THE KING'S GIFT
SENIYA BIMBISARA, the king, having taken his refuge in the Buddha, invited the Tathagata to his palace, saying: "Will the Blessed One consent to take his meal with me tomorrow together with the fraternity of bhikkhus?" The next morning the king announced to the Blessed One that it was time for taking food: "Thou art my most welcome guest, O Lord of the world, come; the meal is prepared."
The Blessed One having donned his robes, took his alms-bowl and, together with a great number of bhikkhus, entered the city of Rajagaha. Sakka, the king of the Devas, assuming the appearance of a young Brahman, walked in front, and said: "He who teaches self-control with those who have learned self-control; the redeemer with those whom he has redeemed; the Blessed One with those to whom he has given peace, is entering Rajagaha Hail to the Buddha, our Lord! Honor to his name and blessings to all who take refuge in him." Sakka intoned this stanza:
"Blessed 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."
SARIPUTTA AND MOGGALLANA
AT that time Sariputta and Moggallana, two Brahmans and chiefs of the followers of Sanjaya, led a religious life. They had promised each other: "He who first attains Nirvana shall tell the other one."
Sariputta seeing the venerable Assaji begging for alms, modestly keeping his eyes to the ground and dignified in deportment, exclaimed: "Truly this samana has entered the right path; I will ask him in whose name he has retired from the world and what doctrine he professes." Being addressed by Sariputta, Assaji replied: "I am a follower of the Buddha, the Blessed One, but being a novice I can tell you the substance only of the doctrine."
Said Sariputta: "Tell me, venerable monk; it is the substance I want." And Assaji recited the stanza:
"Nothing we seek to touch or see
Can represent Eternity.
They spoil and die: then let us find
Eternal Truth within the mind."
Having heard this stanza, Sariputta obtained the pure and spotless eye of truth and said: "Now I see clearly, whatsoever is subject to origination is also subject to cessation. If this be the doctrine I have reached the state to enter Nirvana which heretofore has remained hidden from me." Sariputta went to Moggallana and told him, and both said: "We will go to the Blessed One, that he, the Blessed One, may be our teacher."
When the Buddha saw Sariputta and Moggallana coming from afar, he said to his disciples, These two monks are highly auspicious." When the two friends had taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, the Holy One said to his other disciples: "Sariputta, like the first-born O son of a world-ruling monarch, is well able to assist the king as his chief follower to set the wheel of the law rolling."
Now the people were annoyed. Seeing that many distinguished young men of the kingdom of Magadha led a religious life under the direction of the Blessed One, they became angry and murmured: "Gotama Sakyamuni induces fathers to leave their wives and causes families to become extinct." When they saw the bhikkhus, they reviled them, saying: "The great Sakyamuni has come to Rajagaha subduing the minds of men. Who will be the next to be led astray by 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 Tathagatas lead men. Who will murmur at the wise? Who will blame the virtuous? Who will condemn self-control, righteousness, and kindness?" And the Blessed One proclaimed:"Commit no wrong, do only good,
And let your heart be pure.
This is the doctrine Buddhas teach,
And this doctrine will endure."
ANATHAPINDIKA, THE MAN OF WEALTH
AT this time there was Anathapindika, a man of unmeasured wealth, visiting Rajagaha. Being of a charitable disposition, he was called "the supporter of orphans and the friend of the poor." Hearing that the Buddha had come into the world and was stopping in the bamboo grove near the city, he set out on that very night to meet the 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 overthrown.
"Again, it is said that the Absolute has created us. But that which is absolute cannot be a cause. All things around us come from a cause as the plant comes from the seed; but how can the Absolute be the cause of all things alike? If it pervades them, then, certainly, it does not make them.
"Again, it is said that Self is the maker. But if self is the maker, why did it not make things pleasing? The causes of sorrow and joy are real and touchable. How can they have been made by 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 of causation.
"Let us, then, abandon the heresy of worshiping Isvara and of praying to him; let us no longer lose ourselves in vain speculations or profitless subtleties; let us surrender self and all selfishness, and as all things are fixed by causation, let us practice good so that good may result from our actions."
And Anathapindika said: "I see that thou art the Buddha, the Blessed One the Tathagata, and I wish to open to the my whole mind. Having listened to my words advise me what I shall do. My life is full of work, and having acquired great wealth, I am surrounded with cares. Yet I enjoy my work, and apply myself to it with all diligence. Many people are in my employ and depend upon the success of my enterprises.
"Now, I have heard thy disciples praise the bliss of the hermit and denounce the unrest of the world. 'The Holy One,' they say, 'has given up his kingdom and his inheritance, and has found the path of righteousness, thus setting an example to all the world how to attain Nirvana.' My heart yearns to do what is right and to be a blessing unto my fellows. Let me then ask thee, Must I give up my wealth, my home, and my business enterprises, and, like thyself, go into homelessness in order to attain the bliss of a religious life?"
THE SERMON ON CHARITY
ANATHAPINDIKA rejoiced at the words of the Blessed One and said: I dwell at Savatthi, the capital of Kosala, a land rich in produce and enjoying peace. Pasenadi is the king of the country, and his name is renowned among our own people and our neighbors. Now I wish to found there a vihara which shall be a place of religious devotion for your brotherhood, and I pray you kindly to 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 charity."
JETAVANA, 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 Sariputta for the Buddha. After the foundations were laid, they began to build the hall which rose loftily in due proportions according to the directions which the Buddha had suggested; and it was beautifully decorated with appropriate carvings. This vihara was called Jetavana, and the friend of the orphans invited the Lord to come to Savatthi and receive the donation. And the Blessed One left Kapilavatthu and came to 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 Dharmaraja, the King of Truth. Now that I have seen thy sacred countenance, let me partake of the refreshing waters of thy teachings. Worldly profit is fleeting and perishable, but religious profit is eternal and inexhaustible. A worldly man, though a king, is full of trouble, but even a common man who is holy has peace of 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 iniquity?
"All who are wise spurn the pleasures of the body. They loathe lust and seek to promote their spiritual existence. When a tree is burning with fierce flames, how can the birds congregate therein? Truth cannot dwell where passion lives. He who does not know this, though he be a learned man and be praised by others as a sage, is beclouded with ignorance. To him who has this knowledge true wisdom dawns, and he will beware of hankering after pleasure. To acquire this state of mind, wisdom is the one thing needful. To neglect wisdom will lead to failure in life. The teachings of all religions should center here, for without wisdom there is no reason.
"This truth is not for the hermit alone; it concerns every human being, priest and layman alike. There is no distinction between the monk who has taken the vows, and the man of the world living with his family. There are hermits who fall into perdition, and there are humble householders who mount to the rank of rishis. Hankering after pleasure is a danger common to all; it carries away the world. He who is involved in its eddies finds no escape. But wisdom is the handy boat, reflection is the rudder. The slogan of religion calls you to overcome the assaults of Mara, the enemy.
"Since it is impossible to escape the result of our deeds, let us practice good works. Let us guard our thoughts that we do no evil, for as we sow so shall we reap. There are ways from light into darkness and from darkness into light. There are ways, also, from the gloom into deeper darkness, and from the dawn into brighter light. The wise man will use the light he has to receive more light. He will constantly advance in the knowledge of truth.
"Exhibit true superiority by virtuous conduct and the exercise of reason; meditate deeply on the vanity of earthly things, and understand the fickleness of life. Elevate the mind, and seek sincere faith with firm purpose; transgress not the rules of kingly conduct, and let your happiness depend, not upon external things, but upon your own mind. Thus you will lay up a good name for distant ages and will secure the favor of the Tathagata."
THE THREE CHARACTERISTICS AND THE UNCREATED
WHEN the Buddha was staying at the Veluvana, the bamboo grove at Rajagaha, he addressed the brethren thus: "Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise, it remains a fact and the fixed and necessary constitution of being that all conformations are transitory. This fact a Buddha discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it, he announces, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains and makes it clear that all conformations are transitory.
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of being, that all conformations are suffering. This fact a Buddha discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it, he announces, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains and makes it clear that all conformations are suffering.
"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise, it remains a fact and a fixed and necessary constitution of being, that all conformations are lacking a self. This fact a Buddha discovers and masters, and when he has discovered and mastered it, he announces, teaches, publishes, proclaims, discloses, minutely explains and makes it clear that all conformations are lacking a 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 follows:
"The Buddha teaches that all conformations are transient, that all conformations are subject to sorrow, that all conformations are lacking a self. How then can there be Nirvana, a state of eternal 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 uncreate. That O monks, I term neither coming nor going nor standing; neither death nor birth. It is without stability, without change; it is the eternal which never originates and never passes away. There is the end of sorrow.
THE BUDDHA'S FATHER
THE Buddha's name became famous over all India and Suddhodana, his father, sent word to him saying: "I am growing old and wish to see my son before I die. Others have had the benefit of his doctrine, but not his father nor his relatives." And the messenger said: "O world-honored Tathagata, thy father looks for thy coming as the lily longs for the rising of the sun."
The Blessed One consented to the request of his father and set out on his journey to Kapilavatthu. Soon the tidings spread in the native country of the Buddha: "Prince Siddhattha, who wandered forth from home into homelessness to obtain enlightenment, having attained his purpose, is coming back."
Suddhodana went out with his relatives and ministers to meet the prince. When the king saw Siddhattha, his son, from afar, he was struck with his beauty and dignity, and he rejoiced in his heart, but his mouth found no words to utter. This, indeed, was his son; these were the features of Siddhattha. How near was the great samana to his heart, and yet what a distance lay between them! That noble muni was no longer Siddhattha, his son; he was the Buddha, the Blessed One, the Holy One, Lord of truth, and teacher of mankind. Suddhodana the king, considering the religious dignity of his son, descended from his chariot and after saluting his son said: "It is now seven years since I have seen thee. How I have longed for this moment!"
Then the Sakyamuni took a seat opposite his father, and the king gazed eagerly at his son. He longed to call him by his name, but he dared not. "Siddhattha," he exclaimed silently in his heart, "Siddhattha, come back to thine aged father and be his son again!" But seeing the determination of his son, he suppressed his sentiments, and, desolation overcame him. Thus the king sat face to face with his son, rejoicing in his sadness and sad in his rejoicing. Well might he be proud of his son, but his pride broke down at the idea that his great son would never be his heir.
"I would offer thee my kingdom," said, the king, "but if I did, thou wouldst account it but as ashes."
And the Buddha said: "I know that the king's heart is full of love and that for his son's sake he feels deep grief. But let the ties of love that bind him to the son whom he lost embrace with equal kindness all his fellow-beings, and he will receive in his place a greater one than Siddhattha; he will receive the Buddha, the teacher of truth, the preacher of righteousness, and the peace of Nirvana will enter into his heart."
YASODHARA, THE FORMER WIFE
ON next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out to beg his food. And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhattha is going from house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride in a chariot attended by his retinue. His robe is like a red clod, and he holds in his hand an earthen bowl."
On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great haste and when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why dost thou thus disgrace me? Knowest thou not that I can easily supply thee and thy bhikkhus with food?" And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of 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:
"Arise from dreams and delusions,
Awaken with open mind.
Seek only Truth. Where you find it,
Peace also you will find."
Then the king conducted the prince into the palace, and the ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him with great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did not make her appearance. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she replied: "Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha will come and see me."
The Blessed One, having greeted all his relatives and friends, asked: "Where is Yasodhara?" And on being informed that she had refused to come, he rose straightway and went to her apartments.
"I am free, the Blessed One said to his disciples, Sari putta and Moggallana, whom he had bidden to accompany him to the princess's chamber; "the princess, however, is not as yet free. Not having seen me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless her grief be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."
Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in mean garments, and her hair cut. When Prince Siddhattha entered, she was, from the abundance of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain her love. Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord of the world, the preacher of truth, she held him by his feet and wept bitterly.
Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt ashamed, and rising, seated herself reverently at a little distance.
The king apologized for the princess, saying: "This arises from her deep affection, and is more than a temporary emotion. During the seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard that Siddhattha had shaved his head, she did likewise; when she heard that he had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she also refused their use. Like her husband she had eaten at appointed times from an earthen bowl only. Like him she had renounced high beds with splendid coverings, and when other princes asked her in marriage, she replied that she was still his. Therefore, grant her forgiveness."
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