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Gotama Buddha

Remembers His Earlier Existences

Translation by Lord Chalmers

 

(London, 1926)

With heart thus steadfast, thus clarified and purified, clean and cleansed of things impure, tempered and apt to serve, established and immutable, it was thus that I applied my heart to the knowledge, which recalled my earlier existences. I called to mind my divers (diverse) existences in the past, a single birth, then two. . .[and so on to]. . .a hundred thousand births, many an aeon of disintegration of the world, many an aeon of its reintegration, and again many an aeon both of its disintegration and of its reintegration. In this or that former existence, I remembered, such and such was my name, my sect, my class, my diet, my joys and sorrows, and my term of life. When I passed thence, I came by such and such subsequent existence, wherein such and such was my name and so forth. Thence I passed to my life here. Thus did I call to mind my divers (diverse) existences of the past in all their details and features. This, Brahmin, was the first knowledge attained by me, in the first watch of that night, ignorance dispelled and knowledge won, darkness dispelled and illumination won, as befitted my strenuous and ardent life, purged of self.

That same steadfast heart I now applied to knowledge of the passage hence, and re-appearance elsewhere, of other beings. With the Eye Celestial, which is pure and far surpasses the human eye, I saw things in the act of passing hence and of re-appearing elsewhere, being high and low, fair or foul to view, in bliss or woe; I saw them all faring according to their past. Here were beings given over to evil in act, word and thought, who decried the Noble and had a wrong outlook and became what results from such wrong outlook; these, at the body's dissolution after death, made their appearance in states of suffering, misery and tribulation and in purgatory. Here again were beings given to good in act, word and thought, who did not decry the Noble, who had the right outlook and became what results from right outlook; these, at the body's dissolution after death, made their appearance in states of bliss in heaven. All this did I see with the Eye Celestial; and this, Brahmin, was the second knowledge attained by me, in the second watch of that night, ignorance dispelled and knowledge won, darkness dispelled and illumination won, as befitted my strenuous and ardent life, purged of self.

That same steadfast heart I next applied to knowledge of the eradication of Cankers. I comprehended, aright and to the full, the origin of Ill (sickness), the cessation of Ill, and the course that leads to the cessation of Ill. I comprehend, aright and to the full, what the Cankers were, with their origin, cessation, and the course that leads to their cessation. When I knew this and when I saw this, then my heart was delivered from the Canker of sensuous pleasure, from the Canker of continuing existence, and from the Canker of ignorance; and to me thus delivered came the knowledge of my Deliverance in the conviction-Rebirth is no more; I have lived the highest life; my task is done; and now for me there is no more of what I have been. This, Brahmin, was the third knowledge attained by me, in the third watch of that night, ignorance dispelled and knowledge won, darkness dispelled and illumination won, as befitted my strenuous and ardent life, purged of self.

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