we
concentrate well our minds on it, all of us.' Then the officiating
bhikkhu shall continue: 'Let him who has committed an offense
confess it; if there be no offense, let all remain silent; from your
being silent I shall understand that the reverend brethren are free
from offenses. As a single person who has been asked a question
answers it, so also, if before an assembly like this a question is
solemnly proclaimed three times, an answer is expected: if a
bhikkhu, after a threefold proclamation, does not confess an existing
offense which he remembers, he commits an intentional falsehood.
Now, reverend brethren, an intentional falsehood has been declared
an impediment by the Blessed One. Therefore, if an offense has
been committed by a bhikkhu who remembers it and desires to
become pure, the offense should be confessed by the bhikkhu; and
when it has been confessed, it is treated duly.'"
WHILE the Blessed One dwelt at Kosambi, a certain bhikkhu
was accused of having committed an offense, and, as he refused to
acknowledge it, the brotherhood pronounced against him the
sentence of expulsion.
Now, that bhikkhu was erudite. He knew the Dharma, had
studied the rules of the order, and was wise, learned, intelligent,
modest, conscientious, and ready to submit himself to discipline.
And he went to his companions and friends among the bhikkhus,
saying: "This is no offense, friends; this is no reason for a sentence
of expulsion. I am not guilty. The verdict improper and invalid.
Therefore I consider myself still as a member of the order. May the
venerable brethren assist me in maintaining my right."
Those who sided with the expelled brother went to the
bhikkhus who had pronounced the sentence, saying: "This is no
offense"; while the bhikkhus who had pronounced the sentence
replied: "This is an offense." Thus altercations and quarrels arose,
and the Sangha was divided into two parties, reviling and slandering
All these happenings were reported to the Blessed One. Then
the Blessed One went to the place where the bhikkhus were who had
pronounced the sentence of expulsion, and said to them: "Do not
think, O bhikkhus, that you are to pronounce expulsion against a
bhikkhu, whatever be the facts of the case, simply by saying: 'It
occurs to us that it is so, and therefore we are pleased to proceed
thus against our brother.' Let those bhikkhus who frivolously
pronounce a sentence against a brother who knows the Dharma and
the rules of the order, who is learned, wise, intelligent, modest,
conscientious, and ready to submit himself to discipline, stand in
awe of causing divisions. They must not pronounce a sentence of
expulsion against a brother merely because he refuses to see his
Then the Blessed One rose and went to the brethren who sided
with the expelled brother and said to them: "Do not think, O
bhikkhus, that if you have given offense you need not atone for it,
thinking: 'We are without offense.' When a bhikkhu has committed
an offense, which he considers no offense while the brotherhood
consider him guilty, he should think: 'These brethren know the
Dharma and the rules of the order; they are learned, wise,
intelligent, modest, conscientious, and ready to submit themselves to
discipline; it is impossible that they should on my account act with
selfishness or in malice or in delusion or in fear.' Let him stand in
awe of causing divisions, and rather acknowledge his offense on the
authority of his brethren."
Both parties continued to keep Uposatha and perform official
acts independently of one another; and when their doings were
related to the Blessed One, he ruled that the keeping of Uposatha
and the performance of official acts were lawful, unobjectionable,
and valid for both parties. For he said: "The bhikkhus who side with
the expelled brother form a different communion from those who
pronounced the sentence. There are venerable brethren in both
parties. As they do not agree, let them keep Uposatha and perform
official acts separately."
And the Blessed One reprimanded the quarrelsome bhikkhus,
saying to them: "Loud is the voice which worldings make; but how
can they be blamed when divisions arise also in the Sangha? Hatred
is not appeased in those who think: 'He has reviled me, he has
wronged me, he has injured me.' For not by hatred is hatred
appeased. Hatred is appeased by not-hatred. This is an eternal law.
"There are some who do not know the need of self-restraint; if
they are quarrelsome we may excuse their behavior. But those who
know better, should learn to live in concord. If a man finds a wise
friend who lives righteously and is constant in his character, he may
live with him, overcoming all dangers, happy and mindful.
"But if he finds not a friend who lives righteously and is
constant in his character, let him rather walk alone, like a king who
leaves his empire and the cares of government behind him to lead a
life of retirement like a lonely elephant in the forest. With fools
there is no companionship. Rather than to live with men who are
selfish, vain, quarrelsome, and obstinate let a man walk alone."
And the Blessed One thought to himself: "It is no easy task to
instruct these headstrong and infatuate fools." And he rose from his
seat and went away.
RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF CONCORD
WHILST the dispute between the parties was not yet settled,
the Blessed One left Kosambi, and wandering from place to place
he came at last to Savatthi. In the absence of the Blessed One the
quarrels grew worse, so that the lay devotees of Kosambi became
annoyed and they said: "These quarrelsome monks are a great
nuisance and will bring upon us misfortune. Worried by their
altercations the Blessed One is gone, and has selected another abode
for his residence. Let us, therefore, neither salute the bhikkhus nor
support them. They are not worthy of wearing yellow robes, and
must either propitiate the Blessed One, or return to the world."
And the bhikkhus of Kosambi, when no longer honored and no
longer supported by the lay devotees, began to repent and said: "Let
us go to the Blessed One and let him settle the question of our
disagreement." Both parties went to Savatthi to the Blessed One.
And the venerable Sariputta, having heard of their arrival, addressed
the Blessed One and said: "These contentious, disputatious, and
quarrelsome bhikkhus of Kosambi, the authors of dissensions, have
come to Savatthi. How am I to behave, O Lord, toward those
"Do not reprove them, Sariputta, said the Blessed One, "For
harsh words do not serve as a remedy and are pleasant to no one.
Assign separate dwelling-places to each party and treat them with
impartial justice. Listen with patience to both parties. He alone who
weighs both sides is called a muni. When both parties have
presented their case, let the Sangha come to an agreement and
declare the re-establishment of concord."
Pajapati, the matron, asked the Blessed One for advice, and the
Blessed One said: "Let both parties enjoy the gifts of lay members,
be they robes or food, as they may need, and let no one receive
preference over any other."
The venerable Upali, having approached the Blessed One,
asked concerning the re-establishment of peace in the Sangha:
"Would it be right, O Lord, said he, that the Sangha, to avoid further
disputations, should declare the restoration of concord without
inquiring into the matter of the quarrel?"
The Blessed One said: "If the Sangha declares the
reestablishment of concord without having inquired into the matter,
the declaration is neither right nor lawful. There are two ways of re-
establishing concord; one is in the letter, and the other one is in the
spirit and in the letter.
"If the Sangha declares the re-establishment of concord
without having inquired into the matter, the peace is concluded in
the letter only. But if the Sangha, having inquired into the matter
and having gone to the bottom of it, decides to declare the re-
establishment of concord, the peace is concluded in the spirit and
also in the letter. The concord re-established in the spirit and in the
letter is alone right and lawful."
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and told them the
story of Prince Dighavu, the Long-lived. He said: "In former times,
there lived at Benares a powerful king whose name was
Brahmadatta of Kasi; and he went to war against Dighiti, the Long-
suffering, a king of Kosala, for he thought, The kingdom of Kosala
is small and Dighiti will not be able to resist my armies." And
Dighiti, seeing that resistance was impossible against the great host
of the king of Kasi, fled leaving his little kingdom in the hands of
Brahmadatta; and having wandered from place to place, he came at
last to Benares, and lived there with his consort in a potter's
dwelling outside the town.
"The queen bore him a son and they called him Dighavu. When
Dighavu had grown up, the king thought to himself: 'King
Brahmadatta has done us great harm, and he is fearing our revenge;
he will seek to kill us. Should he find us he will slay all three of us.'
And he sent his son away, and Dighavu having received a good
education from his father, applied himself diligently to learn all arts,
becoming very skillful and wise.
"At that time the barber of King Dighiti dwelt at Benares, and
he saw the king, his former master, and being of an avaricious
nature, betrayed him to King Brahmadatta. When Brahmadatta, the
king of Kasi, heard that the fugitive king of Kosala and his queen,
unknown and in disguise, were living a quiet life in a potter's
dwelling, he ordered them to be bound and executed; and the sheriff
to whom the order was given seized King Dighiti and led him to the
place of execution.
"While the captive king was being led through the streets of
Benares he saw his son who had returned to visit his parents, and,
careful not to betray the presence of his son, yet anxious to
communicate to him his last advice, he cried: 'O Dighavu, my son!
Be not far-sighted, be not near-sighted, for not by hatred is hatred
appeased; hatred is appeased by not-hatred only.'
"The king and queen of Kosala were executed, but Dighavu
their son bought strong wine and made the guards drunk. When the
night arrived he laid the bodies of his parents upon a funeral pyre
and burned them with all honors and religious rites. When King
Brahmadatta heard of it, he became afraid, for he thought, Dighavu,
the son of King Dighiti, is a wise youth and he will take revenge for
the death of his parents. If he espies a favorable opportunity, he will
"Young Dighavu went to the forest and wept to his heart's
content. Then he wiped his tears and returned to Benares. Hearing
that assistants were wanted in the royal elephants' stable, he offered
his services and was engaged by the master of the elephants. And it
happened that the king heard a sweet voice ringing through the night
and singing to the lute a beautiful song that gladdened his heart.
And having inquired among his attendants who the singer might be,
was told that the master of the elephants had in his service a young
man of great accomplishments, and beloved by all his comrades.
They said He is wont to sing to the lute, and he must have been the
singer that gladdened the heart of the king.'
"The king summoned the young man before him and, being
much pleased with Dighavu, gave him employment in the royal
castle. Observing how wisely the youth acted, how modest he was
and yet punctilious in the performance of his work, the king very
soon gave him a position of trust. Now it came to pass that the king
went hunting and became separated from his retinue, young
Dighavu alone remaining with him. And the king worn out from the
hunt laid his head in the lap of young Dighavu and slept.
"Dighavu thought: 'People will forgive great wrongs which
they have suffered, but they will never be at ease about the wrong
which they themselves have done. They will persecute their victims
to the bitter end. This King Brahmadatta has done us great injury; he
robbed us of our kingdom and slew my father and my mother. He is
now in my power. Thinking thus he unsheathed his sword. Then
Dighavu thought of the last words of his father. 'Be not far-sighted,
be not near-sighted. For not by hatred is hatred appeased. Hatred is
appeased by not-hatred alone.-Thinking thus, he put his sword back
into the sheath.
"The king became restless in his sleep and he awoke, and when
the youth asked, 'Why art thou frightened, O king?' he replied: 'My
sleep is always restless because I often dream that young Dighavu is
coming upon me with his sword. While I lay here with my head in
thy lap I dreamed the dreadful dream again; and I awoke full of
terror and alarm.' Then the youth, laying his left hand upon the
defenseless king's head and with his right hand drawing his sword,
said: 'I am Dighavu, the son of King Dighiti, whom thou hast robbed
of his kingdom and slain together with his queen, my mother. I
know that men overcome the hatred entertained for wrongs which
they have suffered much more easily than for the wrongs which they
have done, and so I cannot expect that thou wilt take pity on me; but
now a chance for revenge has come to me.
"The king seeing that he was at the mercy of young Dighavu
raised his hands and said: 'Grant me my life, my dear Dighavu, grant
me my life. I shall be forever grateful to thee.' And Dighavu said
without bitterness or ill-will: 'How can I grant thee thy life, O king,
since my life is endangered by thee? I do not mean to take thy life. It
is thou, O king, who must grant me my life."
"And the king said: 'Well, my dear Dighavu, then grant me my
life, and I will grant thee thine.' Thus, King Brahmadatta of Kasi
and young Dighavu granted each other's life and took each other's
hand and swore an oath not to do any harm to each other.
"Then King Brahmadatta of Kasi said to young Dighavu: 'Why
did thy father say to thee in the hour of his death: "Be not far-
sighted, be not near-sighted, for hatred is not appeased by hatred.
Hatred is appeased by not-hatred alone,"-what did thy father mean
"The youth replied: 'When my father, O king, in the hour of his
death said: 'Be not far-sighted," he meant, Let 'Be not hatred go far.
And when my father said near-sighted," he meant, be not hasty to
fall out with thy friends. And when he said For not by hatred is
hatred appeased; hatred is appeased by not-hatred, he meant this:
Thou hast killed my father and mother, O king, and if I should
deprive thee of thy life, then thy partisans in turn would take away
my life; my partisans again would deprive thine of their lives. Thus
by hatred, hatred would not be appeased. But now, O king, thou hast
granted me my life, and I have granted thee thine; thus by not-hatred
hatred has been appeased.'
"Then King Brahmadatta of Kasi thought: 'How wise is young
Dighavu that he understands in its full extent the meaning of what
his father spoke concisely.' And the king gave him back his father's
kingdom and gave him his daughter in marriage."
Having finished the story, the Blessed One said: "Brethren, ye
are my lawful sons in the faith, begotten by the words of my mouth.
Children ought not to trample under foot the counsel given them by
their father; do ye henceforth follow my admonitions. Then the
bhikkhus met in conference; they discussed their differences in
mutual good will, and the concord of the Sangha was re-established.
THE BHIKKHUS REBUKED
IT happened that the Blessed One walked up and down in the
open air unshod. When the elders saw that the Blessed One walked
unshod, they put away their shoes and did likewise. But the novices
did not heed the example of their elders and kept their feet covered.
Some of the brethren noticed the irreverent behavior of the
novices and told the Blessed One; and the Blessed One rebuked the
novices and said: "If the brethren, even now, while I am yet living,
show so little respect and courtesy to one another, what will they do
when I have passed away?"
The Blessed One was filled with anxiety for the welfare of the
truth; and he continued: "Even the laymen, O bhikkhus, who move
in the world, pursuing some handicraft that they may procure them a
living, will be respectful, affectionate, and hospitable to their
teachers. Do ye, therefore, O bhikkhus, so let your light shine forth,
that ye, having left the world and devoted your entire life to religion
and to religious discipline, may observe the rules of decency, be
respectful, affectionate, and hospitable to your teachers and
superiors, or those who rank as your teachers and superiors. Your
demeanor, O bhikkhus, does not conduce to the conversion of the
unconverted and to the increase of the number of the faithful. It
serves, O bhikkhus, to repel the unconverted and to estrange them. I
exhort you to be more considerate in the future, more thoughtful and
JEALOUSY OF DEVADATTA
WHEN Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of
Yasodhara, became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining the
same distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being
disappointed in his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a jealous
hatred, and, attempting to excel the Perfect One in virtue, he found
fault with his regulations and reproved them as too lenient.
Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu,
the son of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for
Devadatta, and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to
severe rules and self-mortification.
Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha
and stayed at the Veluvana vihara. Devadatta called on the Blessed
One, requesting him to sanction his rules of greater stringency, by
which a greater holiness might be procured. "The body," he said,
consists of its thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is
conceived in sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to
pain and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of
karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the dwelling
place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly discharge
disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal the charnel house.
Such being the condition of the body it behooves us to treat it as a
carcass full of abomination and to clothe it in such rags only as have
been gathered in cemeteries or upon dung-hills."
The Blessed One said: "Truly, the body is full of impurity and
its end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined to be
dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of karma, it lies
in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not of evil. It is not
good to indulge in the pleasures of the body, but neither is it good to
neglect our bodily needs and to heap filth upon impurities. The lamp
that is not cleansed and not filled with oil will be extinguished, and
a body that is unkempt, unwashed, and weakened by penance will
not be a fit receptacle for the light of truth. Attend to your body and
its needs as you would treat a wound which you care for without
loving it. Severe rules will not lead the disciples on the middle path
which I have taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented from
keeping more stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so but they should
not be imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary."
Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta's proposal; and
Devadatta left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of
the Lord's path of salvation as too lenient and altogether
insufficient. When the Blessed One heard of Devadatta's intrigues,
he said: "Among men there is no one who is not blamed. People
blame him who sits silent and him who speaks, they also blame the
man who preaches the middle path."
Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father
Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be subject to
him. Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower, where he
died, leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son Ajatasattu.
The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he
gave orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the
murderers sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their wicked
deed, and became converted as soon as they saw him and listened to
his preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice upon the
great Master split in twain, and the two pieces passed by on either
side without doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild elephant let loose to
destroy the Lord, became gentle in his presence; and Ajatasattu,
suffering greatly from the pangs of his conscience, went to the
Blessed One and sought peace in his distress.
The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the
way of salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of
a religious school of his own. Devadatta did not succeed in his plans
and having been abandoned by many of his disciples, he fell sick,
and then repented. He entreated those who had remained with him to
carry his litter to the Buddha, saying: "Take me, children, take me to
him; though I have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For the
sake of our relationship the Buddha will save me." And they obeyed,
And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose
from his litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his
feet burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted a
hymn on the Buddha, died.
ON one occasion the Blessed One entered the assembly hall
and the brethren hushed their conversation. When they had greeted
him with clasped hands, they sat down and became composed. Then
the Blessed One said: "Your minds are inflamed with intense
interest; what was the topic of your discussion?"
And Sariputta rose and spake: "World-honored master, were
the nature of man's own existence. We were trying to grasp the
mixture of our own being which is called Name and Form. Every
human being consists of conformations, and there are three groups
which are not corporeal. They are sensation, perception, and the
dispositions; all three constitute consciousness and mind, being
comprised under the term Name. And there are four elements, the
earthy element, the watery element, the fiery element, and the
gaseous element, and these four elements constitute man's bodily
form, being held together so that this machine moves like a puppet.
How does this name and form endure and how can it live?"
Said the Blessed One: "Life is instantaneous and living is
dying. Just as a chariot-wheel in rolling rolls only at one point of the
tire, and in resting rests only at one point; in exactly the same way,
the life of a living being lasts only for the period of one thought. As
soon as that thought has ceased the being is said to have ceased. As
it has been said: 'The being of a past moment of thought has lived,
but does not live, nor will it live. The being of a future moment of
thought will live, but has not lived, nor does it live. The being of the
present moment of thought does live, but has not lived, nor will it
"As to Name and Form we must understand how they interact.
Name has no power of its own, nor can it go on of its own impulse,
either to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement.
Form also is without power and cannot go on of its own impulse. It
has no desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a
movement. But Form goes on when supported by Name, and Name
when supported by Form. When Name has a desire to eat, or to
drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement, then Form eats,
drinks, utters sounds, makes a movement.
"It is as if two men, the one blind from birth and the other a
cripple, were desirous of going traveling, and the man blind from
birth were to say to the cripple as follows: 'See here! I am able to
use my legs, but I have no eyes with which to see the rough and the
smooth places in the road.' And the cripple were to say to the man
blind from birth as follows: 'See here! I am able to use my eyes, but
I have no legs with which to go forward and back.' And the man
blind from birth, pleased and delighted, were to mount the cripple
on his shoulders. And the cripple sitting on the shoulders of the man
blind from birth were to direct him, saying, 'Leave the left and go to
the right; leave the right and go to the left.'
"Here the man blind from birth is without power of his own,
and weak, and cannot go of his own impulse or might. The cripple
also is without power of his own, and weak, and cannot go of his
own impulse or might. Yet when they mutually support one another
it is not impossible for them to go. In exactly the same way Name is
without power of its own, and cannot spring up of its own might,
nor perform this or that action. Form also is without power of its
own, and cannot spring up of its own might, nor perform this or that
action. Yet when they mutually support one another it is not
impossible for them to spring up and go on.
"There is no material that exists for the production of Name
and Form; and when Name and Form cease, they do not go any
whither in space. After Name and Form have ceased, they do not
exist anywhere, any more than there is heaped-up music material.
When a lute is played upon, there is no previous store of sound; and
when the music ceases it does not go any whither in space. When it
has ceased, it exists nowhere in a stored-up state. Having previously
been non-existent, it came into existence on account of the structure
and stern of the lute and the exertions of the performer; and as it
came into existence so it passes away. In exactly the same way, all
the elements of being, both corporeal and non-corporeal come into
existence after having previously been non-existent; and having
come into existence pass away.
"There is not a self residing in Name and Form, but the
cooperation of the conformations produces what people call a man.
Just as the word 'chariot' is but a mode of expression for axle,
wheels, the chariot-body and other constituents in their proper
combination, so a living being is the appearance of the groups with
the four elements as they are joined in a unit. There is no self in the
carriage and there is no self in man. O bhikkhus, this doctrine is
sure and an eternal truth, that there is no self outside of its parts.
This self of ours which constitutes Name and Form is a combination
of the groups with the four elements, but there is no ego entity, no
self in itself.
"Paradoxical though it may sound: There is a path to walk on,
there is walking being done, but there is no traveler. There are deeds
being done, but there is no doer. There is a blowing of the air, but
there is no wind that does the blowing. The thought of self is an
error and all existences are as hollow as the plantain tree and as
empty as twirling water bubbles.
"Therefore, O bhikkhus, as there is no self, there is no
transmigration of a self; but there are deeds and the continued effect
of deeds. There is a rebirth of karma; there is reincarnation. This
rebirth, this reincarnation, this reappearance of the conformations is
continuous and depends on the law of cause and effect. Just as a seal
is impressed upon the wax reproducing the configurations of its
device, so the thoughts of men, their characters, their aspirations are
impressed upon others in continuous transference and continue their
karma, and good deeds will continue in blessings while bad deeds
will continue in curses.
"There is no entity here that migrates, no self is transferred
from one place to another; but there is a voice uttered here and the
echo of it comes back. The teacher pronounces a stanza and the
disciple who attentively listens to his teacher's instruction, repeats
the stanza. Thus the stanza is reborn in the mind of the disciple. The
body is a compound of perishable organs. It is subject to decay; and
we should take care of it as of a wound or a sore; we should attend
to its needs without being attached to it, or loving it. The body is
like a machine, and there is no self in it that makes it walk or act,
but the thoughts of it, as the windy elements, cause the machine to
work. The body moves about like a cart. Therefore 'tis said:
ships are blown by wind on sails,
As arrows fly from twanging bow,
So, when the force of thought directs,
The body, following, must go.
"Just as machines are worked by ropes,
So are the body's gear and groove;
Obedient to the pull of mind,
Our muscles and our members move.
independent 'I' is here,
But many gathered mobile forces;
Our chariot is manned by mind,
And our karma is our horses.
"He only who utterly abandons all thought of
the ego escapes
the snares of the Evil One; he is out of the reach of Mara. Thus says
the pleasure-promising tempter:
"So long as to those things
Called 'mine, and 'I' and 'me'
Your hungry heart still clings-
My snares you cannot flee.
"The faithful disciple replies:
"Naught's mine and naught of me,
The self I do not mind!
Thus Mara, I tell thee,
My path thou canst not find.
"Dismiss the error of the self and do not cling
which are transient, but perform deeds that are good, for deeds are
enduring and in deeds your karma continues.
"Since, then, O bhikkhus, there is no self, there can not be any
after life of a self. Therefore abandon all thought of self. But since
there are deeds and since deeds continue, be careful with your
deeds. All beings have karma as their portion: they are heirs of their
karma; they are sprung from their karma; their karma is their
kinsman; their karma is their refuge; karma allots beings to
meanness or to greatness.
by death in life last throes
On quitting all thy joys and woes
What is thine own, thy recompense?
What stays with thee when passing hence?
What like a shadow follows thee
And will Beyond thine heirloom be?
"'Tis deeds, thy deeds, both good and bad;
Naught else can after death be had.
Thy deeds are thine, thy recompense;
They are thine own when going hence;
They like a shadow follow thee
And will Beyond thine heirloom be.
all then here perform good deeds,
For future weal a treasure store;
There to reap crops from noble seeds,
A bliss increasing evermore."
THE Blessed One thus addressed the bhikkhus: "It is through
not understanding the four noble truths, O bhikkhus, that we had to
wander so long in the weary path of samsara, both you and I.
"Through contact thought is born from sensation, and is reborn
by a reproduction of its form. Starting from the simplest forms, the
mind rises and falls according to deeds, but the aspirations of a
Bodhisattva pursue the straight path of wisdom and righteousness,
until they reach perfect enlightenment in the Buddha.
"All creatures are what they are through the karma of their
deeds done in former and in present existences.
"The rational nature of man is a spark of the true light; it is the
first step on the upward road. But new births are required to insure
an ascent to the summit of existence, the enlightenment of mind and
heart, where the immeasurable light of moral comprehension is
gained which is the source of all righteousness. Having attained this
higher birth, I have found the truth and have taught you the noble
path that leads to the city of peace. I have shown you the way to the
lake of ambrosia, which washes away all evil desire. I have given
you the refreshing drink called the perception of truth, and he who
drinks of it becomes free from excitement, passion, and wrong-
"The very gods envy the bliss of him who has escaped from the
floods of passion and has climbed the shores of Nirvana. His heart
is cleansed from all defilement and free from all illusion. He is like
unto the lotus which grows in the water, yet not a drop of water
adheres to its petals. The man who walks in the noble path lives in
the world, and yet his heart is not defiled by worldly desires.
"He who does not see the four noble truths, he who does not
understand the three characteristics and has not grounded himself in
the uncreate, has still a long path to traverse by repeated births
through the desert of ignorance with its mirages of illusion and
through the morass of wrong. But now that you have gained
comprehension, the cause of further migrations and aberrations is
removed. The goal is reached. The craving of selfishness is
destroyed, and the truth is attained. This is true deliverance; this is
salvation; this is heaven and the bliss of a life immortal."
JOTIKKHA, the son of Subhadda, was a householder living in
Rajagaha. Having received a precious bowl of sandalwood
decorated with jewels, he erected a long pole before his house and
put the bowl on its top with this legend: "Should a samana take this
bowl down without using a ladder or a stick with a hook, or without
climbing the pole, but by magic power, he shall receive as reward
whatever he desires."
The people came to the Blessed One, full of wonder and their
mouths overflowing with praise, saying: "Great is the Tathagata.
His disciples perform miracles. Kassapa, the disciple of the Buddha,
saw the bowl on Jotikkha's pole, and, stretching out his hand, he
took it down, carrying it away in triumph to the vihara."
When the Blessed One heard what had happened, he went to
Kassapa, and, breaking the bowl to pieces, forbade his disciples to
perform miracles of any kind.
Soon after this it happened that in one of the rainy seasons
many bhikkhus were staying in the Vajji territory during a famine.
And one of the bhikkhus proposed to his brethren that they should
praise one another to the householders of the village, saying: "This
bhikkhu is a saint; he has seen celestial visions; and that bhikkhu
possesses supernatural gifts; he can work miracles." And the
villagers said: "It is lucky, very lucky for us, that such saints are
spending the rainy season with us." And they gave willingly and
abundantly, and the bhikkhus prospered and did not suffer from the
When the Blessed One heard it, he told Ananda to call the
bhikkhus together, and he asked them: "Tell me, O bhikkhus, when
does a bhikkhu cease to be a bhikkhu?"
And Sariputta replied: "An ordained disciple must not commit
any unchaste act. The disciple who commits an unchaste act is no
longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. Again, an ordained disciple
must not take except what has been given him. disciple who takes,
be it so little as a penny's worth, is no longer a disciple of the
Sakyamuni. And lastly, an ordained disciple must not knowingly
and malignantly deprive any harmless creature of life, not even an
earthworm or an ant. The disciple who knowingly and malignantly
deprives any harmless creature of its life is no longer a disciple of
the Sakyamuni. These are the three great prohibitions."
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and said: "There
is another great prohibition which I declare to you: An ordained
disciple must not boast of any superhuman perfection. The disciple
who with evil intent and from covetousness boasts of a superhuman
perfection, be it celestial visions or miracles, is no longer a disciple
of the Sakyamuni. I forbid you, O bhikkhus, to employ any spells or
supplications, for they are useless, since the law of karma governs
all things. He who attempts to perform miracles has not understood
the doctrine of the Tathagata."
VANITY OF WORLDLINESS
THERE was a poet who had acquired the spotless eye of truth,
and he believed in the Buddha, whose doctrine gave him peace of
mind and comfort in the hour of affliction. It happened that an
epidemic swept over the country in which he lived, so that many
died, and the people were terrified. Some of them trembled with
fright, and in anticipation of their fate were smitten with all the
horrors of death before they died, while others began to be merry,
shouting loudly, "Let us enjoy ourselves today, for we know not
whether tomorrow we shall live"; yet was their laughter no genuine
gladness, but a mere pretense and affectation.
Among all these worldly men and women trembling with
anxiety, the Buddhist poet lived in the time of the pestilence, as
usual, calm and undisturbed, helping wherever he could and
ministering unto the sick, soothing their pains by medicine and
religious consolation. And a man came to him and said:
"My heart is nervous and excited, for I see people die. I am not
anxious about others, but I tremble because of myself. Help me;
cure me of my fear."
The poet replied: "There is help for him who has compassion
on others, but there is no help for thee so long as thou clingest to
thine own self alone. Hard times try the souls of men and teach them
righteousness and charity. Canst thou witness these sad sights
around thee and still be filled with selfishness? Canst thou see thy
brothers, sisters, and friends suffer, yet not forget the petty cravings
and lust of thine own heart? Noticing the desolation in the mind of
the pleasure-seeking man, the Buddhist poet composed this song
and taught it to the brethren in the vihara:
"Unless you take refuge in the Buddha and find rest in
Your life is but vanity-empty and desolate vanity.
To see the world is idle, and to enjoy life is empty.
The world, including man, is but like a phantom, and the hope
of heaven is as a mirage.
"The worldling seeks pleasures, fattening himself
like a caged
But the Buddhist saint flies up to the sun like the wild crane.
The fowl in the coop has food but will soon be boiled in the
No provisions are given to the wild crane, but the heavens and
the earth are his.
The poet said:
"The times are hard and teach the people a
lesson; yet do they not heed it." And he composed another poem on
the vanity of worldliness:
"It is good to reform, and it is good to exhort
people to reform.
The things of the world will all be swept away.
Let others be busy and buried with care.
My mind all unvexed shall be pure.
"After pleasures they hanker and find no satisfaction;
Riches they covet and can never have enough.
They are like unto puppets held up by a string.
When the string breaks they come down with a shock.
"In the domain of death there are neither great
Neither gold nor silver is used, nor precious jewels.
No distinction is made between the high and the low.
And daily the dead are buried beneath the fragrant sod.
at the sun setting behind the western hills.
You lie down to rest, but soon the cock will announce morn.
Reform today and do not wait until it be too late
Do not say it is early, for the time quickly passes by.
"It is good to reform and it is good to exhort
people to reform.
It is good to lead a righteous life and take refuge in the
Your talents may reach to the skies, your wealth may be
But all is in vain unless you attain the peace of Nirvana."
SECRECY AND PUBLICITY
THE Buddha said: "Three things, O disciples, are
characterized by secrecy: love affairs, priestly wisdom, and all
aberrations from the path of truth. Women who are in love, O
disciples seek secrecy and shun publicity; priests who claim to be in
possession of special revelation, O disciples, seek secrecy and shun
publicity; all those who stray from the path of truth, O disciples,
seek secrecy and shun publicity.
"Three things, O disciples, shine before the world and cannot
be hidden. What are the three? The moon, O disciples, illumines the
world and cannot be hidden; the sun, O disciples, illumines the
world and cannot be hidden; and the truth proclaimed by the
Tathagata illumines the world and cannot be hidden. These three
things, O disciples, illumine the world and cannot be hidden. There
is no secrecy about them."
ANNIHILATION OF SUFFERING
THE Buddha said: "What, my friends, is evil? Killing is evil;
stealing is evil; yielding to sexual passion is evil; lying is evil;
slandering is evil; abuse is evil; gossip is evil; envy is evil; hatred is
evil; to cling to false doctrine is evil; all these things, my friends, are
"And what, my friends, is the root of evil? Desire is the root of
evil; hatred is the root of evil; illusion is the root of evil; these things
are the root of evil.
"What, however, is good? Abstaining from killing is good;
abstaining from theft is good; abstaining from sensuality is good;
abstaining from falsehood is good; abstaining from slander is good;
suppression of unkindness is good; abandoning gossip is good;
letting go all envy is good; dismissing hatred is good; obedience to
the truth is good; all these things are good.
"And what, my friend, is the root of the good? Freedom from
desire is the root of the good; freedom from hatred and freedom
from illusion; these things, my friends, are the root of the good.
"What, however, O brethren, is suffering? What is the origin of
suffering? What is the annihilation of suffering? Birth is suffering;
old age is suffering; disease is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow
and misery are suffering; affliction and despair are suffering; to be
united with loathsome things is suffering; the loss of that which we
love and the failure in attaining that which is longed for are
suffering; all these things, O brethren, are suffering.
"And what, O brethren, is the origin of suffering? It is lust,
passion, and the thirst for existence that yearns for pleasure
everywhere, leading to a continual rebirth I It is sensuality, desire,
selfishness; all these things, O brethren, are the origin of suffering.
"And what is the annihilation of suffering? The radical and
total annihilation of this thirst and the abandonment, the liberation,
the deliverance from passion, that, O brethren, is the annihilation of
"And what, O brethren, is the path that leads to the annihilation
of suffering? It is the holy eightfold path that leads to the
annihilation of suffering, which consists of right views, right
decision, right speech, right action, right living, right struggling,
right thoughts, and right meditation.
"In so far, O friends, as a noble youth thus recognizes suffering
and the origin of suffering, as he recognizes the annihilation of
suffering, and walks on the path that leads to the annihilation of
suffering, radically forsaking passion, subduing wrath, annihilating
the vain conceit of the "I-am, leaving ignorance, and attaining to
enlightenment, he will make an end of all suffering even in this
THE TEN EVILS
THE Buddha said: "All acts of living creatures become bad by
ten things, and by avoiding the ten things they become good. There
are three evils of the body, four evils of the tongue, and three evils
of the mind.
"The evils of the body are, murder, theft, and adultery; of the
tongue, lying, slander, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind,
covetousness, hatred, and error.
"I exhort you to avoid the ten evils: 1. Kill not, but have regard
for life. 2. Steal not, neither do ye rob; but help everybody to be
master of the fruits of his labor. 3. Abstain from impurity, and lead
a life of chastity. 4. Lie not, but be truthful. Speak the truth with
discretion, fearlessly and in a loving heart. 5. Invent not evil reports,
neither do ye repeat them. Carp not, but look for the good sides of
your fellow-beings, so that ye may with sincerity defend them
against their enemies. 6. Swear not, but speak decently and with
dignity. 7. Waste not the time with gossip, but speak to the purpose
or keep silence. 8. Covet not, nor envy, but rejoice at the fortunes of
other people. 9. Cleanse your heart of malice and cherish no hatred,
not even against your enemies; but embrace all living beings with
kindness. 10. Free your mind of ignorance and be anxious to learn
the truth, especially in the one thing that is needful, lest you fall a
prey either to scepticism or to errors. Scepticism will make you
indifferent and errors will lead you astray, so that you shall not find
the noble path that leads to life eternal."
THE Blessed One said to his disciples: "When I have passed
away and can no longer address you and edify your minds with
religious discourse, select from among you men of good family and
education to preach the truth in my stead. And let those men be
invested with the robes of the Tathagata, let them enter into the
abode of the Tathagata, and occupy the pulpit of the Tathagata.
"The robe of the Tathagata is sublime forbearance and
patience. The abode of the Tathagata is charity and love of all
beings. The pulpit of the Tathagata is the comprehension of the
good law in its abstract meaning as well as in its particular
"The preacher must propound the truth with unshrinking mind.
He must have the power of persuasion rooted in virtue and in strict
fidelity to his vows. The preacher must keep in his proper sphere
and be steady in his course. He must not flatter his vanity by seeking
the company of the great, nor must he keep company with persons
who are frivolous and immoral. When in temptation, he should
constantly think of the Buddha and he will conquer. All who come
to hear the doctrine, the preacher must receive with benevolence,
and his sermon must be without invidiousness. The preacher must
not be prone to carp at others, or to blame other preachers; nor
speak scandal, nor propagate bitter words. He must not mention by
name other disciples to vituperate them and reproach their
"Clad in a clean robe, dyed with good color, with appropriate
undergarments, he must ascend the pulpit with a mind free from
blame and at peace with the whole world. He must not take delight
in quarrelous disputations or engage in controversies so as to show
the superiority of his talents, but be calm and composed. No hostile
feelings shall reside in his heart, and he must never abandon the
disposition of charity toward all beings. His sole aim must be that
all beings become Buddhas. Let the preacher apply himself with
zeal to his work, and the Tathagata will show to him the body of the
holy law in its transcendent glory. He shall be honored as one whom
the Tathagata has blessed. The Tathagata blesses the preacher and
also those who reverently listen to him and joyfully accept the
"All those who receive the truth will find perfect
enlightenment. And, verily, such is the power of the doctrine that
even by the reading of a single stanza, or by reciting, copying, and
keeping in mind a single sentence of the good law, persons may be
converted to the truth and enter the path of righteousness which
leads to deliverance from evil. Creatures that are swayed by impure
passions, when they listen to the voice, will be purified. The
ignorant who are infatuated with the follies of the world will, when
pondering on the profundity of the doctrine, acquire wisdom. Those
who act under the impulse of hatred will, when taking refuge in the
Buddha, be filled with good-will and love.
"A preacher must be full of energy, and cheerful hope, never
tiring and never despairing of final success. A preacher must be like
a man in quest of water who digs a well in an arid tract of land. So
long as he sees that the sand is dry and white, he knows that the
water is still far off. But let him not be troubled or give up the task
as hopeless. The work of removing the dry sand must be done so
that he can dig down deeper into the ground. And often the deeper
he has to dig, the cooler and purer and more refreshing will the
water be. When after some time of digging he sees that the sand be
comes moist, he accepts it as a token that the water is near. So long
as the people do not listen to the words of truth, the preacher knows
that he has to dig deeper into their hearts; but when they begin to
heed his words he apprehends that they will soon attain
"Into your hands, O you men of good family and education
who take the vow of preaching the words of the Tathagata, the
Blessed One transfers, intrusts, and commends the good law of
truth. Receive the good law of truth, keep it, read and re-read it,
fathom it, promulgate it, and preach it to all beings in all the
quarters of the universe.
"The Tathagata is not avaricious, nor narrow-minded, and he is
willing to impart the perfect Buddha-knowledge unto all who are
ready and willing to receive it. Do you be like him. Imitate him and
follow his example in bounteously giving, showing, and bestowing
the truth. Gather round you hearers who love to listen to the benign
and comforting words of the law; rouse the unbelievers to accept the
truth and fill them with delight and joy. Quicken them, edify them,
and lift them higher and higher until they see the truth face to face in
all its splendor and infinite glory."
When the Blessed One had thus spoken, the disciples said: "O
thou who rejoicest in kindness having its source in compassion, thou
great cloud of good qualities and of benevolent mind, thou
quenchest the fire that vexeth living beings, thou pourest out nectar,
the rain of the law! We shall do, O Lord, what the Tathagata
commands. We shall fulfill his behest; the Lord shall find us
obedient to his words."
And this vow of the disciples resounded through the universe,
and like an echo it came back from all the Bodhisattvas who are to
be and will come to preach the good law of Truth to future
And the Blessed One said: "The Tathagata is like unto a
powerful king who rules his kingdom with righteousness, but being
attacked by envious enemies goes out to wage war against his foes.
When the king sees his soldiers fight he is delighted with their
gallantry and will bestow upon them donations of all kinds. Ye are
the soldiers of the Tathagata, while Mara, the Evil One, is the enemy
who must be conquered. And the Tathagata will give to his soldiers
the city of Nirvana, the great capital of the good law. And when the
enemy is overcome, the Dharma-raja, the great king of truth, will
bestow upon all his disciples the most precious crown, which jewel
brings perfect enlightenment, supreme wisdom, and undisturbed
THIS is the Dharmapada, the path of religion pursued by those
who are followers of the Buddha: Creatures from mind their
character derive; mind-marshaled are they, mind-made. Mind is the
source either of bliss or of corruption. By oneself evil is done; by
oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone; by oneself one is
purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify
another. You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas are only
preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the
bondage of Mara. He who does not rouse himself when it is time to
rise; who, though young and strong, is full of sloth; whose will and
thoughts are weak; that lazy and idle man will never find the way to
If a man hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully; the
truth guards him who guards himself. If a man makes himself as he
teaches others to be, then, being himself subdued, he may subdue
others; one's own self is indeed difficult to subdue. If some men
conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and if another
conquer himself, he is the greatest of conquerors. It is the habit of
fools, be they laymen or members of the clergy, to think, this is done
by me. May others be subject to me. In this or that transaction a
prominent part should be played by me." Fools do not care for the
duty to be performed or the aim to be reached, but think of
themselves alone. Everything is but a pedestal of their vanity.
Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what
is beneficial and good, that is very difficult. If anything is to be
done, let a man do it, let him attack it vigorously!
Before long, alas! this body will lie on the earth, despised,
without understanding, like a useless log; yet our thoughts will
endure. They will be thought again, and will produce action. Good
thoughts will produce good actions, and bad thoughts will produce
Earnestness is the path of immortality, thoughtlessness the path
of death. Those who are in earnest do not die; those who are
thoughtless are as if dead already. Those who imagine they find
truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, will never arrive at truth,
but follow vain desires. They who know truth in truth, and untruth
in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires. As rain breaks
through an ill-thatched house, passion will break through an
unreflecting mind. As rain does not break through a well-thatched
house, passion will not break through a well-reflecting mind. lead
the water wherever they like; fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters
bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves; wise people
falter not amidst blame and praise. Having listened to the law, they
become serene, like a deep, smooth, and still lake.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him
as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon. An
evil deed is better left undone, for a man will repent of it afterwards;
a good deed is better done, for having done it one will not repent. If
a man commits a wrong let him not do it again; let him not delight
in wrongdoing; pain is the outcome of evil. If a man does what is
good, let him do it again; let him delight in it; happiness is the
outcome of good.
Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, It will not
come nigh unto me." As by the falling of waterdrops a water-pot is
filled, so the fool becomes full of evil, though he gather it little by
little. Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, It will
not come nigh unto me." As by the falling of water-drops a water-
pot is filled, so the wise man becomes full of good, though he gather
it little by little.
He who lives for pleasure only, his senses uncontrolled,
immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, him Mara, the tempter, will
certainly overthrow, as the wind throws down a weak tree. He who
lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well-controlled,
moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly
not overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a rocky
The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But
a fool who thinks himself wise, he is a fool indeed. To the evil-doer
wrong appears sweet as honey; he looks upon it as pleasant so long
as it bears no fruit; but when its fruit ripens, then he looks upon it as
wrong. And so the good man looks upon the goodness of the
Dharma as a burden and an evil so long as it bears no fruit; but
when its fruit ripens, then he sees its goodness.
A hater may do great harm to a hater, or an enemy to an
enemy; but a wrongly-directed mind will do greater mischief unto
itself. A mother, a father, or any other relative will do much good;
but a well-directed mind will do greater service unto itself.
He whose wickedness is very great brings himself down to that
state where his enemy wishes him to be. He himself is his greatest
enemy. Thus a creeper destroys the life of a tree on which it finds
Do not direct thy thought to what gives pleasure, that thou
mayest not cry out when burning, "This is pain." The wicked man
burns by his own deeds, as if burnt by fire. Pleasures destroy the
foolish; the foolish man by his thirst for pleasures destroys himself
as if he were his own enemy. The fields are damaged by hurricanes
and weeds; mankind is damaged by passion, by hatred, by vanity,
and by lust. Let no man ever take into consideration whether a thing
is pleasant or unpleasant. The love of pleasure begets grief and the
dread of pain causes fear; he who is free from the love of pleasure
and the dread of pain knows neither grief nor fear.
He who gives himself to vanity, and does not give himself to
meditation, forgetting the real aim of life and grasping at pleasure,
will in time envy him who has exerted himself in meditation. The
fault of others is easily noticed, but that of oneself is difficult to
perceive. A man winnows his neighbor's faults like chaff, but his
own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the false die from the gambler.
If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always inclined to
take offense, his own passions will grow, and he is far from the
destruction of passions. Not about the perversities of others, not
about their sins of commission or omission, but about his own
misdeeds and negligences alone should a sage be worried. Good
people shine from afar, like the snowy mountains; bad people are
concealed, like arrows shot by night.
If a man by causing pain to others, wishes to obtain pleasure
for himself, he, entangled in the bonds of selfishness, will never be
free from hatred. Let a man overcome anger by love, let him
overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality,
the liar by truth! For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time;
hatred ceases by not hatred, this is an old rule.
Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked;
by these three steps thou wilt become divine. Let a wise man blow
off the impurities of his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of
silver, one by one, little by little, and from time to time.
Lead others, not by violence, but by righteousness and equity.
He who possesses virtue and intelligence, who is just, speaks the
truth, and does what is his own business, him the world will hold
dear. As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring the
flower, or its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in the community.
If a traveler does not meet with one who is his better, or his
equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no
companionship with fools. Long is the night to him who is awake;
long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do
not know the true religion. Better than living a hundred years not
seeing the highest truth, is one day in the life of a man who sees the
Some form their Dharma arbitrarily and fabricate it artificially;
they advance complex speculations and imagine that good results
are attainable only by the acceptance of their theories; yet the truth
is but one; there are not different truths in the world. Having
reflected on the various theories, we have gone into the yoke with
him who has shaken off all sin. But shall we be able to proceed
together with him?
The best of ways is the eightfold path. This is the path. There
is no other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. Go on this
path! Everything else is the deceit of Mara, the tempter. If you go on
this path, you will make an end of pain! Says the Tathagata, The
path was preached by me, when I had understood the removal of the
thorn in the flesh.
Not only by discipline and vows, not only by much learning,
do I earn the happiness of release which no worldling can know.
Bhikkhu, be not confident as long as thou hast not attained the
extinction of thirst. The extinction of evil desire is the highest
The gift of religion exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of religion
exceeds all sweetness; the delight in religion exceeds all delights;
the extinction of thirst overcomes all pain. Few are there among men
who cross the river and reach the goal. The great multitudes are
running up and down the shore; but there is no suffering for him
who has finished his journey.
As the lily will grow full of sweet perfume and delight upon a
heap of rubbish, thus the disciple of the truly enlightened Buddha
shines forth by his wisdom among those who are like rubbish,
among the people that walk in darkness. Let us live happily then,
not hating those who hate us! Among men who hate us let us dwell
free from hatred!
Let us live happily then, free from all ailments among the
ailing! Among men who are ailing let us dwell free from ailments!
Let us live happily, then, free from greed among the greedy! Among
men who are greedy let us dwell free from greed!
The sun is bright by day, the moon shines by night, the warrior
is bright in his armor thinkers are bright in their meditation; but
among all, the brightest, with splendor day and night, is the Buddha,
the Awakened, the Holy, Blessed.
AT one time when the Blessed One was journeying through
Kosala he came to the Brahman village which is called Manasakata.
There he stayed in a mango grove. And two young Brahmans came
to him who were of different schools. One was named Vasettha and
the other Bharadvaja. And Vasettha said to the Blessed One:
"We have a dispute as to the true path. I say the straight path
which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which has been
announced by the Brahman Pokkharasati, while my friend says the
straight path which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which
has been announced by the Brahman Tarukkha. Now, regarding thy
high reputation, O samana, and knowing that thou art called the
Enlightened One, the teacher of men and gods, the Blessed Buddha,
we have come to ask thee, are all these paths salvation? There are
many roads all around our village, and all lead to Manasakata. Is it
just so with the paths of the sages? Are all paths to salvation, and do
they all lead to a union with Brahma?
Then the Blessed One proposed these questions to the two
Brahmans: "Do you think that all paths are right?" Both answered
and said: "Yes, Gotama, we think so."
"But tell me, continued the Buddha has any one of the
Brahmans, versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?" "No
sir!" was the reply.
"But, then," said the Blessed One, has any teacher of the
Brahmans, versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?" The two
Brahmans said: "No, sir."
"But, then," said the Blessed One, has any one of the authors
of the Vedas seen Brahma face to face?" Again the two Brahmans
answered in the negative and exclaimed: "How can any one see
Brahma or understand him, for the mortal cannot understand the
immortal." And the Blessed One proposed an illustration, saying:
"It is as if a man should make a staircase in the place where
four roads cross, to mount up into a mansion. And people should
ask him, Where, good friends, is this mansion, to mount up into
which you are making this staircase? Knowest thou whether it is in
the east, or in the south, or in the west, or in the north? Whether it is
high, or low, or of medium size?' And when so asked he should
answer, 'I know it not.' And people should say to him, 'But, then,
good friend, thou art making a staircase to mount up into something-
taking it for a mansion-which all the while thou knowest not, neither
hast thou seen it.' And when so asked he should answer, That is
exactly what I do; yea I know that I cannot know it.' What would
you think of him? Would you not say that the talk of that man was
"In sooth, Gotama, said the two Brahmans, it be foolish talk!"
The Blessed One continued: "Then the Brahmans should say, 'We
show you the way unto a union with what we know not and what we
have not seen." This being the substance of Brahman lore, does it
not follow that their task is vain?"
"It does follow, replied Bharadvaja.
Said the Blessed One: "Thus it is impossible that Brahmans
versed in the three Vedas should be able to show the way to a state
of union with that which they neither know nor have seen. Just as
when a string of blind men are clinging one to the other. Neither can
the foremost see, nor can those in the middle see, nor can the
hindmost see. Even so, methinks the talk of the Brahmans versed in
the three Vedas is but blind talk; it is ridiculous, consists of mere
words, and is a vain and empty thing. Now suppose," added the
Blessed One that a man should come hither to the bank of the river,
and, having some business on the other side, should want to cross.
Do you suppose that if he were to invoke the other bank of the river
to come over to him on this side, the bank would come on account
of his praying?"
"Certainly not, Gotama."
"Yet this is the way of the Brahmans. They omit the practice of
those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and say, 'Indra,
we call upon thee; Soma, we call upon thee; Varuna, we call upon
thee; Brahma, we call upon thee.' Verily, it is not possible that these
Brahmans, on account of their invocations, prayers, and praises,
should after death be united with Brahma.
"Now tell me," continued the Buddha, "what do the Brahmans
say of Brahma? Is his mind full of lust?" And when the Brahmans
denied this, the Buddha asked: "Is Brahma's mind full of malice,
sloth, or pride?"
"No sir!" was the reply. "He is the opposite of all this."
And the Buddha went on: "But are the Brahmans free from
these vices?" "No, sir!" said Vasettha.
The Holy One said: "The Brahmans cling to the five things
leading to worldliness and yield to the temptations of the senses;
they are entangled in the five hindrances, lust, malice, sloth, pride,
and doubt. How can they be united to that which is most unlike their
nature? Therefore the threefold wisdom of the Brahmans is a
waterless desert, a pathless jungle, and a hopeless desolation."
When the Buddha had thus spoken, one of the Brahmans said:
"We are told, Gotama, that the Sakyamuni knows the path to a union
And the Blessed One said: "What do you think, O Brahmans,
of a man born and brought up in Manasakata? Would he be in doubt
about the most direct way from this spot to Manasakata?"
"Certainly not, Gotama."
"Thus," replied the Buddha, the Tathagata knows the straight
path that leads to a union with Brahma. He knows it as one who has
entered the world of Brahma and has been born in it. There can be
no doubt in the Tathagata."
The two young Brahmans said: "If thou knowest the way show
it to us."
And the Buddha said: "The Tathagata sees the universe face to
face and understands its nature. He proclaims the truth both in its
letter and in its spirit, and his doctrine is glorious in its origin,
glorious in its progress, glorious in its consummation. The
Tathagata reveals the higher life in its purity and perfection. He can
show you the way to that which is contrary to the five great
hindrances. The Tathagata lets his mind pervade the four quarters of
the world with thoughts of love. And thus the whole wide world,
above, below, around, and everywhere will continue to be filled
with love, far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. just as a
mighty trumpeter makes himself heard-and that without difficulty-in
all the four quarters of the earth; even so is the coming of the
Tathagata: there is not one living creature that the Tathagata passes
by or leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and
"This is the sign that a man follows the right path: Uprightness
is his delight, and he sees danger in the least of those things which
he should avoid. He trains himself in the commands of morality, he
encompasseth himself with holiness in word and deed; he sustains
his life by means that are quite pure; good is his conduct, guarded is
the door of his senses; mindful and self-possessed, he is altogether
happy. He who walks in the eightfold noble path with unswerving
determination is sure to reach Nirvana. The Tathagata anxiously
watches over his children and with loving care helps them to see the
"When a hen has eight or ten or twelve eggs, over which she
has properly brooded, the wish arises in her heart, 'O would that my
little chickens would break open the eggshell with their claws, or
with their beaks, and come forth into the light in safety!' yet all the
while those little chickens are sure to break the egg-shell and will
come forth into the light in safety. Even so, a brother who with firm
determination walks in the noble path is sure to come forth into the
light, sure to reach up to the higher wisdom, sure to attain to the
highest bliss of enlightenment."
THE SIX QUARTERS
WHILE the Blessed One was staying at the bamboo grove near
Rajagaha, he once met on his way Sigala, a householder, who,
clasping his hands, turned to the four quarters of the world, to the
zenith above, and to the nadir below. The Blessed One, knowing
that this was done according to the traditional religious superstition
to avert evil, asked Sigala: "Why performest thou these strange
And Sigala in reply said: "Dost thou think it strange that I
protect my home against the influences of demons? I know thou
wouldst fain tell me, O Gotama Sakyamuni, whom people call the
Tathagata and the Blessed Buddha, that incantations are of no avail
and possess no saving power. But listen to me and know, that in
performing this rite I honor, reverence, and keep sacred the words of
Then the Tathagata said: Thou dost well, O Sigala, to honor,
reverence, and keep sacred the words of thy father; and it is thy duty
to protect thy home, thy wife, thy children, and thy children's
children against the hurtful influences of evil spirits. I find no fault
with the performance of thy father's rite. But I find that thou dost
not understand the ceremony. Let the Tathagata, who now speaks to
thee as a spiritual father and loves thee no less than did thy parents,
explain to thee the meaning of the six directions.
"To guard thy home by mysterious ceremonies is not
sufficient; thou must guard it by good deeds. Turn to thy parents in
the East, to thy teachers in the South, to thy wife and children in the
West, to thy friends in the North, and regulate the zenith of thy
religious relations above thee, and the nadir of thy servants below
thee. Such is the religion thy father wants thee to have, and the
performance of the ceremony shall remind thee of thy duties."
And Sigala looked up to the Blessed One with reverence as to
his father and said: "Truly, Gotama, thou art the Buddha, the
Blessed One, the holy teacher. I never knew what I was doing, but
now I know. Thou hast revealed to me the truth that was hidden as
one who bringeth a lamp into the darkness. I take my refuge in the
Enlightened Teacher, in the truth that enlightens, and in the
community of brethren who have been taught the truth."
QUESTION CONCERNING ANNIHILATION
AT that time many distinguished citizens were sitting together
assembled in the town-hall and spoke in many ways in praise of the
Buddha, of the Dharma, and of the Sangha. Simha, the general-in-
chief, a disciple of the Niggantha sect, was sitting among them. And
Simha thought: "Truly, the Blessed One must be the Buddha, the
Holy One. I will go and visit him."
Then Simha, the general, went to the place where the
Niggantha chief, Nataputta, was; and having approached him, he
said: "I wish, Lord to visit the samana Gotama." Nataputta said:
"Why should you, Simha, who believe in the result of actions
according to their moral merit, go to visit the samana Gotama, who
denies the result of actions? The samana Gotama, O Simha, denies
the result of actions; he teaches the doctrine of non-action; and in
this doctrine he trains his disciples."
Then the desire to go and visit the Blessed One, which had
risen in Simha, the general, abated. Hearing again the praise of the
Buddha, of the Dharma, and of the Sangha, Simha asked the
Niggantha chief a second time; and again Nataputta persuaded him
not to go.
When a third time the general heard some men of distinction
extol the merits of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, the
general thought: "Truly the samana Gotama must be the Holy
Buddha. What are the Nigganthas to me, whether they give their
consent or not? I shall go without asking their permission to visit
him, the Blessed One, the Holy Buddha." And Simha, the general,
said to the Blessed One: "I have heard, Lord, that the samana
Gotama denies the result of actions; he teaches the doctrine of non-
action, saying that the actions of sentient beings do not receive their
reward, for he teaches annihilation and the contemptibleness of all
things; and in this doctrine he trains his disciples. Teachest thou the
doing away of the soul and the burning away of man's being? Pray
tell me, Lord, do those who speak thus say the truth, or do they bear
false witness against the Blessed One, passing off a spurious
Dharma as thy Dharma?"
The Blessed One said "There is a way, Simha, in which one
who says so, is speaking truly of me; on the other hand, Simha,
there is a way in which one who says the opposite is speaking truly
of me, too. Listen, and I will tell thee: I teach, Simha, the not-doing
of such actions as are unrighteous, either by deed, or by word, or by
thought; I teach the not-bringing about of all those conditions of
heart which are evil and not good. However, I teach, Simha, the
doing of such actions as are righteous, by deed, by word, and by
thought; I teach the bringing about of all those conditions of heart
which are good and not evil.
"I teach, Simha, that all the conditions of heart which are evil
and not good, unrighteous action by deed, by word, and by thought,
must be burnt away. He who has freed himself, Simha, from all
those conditions of heart which are evil and not good, he who has
destroyed them as a palm-tree which is rooted out, so that they
cannot grow up again, such a man has accomplished the eradication
"I proclaim, Simha, the annihilation of egotism, of lust, of ill-
will, of delusion. However, I do not proclaim the annihilation of
forbearance, of love, of charity, and of truth. I deem, Simha,
unrighteous actions contemptible, whether they be performed by
deed, or by word, or by thought; but I deem virtue and righteousness
Simha said: "One doubt still lurks in my mind concerning the
doctrine of the Blessed One. Will the Blessed One consent to clear
the cloud away so that I may understand the Dharma as the Blessed
One teaches it?"
The Tathagata having given his consent, Simha continued: "I
am a soldier, O Blessed One, and am appointed by the king to
enforce his laws and to wage his wars. Does the Tathagata who
teaches kindness without end and compassion with all sufferers,
permit the punishment of the criminal? and further, does the
Tathagata declare that it is wrong to go to war for the protection of
our homes, our wives, our children, and our property? Does the
Tathagata teach the doctrine of a complete self-surrender, so that I
should suffer the evil-doer to do what he pleases and yield
submissively to him who threatens to take by violence what is my
own? Does the Tathagata maintain that all strife, including such
warfare as is waged for a righteous cause should be forbidden?"
The Buddha replied: "He who deserves punishment must be
punished, and he who is worthy of favor must be favored. Yet at the
same time he teaches to do no injury to any living being but to be
full of love and kindness. These injunctions are not contradictory,
for whosoever must be punished for the crimes which he has
committed, suffers his injury not through the ill-will of the judge but
on account of his evildoing. His own acts have brought upon him
the injury that the executer of the law inflicts. When a magistrate
punishes, let him not harbor hatred in his breast, yet a murderer,
when put to death, should consider that this is the fruit of his own
act. As soon as he will understand that the punishment will purify
his soul, he will no longer lament his fate but rejoice at it."
The Blessed One continued: "The Tathagata teaches that all
warfare in which man tries to slay his brother is lamentable, but he
does not teach that those who go to war in a righteous cause after
having exhausted all means to preserve the peace are blameworthy.
He must be blamed who is the cause of war. The Tathagata teaches
a complete surrender of self, but he does not teach a surrender of
anything to those powers that are evil, be they men or gods or the
elements of nature. Struggle must be, for all life is a struggle of
some kind. But he that struggles should look to it lest he struggle in
the interest of self against truth and righteousness.
"He who struggles in the interest of self, so that he himself
may be great or powerful or rich or famous, will have no reward,
but he who struggles for righteousness and truth, will have great
reward, for even his defeat will be a victory. Self is not a fit vessel
to receive any great success; self is small and brittle and its contents
will soon be spilt for the benefit, and perhaps also for the curse, of
others. Truth, however, is large enough to receive the yearnings and
aspirations of all selves and when the selves break like soap-
bubbles, their contents will be preserved and in the truth they will
lead a life everlasting.
"He who goeth to battle, O Simha, even though it be in a
righteous cause, must be prepared to be slain by his enemies, for
that is the destiny of warriors; and should his fate overtake him he
has no reason for complaint. But he who is victorious should
remember the instability of earthly things. His success may be great,
but be it ever so great the wheel of fortune may turn again and bring
him down into the dust. However, if he moderates himself and,
extinguishing all hatred in his heart lifts his down-trodden adversary
up and says to him, Come now and make peace and let us be
brothers, he will gain a victory that is not a transient success, for its
fruits will remain forever. Great is a successful general, O Simha,
but he who has conquered self is the greater victor.
"The doctrine of the conquest of self, O Simha, is not taught to
destroy the souls of men, but to preserve them. He who has
conquered self is more fit to live, to be successful, and to gain
victories than he who is the slave of self. He whose mind is free
from the illusion of self, will stand and not fall in that battle of life.
He whose intentions are righteousness and justice, will meet with no
failure, but be successful in his enterprises and his success will
endure. He who harbors in his heart love of truth will live and not
die, for he has drunk the water of immortality. Struggle then, O
general, courageously; and fight thy battles vigorously, but be a
soldier of truth and the Tathagata will bless thee."
When the Blessed One had spoken thus, Simha, the general,
said: "Glorious Lord, glorious Lord! Thou hast revealed the truth.
Great is the doctrine of the Blessed One. Thou, indeed, art the
Buddha, the Tathagata, the Holy One. Thou art the teacher of
mankind. Thou showest us the road of salvation, for this indeed is
true deliverance. He who follows thee will not miss the light to
enlighten his path. He will find blessedness and peace. I take my
refuge, Lord, in the Blessed One, and in his doctrine, and in his
brotherhood. May the Blessed One receive me from this day forth
while my life lasts as a disciple who has taken refuge in him."
The Blessed One said: "Consider first, Simha, what thou doest.
It is becoming that persons of rank like thyself should do nothing
without due consideration."
Simha's faith in the Blessed One increased. He replied: "Had
other teachers, Lord, succeeded in making me their disciple, they
would carry around their banners through the whole city of Vesali,
shouting: "Simha the general has become our disciple! For the
second time, Lord, I take my refuge in the Blessed One, and in the
Dharma, and in the Sangha; may the Blessed One receive me from
this day forth while my life lasts as a disciple who has taken his
refuge in him."
Said the Blessed One: "For a long time, Simha, offerings have
been given to the Nigganthas in thy house. Thou shouldst therefore
deem it right also in the future to give them food when they come to
thee on their alms-pilgrimage." And Simha's heart was filled with
joy. He said: "I have been told, Lord: 'The samana Gotama says: To
me alone and to nobody else should gifts be given. My pupils alone
and the pupils of no one else should receive offerings.' But the
Blessed One exhorts me to give also to the Nigganthas. Well, Lord,
we shall see what is seasonable. For the third time, Lord, I take my
refuge in the Blessed One, and in his Dharma, and in his fraternity."
EXISTENCE IS SPIRITUAL
THERE was an officer among the retinue of Simha who had
heard of the discourses of the Blessed One, and there was some
doubt left in his heart. This man came to the Blessed One and said:
"It is said, O Lord, that the samana Gotama denies the existence of
the soul. Do they who say so speak the truth, or do they bear false
witness against the Blessed One
And the Blessed One said: "There is a way in which those who
say so are speaking truly of me; on the other hand, there is a way in
which those who say so do not speak truly of me. The Tathagata
teaches that there is no self. He who says that the soul is his self and
that the self is the thinker of our thoughts and the actor of our deeds,
teaches a wrong doctrine which leads to confusion and darkness. On
the other hand, the Tathagata teaches that there is mind. He who
understands by soul mind, and says that mind exists, teaches the
truth which leads to clearness and enlightenment."
The officer said: "Does, then, the Tathagata maintain that two
things exist? that which we perceive with our senses and that which
Said the Blessed One: "I say to thee, thy mind is spiritual, but
neither is the sense-perceived void of spirituality. The bodhi is
eternal and it dominates all existence as the good law guiding all
beings in their search for truth. It changes brute nature into mind,
and there is no being that cannot be transformed into a vessel of
KUTADANTA, the head of the Brahmans in the village of
Danamati, having approached the Blessed One respectfully, greeted
him and said: "I am told, O samana, that thou art the Buddha, the
Holy One, the All-knowing, the Lord of the world. But if thou wert
the Buddha, wouldst thou not come like a king in all thy glory and
power?" Said the Blessed One: "Thine eyes are holden. If the eye of
thy mind were undimmed thou couldst see the glory and the power
Said Kutadanta: "Show me the truth and I shall see it. But thy
doctrine is without consistency. If it were consistent, it would stand;
but as it is not, it will pass away." The Blessed One replied: "The
truth will never pass away."
Kutadanta said: "I am told that thou teachest the law, yet thou
tearest down religion. Thy disciples despise rites and abandon
immolation, but reverence for the gods can be shown only by
sacrifices. The very nature of religion consists in worship and
sacrifice." Said the Buddha: "Greater than the immolation of
bullocks is the sacrifice of self. He who offers to the gods his evil
desires will see the uselessness of slaughtering animals at the altar.
Blood has no cleansing power, but the eradication of lust will make
the heart pure. Better than worshiping gods is obedience to the laws
Kutadanta, being of a religious disposition and anxious about
his fate after death, had sacrificed countless victims. Now he saw
the folly of atonement by blood. Not yet satisfied, however, with the
teachings of the Tathagata, Kutadanta continued: "Thou believest, O
Master, that beings are reborn; that they migrate in the evolution of
life; and that subject to the law of karma we must reap what we
sow. Yet thou teachest the non-existence of the soul! Thy disciples
praise utter self-extinction as the highest bliss of Nirvana. If I am
merely a combination of the sankharas, my existence will cease
when I die. If I am merely a compound of sensations and ideas and
desires, whither can I go at the dissolution of the body?"
Said the Blessed One: "O Brahman, thou art religious and
earnest. Thou art seriously concerned about thy soul. Yet is thy
work in vain because thou art lacking in the one thing that is
needful. There is rebirth of character, but no transmigration of a
self. Thy thought-forms reappear, but there is no ego-entity
transferred. The stanza uttered by a teacher is reborn in the scholar
who repeats the words.
"Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the
dream that their souls are separate and self-existent entities. Thy
heart, O Brahman, is cleaving still to self; thou art anxious about
heaven but thou seekest the pleasures of self in heaven, and thus
thou canst not see the bliss of truth and the immortality of truth.
"I say to thee: The Blessed One has not come to teach death,
but to teach life, and thou discernest not the nature of living and
dying. This body will be dissolved and no amount of sacrifice will
save it. Therefore, seek thou the life that is of the mind. Where self
is, truth cannot be; yet when truth comes, self will disappear.
Therefore, let thy mind rest in the truth; propagate the truth, put thy
whole will in it, and let it spread. In the truth thou shalt live forever.
Self is death and truth is life. The cleaving to self is a perpetual
dying, while moving in the truth is partaking of Nirvana which is
Then Kutadanta said: "Where, O venerable Master, is
Nirvana?" "Nirvana is wherever the precepts are obeyed replied the
"Do I understand thee aright," rejoined the Brahman, "That
Nirvana is not a place, and being nowhere it is without reality?"
"Thou dost not understand me aright," said the Blessed One, "Now
listen and answer these questions: Where does the wind dwell
"Nowhere," was the reply.
Buddha retorted: "Then, sir, there is no such thing as wind."
Kutadanta made no reply; and the Blessed One asked again:
"Answer me, O Brahman, where does wisdom dwell? Is wisdom a
"Wisdom has no allotted dwelling-place replied Kutadanta.
Said the Blessed One: "Meanest thou that there is no wisdom, no
enlightenment, no righteousness, and no salvation, because Nirvana
is not a locality? As a great and mighty wind which passeth over the
world in the heat of the day, so the Tathagata comes to blow over
the minds of mankind with the breath of his love, so cool, so sweet,
so calm, so delicate; and those tormented by fever assuage their
suffering and rejoice at the refreshing breeze."
Said Kutadanta: "I feel, O Lord, that thou proclaimest a great
doctrine, but I cannot grasp it. Forbear with me that I ask again: Tell
me, O Lord, if there be no atman [soul], how can there be
immortality? The activity of the mind passeth, and our thoughts are
gone when we have done thinking."
Buddha replied: "Our thinking is gone, but our thoughts
continue. Reasoning ceases, but knowledge remains." Said
Kutadanta: "How is that? Are not reasoning and knowledge the
The Blessed One explained the distinction by an illustration:
"It is as when a man wants, during the night, to send a letter, and,
after having his clerk called, has a lamp lit, and gets the letter
written. Then, when that has been done, he extinguishes the lamp.
But though the writing has been finished and the light has been put
out the letter is still there. Thus does reasoning cease and knowledge
remain; and in the same way mental activity ceases, but experience,
wisdom, and all the fruits of our acts endure."
Kutadanta continued: "Tell me, O Lord, pray tell me, where, if
the sankharas are dissolved, is the identity of my self. If my thoughts
are propagated, and if my soul migrates, my thoughts cease to be my
thoughts and my soul ceases to be my soul. Give me an illustration,
but pray, O Lord, tell me, where is the identity of my self?"
Said the Blessed One: "Suppose a man were to light a lamp;
would it burn the night through?" "Yes, it might do so," was the
"Now, is it the same flame that burns in the first watch of the
night as in the second?" Kutadanta hesitated. He thought it is the
same flame, but fearing the complications of a hidden meaning, and
trying to be exact, he said: "No, it is not."
"Then," continued the Blessed One, "there are two flames, one
in the first watch and the other in the second watch." "No, sir," said
Kutadanta. "In one sense it is not the same flame, but in another
sense it is the same flame. It burns the same kind of oil, it emits the
same kind of light, and it serves the same purpose."
"Very well said the Buddha and would you call those flames
the same that have burned yesterday and are burning now in the
same lamp, filled with the same kind of oil, illuminating the same
room?" "They may have been extinguished during the day,"
Said the Blessed One: "Suppose the flame of the first watch
had been extinguished during the second watch, would you call it
the same if it burns again in the third watch?" Replied Kutadanta:
"In one sense it is a different flame, in another it is not."
The Tathagata asked again: "Has the time that elapsed during
the extinction of the flame anything to do with its identity or non-
identity?" "No, sir," said the Brahman, "it has not. There is a
difference and an identity, whether many years elapsed or only one
second, and also whether the lamp has been extinguished in the
meantime or not."
"Well, then, we agree that the flame of today is in a certain
sense the same as the flame of yesterday, and in another sense it is
different at every moment. Moreover, the flames of the same kind,
illuminating with equal power the same kind of rooms, are in a
certain sense the same." "Yes, sir," replied Kutadanta.
The Blessed One continued: "Now, suppose there is a man
who feels like thyself, thinks like thyself, and acts like thyself, is he
not the same man as thou?" "No, sir," interrupted Kutadanta.
Said the Buddha: "Dost thou deny that the same logic holds
good for thyself that holds good for the things of the world?"
Kutadanta bethought himself and rejoined slowly: "No, I do not.
The same logic holds good universally; but there is a peculiarity
about my self which renders it altogether different from everything
else and also from other selves. There may be another man who
feels exactly like me, thinks like me, and acts like me; suppose even
he had the same name and the same kind of possessions, he would
not be myself."
"True, Kutadanta, answered Buddha, he would not be thyself.
Now, tell me, is the person who goes to school one, and that same
person when he has finished his schooling another? Is it one who
commits a crime, another who is punished by having his hands and
feet cut off?" "They are the same, was the reply.
"Then sameness is constituted by continuity only?" asked the
Tathagata. "Not only by continuity," said Kutadanta, but also and
mainly by identity of character."
"Very well, concluded the Buddha, then thou agreest that
persons can be the same, in the same sense as two flames of the
same kind are called the same; and thou must recognize that in this
sense another man of the same character and product of the same
karma is the same as thou." "Well, I do," said the Brahman.
The Buddha continued: "And in this same sense alone art thou
the same today as yesterday. Thy nature is not constituted by the
matter of which thy body consists, but by thy sankharas, the forms
of the body, of sensations, of thoughts. The person is the
combination of the sankharas. Wherever they are, thou art.
Whithersoever they go, thou goest. Thus thou wilt recognize in a
certain sense an identity of thy self, and in another sense a
difference. But he who does not recognize the identity should deny
all identity, and should say that the questioner is no longer the same
person as he who a minute after receives the answer. Now consider
the continuation of thy personality, which is preserved in thy karma.
Dost thou call it death and annihilation, or life and continued life?"
"I call it life and continued life," rejoined Kutadanta, "for it is
the continuation of my existence, but I do not care for that kind of
continuation. All I care for is the continuation of self in the other
sense, which makes of every man, whether identical with me or not,
an altogether different person."
"Very well," said Buddha. "This is what thou desirest and this
is the cleaving to self. This is thy error. All compound things are
transitory: they grow and they decay. All compound things are
subject to pain: they will be separated from what they love and be
joined to what they abhor. All compound things lack a self, an
atman, an ego."
"How is that?" asked Kutadanta. "Where is thy self? asked the
Buddha. And when Kutadanta made no reply, he continued: "Thy
self to which thou cleavest is a constant change. Years ago thou
wast a small babe; then, thou wast a boy; then a youth, and now,
thou art a man. Is there any identity of the babe and the man? There
is an identity in a certain sense only. Indeed there is more identity
between the flames of the first and the third watch, even though the
lamp might have been extinguished during the second watch. Now
which is thy true self, that of yesterday, that of today, or that of
tomorrow, for the preservation of which thou clamorest?" Kutadanta
was bewildered. "Lord of the world," he said, I see my error, but I
am still confused."
The Tathagata continued: "It is by a process of evolution that
sankharas come to be. There is no sankhara which has sprung into
being without a gradual becoming. Thy sankharas are the product of
thy deeds in former existences. The combination of thy sankharas is
thy self. Wheresoever they are impressed thither thy self migrates.
In thy sankharas thou wilt continue to live and thou wilt reap in
future existences the harvest sown now and in the past."
"Verily, O Lord," rejoined Kutadanta, this is not a fair
retribution. I cannot recognize the justice that others after me will
reap what I am sowing now."
The Blessed One waited a moment and then replied: "Is all
teaching in vain? Dost thou not understand that those others are thou
thyself Thou thyself wilt reap what thou sowest, not others. Think of
a man who is ill-bred and destitute, suffering from the wretchedness
of his condition. As a boy he was slothful and indolent, and when he
grew up he had not learned a craft to earn a living. Wouldst thou say
his misery is not the product of his own action, because the adult is
no longer the same person as was the boy?
"I say to thee: Not in the heavens, not in the midst of the sea,
not if thou hidest thyself away in the clefts of the mountains, wilt
thou find a place where thou canst escape the fruit of thine evil
actions. At the same time thou art sure to receive the blessings of
thy good actions. To the man who has long been traveling and who
returns home in safety, the welcome of kinfolk, friends, and
acquaintances awaits. So, the fruits of his good works bid him
welcome who has walked in the path of righteousness, when he
passes over from the present life into the hereafter."
Kutadanta said: "I have faith in the glory and excellency of thy
doctrines. My eye cannot as yet endure the light; but I now
understand that there is no self, and the truth dawns upon me.
Sacrifices cannot save, and invocations are idle talk. But how shall I
find the path to life everlasting? I know all the Vedas by heart and
have not found the truth."
Said the Buddha: "Learning is a good thing; but it availeth not.
True wisdom can be acquired by practice only. Practice the truth
that thy brother is the same as thou. Walk in the noble path of
righteousness and thou wilt understand that while there is death in
self, there is immortality in truth."
Said Kutadanta: "Let me take my refuge in the Blessed One, in
the Dharma, and in the brotherhood. Accept me as thy disciple and
let me partake of the bliss of immortality."
AND the Blessed One thus addressed the brethren: "Those
only who do not believe, call me Gotama, but you call me the
Buddha, the Blessed One, the Teacher. And this is right, for I have
in this life entered Nirvana, while the life of Gotama has been
extinguished. Self has disappeared and the truth has taken its abode
in me. This body of mine is Gotama's body and it will be dissolved
in due time, and after its dissolution no one, neither God nor man,
will see Gotama again. But the truth remains. The Buddha will not
die; the Buddha will continue to live in the holy body of the law.
"The extinction of the Blessed One will be by that passing
away in which nothing remains that could tend to the formation of
another self. Nor will it be possible to point out the Blessed One as
being here or there. But it will be like a flame in a great body of
blazing fire. That flame has ceased; it has vanished and it cannot be
said that it is here or there. In the body of the Dhanna, however, the
Blessed One can be pointed out; for the Dharma has been preached
by the Blessed One.
"You are my children, I am your father; through me you have
been released from your sufferings. I myself having reached the
other shore, help others to cross the stream; I myself having attained
salvation, am a savior of others; being comforted, I comfort others
and lead them to the place of refuge. I shall fill with joy all the
beings whose limbs languish; I shall give happiness to those who
are dying from distress; I shall extend to them succor and
"I was born into the world as the king of truth for the salvation
of the world. The subject on which I meditate is truth. The practice
to which I devote myself is truth. The topic of my conversation is
truth. My thoughts are always in the truth. For lo! my self has
become the truth. Whosoever comprehendeth the truth will see the
Blessed One, for the truth has been preached by the Blessed One."
ONE LAW, ONE AIM
THE Tathagata addressed the venerable Kassapa, to dispel the
uncertainty and doubt of his mind, and he said: "All things are made
of one essence, yet things are different according to the forms which
they assume under different impressions. As they form themselves
so they act, and as they act so they are. It is, Kassapa, as if a potter
made different vessels out of the same clay. Some of these pots are
to contain sugar, others rice, others curds and milk; others still are
vessels of impurity. There is no diversity in the clay used; the
diversity of the pots is only due to the moulding hands of the potter
who shapes them for the various uses that circumstances may
"And as all things originate from one essence, so they are
developing according to one law and they are destined to one aim
which is Nirvana. Nirvana comes to thee, Kassapa, when thou
understandest thoroughly, and when thou livest according to thy
understanding, that all things are of one essence and that there is but
one law. Hence, there is but one Nirvana as there is but one truth,
not two or three.
"And the Tathagata is the same unto all beings, differing in his
attitude only in so far as all beings are different. The Tathagata
recreates the whole world like a cloud shedding its waters without
distinction. He has the same sentiments for the high as for the low,
for the wise as for the ignorant, for the noble-minded as for the
"The great cloud full of rain comes up in this wide universe
covering all countries and oceans to pour down its rain everywhere,
over all grasses, shrubs, herbs, trees of various species, families of
plants of different names growing on the earth, on the hills, on the
mountains, or in the valleys. Then, Kassapa, the grasses, shrubs,
herbs, and wild trees suck the water emitted from that great cloud
which is all of one essence and has been abundantly poured down;
and they will, according to their nature, acquire a proportionate
development, shooting up and producing blossoms and their fruits in
season. Rooted in one and the same soil, all those families of plants
and germs are quickened by water of the same essence.
"The Tathagata, however, O Kassapa, knows the law whose
essence is salvation, and whose end is the peace of Nirvana. He is
the same to all, and yet knowing the requirements of every single
being, he does not reveal himself to all alike. He does not impart to
them at once the fullness of omniscience, but pays attention to the
disposition of various beings."
LESSON GIVEN TO RAHULA
BEFORE Rahula, the son of Gotama Siddhattha and
Yasodhara, attained to the enlightenment of true wisdom, his
conduct was not always marked by a love of truth, and the Blessed
One sent him to a distant vihara to govern his mind and to guard his
tongue. After some time the Blessed One repaired to the place, and
Rahula was filled with joy.
The Blessed One ordered the boy to bring him a basin of water
and to wash his feet, and Rahula obeyed. When Rahula had washed
the Tathagata's feet, the Blessed One asked: "Is the water now fit for
"No, my Lord," replied the boy, "the water is defiled. Then the
Blessed One said: "Now consider thine own case. Although thou art
my son, and the grandchild of a king, although thou art a samana
who has voluntarily given up everything, thou art unable to guard
thy tongue from untruth, and thus defilest thou thy mind." And when
the water had been poured away, the Blessed One asked again: "Is
this vessel now fit for holding water to drink?"
"No, my Lord," replied Rahula, "the vessel, too, has become
unclean." And the Blessed One said: "Now consider thine own case.
Although thou wearest the yellow robe, art thou fit for any high
purpose when thou hast become unclean like this vessel?" Then the
Blessed One, lifting up the empty basin and whirling it round,
asked: "Art thou not afraid lest it shall fall and break?" "No, my
Lord," replied Rahula, it is cheap, its loss will not amount to much."
"Now consider thine own case, said the Blessed One. Thou art
whirled about in endless eddies of transmigration, and as thy body is
made of the same substance as other material things that will
crumble to dust, there is no loss if it be broken. He who is given to
speaking untruths is an object of contempt to the wise."
Rahula was filled with shame, and the Blessed One addressed
him once more: "Listen, and I will tell thee a parable: There was a
king who had a very powerful elephant, able to cope with five
hundred ordinary elephants. When going to war, the elephant was
armed with sharp swords on his tusks, with scythes on his shoulders,
spears on his feet, and an iron ball at his tail. The elephant-master
rejoiced to see the noble creature so well equipped, and, knowing
that a slight wound by an arrow in the trunk would be fatal, he had
taught the elephant to keep his trunk well coiled up. But during the
battle the elephant stretched forth his trunk to seize a sword. His
master was frightened and consulted with the king, and they decided
that the elephant was no longer fit to be used in battle.
"O Rahula! if men would only guard their tongues all would be
well! Be like the fighting elephant who guards his trunk against the
arrow that strikes in the center. By love of truth the sincere escape
iniquity. Like the elephant well subdued and quiet, who permits the
king to mount on his trunk, thus the man that reveres righteousness
will endure faithfully throughout his life." Rahula hearing these
words was filled with deep sorrow; he never again gave any
occasion for complaint, and forthwith he sanctified his life by
THE SERMON ON ABUSE
THE Blessed One observed the ways of society and noticed
how much misery came from malignity and foolish offenses done
only to gratify vanity and self-seeking pride. And the Buddha said:
"If a man foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the
protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him,
the more good shall go from me; the fragrance of goodness always
comes to me, and the harmful air of evil goes to him."
A foolish man learning that the Buddha observed the principle
of great love which commends the return of good for evil, came and
abused him. The Buddha was silent, pitying his folly. When the man
had finished his abuse, the Buddha asked him, saying: "Son, if a
man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it
belong?" And he answered: "In that case it would belong to the man
who offered it."
"My son," said the Buddha thou hast railed at me, but I decline
to accept thy abuse, and request thee to keep it thyself. Will it not be
a source of misery to thee? As the echo belongs to the sound, and
the shadow to the substance, so misery will overtake the evil-doer
The abuser made no reply, and Buddha continued: "A wicked
man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and
spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and
defiles his own person. The slanderer is like one who flings dust at
another when the wind is contrary; the dust does but return on him
who threw it. The virtuous man cannot be hurt and the misery that
the other would inflict comes back on himself." The abuser went
away ashamed, but he came again and took refuge in the Buddha,
the Dharma, and the Sangha.
BUDDHA REPLIES TO THE DEVA
ON a certain day when the Blessed One dwelt at jetavana, the
garden of Anathapindika, a celestial deva came to him in the shape
of a Brahman whose countenance was bright and whose garments
were white like snow. The deva asked questions which the Blessed
The deva said: "What is the sharpest sword? What is the
deadliest poison? What is the fiercest fire? What is the darkest
night?" The Blessed One replied: "A word spoken in wrath is the
sharpest sword; covetousness is the deadliest poison; passion is the
fiercest fire; ignorance is the darkest night."
The deva said: "Who gains the greatest benefit? Who loses
most? Which armor is invulnerable? What is the best weapon?" The
Blessed One replied: "He is the greatest gainer who to others, and he
loses most who greedily receives without gratitude. Patience is an
invulnerable armor; wisdom is the best weapon."
The deva said: "Who is the most dangerous thief? What is the
most precious treasure? Who is most successful in taking away by
violence not only on earth, but also in heaven? What is the securest
treasure-trove?" The Blessed One replied: "Evil thought is the most
dangerous thief; virtue is the most precious treasure. The mind takes
possession of everything not only on earth, but also in heaven, and
immortality is its securest treasure-trove."
The deva said: "What is attractive? What is disgusting? What
is the most horrible pain? What is the greatest enjoyment?" The
Blessed One replied: "Good is attractive; evil is disgusting. A bad
conscience is the most tormenting pain; deliverance is the height of
The deva asked: "What causes ruin in the world? What breaks
off friendships? What is the most violent fever? Who is the best
physician?" The Blessed One replied: "Ignorance causes the ruin of
the world. Envy and selfishness break off friendships. Hatred is the
most violent fever, and the Buddha is the best physician."
The deva then asked and said: "Now I have only one doubt to
be solved; pray, clear it away: What is it fire can neither burn, nor
moisture corrode, nor wind crush down, but is able to reform the
whole world?" The Blessed One replied: "Blessing! Neither fire, nor
moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of a good deed, and
blessings reform the whole world."
The deva, having heard the words of the Blessed One, was full
of exceeding joy. Clasping his hands, he bowed down before him in
reverence, and disappeared suddenly from the presence of the
WORDS OF INSTRUCTION
THE bhikkhus came to the Blessed One, and having saluted
him with clasped hands they said: "O Master, thou all-seeing one,
we all wish to learn; our ears are ready to hear, thou art our teacher,
thou art incomparable. Cut off our doubt, inform us of the blessed
Dharma, O thou of great understanding; speak in the midst of us, O
thou who art all-seeing, as is the thousand-eyed Lord of the gods.
We will ask the muni of great understanding, who has crossed the
stream, gone to the other shore, is blessed and of a firm mind: How
does a bhikkhu wander rightly in the world, after having gone out
from his house and driven away desire?"
The Buddha said: "Let the bhikkhu subdue his passion for
human and celestial pleasures, then, having conquered existence, he
will command the Dhartna. Such a one will wander rightly in the
world. He whose lusts have been destroyed, who is free from pride,
who has overcome all the ways of passion, is subdued, perfectly
happy, and of a firm mind. Such a one will wander rightly in the
world. Faithful is he who is possessed of knowledge, seeing the way
that leads to Nirvana; he who is not a partisan; he who is pure and
virtuous, and has removed the veil from his eyes. Such a one will
wander rightly in the world."
Said the bhikkhus: "Certainly, O Bhagavat, it is so: whichever
bhikkhu lives in this way, subdued and having overcome all bonds,
such a one will wander rightly in the world."
The Blessed One said: "Whatever is to be done by him who
aspires to attain the tranquility of Nirvana let him be able and
upright, conscientious and gentle, and not proud. Let a man's
pleasure be the Dharma, let him delight in the Dharma, let him stand
fast in the Dharma, let him know how to inquire into the Dharma,
let him not raise any dispute that pollutes the Dharma, and let him
spend his time in pondering on the well-spoken truths of the
"A treasure that is laid up in a deep pit profits nothing and may
easily be lost. The real treasure that is laid up through charity and
piety, temperance, self-control, or deeds of merit, is hid secure and
cannot pass away. it is never gained by despoiling or wronging
others, and no thief can steal it. A man, when he dies, must leave the
fleeting wealth of the world, but this treasure of virtuous acts he
takes with him. Let the wise do good deeds; they are a treasure that
can never be lost."
Then the bhikkhus praised the wisdom of the Tathagata: "Thou
hast passed beyond pain; thou art holy, O Enlightened One, we
consider thee one that has destroyed his passions. Thou art glorious,
thoughtful, and of great understanding. O thou who puttest an end to
pain, thou hast carried us across our doubt. Because thou sawest our
longing and carriedst us across our doubt, adoration be to thee, O
muni, who hast attained the highest good in the ways of wisdom.
The doubt we had before, thou hast cleared away, O thou clearly-
seeing one; surely thou art a great thinker, perfectly enlightened,
there is no obstacle for thee. All thy troubles are scattered and cut
off; thou art calm, subdued, firm, truthful.
Adoration be to thee, O noble sage, adoration be to thee, O
thou best of beings; in the world of men and gods there is none
equal to thee. Thou art the Buddha, thou art the Master, thou art the
muni that conquers Mara; after having cut off desire thou hast
crossed over and carriest this generation to the other shore."
THE UNBOUNDED LIGHT
ONE of the disciples came to the Blessed One with a trembling
heart and his mind full of doubt. And he asked the Blessed One: "O
Buddha, our Lord and Master, in what way do we give up the
pleasures of the world, if thou forbiddest us to work miracles and to
attain the supernatural? Is not Amitabha, the infinite light of
revelation, the source of innumerable miracles?"
And the Blessed One, seeing the anxiety of a truth seeking
mind, said: "O savaka, thou art a novice among the novices, and
thou art swimming on the surface of samsara. How long will it take
thee to grasp the truth? Thou hast not understood the words of the
Tathagata. The law of karma is unbreakable, and supplications have
no effect, for they are empty words."
Said the disciple: "Sayest thou there are no miraculous and
The Blessed One replied: "Is it not a wonderful thing,
mysterious and miraculous to the worldling, that a man who
commits wrong can become a saint, that by attaining true
enlightenment he will find the path of truth and abandon the evil
ways of selfishness? The bhikkhu who renounces the transient
pleasures of the world for the eternal bliss of holiness, performs the
only miracle that can truly be called a miracle. A holy man changes
the curses of karma into blessings. But the desire to perform
miracles arises either from covetousness or from vanity. The
mendicant does right who does not think: "People should salute me;
who, though despised by the world, yet cherishes no ill-will towards
it. That mendicant does right to whom omens, meteors, dreams, and
signs are things abolished; he is free from all their evils. Amitabha,
the unbounded light, is the source of wisdom, of virtue, of
Buddhahood. The deeds of sorcerers and miracle-mongers are
frauds, but what is more wondrous, more mysterious, more
miraculous than Amitabha?"
"But, Master," continued the savaka, is the promise of the
happy region vain talk and a myth?"
"What is this promise?" asked the Buddha; and the disciple
replied: "There is in the west a paradise called the Pure Land,
exquisitely adorned with gold and silver and precious gems. There
are pure waters with golden sands, surrounded by pleasant walks
and covered with large lotus flowers. Joyous music is heard, and
flowers rain down three times a day. There are singing birds whose
harmonious notes proclaim the praises of religion, and in the minds
of those who listen to their sweet sounds, remembrance arises of the
Buddha, the law, and the brotherhood. No evil birth is possible
there, and even the name of hell is unknown. He who fervently and
with a pious mind repeats the words 'Amitabha Buddha' will be
transported to the happy region of this pure land, and when death
draws nigh, the Buddha, with a company of saintly followers, will
stand before him, and there will be perfect tranquility."
"In truth," said the Buddha, "there is such a happy paradise.
But the country is spiritual and it is accessible only to those that are
spiritual. Thou sayest it lies in the west. This means, look for it
where he who enlightens the world resides. The sun sinks down and
leaves us in utter darkness, the shades of night steal over us, and
Mara, the evil one, buries our bodies in the grave. Sunset is
nevertheless no extinction, and where we imagine we see extinction,
there is boundless light and inexhaustible life."
"I understand," said the savaka that the story of the Western
Paradise is not literally true."
"Thy description of paradise," the Buddha continued, "is
beautiful; yet it is insufficient and does little justice to the glory of
the pure land. The worldly can speak of it in a worldly way only;
they use worldly similes and worldly words. But the pure land in
which the pure live is more beautiful than thou canst say or imagine.
However, the repetition of the name Amitabha Buddha is
meritorious only if thou speak it with such a devout attitude of mind
as will cleanse thy heart and attune thy will to do works of
righteousness. He only can reach the happy land whose soul is filled
with the infinite light of truth. He only can live and breathe in the
spiritual atmosphere of the Western Paradise who has attained
enlightenment. I say to thee, the Tathagata lives in the pure land of
eternal bliss even now while he is still in the body. The Tathagata
preaches the law of religion unto thee and unto the whole world, so
that thou and thy brethren may attain the same peace, the same
Said the disciple: "Teach me, O Lord, the meditations to which
I must devote myself in order to let my mind enter into the paradise
of the pure land."
Buddha said: "There are five meditations. The first meditation
is the meditation of love in which thou must so adjust thy heart that
thou longest for the weal and welfare of all beings, including the
happiness of thine enemies.
"The second meditation is the meditation of pity, in which thou
thinkest of all beings in distress, vividly representing in thine
imagination their sorrows and anxieties so as to arouse a deep
compassion for them in thy soul.
"The third meditation is the meditation of joy in which thou
thinkest of the prosperity of others and rejoicest with their
"The fourth meditation is the meditation on impurity, in which
thou considerest the evil consequences of corruption, the effects of
wrongs and evils. How trivial is often the pleasure of the moment
and how fatal are its consequences!
"The fifth meditation is the meditation on serenity, in which
thou risest above love and hate, tyranny and thraldom, wealth and
want, and regardest thine own fate with impartial calmness and
"A true follower of the Tathagata founds not his trust upon
austerities or rituals, but giving up the idea of self relies with his
whole heart upon Amitabha, which is the unbounded light of truth."
The Blessed One after having explained his doctrine of
Amitabha, the immeasurable light which makes him who receives it
a Buddha, looked into the heart of his disciple and saw still some
doubts and anxieties. And the Blessed One said: "Ask me, my son,
the questions which weigh upon thy soul."
The disciple said: "Can a humble monk, by sanctifying
himself, acquire the talents of supernatural wisdom called Abhinnas
and the supernatural powers called Iddhi? Show me the Iddhi-pada,
the path to the highest wisdom. Open to me the Jhanas which are the
means of acquiring samadhi, the fixity of mind which enraptures the
soul. And the Blessed One said: "Which are the Abhinnas?"
The disciple replied: "There are six Abhinnas: The celestial
eye; the celestial ear; the body at will or the power of
transformation; the knowledge of the destiny of former dwellings, so
as to know former states of existence; the faculty of reading the
thoughts of others; and the knowledge of comprehending the finality
of the stream of life."
And the Blessed One replied: "These are wondrous things; but
verily, every man can attain them. Consider the abilities of thine
own mind; thou wert born about two hundred leagues from here and
canst thou not in thy thought, in an instant travel to thy native place
and remember the details of thy father's home? Seest thou not with
thy mind eye the roots of the tree which is shaken by the wind
without being overthrown? Does not the collector of herbs see in his
mental vision, whenever he pleases, any plant with its roots, its
stern, its fruits, leaves, and even the uses to which it can be applied?
Cannot the man who understands languages recall to his mind any
word whenever he pleases, knowing its exact meaning and import?
How much more does the Tathagata understand the nature of things;
he looks into the hearts of men and reads their thoughts. He knows
the evolution of beings and foresees their ends."
Said the disciple: "Then the Tathagata teaches that man can
attain through the Jhanas the bliss of Abhinna." And the Blessed
One asked in reply: "Which are the Jhanas through which man
The disciple replied: "There are four Jhanas. The first Jhana is
seclusion in which one must free his mind from sensuality; the
second Jhana is a tranquility of mind full of joy and gladness; the
third Jhana is a taking delight in things spiritual; the fourth Jhana is
a state of perfect purity and peace in which the mind is above all
gladness and grief."
"Good, my son," enjoined the Blessed One. "Be sober and
abandon wrong practices which serve only to stultify the mind."
Said the disciple: "Forbear with me, O Blessed One, for I have faith
without understanding and I am seeking the truth. O Blessed One, O
Tathagata, my Lord and Master, teach me the Iddhipada."
The Blessed One said: "There are four means by which Iddhi is
acquired: Prevent bad qualities from arising. Put away bad qualities
which have arisen. Produce goodness that does not yet exist.
Increase goodness which already exists.-Search with sincerity, and
persevere in the search. In the end thou wilt find the truth."
THE TEACHER UNKNOWN
THE Blessed One said to Ananda: "There are various kinds of
assemblies, O Ananda; assemblies of nobles, of Brahmans, of
householders, of bhikkhus, and of other beings. When I used to enter
an assembly, I always became, before I seated myself, in color like
unto the color of my audience, and in voice like unto their voice. I
spoke to them in their language and then with religious discourse I
instructed, quickened, and gladdened them.
"My doctrine is like the ocean, having the same eight
wonderful qualities. Both the ocean and my doctrine become
gradually deeper. Both preserve their identity under all changes.
Both cast out dead bodies upon the dry land. As the great rivers,
when falling into the main, lose their names and are thenceforth
reckoned as the great ocean, so all the castes, having renounced
their lineage and entered the Sangha, become brethren and are
reckoned the sons of Sakyamuni. The ocean is the goal of all
streams and of the rain from the clouds, yet is it never overflowing
and never emptied: so the Dharma is embraced by many millions of
people, yet it neither increases nor decreases. As the great ocean has
only one taste, the taste of salt, so my doctrine has only one flavor,
the flavor of emancipation. Both the ocean and the Dharma are full
of gems and pearls and jewels, and both afford a dwelling-place for
mighty beings. These are the eight wonderful qualities in which my
doctrine resembles the ocean.
"My doctrine is pure and it makes no discrimination between
noble and ignoble, rich and poor. My doctrine is like unto water
which cleanses all without distinction. My doctrine is like unto fire
which consumes all things that exist between heaven and earth,
great and small. My doctrine is like unto the heavens, for there is
room in it, ample room for the reception of all, for men and women,
boys and girls, the powerful and the lowly.
"But when I spoke, they knew me not and would say, 'Who
may this be who thus speaks, a man or a god?' Then having
instructed, quickened, and gladdened them with religious discourse,
I would vanish away. But they knew me not, even when I vanished
THE Blessed One thought: "I have taught the truth which is
excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in
the end; it is glorious in its spirit and glorious in its letter. But
simple as it is, the people cannot understand it. I must speak to them
in their own language. I must adapt my thoughts to their thoughts.
They are like unto children, and love to hear tales. Therefore, I will
tell them stories to explain the glory of the Dharma. If they cannot
grasp the truth in the abstract arguments by which I have reached it,
they may nevertheless come to understand it, if it is illustrated in
THE WIDOW'S MITE, AND THE THREE MERCHANTS
THERE was once a lone widow who was very destitute, and
having gone to the mountain she beheld hermits holding a religious
assembly. Then the woman was filled with joy, and uttering praises,
said, It is well, holy priests! but while others give precious things
such as the ocean caves produce, I have nothing to offer." Having
spoken thus and having searched herself in vain for something to
give, she recollected that some time before she had found in a dung-
heap two coppers, so taking these she offered them forthwith as a
gift to the priesthood in charity.
The superior of the priests, a saint who could read the hearts of
men, disregarding the rich gifts of others and beholding the deep
faith dwelling in the heart of this poor widow, and wishing the
priesthood to esteem rightly her religious merit, burst forth with full
voice in a canto. He raised his right hand and said, "Reverend
priests attend!" and then he proceeded:
"The poor coppers of this widow
To all purpose are more worth
Than all the treasures of the oceans
And the wealth of the broad earth.
an act of pure devotion
She has done a pious deed;
She has attained salvation,
Being free from selfish greed."
The woman was mightily strengthened in her mind by this
thought, and said, It is even as the Teacher says: what I have done is
as much as if a rich man were to give up all his wealth."
And the Teacher said: "Doing good deeds is like hoarding up
treasures, and he expounded this truth in a parable: "Three
merchants set out on their travels each with his wealth; one of them
gained much, the second returned with his wealth, and the third one
came home after having lost his wealth. What is true in common life
applies also to religion.
"The wealth is the state a man has reached, the gain is heaven;
the loss of his wealth means that a man will be reborn in a lower
state, as a denizen of hell or as an animal. These are the courses that
are open to the sinner.
"He who brings back his wealth, like unto one who is born
again as a man. Those who through the exercise of various virtues
become pious householders will be born again as men, for all beings
will reap the fruit of their actions. But he who increases his wealth
is like unto one who practices eminent virtues. The virtuous,
excellent man attains in heaven to the glorious state of the gods."
MAN BORN BLIND
THERE was a man born blind, and he said: "I do not believe in
the world of light and appearance. There are no colors, bright or
somber. There is no sun, no moon, no stars. No one has witnessed
these things." His friends remonstrated with him, but he clung to his
opinion: "What you say that you see," he objected, "are illusions. If
colors existed I should be able to touch them. They have no
substance and are not real. Everything real has weight, but I feel no
weight where you see colors."
A physician was called to see the blind man. He mixed four
simples, and when he applied them to the cataract of the blind man
the gray film melted, and his eyes acquired the faculty of sight. The
Tathagata is the physician, the cataract is the illusion of the thought
"I am," and the four simples are the four noble truths.
THERE was a householder's son who went away into a distant
country, and while the father accumulated immeasurable riches, the
son became miserably poor. And the son while searching for food
and clothing happened to come to the country in which his father
lived. The father saw him in his wretchedness, for he was ragged
and brutalized by poverty, and ordered some of his servants to call
him. When the son saw the place to which he was conducted, he
thought, "I must have evoked the suspicion of a powerful man, and
he will throw me into prison." Full of apprehension he made his
escape before he had seen his father.
Then the father sent messengers out after his son, who was
caught and brought back in spite of his cries and lamentations.
Thereupon the father ordered his servants to deal tenderly with his
son, and he appointed a laborer of his son's rank and education to
employ the lad as a helpmate on the estate. And the son was pleased
with his new situation. From the window of his palace the father
watched the boy, and when he saw that he was honest and
industrious, he promoted him higher and higher.
After some time, he summoned his son and called together all
his servants, and made the secret known to them. Then the poor man
was exceedingly glad and he was full of joy at meeting his father.
Just so little by little, must the minds of men be trained for higher
THERE was a bhikkhu who had great difficulty in keeping his
senses and passions under control; so, resolving to leave the Order,
he came to the Blessed One to ask him for a release from the vows.
And the Blessed One said to the bhikkhu: "Take heed, my son, lest
thou fall a prey to the passions of thy misguided heart. For I see that
in former existences, thou hast suffered much from the evil
consequences of lust, and unless thou learnest to conquer thy
sensual desire, thou wilt in this life be ruined through thy folly.
"Listen to a story of another existence of thine, as a fish. The
fish could be seen swimming lustily in the river, playing with his
mate. She, moving in front, suddenly perceived the meshes of a net,
and slipping around escaped the danger; but he, blinded by love,
shot eagerly after her and fell straight into the mouth of the net. The
fisherman pulled the net up, and the fish, who complained bitterly of
his sad fate, saying, 'this indeed is the bitter fruit of my folly,' would
surely have died if the Bodhisattva had not chanced to come by, and,
understanding the language of the fish, took pity on him. He bought
the poor creature and said to him: 'My good fish, had I not caught
sight of thee this day, thou wouldst have lost thy life. I shall save
thee, but henceforth avoid the evil of lust.' With these words he
threw the fish into the water.
"Make the best of the time of grace that is offered to thee in
thy present existence, and fear the dart of passion which, if thou
guard not thy senses, will lead thee to destruction."
CRUEL CRANE OUTWITTED
A TAILOR who used to make robes for the brotherhood was
wont to cheat his customers, and thus prided himself on being
smarter than other men. But once, on entering upon an important
business transaction with a stranger, he met his master in the way of
cheating, and suffered a heavy loss.
The Blessed One said: "This is not an isolated incident in the
greedy tailor's fate; in other incarnations he suffered similar losses,
and by trying to dupe others ultimately ruined himself. This same
greedy character lived many generations ago as a crane near a pond,
and when the dry season set in he said to the fishes with a bland
voice: care you not anxious for your future welfare There is at
present very little water and still less food in this pond. What will
you do should the whole pond become dry, in this drought?' 'Yes,
indeed' said the fishes what should we do?' Replied the crane: 'I
know a fine, large lake, which never becomes dry. Would you not
like me to carry you there in my beak?' When the fishes began to
distrust the honesty of the crane, he proposed to have one of them
sent over to the lake to see it; and a big carp at last decided to take
the risk for the sake of the others, and the crane carried him to a
beautiful lake and brought him back in safety. Then all doubt
vanished, and the fishes gained confidence in the crane, and now the
crane took them one by one out of the pond and devoured them on a
"There was also a lobster in the pond, and when the crane
wanted to eat him too, he said: 'I have taken all the fishes away and
put them in a fine, large lake. Come along. I shall take thee, too!'
'But how wilt thou hold me to carry me along?' asked the lobster. 'I
shall take hold of thee with my beak, said the crane. 'Thou wilt let
me fall if thou carry me like that. I will not go with thee!' replied the
lobster. 'Thou needst not fear,' rejoined the crane; 'I shall hold thee
quite tight all the way.'
"Then said the lobster to himself: 'If this crane once gets hold
of a fish, he will certainly never let him go in a lake! Now if he
should really put me into the lake it would be splendid; but if he
does not, then I will cut his throat and kill him!' So he said to the
crane: 'Look here, friend, thou wilt not be able to hold me tight
enough; but we lobsters have a famous grip. If thou wilt let me catch
hold of thee round the neck with my claws, I shall be glad to go with
"The crane did not see that the lobster was trying to outwit
him, and agreed. So the lobster caught hold of his neck with his
claws as securely as with a pair of blacksmith's pincers, and called
out: 'Ready, ready, go!' crane took him and showed him the lake,
and then turned off toward the varana-tree. 'My dear uncle!' cried
the lobster, "The lake lies that way, but thou art taking me this other
way.' Answered the crane: 'Thinkest so? Am I thy dear uncle? Thou
meanest me to understand, I suppose, that I am thy slave, who has to
lift thee up and carry thee about with him, where thou pleasest! Now
cast thine eye upon that heap of fish-bones at the root of yonder
varana-tree. Just as I have eaten those fish, every one of them, just
so will I devour thee also!'
"'Ah! those fishes got eaten through their own stupidity,
answered the lobster, 'but I am not going to let thee kill me. On the
contrary, it is thou that I am going to destroy. For thou, in thy folly,
hast not seen that I have outwitted thee. If we die, we both die
together; for I will cut off this head of thine and cast it to the
ground!' So saying, he gave the crane's neck a pinch with his claws
as with a vise.
"Then gasping, and with tears trickling from his eyes, and
trembling with the fear of death, the crane besought the lobster,
saying: 'O, my Lord! Indeed I did not intend to eat thee. Grant me
my life!' 'Very well! fly down and put me into the lake,' replied the
lobster. And the crane turned round and stepped down into the lake,
to place the lobster on the mud at its edge. Then the lobster cut the
crane's neck through as clean as one would cut a lotus-stalk with a
hunting-knife, and then entered the water!"
When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he added: "Not
now only was this man outwitted in this way, but in other
existences, too, by his own intrigues."
FOUR KINDS OF MERIT
THERE was a rich man who used to invite all the Brahmans of
the neighborhood to his house, and, giving them rich gifts, offered
great sacrifices to the gods.
But the Blessed One said: "If a man each month repeat a
thousand sacrifices and give offerings without ceasing, he is not
equal to him who but for one moment fixes his mind upon
righteousness." The Buddha continued: "There are four kinds of
offering: first, when the gifts are large and the merit small;
secondly, when the gifts are small and the merit small; thirdly, when
the gifts are small and the merit large; and fourthly, when the gifts
are large and the merit is also large.
"The first is the case of the deluded man who takes away life
for the purpose of sacrificing to the gods, accompanied by carousing
and feasting. Here the gifts are great, but the merit is small indeed.
Next, the gifts are small and the merit is also small, when from
covetousness and an evil heart a man keeps to himself a part of that
which he intends to offer.
"The merit is great, however, while the gift is small, when a
man makes his offering from love and with a desire to grow in
wisdom and in kindness. And lastly, the gift is large and the merit is
large, when a wealthy man, in an unselfish spirit and with the
wisdom of a Buddha, gives donations and founds institutions for the
best of mankind to enlighten the minds of his fellow-men and to
administer unto their needs."
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
THERE was a certain Brahman in Kosambi, a wrangler and
well versed in the Vedas. As he found no one whom he regarded his
equal in debate he used to carry a lighted torch in his hand, and
when asked for the reason of his strange conduct, he replied: 'The
world is so dark that I carry this torch to light it up, as far as I can."
A samana sitting in the market-place heard these words and said:
"My friend, if thine eyes are blind to the sight of the omnipresent
light of the day, do not call the world dark. Thy torch adds nothing
to the glory of the sun and thy intention to illumine the minds of
others is as futile as it is arrogant." Whereupon the Brahman asked:
"Where is the sun of which thou speakest?" And the samana replied:
"The wisdom of the Tathagata is the sun of the mind. His radiancy
is glorious by day and night, and he whose faith is strong will not
lack light on the path to Nirvana where he will inherit bliss
WHILE the Buddha was preaching his doctrine for the
conversion of the world in the neighborhood of Savatthi, a man of
great wealth who suffered from many ailments came to him with
clasped hands and said: "World-honored Buddha, pardon me for my
want of respect in not saluting thee as I ought but I suffer greatly
from obesity, excessive drowsiness, and other complaints, so that I
cannot move without pain."
The Tathagata, seeing the luxuries with which the man was
surrounded asked him: "Hast thou a desire to know the cause of thy
ailments?" And when the wealthy man expressed his willingness to
learn, the Blessed One said: "There are five things which produce
the condition of which thou complainest: opulent dinners, love of
sleep, hankering after pleasure, thoughtlessness, and lack of
occupation. Exercise self-control at thy meals, and take upon thyself
some duties that will exercise thy abilities and make thee useful to
thy fellow-men. In following this advice thou wilt prolong thy life."
The rich man remembered the words of the Buddha and after
some time having recovered his lightness of body and youthful
buoyancy returned to the World-honored One and, coming afoot
without horses and attendants, said to him: "Master, thou hast cured
my bodily ailments; I come now to seek enlightenment of my mind."
And the Blessed One said: "The worldling nourishes his body,
but the wise man nourishes his mind. He who indulges in the
satisfaction of his appetites works his own destruction; but he who
walks in the path will have both the salvation from evil and a
prolongation of life."
COMMUNICATION OF BLISS
ANNABHARA, the slave of Sumana, having just cut the grass
on the meadow, saw a samana with his bowl begging for food.
Throwing down his bundle of hay he ran into the house and returned
with the rice that had been provided for his own food. The samana
ate the rice and gladdened him with words of religious comfort.
The daughter of Sumana having observed the scene from a
window called out: "Good! Annabhara, good! Very good!" Sumana
hearing these words inquired what she meant, and on being
informed about Annabhara's devotion and the words of comfort he
had received from the samana, went to his slave and offered him
money to divide the bliss of his offering. "My lord, said Annabhara,
let me first ask the venerable man." And approaching the samana, he
said: "My master has asked me to share with him the bliss of the
offering I made thee of my allowance of rice. Is it right that I should
divide it with him?"
The samana replied in a parable. He said: "In a village of one
hundred houses a single light was burning. Then a neighbor came
with his lamp and lit it; and in this same way the light was
communicated from house to house and the brightness in the village
was increased. Thus the light of religion may be diffused without
stinting him who communicates it. Let the bliss of thy offering also
be diffused. Divide it."
Annabhara returned to his master's house and said to him: "I
present thee, my lord, with a share of the bliss of my offering. Deign
to accept it." Sumana accepted it and offered his slave a sum of
money, but Annabhara replied: "Not so, my lord; if I accept thy
money it would appear as if I sold thee my share. Bliss cannot be
sold; I beg thou wilt accept it as a gift." The master replied:
"Brother Annabhara, from this day forth thou shalt be free. Live
with me as my friend and accept this present as a token of my
THERE was a rich Brahman, well advanced in years, who,
unmindful of the impermanence of earthly things and anticipating a
long life, had built himself a large house. The Buddha wondered
why a man so near to death had built a mansion with so many
apartments, and he sent Ananda to the rich Brahman to preach to
him the four noble truths and the eightfold path of salvation. The
Brahman showed Ananda his house and explained to him the
purpose of its numerous chambers, but to the instruction of the
Buddha's teachings he gave no heed. Ananda said: "It is the habit of
I fools to say, 'I have children and wealth.' He who says so is not
even master of himself; how can he claim possession of children,
riches, and servants? Many are the anxieties of the worldly, but they
know nothing of the changes of the future."
Scarcely had Ananda left, when the old man was stricken with
apoplexy and fell dead. The Buddha said, for the instruction of those
who were ready, to learn: "A fool, though he live in the company of
the wise, understands nothing of the true doctrine, as a spoon tastes
not the flavor of the soup. He thinks of himself only, and unmindful
of the advice of good counselors is unable to deliver himself."
RESCUE IN THE DESERT
THERE was a disciple of the Blessed One, full of energy and
zeal for the truth, who, living under a vow to complete a meditation
in solitude, flagged in a moment of weakness. He said to himself:
"The Teacher said there are several kinds of men; I must belong to
the lowest class and fear that in this birth there will be neither path
nor fruit for me. What is the use of a hermit's life if I cannot by
constant endeavor attain the insight of meditation to which I have
devoted myself?" And he left the solitude and returned to the
When the brethren saw him they said to him: "Thou hast done
wrong, O brother, after taking a vow, to give up the attempt of
carrying it out"; and they took him to the Master. When the Blessed
One saw them he said: "I see, O mendicants, that you have brought
this brother here against his will. What has he done?"
"Lord, this brother, having taken the vows of sanctifying a
faith, has abandoned the endeavor to accomplish the aim of a
member of the order, and has come back to us." Then the Teacher
said to him: Is it true that thou hast given up trying?"
"It is true, O Blessed One I was the reply.
The Master said: "This present life of thine is a time of grace.
If thou fail now to reach the happy state thou wilt have to suffer
remorse in future existences. How is it, brother, that thou hast
proved so irresolute? Why, in former states of existence thou wert
full of determination. By thy energy alone the men and bullocks of
five hundred wagons obtained water in the sandy desert, and were
saved. How is it that thou now givest up?" By these few words that
brother was re-established in his resolution. But the others besought
the Blessed One, saying: "Lord! Tell us how this was."
"Listen, then, O mendicants!" said the Blessed One; and
having thus excited their attention, he made manifest a thing
concealed by change of birth. Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta
was reigning in Kasi, the Bodhisattva was born in a merchant's
family; and when he grew up, he went about trafficking with five
hundred carts. One day he arrived at a sandy desert many leagues
across. The sand in that desert was so fine that when taken in the
closed fist it could not be kept in the hand. After the sun had risen it
became as hot as a mass of burning embers, so that no man could
walk on it. Those, therefore, who had to travel over it took wood,
and water, and oil, and rice in their carts, and traveled during the
night. And at daybreak they formed an encampment and spread an
awning over it, and, taking their meals early, they passed the day
lying in the shade. At sunset they supped, and when the ground had
become cool they yoked their oxen and went on. The traveling was
like a voyage over the sea: a desert-pilot had to be chosen, and he
brought the caravan safe to the other side by his knowledge of the
"Thus the merchant of our story crossed the desert. And when
he had passed over fifty-nine leagues he thought, "Now, in one more
night we shall get out of the sand, and after supper he directed the
wagons to be yoked, and so set out. The pilot had cushions arranged
on the foremost cart and lay down, looking at the stars and directing
the men where to drive. But worn out by want of rest during the long
march, he fell asleep, and did not perceive that the oxen had turned
round and taken the same road by which they had come. The oxen
went on the whole night through. Towards dawn the pilot woke up,
and, observing the stars, called out: "Stop the wagons, stop the
wagons!" The day broke just as they stopped and were drawing up
the carts in a line. Then the men cried out: "Why, this is the very
encampment we left yesterday! We have but little wood left and our
water is all gone! We are lost!" And unyoking the oxen and
spreading the canopy over their heads, they lay down in
despondency, each one under his wagon.
But the Bodhisattva said to himself, "If I lose heart, all these
will perish, and walked about while the morning was yet cool. On
seeing a tuft of kusa-grass, he thought: "This could have grown only
by soaking up some water which must be beneath it." And he made
them bring a spade and dig in that spot. And they dug sixty cubits
deep. And when they had got thus far, the spade of the diggers
struck on a rock; and as soon as it struck, they all gave up in
despair. But the Bodhisattva thought, "There must be water under
that rock," and descending into the well he got upon the stone, and
stooping down applied his ear to it and tested the sound of it. He
heard the sound of water gurgling beneath, and when he got out he
called his page. "My lad, if thou givest up now, we shall all be lost.
Do not lose heart. Take this iron hammer, and go down into the pit,
and give the rock a good blow."
The lad obeyed, and though they all stood by in despair, he
went down full of determination and struck at the stone. The rock
split in two and fell below, so that it no longer blocked the stream,
and water rose till its depth from the bottom to the brim of the well
was equal to the height of a palm-tree. And they all drank of the
water, and bathed in it. Then they cooked rice and ate it, and fed
their oxen with it. And when the sun set, they put a flag in the well,
and went to the place appointed. There they sold their merchandise
at a good profit and returned to their home, and when they died they
passed away according to their deeds. And the Bodhisattva gave
gifts and did other virtuous acts, and he also passed away according
to his deeds.
After the Teacher had told the story he formed the connection
by saying in conclusion, "The caravan the Bodhisattva, the future
Buddha; the page who at that time despaired not, but broke the
stone, and gave water to the multitude, was this brother without
perseverance; and the other men were attendants on the Buddha."
BHARADVAJA, a wealthy Brahman farmer, was celebrating
his harvest-thanksgiving when the Blessed One came with his alms-
bowl, begging for food. Some of the people paid him reverence, but
the Brahman was angry and said: "O samana, it would be more
fitting for thee to go to work than to beg. I plough and sow, and
having ploughed and sown, I eat. If thou didst likewise, thou, too,
wouldst have something to eat."
The Tathagata answered him and said: "O Brahman, if too,
plough and sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat." "Dost thou
profess to be a husbandman?" replied the Brahman. "Where, then,
are thy bullocks? Where is the seed and the plough?"
The Blessed One said: "Faith is the seed I sow: good works are
the rain that fertilizes it; wisdom and modesty are the plough; my
mind is the guiding-rein; I lay hold of the handle of the law;
earnestness is the goad I use, and exertion is my draught-ox. This
ploughing is ploughed to destroy the weeds of illusion. The harvest
it yields is the immortal fruits of Nirvana, and thus all sorrow ends."
Then the Brahman poured rice-milk into a golden bowl and offered
it to the Blessed One, saying: "Let the Teacher of mankind partake
of the rice-milk, for the venerable Gotama ploughs a ploughing that
bears the fruit of immortality."
WHEN Bhagavat dwelt at Savatthi in the Jetavana, he went out
with his alms-bowl to beg for food and approached the house of a
Brahman priest while the fire of an offering was blazing upon the
altar. And the priest said: "Stay there, O shaveling; stay there, O
wretched samana; thou art an outcast."
The Blessed One replied: "Who is an outcast? An outcast is the
man who is angry and bears hatred; the man who is wicked and
hypocritical, he who embraces error and is full of deceit. Whosoever
is a provoker and is avaricious, has evil desires, is envious, wicked,
shameless, and without fear to commit wrong, let him be known as
an outcast. Not by birth does one become an outcast, not by birth
does one become a Brahman; by deeds one becomes an outcast, by
deeds one becomes a Brahman."
WOMAN AT THE WELL
ANANDA, the favorite disciple of the Buddha, having been
sent by the Lord on a mission, passed by a well near a village, and
seeing Pakati, a girl of the Matanga caste, he asked her for water to
drink. Pakati said: "O Brahman, I am too humble and mean to give
thee water to drink, do not ask any service of me lest thy holiness be
contaminated, for I am of low caste." And Ananda replied: "I ask
not for caste but for water"; and the Matanga girl's heart leaped
joyfully and she gave Ananda to drink.
Ananda thanked her and went away; but she followed him at a
distance. Having heard that Ananda was a disciple of Gotama
Sakyamuni, the girl repaired to the Blessed One and cried: "O Lord
help me, and let me live in the place where Ananda thy disciple
dwells, so that I may see him and minister unto him, for I love
Ananda." The Blessed One understood the emotions of her heart and
he said: "Pakati, thy heart is full of love, but thou understandest not
thine own sentiments. It is not Ananda that thou lovest, but his
kindness. Accept, then, the kindness thou hast seen him practice
unto thee, and in the humility of thy station practice it unto others.
Verily there is great merit in the generosity of a king when he is
kind to a slave; but there is a greater merit in the slave when he
ignores the wrongs which he suffers and cherishes kindness and
good-will to all mankind. He will cease to hate his oppressors, and
even when powerless to resist their usurpation will with compassion
pity their arrogance and supercilious demeanor.
"Blessed art thou, Pakati, for though thou art a Matanga thou
wilt be a model for noblemen and noble women. Thou art of low
caste, but Brahmans may learn a lesson from thee. Swerve not from
the path of justice and righteousness and thou wilt outshine the royal
glory of queens on the throne." PEACEMAKER
IT is reported that two kingdoms were on the verge of war for
the possession of a certain embankment which was disputed by
them. And the Buddha seeing the kings and their armies ready to
fight, requested them to tell him the cause of their quarrels. Having
heard the complaints on both sides, he said:
"I understand that the embankment has value for some of your
people; has it any intrinsic value aside from its service to your
"It has no intrinsic value whatever was the reply.
The Tathagata continued: "Now when you go to battle is it not
sure that many of your men will be slain and that you yourselves, O
kings, are liable to lose your lives?" And they said: "It is sure that
many will be slain and our own lives be jeopardized."
"The blood of men, however," said Buddha, "has it less
intrinsic value than a mound of earth?" "No," the kings said, "The
lives of men and above all the lives of kings, are priceless." Then
the Tathagata concluded: care you going to stake that which is
priceless against that which has no intrinsic value whatever?-The
wrath of the two monarchs abated, and they came to a peaceable
THERE was a great king who oppressed his people and was
hated by his subjects; yet when the Tathagata came into his
kingdom, the king desired much to see him. So he went to the place
where the Blessed One stayed and asked: "O Sakyamuni, canst thou
teach a lesson to the king that will divert his mind and benefit him at
the same time?"
And the Blessed One said: "I shall tell thee the parable of the
hungry dog: There was a wicked tyrant; and the god Indra, assuming
the shape of a hunter, came down upon earth with the demon Matali,
the latter appearing as a dog of enormous size. Hunter and dog
entered the palace, and the dog howled so woefully that the royal
buildings shook by the sound to their very foundations. The tyrant
had the awe-inspiring hunter brought before his throne and inquired
after the cause of the terrible bark. The hunter said, "The dog is
hungry," whereupon the frightened king ordered food for him. All
the food prepared at the royal banquet disappeared rapidly in the
dog's jaws, and still he howled with portentous significance. More
food was sent for, and all the royal store-houses were emptied, but
in vain. Then the tyrant grew desperate and asked: 'Will nothing
satisfy the cravings of that woeful beast?' "Nothing," replied the
hunter, nothing except perhaps the flesh of all his enemies.' 'And
who are his enemies?' anxiously asked the tyrant. The hunter
replied: 'The dog will howl as long as there are people hungry in the
kingdom, and his enemies are those who practice injustice and
oppress the poor." The oppressor of the people, remembering his
evil deeds, was seized with remorse, and for the first time in his life
he began to listen to the teachings of righteousness."
Having ended his story, the Blessed One addressed the king,
who had turned pale, and said to him: "The Tathagata can quicken
the spiritual ears of the powerful, and when thou, great king, hearest
the dog bark, think of the teachings of the Buddha, and thou mayest
still learn to pacify the monster."
KING BRAHMADATTA happened to see a beautiful woman,
the wife of a Brahman merchant and, conceiving a passion for her
ordered a precious jewel secretly to be dropped into the merchant's
carriage. The jewel was missed, searched for, and found. The
merchant was arrested on the charge of stealing, and the king
pretended to listen with great attention to the defense, and with
seeming regret ordered the merchant to be executed, while his wife
was consigned to the royal harem.
Brahmadatta attended the execution in person, for such sights
were wont to give him pleasure, but when the doomed man looked
with deep compassion at his infamous judge, a flash of the Buddha's
wisdom lit up the king's passion beclouded mind; and while the
executioner raised the sword for the fatal stroke, Brahmadatta felt
the effect in his own mind, and he imagined he saw himself on the
block. "Hold, executioner!" shouted Brahmadatta, it is the king
whom thou slayest!" But it was too late! The executioner had done
the bloody deed. The king fell back in a swoon, and when he awoke
a change had come over him. He had ceased to be the cruel despot
and henceforth led a life of holiness and rectitude. The people said
that the character of the Brahman had been impressed into his mind.
O you who commit murders and robberies! The evil of self-
delusion covers your eyes. If you could see things as they are, not as
they appear, you would no longer inflict injuries and pain on your
own selves. You see not that you will have to atone for your evil
deeds, for what you sow you will reap. VASAVADATTA
THERE was a courtesan in Mathura named Vasavadatta. She
happened to see Upagutta, one of Buddha's disciples, a tall and
beautiful youth, and fell desperately in love with him. sent an
invitation to the young man, but he replied: "The time has not yet
arrived when Upagutta will visit Vasavadatta." The courtesan was
astonished at the reply, and she sent again for him, saying:
"Vasavadatta desires love, not gold, from Upagutta." But Upagutta
made the same enigmatic reply and did not come.
A few months later Vasavadatta was having a love intrigue
with the chief of the artisans. But at that time a wealthy merchant
came to Mathura, and fell in love with Vasavadatta. Seeing his
wealth, and fearing the jealousy of her other lover, she contrived the
death of the chief of the artisans, and concealed his body under a
dung-hill. When the chief of the artisans had disappeared, his
relatives and friends searched for him and found his body.
Vasavadatta was tried by a judge, and condemned to have her ears
and nose, her hands and feet cut off, and flung into a graveyard.
Vasavadatta had been a passionate girl, but kind to her servants, and
one of her maids followed her, and out of love for her former
mistress ministered to her in her agonies, and chased away the
Now the time had arrived when Upagutta decided to visit
Vasavadatta. When he came, the poor woman ordered her maid to
collect and hide under a cloth her severed limbs; and he greeted her
kindly, but she said with petulance: "Once this body was fragrant
like the lotus, and I offered thee my love. In those days I was
covered with pearls and fine muslin. Now I am mangled by the
executioner and covered with filth and blood."
"Sister," said the young man, "it is not for my pleasure that I
approach thee. It is to restore to thee a nobler beauty than the
charms which thou hast lost. I have seen with mine eyes the
Tathagata walking upon earth and teaching men his wonderful
doctrine. But thou wouldst not have listened to the words of
righteousness while surrounded with temptations while under the
spell of passion and yearning for worldly pleasures. Thou wouldst
not have listened to the teachings of the Tathagata, for thy heart was
wayward, and thou didst set thy trust on the sham of thy transient
charms. The charms of a lovely form are treacherous, and quickly
lead into temptations, which have proved too strong for thee. But
there is a beauty which will not fade, and if thou wilt but listen to
the doctrine of our Lord, the Buddha, thou wilt find that peace
which thou wouldst have found in the restless world of sinful
Vasavadatta became calm and a spiritual happiness soothed
the tortures of her bodily pain; for where there is much suffering
there is also great bliss. Having taken refuge in the Buddha, the
Dharma, and the Sangha, she died in pious submission to the
punishment of her crime.
MARRIAGE-FEAST IN JAMBUNADA
THERE was a man in Jambunada who was to be married the
next day, and he thought, "Would that the Buddha, the Blessed One,
might be present at the wedding." And the Blessed One passed by
his house and met him, and when he read the silent wish in the heart
of the bridegroom, he consented to enter. When the When the Holy
One appeared with the retinue of his many bhikkhus, the host,
whose means were limited, received them as best he could, saying:
"Eat, my Lord, and all thy congregation, according to your desire."
While the holy men ate, the meats and drinks remained
undiminished, and the host thought to himself: "How wondrous is
this! I should have had plenty for all my relatives and friends.
Would that I had invited them all. all." When this thought was in the
host's mind, all his relatives and friends entered the house; and
although the hall in the house was small there was room in it for all
of them. They sat down at the table and ate, and there was more than
enough for all of them. The Blessed One was pleased to see so many
guests full of good cheer and he quickened them and gladdened
them with words of truth, proclaiming the bliss of righteousness:
"The greatest happiness which a mortal man can imagine is the
bond of marriage that ties together two loving hearts. But there is a
greater happiness still: it is the embrace of truth. Death will separate
husband and wife, but death will never affect him who has espoused
the truth. Therefore be married unto the truth and live with the truth
in holy wedlock. The husband who loves his wife and desires for a
union that shall be everlasting must be faithful to her so as to be like
truth itself, and she will rely upon him and revere him and minister
unto him. And the wife who loves her husband and desires a union
that shall be everlasting must be faithful to him so as to be like truth
itself; and he will place his trust in her, he will provide for her.
Verily, I say unto you, their children will become like their parents
and will bear witness to their happiness. Let no man be single, let
every one be wedded in holy love to the truth. And when Mara, the
destroyer, comes to separate the visible forms of your being, you
will continue to live in the truth, and will partake of the life
everlasting, for the truth is immortal."
There was no one among the guests but was strengthened in
his, spiritual life, and recognized the sweetness of a life of
righteousness; and they took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and
IN SEARCH OF A THIEF
HAVING sent out his disciples, the Blessed One himself
wandered from place to place until he reached Uruvela. On his way
he sat down in a grove to rest, and it happened that in that same
grove was a party of thirty friends who were enjoying themselves
with their wives; and while they were sporting, some of their goods
were stolen. Then the whole party went in search of the thief and,
meeting the Blessed One sitting under a tree, saluted him and said:
"Pray, Lord, didst thou see the thief pass by with our goods?"
And the Blessed One said: "Which is better for you, that you
go in search for the thief or for yourselves?" And the youths cried:
"In search for ourselves!"
"Well then," said the Blessed One "sit down and I will preach
the truth to you." And the whole party sat down and they listened
eagerly to the words of the Blessed One. Having grasped the truth,
they praised the doctrine and took refuge in the Buddha.
THE REALM OF YAMARAJA
THERE was a Brahman, a religious man and fond in his
affections but without deep wisdom. He had a son of great promise,
who, when seven years old, was struck with a fatal disease and died.
The unfortunate father was unable to control himself; he threw
himself upon the corpse and lay there as one dead. The relatives
came and buried the dead child and when the father came to himself,
he was so immoderate in his grief that he behaved like an insane
person. He no longer gave way to tears but wandered about asking
for the residence of Yamaraja, the king of death, humbly to beg of
him that his child might be allowed to return to life.
Having arrived at a great Brahman temple the sad father went
through certain religious rites and fell asleep. While wandering on
in his dream he came to a deep mountain pass where he met a
number of samanas who had acquired supreme wisdom. "Kind sirs,"
he said, "Can you not tell me where the residence of Yamaraja is?"
And they asked him, "Good friend, why wouldst thou know?"
Whereupon he told them his sad story and explained his intentions.
Pitying his self-delusion, the samanas said: "No mortal man can
reach the place where Yama reigns, but some four hundred miles
westward lies a great city in which many good spirits live; every
eighth day of the month Yama visits the place, and there mayst thou
see him who is the King of Death and ask him for a boon."
The Brahman rejoicing at the news went to the city and found
it as the samanas had told him. He was admitted to the dread
presence of Yama, the King of Death, who, on hearing his request,
said: "Thy son now lives in the eastern garden where he is
disporting himself; go there and ask him to follow thee." Said the
happy father: "How does it happen that my son, without having
performed one good work, is now living in paradise?" Yamaraja
replied: "He has obtained celestial happiness not for performing
good deeds, but because he died in faith and in love to the Lord and
Master, the most glorious Buddha. The Buddha says: 'The heart of
love and faith spreads as it were a beneficent shade from the world
of men to the world of gods.' This glorious utterance is like the
stamp of a king's seal upon a royal edict."
The happy father hastened to the place and saw his be beloved
child playing with other children, all transfigured by the peace of
the blissful existence of a heavenly life. He ran up to his boy and
cried with tears running down his cheeks: "My son, my son, dost
thou not remember me, thy father who watched over thee with
loving care and tended thee in thy sickness? Return home with me to
the land of the living." But the boy, while struggling to go back to
his playmates, upbraided him for using such strange expressions as
father and son. "In my present state, he said, "I know no such words,
for I am free from delusion."
On this, the Brahman departed, and when he woke from his
dream he bethought himself of the Blessed Master of mankind, the
great Buddha, and resolved to go to him, lay bare his grief, and seek
consolation. Having arrived at the Jetavana, the Brahman told his
story and how his boy had refused to recognize him and to go home
And the World-honored One said: "Truly thou art deluded.
When man dies the body is dissolved into its elements, but the spirit
is not entombed. It leads a higher mode of life in which all the
relative terms of father, son, wife, mother, are at an end, just as a
guest who leaves his lodging has done with it, as though it were a
thing of the past. Men concern themselves most about that which
passes away; but the end of life quickly comes as a burning torrent
sweeping away the transient in a moment. They are like a blind man
set to look after a burning lamp. A wise man, understanding the
transiency of worldly relations, destroys the cause of grief, and
escapes from the seething whirlpool of sorrow. Religious wisdom
lifts a man above the pleasures and pains of the world and gives him
peace everlasting." The Brahman asked the permission of the
Blessed One to enter the community of his bhikkhus, so as to
acquire that heavenly wisdom which alone can give comfort to an
THERE was a rich man who found his gold suddenly
transformed into ashes; and he took to his bed and refused all food.
A friend, hearing of his sickness, visited the rich man and learned
the cause of his grief. And the friend said: "Thou didst not make
good use of thy wealth. When thou didst hoard it up it was not better
than ashes. Now heed my advice. Spread mats in the bazaar; pile up
these ashes, and pretend to trade with them." The rich man did as his
friend had told him, and when his neighbors asked him, "Why
sellest thou ashes?" he said: "I offer my goods for sale."
After some time a young girl, named Kisa Gotami, an orphan
and very poor, passed by, and seeing the rich man in the bazaar,
said: "My lord, why pilest thou thus up gold and silver for sale?"
And the rich man said: "Wilt thou please hand me that gold and
silver?" And Kisa Gotami took up a handful of ashes, and lo! they
changed back into gold. Considering that Kisa Gotami had the
mental eye of spiritual knowledge and saw the real worth of things,
the rich man gave her in marriage to his son, and he said: "With
many, gold is no better than ashes, but with Kisa Gotami ashes
become pure gold."
And Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she
carried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for
medicine, and the people said: "She has lost her senses. The boy is
dead. At length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request:
"I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician
who can." The girl said: "Pray tell me, sir; who is it?" And the man
replied: "Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha."
Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried: "Lord and
Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy." The Buddha
answered: "I want a handful of mustard-seed." And when the girl in
her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added: "The mustard-
seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child,
husband, parent, or friend." Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house
to house, and the people pitied her and said: "Here is mustard-seed;
take it!" But when she asked Did a son or daughter, a father or
mother, die in your family?" They answered her: "Alas the living are
few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our deepest grief."
And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it.
Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the
wayside, watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and
were extinguished again. At last the darkness of the night reigned
everywhere. And she considered the fate of men, that their lives
flicker up and are extinguished. And she thought to herself: "How
selfish am I in my grief! Death is common to all; yet in this valley of
desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has
surrendered all selfishness."
Putting away the selfishness of her affection for her child, Kisa
Gotami had the dead body buried in the forest. Returning to the
Buddha, she took refuge in him and found comfort in the Dharma,
which is a balm that will soothe all the pains of our troubled hearts.
The Buddha said: "The life of mortals in this world is troubled
and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by
which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old
age there is death; of such a nature are living beings. As ripe fruits
are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in
danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in
being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both
those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power
of death; all are subject to death.
"Of those who, overcome by death, depart from life, a father
cannot save his son, nor kinsmen their relations. Mark I while
relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by one mortals
are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. So the world is
afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve,
knowing the terms of the world. In whatever manner people think a
thing will come to pass, it is often different when it happens, and
great is the disappointment; see, such are the terms of the world.
"Not from weeping nor from grieving will any one obtain
peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his
body will suffer. He will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead
are not saved by his lamentation. People pass away, and their fate
after death will be according to their deeds. If a man live a hundred
years, or even more, he will at last be separated from the company
of his relatives, and leave the life of this world. He who seeks peace
should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief.
He who has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will
obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become
free from sorrow, and be blessed."
SOUTH of Savatthi is a great river, on the banks of which lay
a hamlet of five hundred houses. Thinking of the salvation of the
people, the World-honored One resolved to go to the village and
preach the doctrine. Having come to the riverside he sat down
beneath a tree, and the villagers seeing the glory of his appearance
approached him with reverence; but when he began to preach, they
believed him not.
When the world-honored Buddha had left Savatthi Sariputta
felt a desire to see the Lord and to hear him preach. Coming to the
river where the water was deep and the current strong, he said to
himself: "This stream shall not prevent me. I shall go and see the
Blessed One, and he stepped upon the water which was as firm
under his feet as a slab of granite. When he arrived at a place in the
middle of the stream where the waves were high, Sariputta's heart
gave way, and he began to sink. But rousing his faith and renewing
his mental effort, he proceeded as before and reached the other
The people of the village were astonished to see Sariputta, and
they asked how he could cross the stream where there was neither a
bridge nor a ferry. Sariputta replied: "I lived in ignorance until I
heard the voice of the Buddha. As I was anxious to hear the doctrine
of salvation, I crossed the river and I walked over its troubled waters
because I had faith. Faith. nothing else, enabled me to do so, and
now I am here in the bliss of the Master's presence."
The World-honored One added: "Sariputta, thou hast spoken
well. Faith like thine alone can save the world from the yawning
gulf of migration and enable men to walk dryshod to the other
shore." And the Blessed One urged to the villagers the necessity of
ever advancing in the conquest of sorrow and of casting off all
shackles so as to cross the river of worldliness and attain
deliverance from death. Hearing the words of the Tathagata, the
villagers were filled with joy and believing in the doctrines of the
Blessed One embraced the five rules and took refuge in his name.
THE SICK BHIKKHU
AN old bhikkhu of a surly disposition was afflicted with a
loathsome disease the sight and smell of which was so nauseating
that no one would come near him or help him in his distress. And it
happened that the World-honored One came to the vihara in which
the unfortunate man lay; hearing of the case he ordered warm water
to be prepared and went to the sick-room to administer unto the
sores of the patient with his own hand, saying to his disciples:
"The Tathagata has come into the world to befriend the poor,
to succor the unprotected, to nourish those in bodily affliction, both
the followers of the Dharma and unbelievers, to give sight to the
blind and enlighten the minds of the deluded, to stand up for the
rights of orphans as well as the aged, and in so doing to set an
example to others. This is the consummation of his work, and thus
he attains the great goal of life as the rivers that lose themselves in
The World-honored One administered unto the sick bhikkhu
daily so long as he stayed in that place. And the governor of the city
came to the Buddha to do him reverence and having heard of the
service which the Lord did in the vihara asked the Blessed One
about the previous existence of the sick monk, and the Buddha said:
"In days gone by there was a wicked king who used to extort
from his subjects all he could get; and he ordered one of his officers
to lay the lash on a man of eminence. The officer little thinking of
the pain he inflicted upon others, obeyed; but when the victim of the
king's wrath begged for mercy, he felt compassion and laid the whip
lightly upon him. Now the king was reborn as Devadatta, who was
abandoned by all his followers, because they were no longer willing
to stand his severity, and he died miserable and full of penitence.
The officer is the sick bhikkhu, who having often given offense to
his brethren in the vihara was left without assistance in his distress.
The eminent man, however, who was unjustly beaten and begged for
mercy was the Bodhisattva; he has been reborn as the Tathagata. It
is now the lot of the Tathagata to help the wretched officer as he had
mercy on him."
And the World-honored One repeated these lines: "He who
inflicts pain on the gentle, or falsely accuses the innocent, will
inherit one of the ten great calamities. But he who has learned to
suffer with patience will be purified and will be the chosen
instrument for the alleviation of suffering."
The diseased bhikkhu on hearing these words turned to the
Buddha, confessed his ill-natured temper and repented, and with a
heart cleansed from error did reverence unto the Lord.
WHILE the Blessed One was residing in the Jetavana, there
was a householder living in Savatthi known to all his neighbors as
patient and kind, but his relatives were wicked and contrived a plot
to rob him. One day they came to the householder and by worrying
him with all kinds of threats took away a goodly portion of his
property. He did not go to court, nor did he complain, but tolerated
with great forbearance the wrongs he suffered. The neighbors
wondered and began to talk about it, and rumors of the affair
reached the ears of the brethren in Jetavana. While the brethren
discussed the occurrence in the assembly hall, the Blessed One
entered and asked "What was the topic of your conversation?" And
they told him.
Said the Blessed One: "The time will come when the wicked
relatives will find their punishment. O brethren, this is not the first
time that this occurrence took place; it has happened before," and he
told them a world-old tale: Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta
was king of Benares, the Bodhisattva was born in the Himalaya
region as an elephant. He grew up strong and big, and ranged the
hills and mountains, the peaks and caves of the torturous woods in
the valleys. Once as he went he saw a pleasant tree, and took his
food, standing under it. Then some impertinent monkeys came down
out of the tree, and jumping on the elephant's back, insulted and
tormented him greatly; they took hold of his tusks, pulled his tail
and disported themselves, thereby causing him much annoyance.
The Bodhisattva, being full of patience, kindliness and mercy, took
no notice at all of their misconduct which the monkeys repeated
again and again.
"One day the spirit that lived in the tree, standing upon the
tree-trunk, addressed the elephant saying, 'My lord elephant, why
dost thou put up with the impudence of these bad monkeys?' And he
asked the question in a couplet as follows:
"'Why do you patiently endure each freak
These mischievous and selfish monkeys wreak?'
"The Bodhisattva, on hearing this, replied, If, Tree sprite, I
cannot endure these monkeys' ill treatment without abusing their
birth, lineage and persons, how can I walk in the eightfold noble
path? But these monkeys will do the same to others thinking them to
be like me. If they do it to any rogue elephant, he will punish them
indeed, and I shall be delivered both from their annoyance and the
guilt of having done harm to others.' Saying this he repeated another
they will treat another one like me,
He will destroy them; and I shall be free.
days after, the Bodhisattva went elsewhere, and
another elephant, a savage beast, came and stood in his place. The
wicked monkeys thinking him to be like the old one, climbed upon
his back and did as before. The rogue elephant seized the monkeys
with his trunk, threw them upon the ground, gored them with his
tusk and trampled them to mincemeat under his feet."
When the Master had ended this teaching, he declared the
truths, and identified the births, saying: "At that time the
mischievous monkeys were the wicked relatives of the good man,
the rogue elephant was the one who will punish them, but the
virtuous noble elephant was the Tathagata himself in a former
After this discourse one of the brethren rose and asked leave to
propose a question and when the permission was granted he said: "I
have heard the doctrine that wrong should be met with wrong and
the evil doer should be checked by being made to suffer, for if this
were not done evil would increase and good would disappear. What
shall we do?" Said the Blessed One: "Nay, I will tell you You who
have left the world and have adopted this glorious faith of putting
aside selfishness, you shall not do evil for evil nor return hate for
hate. Neither think that you can destroy wrong by retaliating evil for
evil and thus increasing wrong. Leave the wicked to their fate and
their evil deeds will sooner or later in one way or another bring on
their own punishment." And the Tathagata repeated these stanzas:
"Who harms the man who does no harm,
Or strikes at him who strikes him not,
Shall soon some punishment incur
Which his own wickedness begot,-
of the gravest ills in life,
Either a loathsome dread disease,
Or sad old age, or loss of mind,
Or wretched pain without surcease,
"Or conflagration, loss of wealth;
Or of his nearest kin he shall
See some one die that's dear to him,
And then he'll be reborn in hell."
WHEN the Blessed One was residing on the mounted called
Vulture's Peak, near Rajagaha, Ajatasattu king of Magadha, who
reigned in the place of Bimbisara, planned an attack on the Vajjis,
and he said to Vassakara, his prime mister: "I will root out the
Vajjis, mighty though they be. I will destroy the Vajjis; I will bring
them to utter ruin! Come now, O Brahman, and go to the Blessed
One; inquire in my name for his health, and tell him my purpose.
Bear carefully in mind what the Blessed One may say, and repeat it
to me, for the Buddhas speak nothing untrue."
When Vassakara, the prime minister, had greeted the Blessed
One and delivered his message, the venerable Ananda stood behind
the Blessed One and fanned him, and the Blessed One said to him:
"Hast thou heard, Ananda, that the Vajjis hold full and frequent
public assemblies?" He replied, "Lord, so I have heard."
"So long, Ananda," said the Blessed One, "as the Vajjis hold
these full and frequent public assemblies, they may be expected not
to decline, but to prosper. So long as they meet together in concord,
so long as they honor their elders, so long as they respect
womanhood, so long as they remain religious, performing all proper
rites, so long as they extend the rightful protection, defense and
support to the holy ones, the Vajjis may be expected not to decline,
but to prosper." Then the Blessed One addressed Vassakara and
said: "When I stayed, O Brahman, at Vesali, I taught the Vajjis
these conditions of welfare, that so long as they should remain well
instructed, so long as they will continue in the right path, so long as
they live up to the precepts of righteousness, we could expect them
not to decline, but to prosper."
As soon as the king's messenger had gone, the Blessed One
had the brethren, that were in the neighborhood of Rajagaha,
assembled in the service-hall and addressed them, saying: "I will
teach you, O bhikkhus, the conditions of the welfare of a
community. Listen well, and I will speak.
"So long, O bhikkhus, as the brethren hold full and frequent
assemblies, meeting in concord, rising in concord, and attending in
concord to the affairs of the Sangha; so long as they, O bhikkhus, do
not abrogate that which experience has proved to be good, and
introduce nothing except such things as have been carefully tested;
so long as their elders practice justice; so long as the brethren
esteem, revere, and support their elders, and hearken unto their
words; so long as the brethren are not under the influence of
craving, but delight in the blessings of religion, so that good and
holy men shall come to them and dwell among them in quiet; so
long as the brethren shall not be addicted to sloth and idleness; so
long as the brethren shall exercise themselves in the sevenfold
higher wisdom of mental activity, search after truth, energy, joy,
modesty, self-control, earnest contemplation, and equanimity of
mind, so long the Sangha may be expected to prosper. Therefore, O
bhikkhus, be full of faith, modest in heart, afraid of sin, anxious to
learn, strong in energy, active in mind, and full of wisdom.
THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the
brethren to Nalanda; and there he stayed in a mango grove. Now the
venerable Sariputta came to the place where the Blessed One was,
and having saluted him, took his seat respectfully at his side, and
said: "Lord! such faith have I in the Blessed One, that methinks
there never has been, nor will there be, nor is there now any other,
who is greater or wiser than the Blessed One, that is to say, as
regards the higher wisdom."
Replied the Blessed One: "Grand and bold are the words of thy
mouth, Sariputta: verily, thou hast burst forth into a song of ecstasy!
Surely then thou hast known all the Blessed Ones who in the long
ages of the past have been holy Buddhas?" "Not so, O Lord!" said
And the Lord continued: "Then thou hast perceived all the
Blessed Ones who in the long ages of the future shall be holy
Buddhas?" "Not so, O Lord!"
"But at least then, O Sariputta, thou knowest me as the holy
Buddha now alive, and hast penetrated my mind." "Not even that, O
"Thou seest then, Sariputta, that thou knowest not the hearts of
the holy Buddhas of the past nor the hearts of those of the future.
Why, therefore, are thy words so grand and bold? Why burstest thou
forth into such a song of ecstasy?"
"O Lord! I have not the knowledge of the hearts of all the
Buddhas that have been and are to come, and now are. I only know
the lineage of the faith. Just as a king, Lord, might have a border
city, strong in its foundations, strong in its ramparts and with one
gate only; and the king might have a watchman there, clever, expert,
and wise, to stop all strangers and admit only friends. And on going
over the approaches all about the city, he might not be able so to
observe all the joints and crevices in the ramparts of that city as to
know where such a small creature as a cat could get out. That might
well be. Yet all living beings of larger size that entered or left the
city, would have to pass through that gate. Thus only is it, Lord, that
I know the lineage of the faith. I know that the holy Buddhas of the
past, putting away all lust, ill-will, sloth, pride, and doubt, knowing
all those mental faults which make men weak, training their minds
in the four kinds of mental activity, thoroughly exercising
themselves in the sevenfold higher wisdom, received the full fruition
of Enlightenment. And I know that the holy Buddhas of the times to
come will do the same. And I know that the Blessed One, the holy
Buddha of today, has done so now."
"Great is thy faith, O Sariputta," replied the Blessed One, "but
take heed that it be well grounded."
VISIT TO PATALIPUTTA
WHEN the Blessed One had stayed as long as convenient at
Nalanda, he went to Pataliputta, the frontier town of Magadha; and
when the disciples at Pataliputta heard of his arrival, they invited
him to their village rest-house. And the Blessed One robed himself,
took his bowl and went with the brethren to the rest-house. There he
washed his feet, entered the hall, and seated himself against the
center pillar, with his face towards the east. The brethren, also,
having washed their feet, entered the hall, and took their seats round
the Blessed One, against the western wall, facing the east. And the
lay devotees of Pataliputta, having also washed their feet, entered
the hall, and took their seats opposite the Blessed One against the
eastern wall, facing towards the west.
Then the Blessed One addressed the lay-disciples of
Pataliputta, and he said: "Fivefold O householders, is the loss of the
wrong-doer through his want of rectitude. In the first place, the
wrong-doer, devoid of rectitude, falls into great poverty through
sloth; in the next place, his evil repute gets noised abroad; thirdly,
whatever society he enters, whether of Brahmans, nobles, heads of
houses, or samanas, he enters shyly and confusedly; fourthly, he is
full of anxiety when he dies; and lastly, on the dissolution of the
body after death, his mind remains in an unhappy state. Wherever
his karma continues, there will be suffering and woe. This, O
householders, is fivefold loss of the evil-doer!
"Fivefold, O householders, is the gain of the well-doer through
his practice of rectitude. In the first place the well doer, strong in
rectitude, acquires property through his industry; in the next place,
good reports of him are spread abroad; thirdly, whatever society he
enters, whether of nobles, Brahmans, heads of houses, or members
of the order, he enters with confidence and self-possession; fourthly,
he dies without anxiety; and, lastly, on the dissolution of the body
after death, his mind remains in a happy state. Wherever his karma
continues, there will be heavenly bliss and peace. This, O
householders, is the fivefold gain of the well doer." When the
Blessed One had taught the disciples, and incited them, and roused
them, and gladdened them far into the night with religious
edification, he dismissed them, saying, "The night is far spent, O
householders. It is time for you to do what ye deem most fit."
"Be it so, Lord!" answered the disciples of Pataliputta, and
rising from their seats, they bowed to the Blessed One, and keeping
him on their right hand as they passed him, they departed thence.
While the Blessed One stayed at Pataliputta, the king of
Magadha sent a messenger to the governor of Pataliputta to raise
fortifications for the security of the town. The Blessed One seeing
the laborers at work predicted the future greatness of the place,
saying: "The men who build the fortress act as if they had consulted
higher powers. For this city of Pataliputta will be a dwelling-place
of busy men and a center for the exchange of all kinds of goods. But
three dangers hang over Pataliputta, that of fire, that of water, that
When the governor heard of the prophecy of Pataliputta's
future, he greatly rejoiced and named the city-gate through which
the Buddha had gone towards the river Ganges, "The Gotama Gate."
Meanwhile the people living on the banks of the Ganges arrived in
great numbers to pay reverence to the Lord of the world; and many
persons asked him to do them the honor to cross over in their boats.
But the Blessed One considering the number of the boats and their
beauty did not want to show any partiality, and by accepting the
invitation of one to offend all the others. He therefore crossed the
river without any boat, signifying thereby that the rafts of asceticism
and the gaudy gondolas of religious ceremonies were not staunch
enough to weather the storms of samsara, while the Tathagata can
walk dry-shod over the ocean of worldliness. And as the city gate
was called after the name of the Tathagata so the people called this
passage of the river "Gotama Ford."
THE MIRROR OF TRUTH
THE Blessed One proceeded to the village Nadika with a great
company of brethren and there he stayed at the Brick Hall. And the
venerable Ananda went to the Blessed One and mentioning to him
the names of the brethren and sisters that had died, anxiously
inquired about their fate after death, whether they had been reborn
in animals or in hell, or as ghosts, or in any place of woe.
The Blessed One replied to Ananda and said: "Those who have
died after the complete destruction of the three bonds of lust, of
covetousness and of the egotistical cleaving to existence, need not
fear the state after death. They will not be reborn in a state of
suffering; their minds will not continue as a karma of evil deeds or
sin, but are assured of final salvation.
"When they die, nothing will remain of them but their good
thoughts, their righteous acts, and the bliss that proceeds from truth
and righteousness. As rivers must at last reach the distant main, so
their minds will be reborn in higher states of existence and continue
to be pressing on to their ultimate goal which is the ocean of truth,
the eternal peace of Nirvana. Men are anxious about death and their
fate after death; but consider, it is not at all strange, Ananda, that a
human being should die. However, that thou shouldst inquire about
them, and having heard the truth still be anxious about the dead, this
is wearisome to the Blessed One. I will, therefore, teach thee the
mirror of truth and let the faithful disciple repeat it:
"'Hell is destroyed for me, and rebirth as an animal, or a ghost,
or in any place of woe. I am converted; I am no longer liable to be
reborn in a state of suffering, and am assured of final salvation.'
"What, then, Ananda, is this mirror of truth? It is the
consciousness that the elect disciple is in this world possessed of
faith in the Buddha, believing the Blessed One to be the Holy One,
the Fully-enlightened One, wise, upright, happy, world-knowing,
supreme, the Bridler of men's wayward hearts, the Teacher of gods
and men, the blessed Buddha. It is further the consciousness that the
disciple is possessed of faith in the truth believing the truth to have
been proclaimed by the Blessed One, for the benefit of the world,
passing not away, welcoming all, leading to salvation, to which
through truth the wise will attain, each one by his own efforts.
"And, finally, it is the consciousness that the disciple is
possessed of faith in the order, believing in the efficacy of a union
among those men and women who are anxious to walk in the noble
eightfold path; believing this church of the Buddha, of the righteous,
the upright, the just, the law abiding, to be worthy of honor, of
hospitality, of gifts, and of reverence; to be the supreme sowing-
ground of merit for the world; to be possessed of the virtues beloved
by the good, virtues unbroken, intact, unspotted, unblemished,
virtues which make men truly free, virtues which are praised by the
wise, are untarnished by the desire of selfish aims, either now or in a
future life, or by the belief in the efficacy of outward acts, and are
conducive to high and holy thought. This is the mirror of truth
which teaches the straightest way to enlightenment which is the
common goal of all living creatures. He who possesses the mirror of
truth is free from fear; he will find comfort in the tribulations of life,
and his life will be a blessing to all his fellow-creatures."
THE COURTESAN AMBAPALI
THEN the Blessed One proceeded with a great number of
brethren to Vesali, and he stayed at the grove of the courtesan
Ambapali. And he said to the brethren: "Let a brother, O bhikkhus,
be mindful and thoughtful. Let a brother, whilst in the world,
overcome the grief which arises from bodily craving, from the lust
of sensations, and from the errors of wrong reasoning. Whatever you
do, act always in full presence of mind. Be thoughtful in eating and
drinking, in walking or standing, in sleeping or waking, while
talking or being silent."
When the courtesan Ambapali heard that the Blessed One was
staying in her mango grove, she was exceedingly glad and went in a
carriage as far as the ground was passable for carriages. There she
alighted and thence proceeding to the place where the Blessed One
was, she took her seat respectfully at his feet on one side. As a
prudent woman goes forth to perform her religious duties, so she
appeared in a simple dress without any ornaments, yet beautiful to
look upon. The Blessed One thought to himself: "This woman
moves in worldly circles and is a favorite of kings and princes; yet
is her heart calm and composed. Young in years, rich, surrounded
by pleasures, she is thoughtful and steadfast. This, indeed, is rare in
the world. Women, as a rule, are scant in wisdom and deeply
immersed in vanity; but she, although living in luxury, has acquired
the wisdom of a master, taking delight in piety, and able to receive
the truth in its completeness."
When she was seated, the Blessed One instructed, aroused, and
gladdened her with religious discourse. As she listened to the law,
her face brightened with delight. Then she rose and said to the
Blessed One: "Will the Blessed One do me the honor of taking his
meal, together with the brethren, at my house tomorrow?" And the
Blessed One gave, by silence, his consent.
Now, the Licchavi, a wealthy family of princely rank, hearing
that the Blessed One had arrived at Vesali and was staying at
Ambapali's grove, mounted their magnificent carriages, and
proceeded with their retinue to the place where the Blessed One
was. The Licchavi were gorgeously dressed in bright colors and
decorated with costly jewels. And Ambapali drove up against the
young Licchavi, axle to axle, wheel to wheel, and yoke to yoke, and
the Licchavi said to Ambapali, the courtesan: "How is it, Ambapali,
that you drive up against us thus?"
"My lords," said she, "I have just invited the Blessed One and
his brethren for their tomorrow's meal." And the princes replied:
"Ambapali! give up this meal to us for a hundred thousand."
"My lords, were you to offer all Vesali with its subject
territory, I would not give up so great an honor!"
Then the Licchavi went on to Ambapali's grove. When the
Blessed One saw the Licchavi approaching in the distance, he
addressed the brethren, and said: "O brethren, let those of the
brethren who have never seen the gods gaze upon this company of
the Licchavi, for they are dressed gorgeously, like immortals."
And when they had driven as far the ground was passable for
carriages, the Licchavi alighted and went on foot to the place where
the Blessed One was, taking their seats respectfully by his side. And
when they were thus seated, the Blessed One instructed, aroused,
and gladdened them with religious discourse. Then they addressed
the Blessed One and said: "Will the Blessed One do us the honor of
taking his meal, together with the brethren, at our palace
"O Licchavi," said the Blessed One, I have promised to dine
tomorrow with Ambapali, the courtesan." Then the Licchavi,
expressing their approval of the words of the Blessed One, arose
from their seats and bowed down before the Blessed One, and,
keeping him on their right hand as they passed him, they departed
thence; but when they came home, they cast up their hands, saying:
"A worldly woman has outdone us; we have been left behind by a
At the end of the night Ambapali, the courtesan, made ready in
her mansion sweet rice and cakes, and on the next day announced
through a messenger the time to the Blessed One, saying, "The hour,
Lord, has come, and the meal is ready!" And the Blessed One robed
himself early in the morning, took his bowl, and went with the
brethren to the place where Ambapali's dwelling-house was; and
when they had come there they seated themselves on the seats
prepared for them. Ambapali, the courtesan, set the sweet rice and
cakes before the order, with the Buddha at their head, and waited
upon them till they refused to take more.
When the Blessed One had finished his meal, the courtesan had
a low stool brought, and sat down at his side, and addressed the
Blessed One, and said: "Lord, I present this mansion to the order of
bhikkhus, of which the Buddha is the chief." And the Blessed One
accepted the gift; and after instructing, arousing, and gladdening her
with religious edification, he rose from his seat and departed thence.
WHEN the Blessed One had remained as long as he wished at
Ambapali's grove, he went to Beluva, near Vesali. There the Blessed
One addressed the brethren, and said: "O mendicants, take up your
abode for the rainy season round about Vesali, each one according
to the place where his friends and near companions may live. I shall
enter upon the rainy season here at Beluva."
When the Blessed One had thus entered upon the rainy season
there fell upon him a dire sickness and sharp pains came upon him
even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed,
bore his ailments without complaint. Then this thought occurred to
the Blessed. It would not be right for me to pass away from life
without addressing the disciples, without taking leave of the order.
Let me now, by a strong effort of the will, subdue this sickness, and
keep my hold on life till the allotted time have come." And the
Blessed One by a strong effort of the will subdued the sickness, and
kept his hold on life till the time he fixed upon should come. And
the sickness abated.
Thus the Blessed One began to recover; and when he had quite
got rid of the sickness, he went out from the monastery, and sat
down on a seat spread out in the open air. And the venerable
Ananda, accompanied by many other disciples, approached where
the Blessed One was, saluted him, and taking a seat respectfully on
one side, said: "'I have beheld, Lord, how the Blessed One was in
health, and I have beheld how the Blessed One had to suffer. And
though at the sight of the sickness of the Blessed One my body
became weak as a creeper, and the horizon became dim to me, and
my faculties were no longer clear, yet notwithstanding I took some
little comfort from the thought that the Blessed One would not pass
away from existence until at least he had left instructions as
touching the order."
The Blessed One addressed Ananda in behalf of the order,
saying: "What, then, Ananda, does the order expect of me? I have
preached the truth without making any distinction between doctrine
hidden or revealed; for in respect of the truth, Ananda, the Tathagata
has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps some
"Surely, Ananda, should there be any one who harbor the
thought, "It is I who will lead the brotherhood,' or, 'The order is
dependent upon me,' he should lay down instructions in any matter
concerning the order. Now the Tathagata, Ananda, thinks not that it
is he who should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is dependent
upon him. Why, then, should the Tathagata leave instructions in any
matter concerning the order?
"I am now grown old, O Ananda, and full of years; my journey
is drawing to its close, I have reached the sum of my days, I am
turning eighty years of age. Just as a wornout cart can not be made
to move along without much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata
can only be kept going with much additional care. It is only when
the Tathagata, Ananda, ceasing to attend to any outward thing,
becomes plunged in that devout meditation of heart which is
concerned with no bodily object, it is only then that the body of the
Tathagata is at ease.
"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on
yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as
a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not for assistance to
any one besides yourselves.
"And how, Ananda, can a brother be a lamp unto himself, rely
on himself only and not on any external help, holding fast to the
truth as his lamp and seeking salvation in the truth alone, looking
not for assistance to any one besides himself? Herein, O Ananda, let
a brother, as he dwells in the body, so regard the body that he, being
strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful, may, whilst in the world,
overcome the grief which arises from the body's cravings. While
subject to sensations let him continue so to regard the sensations
that he, being strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful, may, whilst in the
world, overcome the grief which arises from the sensations. And so,
also, when he thinks or reasons, or feels, let him so regard his
thoughts that being strenuous, thoughtful and mindful he may,
whilst in the world, overcome the grief which arises from the
craving due to ideas, or to reasoning, or to feeling.
"Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto
themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any
external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and seeking
their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look for assistance to
any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda, among my bhikkhus,
who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be anxious
BUDDHA ANNOUNCES HIS DEATH
SAID the Tathagata to Ananda: "In former years, Ananda,
Mara, the Evil One, approached the holy Buddha three times to
tempt him. And now, Ananda, Mara, the Evil One, came again today
to the place where I was, and, standing beside me, addressed me in
the same words as he did when I was resting under the shepherd's
Nigrodha tree on the bank of the Neranjara River: 'Be greeted, thou
Holy One. Thou hast attained the highest bliss and it is time for thee
to enter into the final Nirvana.'-And when Mara had thus spoken,
Ananda, I answered him and said: 'Make thyself happy, O wicked
one; the final extinction of the Tathagata shall take place before
The venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One and said:
"Vouchsafe, Lord, to remain with us, O Blessed One I for the good
and the happiness of the great multitudes, out of pity for the world,
for the good and the gain of mankind!" Said the Blessed One:
"Enough now, Ananda, beseech not the Tathagata!"
And again, a second time, the venerable Ananda besought the
Blessed One in the same words. He received from the Blessed One
the same reply. And again, the third time, the venerable Ananda
besought the Blessed One to live longer; and the Blessed One said:
"Hast thou faith, Ananda?" Said Ananda: "I have, my Lord!"
The Blessed One, seeing the quivering eyelids of Ananda, read
the deep grief in the heart of his beloved disciple, and he asked
again: "Hast thou, indeed, faith, Ananda?" And Ananda said: "I
have faith, my Lord."
Then the Blessed One continued: "If thou hast faith, Ananda in
the wisdom of the Tathagata, why, then, Ananda, dost thou trouble
the Tathagata even until the third time? Have I not formerly
declared to you that it is in the very nature of all compound things
that they must be dissolved again? We must separate ourselves from
all things near and dear to us, and must leave them. How then,
Ananda, can it be possible for me to remain, since everything that is
born, or brought into being, and organized, contains within itself the
inherent necessity of dissolution? How, then, can it be possible that
this body of mine should not be dissolved? No such condition can
exist! And this mortal existence, O Ananda, has been relinquished,
cast away, renounced, rejected, and abandoned by the Tathagata."
And the Blessed One said to Ananda: "Go now, Ananda, and
assemble in the Service Hall such of the brethren as reside in the
neighborhood of Vesali."
Then the Blessed One proceeded to the Service Hall, and sat
down there on the mat spread out for him. And when he was seated,
the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "O brethren, ye to
whom the truth has been made known, having thoroughly made
yourselves masters of it, practice it, meditate upon it, and spread it
abroad, in order that pure religion may last long and be perpetuated,
in order that it may continue for the good and happiness of the great
multitudes, out of pity for the world, and to the good and gain of all
living beings! Star-gazing and astrology, forecasting lucky or
unfortunate events by signs, prognosticating good or evil, all these
are things forbidden. He who lets his heart go loose without restraint
shall not attain Nirvana; therefore, must we hold the heart in check,
and retire from worldly excitements and seek tranquility of mind.
Eat your food to satisfy your hunger, and drink to satisfy your thirst.
Satisfy the necessities of life like the butterfly that sips the flower,
without destroying its fragrance or its texture. It is through not
understanding and grasping the four truths, O brethren, that we have
gone astray so long and wandered in this weary path of
transmigrations, both you and I, until we have found the truth.
Practice the earnest meditations I have taught you. Continue in the
great struggle against sin. Walk steadily in the roads of saintship. Be
strong in moral powers. Let the organs of your spiritual sense be
quick. When the seven kinds of wisdom enlighten your mind, you
will find the noble, eightfold path that leads to Nirvana.
"Behold, O brethren, the final extinction of the Tathagata will
take place before long. I now exhort you, saying: All component
things must grow old and be dissolved again. Seek ye for that which
is permanent, and work out your salvation with diligence."
THE Blessed One went to Pava. When Chunda, the worker in
metals, heard that the Blessed One had come to Pava and was
staying in his mango grove, he came to the Buddha and respectfully
invited him and the brethren to take their meal at his house. And
Chunda prepared rice-cakes and a dish of dried boar's meat.
When the Blessed One had eaten the food prepared by Chunda,
the worker in metals, there fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp
pain came upon him even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful
and self-possessed, bore it without complaint. And the Blessed One
addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Come, Ananda, let us go
on to Kusinara."
On his way the Blessed One grew tired, and he went aside
from the road to rest at the foot of a tree, and said: "Fold the robe, I
pray thee, Ananda, and spread it out for me. I am weary, Ananda,
and must rest awhile!" "Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable Ananda;
and he spread out the robe folded fourfold. The Blessed One seated
himself, and when he was seated he addressed the venerable
Ananda, and said: "Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda. I am
thirsty, Ananda, and would drink."
When he had thus spoken, the venerable Ananda said to the
Blessed One: "But just now, Lord, five hundred carts have gone
across the brook and have stirred the water; but a river, O Lord, is
not far off. Its water is clear and pleasant, cool and transparent, and
it is easy to get down to it. the Blessed One may both drink water
and cool his limbs."
A second time the Blessed One addressed the venerable
Ananda, saying: "Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am
thirsty, Ananda, and would drink."
And a second time the venerable Ananda said: "Let us go to
Then the third time the Blessed One addressed the venerable
Ananda, and said: "Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am
thirsty, Ananda and would drink." "Be it so, Lord!" said the
venerable Ananda in assent to the Blessed One; and, taking a bowl,
he went down to the streamlet. And lo! the streamlet, which, stirred
up by wheels, had become muddy, when the venerable Ananda came
up to it, flowed clear and bright and free from all turbidity. And he
thought: "How wonderful, how marvelous is the great might and
power of the Tathagata!"
Ananda brought the water in the bowl to the Lord, saying: "Let
the Blessed One take the bowl. Let the Happy One drink the water.
Let the Teacher of men and gods quench his thirst. Then the Blessed
One drank of the water.
Now, at that time a man of low caste, named Pukkusa, a young
Malla, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing along the high road
from Kusinara to Pava. Pukkusa, the young Malla, saw the Blessed
One seated at the foot of a tree. On seeing him he went up to the
place where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he
saluted the Blessed One and took his seat respectfully on one side.
Then the Blessed One instructed, edified, and gladdened Kukkusa,
the young Malla, with religious discourse.
Aroused and gladdened by the words of the Blessed One,
Pukkusa, the young Malla, addressed a certain man who happened
to pass by, and said: "Fetch me, I pray thee, my good man, two
robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear."
"Be it so, sir!" said that man in assent to Pukkusa, the young
Malla; and he brought two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and
ready for wear.
The Malla Pukkusa presented the two robes of cloth of gold,
burnished and ready for wear, to the Blessed One, saying: "Lord,
these two robes of burnished cloth of gold are ready for wear. May
the Blessed One show me favor and accept them at my hands!"
The Blessed One said: "Pukkusa, robe me in one, and Ananda
in the other one." And the Tathagata's body appeared shining like a
flame, and he was beautiful above all expression.
The venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: "How
wonderful a thing is it, Lord, and how marvelous, that the color of
the skin of the Blessed One should be so clear, so exceedingly
bright! When I placed this robe of burnished cloth of gold on the
body of the Blessed One, lo! it seemed as if it had lost its splendor!"
The Blessed One said: "There are two occasions on which a
Tathagata's appearance becomes clear and exceeding bright. In the
night, Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and
perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in
that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly
existence to remain.
And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and
said: "Now it may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up
remorse in Chunda, the smith, by saying: 'It is evil to thee, Chunda,
and loss to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal
from thy provision.' Any such remorse, Ananda, in Chunda, the
smith, should be checked by saying: 'It is good to thee, Chunda, and
gain to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from
thy provision. From the very mouth of the Blessed One, O Chunda,
have I heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying,
"These two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of much greater
profit than any other: the offerings of food which a Tathagata
accepts when he has attained perfect enlightenment and when he
passes away by the utter passing away in which nothing whatever of
his earthly existence remains behind-these two offerings of food are
of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit and
much greater profit than any other. There has been laid up by
Chunda, the smith, a karma redounding to length of life, redounding
to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame,
redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of great power."' In this
way, Ananda, should be checked any remorse in Chunda, the smith."
Then the Blessed One, perceiving that death was near, uttered
these words: "He who gives away shall have real gain. He who
subdues himself shall be free, he shall cease to be a slave of
passions. The righteous man casts off evil; and by rooting out lust,
bitterness, and illusion, do we reach Nirvana."
THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the
brethren to the sala grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinara
on the further side of the river Hirannavati, and when he had arrived
he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Make ready for me, I
pray you, Ananda, the couch with its head to the north, between the
twin sala trees. I am weary, Ananda, and wish to lie down."
"Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable Ananda, and he spread a
couch with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. And
the Blessed One laid himself down, and he was mindful and self-
Now, at that time the twin sala trees were full of bloom with
flowers out of season; and heavenly songs came wafted from the
skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And
Ananda was filled with wonder that the Blessed One was thus
honored. But the Blessed One said: "Not by such events, Ananda, is
the Tathagata rightly honored, held sacred, or revered. But the
devout man, who continually fulfills the greater and lesser duties,
walking according to the precepts, it is who rightly honors, holds
sacred, and reveres the Tathagata with the worthiest homage.
Therefore, O Ananda, be ye constant in the fulfillment of the greater
and of the lesser duties, and walk according to the precepts; thus,
Ananda, will ye honor the Master."
Then the venerable Ananda went into the vihara, and stood
leaning against the doorpost, weeping at the thought: "Alas! I
remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own
perfection. And the Master is about to pass away from me-who is so
Now, the Blessed One called the brethren, and said: "Where, O
brethren, is Ananda?" One of the brethren went and called Ananda.
And Ananda came and said to the Blessed One: "Deep darkness
reigned for want of wisdom; the world of sentient creatures was
groping for want of light; then the Tathagata lit up the lamp of
wisdom, and now it will be extinguished again, ere he has brought it
The Blessed One said to the venerable Ananda, as he sat there
by his side: "Enough, Ananda Let not thy self be troubled; do not
weep! Have I not already, on former occasions, told you that it is in
the very nature of all things most near and dear unto us that we must
separate from them and leave them? The foolish man conceives the
idea of 'self,' the wise man sees there is no ground on which to build
the idea of 'self,' thus he has a right conception of the world and
well concludes that all compounds amassed by sorrow will be
dissolved again, but the truth will remain. Why should I preserve
this body of flesh, when the body of the excellent law will endure? I
am resolved; having accomplished my purpose and attended to the
work set me, I look for rest I For a long time, Ananda, thou hast
been very near to me by thoughts and acts of such love as is beyond
all measure. Thou hast done well, Ananda I Be earnest in effort and
thou too shalt soon be free from evils, from sensuality, from
selfishness, from delusion, and from ignorance!"
Ananda, suppressing his tears, said to the Blessed One: "Who
shall teach us when thou art gone?"
And the Blessed One replied: "I am not the first Buddha who
came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha
will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One,
endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the
universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and
mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have
taught you. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin,
glorious at the climax, and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in
the letter. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure;
such as I now proclaim."
Ananda said: "How shall we know him?" The Blessed One
said: "He will be known as Metteyya, which means 'he whose name
THEN the Mallas, with their young men and maidens and their
wives, being grieved, and sad, and afflicted at heart, went to the
Upavattana, the sala grove of the Mallas, and wanted to see the
Blessed One, in order to partake of the bliss that devolves upon
those who are in the presence of the Holy One.
The Blessed One addressed them and said: "Seeking the way,
ye must exert yourselves and strive with diligence. It is not enough
to have seen me Walk as I have commanded you; free yourselves
from the tangled net of sorrow. Walk in the path with steadfast aim.
A sick man may be cured by the healing power of medicine and will
be rid of all his ailments without beholding the physician. He who
does not do what I command sees me in vain. This brings no profit;
while he who lives far off from where I am and yet walks
righteously is ever near me. A man may dwell beside me, and yet,
being disobedient, be far away from me. Yet he who obeys the
Dharma will always enjoy the bliss of the Tathagata's presence."
Then the mendicant Subhadda went to the sala grove of the
Mallas and said to the venerable Ananda: "I have heard from fellow
mendicants of mine, who were deep stricken in years and teachers
of great experience: 'Sometimes and full seldom do Tathagatas
appear in the world, the holy Buddhas.' Now it is said that today in
the last watch of the night, the final passing away of the samana
Gotama will take place. My mind is full of uncertainty, yet have I
faith in the samana Gotama and trust he will be able so to present
the truth that I may become rid of my doubts. O that I might be
allowed to see the samana Gotama!"
When he had thus spoken the venerable Ananda said to the
mendicant Subhadda: "Enough! friend Subhadda. Trouble not the
Tathagata. The Blessed One is weary." Now the Blessed One
overheard this conversation of the venerable Ananda with the
mendicant Subhadda. And the Blessed One called the venerable
Ananda, and said: "Ananda! Do not keep out Subhadda. Subhadda
may be allowed to see the Tathagata. Whatever Subhadda will ask
of me, he will ask from a desire for knowledge, and not to annoy
me, and whatever I may say in answer to his questions, that he will
Then the venerable Ananda said: "Step in, friend Subhadda; for
the Blessed One gives thee leave."
When the Blessed One had instructed Subhadda, and aroused
and gladdened him with words of wisdom and comfort, Subhadda
said to the Blessed One: "Glorious Lord, glorious Lord! Most
excellent are the words of thy mouth, most excellent! They set up
that which has been overturned, they reveal that which has been
hidden. They point out the right road to the wanderer who has gone
astray. They bring a lamp into the darkness so that those who have
eyes to see can see. Thus, Lord, the truth has been made known to
me by the Blessed One and I take my refuge in the Blessed One, in
the Truth, and in the Order. May the Blessed One accept me as a
disciple and true believer, from this day forth as long as life
And Subhadda, the mendicant, said to the venerable Ananda:
"Great is thy gain, friend Ananda, great is thy good fortune, that for
so many years thou hast been sprinkled with the sprinkling of
discipleship in this brotherhood at the hands of the Master himself!"
Now the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and
said: "It may be, Ananda, that in some of you the thought may arise
The word of the Master is ended, we have no teacher more!' But it is
not thus, Ananda, that you should regard it. It is true that no more
shall I receive a body, for all future sorrow has now forever passed
away. But though this body will be dissolved, the Tathagata
remains. The truth and the rules of the order which I have set forth
and laid down for you all, let them, after I am gone, be a teacher
unto you.When I am gone, Ananda, let the order, if it should so
wish, abolish all the lesser and minor precepts."
Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "There
may be some doubt or misgiving in the mind of a brother as to the
Buddha, or the truth, or the path. Do not have to reproach yourselves
afterwards with the thought, 'We did not inquire of the Blessed One
when we were face to face with him.' Therefore inquire now, O
brethren, inquire freely."
The brethren remained silent. Then the venerable Ananda said
to the Blessed One: "Verily, I believe that in this whole assembly of
the brethren there is not one brother who has any doubt or misgiving
as to the Buddha, or the truth, or the path!"
Said the Blessed One: "It is out of the fullness of faith that
thou hast spoken, Ananda! But Ananda, the Tathagata knows for
certain that in this whole assembly of the brethren there is not one
brother who has any doubt or misgiving as to the Buddha, or the
truth, or the path! For even the most backward, Ananda, of all these
brethren has become converted, and is assured of final salvation."
Then the Blessed One addressed the brethren and said: "If ye
now know the Dharma the cause of all suffering, and the path of
salvation, O disciples, will ye then say: 'We respect the Master, and
out of reverence for the Master do we thus speak?'" The brethren
replied: "That we shall not, O Lord."
And the Holy One continued: "Of those beings who live in
ignorance, shut up and confined, as it were, in an egg, I have first
broken the egg-shell of ignorance and alone in the universe obtained
the most exalted, universal Buddhahood. Thus, O disciples, I am the
eldest, the noblest of beings.
"But what ye speak, O disciples, is it not even that which ye
have yourselves known, yourselves seen, yourselves realized?"
Ananda and the brethren said: "It is, O Lord."
Once more the Blessed One began to speak: "Behold now,
brethren, said he, I exhort you, saying, 'Decay is inherent in all
component things, but the truth will remain forever Work out your
salvation with diligence!" This was the last word of the Tathagata.
Then the Tathagata fell into a deep meditation, and having passed
through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana.
When the Blessed One entered Nirvana there arose, at his
passing out of existence, a mighty earthquake, terrible and awe-
inspiring: and the thunders of heaven burst forth, and of those of the
brethren who were not yet free from passions some stretched out
their arms and wept, and some fell headlong on the ground, in
anguish at the thought: "Too soon has the Blessed One died! Too
soon has the Happy One passed away from existence! Too soon has
the Light of the world gone out!"
Then the venerable Anuruddha exhorted the brethren and said:
"Enough, my brethren! Weep not, neither lament! Has not the
Blessed One formerly declared this to us, that it is in the very nature
of all things near and dear unto us, that we must separate from them
and leave them, since everything that is born, brought into being,
and organized, contains within itself the inherent necessity of
dissolution? How then can it be possible that the body of the
Tathagata should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist!
Those who are free from passion will bear the loss, calm and self-
possessed, mindful of the truth he has taught us."
The venerable Anuruddha and the venerable Ananda spent the
rest of the night in religious discourse. Then the venerable
Anuruddha said to the venerable Ananda: "Go now, brother Ananda,
and inform the Mallas of Kusinara saying, 'The Blessed One has
passed away: do, then, whatsoever seemeth fit!'" And when the
Mallas had heard this saying they were grieved, and sad, and
afflicted at heart.
Then the Mallas of Kusinara gave orders to their attendants,
saying, "Gather together perfumes and garlands, and all the music in
Kusinara!" And the Mallas of Kusinara took the perfumes and
garlands, and all the musical instruments, and five hundred
garments, and went to the sala grove where the body of the Blessed
One lay. There they passed the day in paying honor and reverence to
the remains of the Blessed One, with hymns, and music, and with
garlands and perfumes, and in making canopies of their garments,
and preparing decorative wreaths to hang thereon. And they burned
the remains of the Blessed One as they would do to the body of a
king of kings.
When the funeral pyre was lit, the sun and moon withdrew
their shining, the peaceful streams on every side were torrent-
swollen, the earth quaked, and the sturdy forests shook like aspen
leaves, whilst flowers and leaves fell untimely to the ground, like
scattered rain, so that all Kusinara became strewn knee-deep with
mandara flowers raining down from heaven.
When the burning ceremonies were over, Devaputta said to the
multitudes that were assembled round the pyre: "Behold, O brethren,
the earthly remains of the Blessed One have been dissolved, but the
truth which he has taught us lives in our minds and cleanses us from
all error. Let us, then, go out into the world, as compassionate and
merciful as our great master, and preach to all living beings the four
noble truths and the eightfold path of righteousness, so that all
mankind may attain to a final salvation, taking refuge in the
Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha."
When the Blessed One had entered into Nirvana and the
Mallas had burned the body with such ceremonies as would indicate
that he was the great king of kings, ambassadors came from all the
empires that at the time had embraced his doctrine, to claim a share
of the relics; and the relics were divided into eight parts and eight
dagobas were erected for their preservation. One dagoba was
erected by the Mallas, and seven others by the seven kings of those
countries whose people had taken refuge in the Buddha.
WHEN the Blessed One had passed away into Nirvana, the
disciples came together and consulted what to do in order to keep
the Dharma pure and uncorrupted by heresies.
Upali rose, saying: "Our great Master used to say to the
brethren: 'O bhikkhus! after my final entrance into Nirvana you
must reverence and obey the law. Regard the law as your master.
The law is like unto a light that shines in the darkness, pointing out
the way; it is also like unto a precious jewel to gain which you must
shun no trouble, and be ready to bring any sacrifice; even, should it
be needed, your own lives. Obey the Dharma which I have revealed
to you; follow it carefully and if as in no way different from myself.'
Such were the words of the Blessed One. The law, accordingly,
which the Buddha has left us as a precious inheritance has now
become the visible body of the Tathagata. Let us, therefore, revere it
and keep it sacred. For what is the use of erecting dagobas for relics,
if we neglect the spirit of the Master's teachings?"
Then Anuruddha arose and said: "Let us bear in mind, O
brethren, that Gotama Siddhattha has revealed the truth to us. He
was the Holy One and the Perfect One and the Blessed One, because
the eternal truth had taken abode in him. The Tathagata taught us
that the truth existed before he was born into this world, and will
exist after he has entered into Nirvana. The Tathagata said: 'The
truth is omnipresent and eternal, endowed with excellencies
innumerable, above all human nature, and ineffable in its holiness.'
"Now let us bear in mind that not this or that law which is
revealed to us in the Dhanna is the Buddha, but the entire truth, the
truth which is eternal, omnipresent, immutable, and most excellent.
Many regulations of the Sangha are temporary; they were prescribed
because they suited the occasion and were needed for some transient
emergency. The truth, however, is not temporary. The truth is not
arbitrary nor a matter of opinion, but can be investigated, and he
who earnestly searches for the truth will find it. The truth is hidden
to the blind, but he who has the mental eye sees the truth. The truth
is Buddha's essence, and the truth will remain the ultimate standard.
Let us, then, revere the truth; let us inquire into the truth and state it,
and let us obey the truth. For the truth is Buddha our Master, our
And Kassapa rose and said: "Truly thou hast spoken well, O
brother Anuruddha. Neither is there any conflict of opinion on the
meaning of our religion. For the Blessed One possesses three
personalities and each of them is of equal importance to us. There is
the Dharma Kaya. There is the Nirmana Kaya. There is the
Sambhoga Kaya. Buddha is the all-excellent truth, eternal,
omnipresent, and immutable: this is the Sambhoga Kaya which is in
a state of perfect bliss. Buddha is the all-loving teacher assuming
the shape of the beings whom he teaches: this is the Nirmana Kaya,
his apparitional body. Buddha is the all-blessed dispensation of
religion; he is the spirit of the Sangha and the meaning of the
commands left us in his sacred word, the Dharma: this is the
Dharma Kaya, the body of the most excellent law.
"If Buddha had not appeared to us as Gotama Sakyamuni, how
could we have the sacred traditions of his doctrine? And if the
generations to come did not have the sacred traditions preserved in
the Sangha, how could they know anything of the great Sakyamuni?
And neither we nor others would know anything about the most
excellent truth which is eternal, omnipresent, and immutable. Let us
then keep sacred and revere the traditions; let us keep sacred the
memory of Gotama Sakyamuni, so that people may find the truth."
Then the brethren decided to convene a synod to lay down the
doctrines of the Blessed One, to collate the sacred writings, and to
establish a canon which should serve as a source of instruction for