The holy one directed his
steps to that blessed Bodhi-tree 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 Shakyamuni 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 him.
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-blossoms.
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 against 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 there from,
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 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
This is the Dharma. This
is the truth. This is religion. And the Enlightened One uttered this stanza:
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 Samsára; 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 attained Buddhahood.
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
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:
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.'
"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 final Nirvana."
Then Brahma Sahampati
descended from the heavens and, having worshiped the Blessed One, said:
"Alas! The world must perish, should the Holy One, the Tathágata, 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 wrongdoing. 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
Then Brahma Sahampati
understood that the Blessed One had granted his request and would preach the
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
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 Siddhartha, 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.
ON seeing their old
teacher approach, the five Bhikkhus 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 Tathágata 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
Tathágata, 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 Tathágata has found the middle path.
"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
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 Tathágata-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 Tathágata-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.
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 Master's
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
"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 suffering.
"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 Tathágata: 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 Tathágata 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 among mankind."
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 Tathágata 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 Tathágata 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
"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
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 Tathágata.
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 tribulations!"
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
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 Tathágata, 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 Bhikkhus robe, received the
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,
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 Bhikkhus robe. "My son, Yasa, he said, thy mother is
absorbed in lamentation and grief. Return home and restore thy mother to
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, and Gavampati.
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
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 Shakyamuni is beautiful, but the serpent will
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.
"Shakyamuni is a great Samana and possesses high powers, but he is not holy
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 Shakyamuni. 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
Shakyamuni not come?"
The Tathágata 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
Shakyamuni; he can read my most secret thoughts, but he is not holy like
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 One."
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 Shakyamuni, who is the Enlightened One, the Buddha.
Do as ye think best."
The Jatilas replied:
"We have conceived a profound affection for the great Shakyamuni, 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 One.
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
And the Jatilas rejoiced
and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
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 Shakyamuni, 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 Shakyamuni placed himself under the spiritual direction of Kassapa, or has
Kassapa become a disciple of Gotama?"
The Tathágata, 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 austere penances?"
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 fire."
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 merit.
"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 unnecessary.
"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:
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 meritorious, 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
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 fulfilled too.
"Glorious Lord! Most
glorious is the truth preached by the Tathágata! 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 Sangha."
The Tathágata, 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.
Seniya Bimbisara, the
king, having taken his refuge in the Buddha, invited the Tathágata 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
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 went away.
AT that time Shariputra
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 other one."
Shariputra 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 Shariputra, 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."
"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,
Shariputra 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." Shariputra 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
Shariputra 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:
"Shariputra, 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
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 Shakyamuni induces fathers to leave their wives and
causes families to become extinct." When they saw the Bhikkhus, they
reviled them, saying: "The great Shakyamuni has come to Rajagaha subduing
the minds of men. Who will be the next to be led astray by him?"
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 Tathágatas 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 proclaimed:
no wrong, do only good,
and let your heart be pure.
This is the doctrine Buddhas teach,
and this doctrine will endure."
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 Blessed One.
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
"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 self?
"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
"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 Tathágata, 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 Tathágata 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 Tathágata 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
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 accept it."
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
Shariputra to accompany him on his return to Kosala and help him in selecting a
pleasant site for the vihara.
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 Shariputra 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 Savatthi.
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 Dharma-raja, 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 mind."
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
"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
"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.
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 Tathágata."
The king listened with
reverence and remembered all the words of the Buddha in his heart.
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
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.
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 self."
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
"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 bliss?"'
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 un-create. 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
"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, un-originated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks,
this unborn, un-originated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from
the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an
unborn, un-originated, uncreated and unformed, therefore is there an escape from
the born, originated, created, formed."
The Buddha's name became
famous over all India and Shuddhodana, 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 Tathágata, 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 Siddhartha,
who wandered forth from home into homelessness to obtain enlightenment, having
attained his purpose, is coming back."
Shuddhodana went out with
his relatives and ministers to meet the prince. When the king saw Siddhartha,
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 Siddhartha. How near was the great Samana to his
heart, and yet what a distance lay between them! That noble Muni was no longer
Siddhartha, his son; he was the Buddha, the Blessed One, the Holy One, Lord of
truth, and teacher of mankind. Shuddhodana 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 this
Then the Shakyamuni 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. "Siddhartha," he exclaimed
silently in his heart, "Siddhartha, 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 Siddhartha; he will receive the Buddha, the teacher
of truth, the preacher of righteousness, and the peace of Nirvana will enter
into his heart."
Shuddhodana 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.
On next morning the Buddha
took his bowl and set out to beg his food. And the news spread abroad:
"Prince Siddhartha 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 my race."
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 Yashodhara, the mother of Rahula,
did not make her appearance. The king sent for Yashodhara, but she replied:
"Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhartha will come and see
The Blessed One, having
greeted all his relatives and friends, asked: "Where is Yashodhara?"
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, Shariputra 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 Tathágata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."
Yashodhara sat in her
room, dressed in mean garments, and her haircut. When Prince Siddhartha 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
Remembering, however, that
Shuddhodana 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 Siddhartha 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 forgiveness."
And the Blessed One spoke
kindly to Yashodhara, 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 heavenly joy.
Many people in
Kapilavatthu believed in the Tathágata and took refuge in his doctrine, among
them Nanda Siddhartha’s half-brother, the son of Pajapati; Devadatta, his
cousin and brother-in-law; Upali the barber; and Anuruddha the philosopher. Some
years later Ánanda, another cousin of the Blessed One, also joined the Sangha.
Ánanda was a man after
the heart of the Blessed One; he was his most beloved disciple, profound in
comprehension and gentle in spirit. And Ánanda remained always near the Blessed
Master of truth, until death parted them.
On the seventh day after
the Buddha's arrival in Kapilavatthu, Yashodhara 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 of bliss!"
When the Tathágata 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 Shariputra, 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
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
Siddhartha 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 guardians.
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.
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-coverings.
Now it happened that a
disease befell the body of the Blessed One himself, and Ánanda 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
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 Tathágatas, 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 Shuddhodana 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 Shuddhodana,
having attained perfect enlightenment, died in the arms of the Blessed One.
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
Yashodhara 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 Yashodhara, and many other women, went to the Tathágata 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 Yashodhara for leading a religious life he could no longer
resist and assented to have them admitted as his disciples.
Then the venerable Ánanda
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 Tathágata, to attain to the fruit of conversion, to
attain to a release from a wearisome repetition of rebirths, to attain to
saint-ship?" The Blessed One declared: "Women are competent, Ánanda,
if they retire from household life to the homeless state, under the doctrine and
discipline announced by the Tathágata, to attain to the fruit of conversion, to
attain to a release from a wearisome repetition of rebirths, to attain to
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, Ánanda, women may retire from household life to
the homeless state, under the doctrine and discipline announced by the Tathágata."
Pajapati was the first
woman to become a disciple of the Buddha and to receive the ordination as a
The Bhikkhus came to the
Blessed One and asked him: "O Tathágata, 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 Tathágata. 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
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
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 Tathágatas, 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 Tathágata?"
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 Tathágata?"
"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 arahat-ship 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 Tathágata 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 Visakha:
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."
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 meetinghouses 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
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
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 on him.
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.'"