by Paul Carus
THE LESSON GIVEN TO RAHULA
BEFORE Rahula, the son of Gotama Siddhattha and Yasodhara,
attained to the enlightenment of true wisdom, his conduct was not
always marked by a love of truth, and the Blessed One sent him to a
distant vihara to govern his mind and to guard his tongue. After
some time the Blessed One repaired to the place, and Rahula was filled
The Blessed One ordered the boy to bring him a basin of water and to
wash his feet, and Rahula obeyed. When Rahula had washed the
Tathagata's feet, the Blessed One asked: "Is the water now fit for
"No, my Lord," replied the boy, "the water is defiled. Then the
Blessed One said: "Now consider thine own case. Although thou art my
son, and the grandchild of a king, although thou art a samana who
has voluntarily given up everything, thou art unable to guard thy
tongue from untruth, and thus defilest thou thy mind." And when the
water had been poured away, the Blessed One asked again: "Is this
vessel now fit for holding water to drink?"
"No, my Lord," replied Rahula, "the vessel, too, has become
unclean." And the Blessed One said: "Now consider thine own case.
Although thou wearest the yellow robe, art thou fit for any high
purpose when thou hast become unclean like this vessel?" Then the
Blessed One, lifting up the empty basin and whirling it round,
asked: "Art thou not afraid lest it shall fall and break?" "No, my
Lord," replied Rahula, it is cheap, its loss will not amount to much."
"Now consider thine own case, said the Blessed One. Thou art whirled
about in endless eddies of transmigration, and as thy body is made
of the same substance as other material things that will crumble to
dust, there is no loss if it be broken. He who is given to speaking
untruths is an object of contempt to the wise."
Rahula was filled with shame, and the Blessed One addressed him once
more: "Listen, and I will tell thee a parable: There was a king who
had a very powerful elephant, able to cope with five hundred
ordinary elephants. When going to war, the elephant was armed with
sharp swords on his tusks, with scythes on his shoulders, spears on
his feet, and an iron ball at his tail. The elephant-master rejoiced
to see the noble creature so well equipped, and, knowing that a slight
wound by an arrow in the trunk would be fatal, he had taught the
elephant to keep his trunk well coiled up. But during the battle the
elephant stretched forth his trunk to seize a sword. His master was
frightened and consulted with the king, and they decided that the
elephant was no longer fit to be used in battle.
"O Rahula! if men would only guard their tongues all would be
well! Be like the fighting elephant who guards his trunk against the
arrow that strikes in the center. By love of truth the sincere
escape iniquity. Like the elephant well subdued and quiet, who permits
the king to mount on his trunk, thus the man that reveres
righteousness will endure faithfully throughout his life." Rahula
hearing these words was filled with deep sorrow; he never again gave
any occasion for complaint, and forthwith he sanctified his life by
THE SERMON ON ABUSE
THE Blessed One observed the ways of society and noticed how much
misery came from malignity and foolish offenses done only to gratify
vanity and self-seeking pride. And the Buddha said: "If a man
foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my
ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall
go from me; the fragrance of goodness always comes to me, and the
harmful air of evil goes to him."
A foolish man learning that the Buddha observed the principle of
great love which commends the return of good for evil, came and abused
him. The Buddha was silent, pitying his folly. When the man had
finished his abuse, the Buddha asked him, saying: "Son, if a man
declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?"
And he answered: "In that case it would belong to the man who
"My son," said the Buddha thou hast railed at me, but I decline to
accept thy abuse, and request thee to keep it thyself. Will it not
be a source of misery to thee? As the echo belongs to the sound, and
the shadow to the substance, so misery will overtake the evil-doer
The abuser made no reply, and Buddha continued: "A wicked man who
reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and spits at
heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and defiles
his own person. The slanderer is like one who flings dust at another
when the wind is contrary; the dust does but return on him who threw
it. The virtuous man cannot be hurt and the misery that the other
would inflict comes back on himself." The abuser went away ashamed,
but he came again and took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the
THE BUDDHA REPLIES TO THE DEVA
ON a certain day when the Blessed One dwelt at jetavana, the
garden of Anathapindika, a celestial deva came to him in the shape
of a Brahman whose countenance was bright and whose garments were
white like snow. The deva asked questions which the Blessed One
The deva said: "What is the sharpest sword? What is the deadliest
poison? What is the fiercest fire? What is the darkest night?" The
Blessed One replied: "A word spoken in wrath is the sharpest sword;
covetousness is the deadliest poison; passion is the fiercest fire;
ignorance is the darkest night."
The deva said: "Who gains the greatest benefit? Who loses most?
Which armor is invulnerable? What is the best weapon?" The Blessed One
replied: "He is the greatest gainer who to others, and he loses most
who greedily receives without gratitude. Patience is an invulnerable
armor; wisdom is the best weapon."
The deva said: "Who is the most dangerous thief? What is the most
precious treasure? Who is most successful in taking away by violence
not only on earth, but also in heaven? What is the securest
treasure-trove?" The Blessed One replied: "Evil thought is the most
dangerous thief; virtue is the most precious treasure. The mind
takes possession of everything not only on earth, but also in
heaven, and immortality is its securest treasure-trove."
The deva said: "What is attractive? What is disgusting? What is
the most horrible pain? What is the greatest enjoyment?" The Blessed
One replied: "Good is attractive; evil is disgusting. A bad conscience
is the most tormenting pain; deliverance is the height of bliss."
The deva asked: "What causes ruin in the world? What breaks off
friendships? What is the most violent fever? Who is the best
physician?" The Blessed One replied: "Ignorance causes the ruin of the
world. Envy and selfishness break off friendships. Hatred is the
most violent fever, and the Buddha is the best physician."
The deva then asked and said: "Now I have only one doubt to be
solved; pray, clear it away: What is it fire can neither burn, nor
moisture corrode, nor wind crush down, but is able to reform the whole
world?" The Blessed One replied: "Blessing! Neither fire, nor
moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of a good deed, and
blessings reform the whole world."
The deva, having heard the words of the Blessed One, was full of
exceeding joy. Clasping his hands, he bowed down before him in
reverence, and disappeared suddenly from the presence of the Buddha.
WORDS OF INSTRUCTION
THE bhikkhus came to the Blessed One, and having saluted him with
clasped hands they said: "O Master, thou all-seeing one, we all wish
to learn; our ears are ready to hear, thou art our teacher, thou art
incomparable. Cut off our doubt, inform us of the blessed Dharma, O
thou of great understanding; speak in the midst of us, O thou who
art all-seeing, as is the thousand-eyed Lord of the gods. We will
ask the muni of great understanding, who has crossed the stream,
gone to the other shore, is blessed and of a firm mind: How does a
bhikkhu wander rightly in the world, after having gone out from his
house and driven away desire?"
The Buddha said: "Let the bhikkhu subdue his passion for human and
celestial pleasures, then, having conquered existence, he will command
the Dhartna. Such a one will wander rightly in the world. He whose
lusts have been destroyed, who is free from pride, who has overcome
all the ways of passion, is subdued, perfectly happy, and of a firm
mind. Such a one will wander rightly in the world. Faithful is he
who is possessed of knowledge, seeing the way that leads to Nirvana;
he who is not a partisan; he who is pure and virtuous, and has removed
the veil from his eyes. Such a one will wander rightly in the world."
Said the bhikkhus: "Certainly, O Bhagavat, it is so: whichever
bhikkhu lives in this way, subdued and having overcome all bonds, such
a one will wander rightly in the world."
The Blessed One said: "Whatever is to be done by him who aspires
to attain the tranquility of Nirvana let him be able and upright,
conscientious and gentle, and not proud. Let a man's pleasure be the
Dharma, let him delight in the Dharma, let him stand fast in the
Dharma, let him know how to inquire into the Dharma, let him not raise
any dispute that pollutes the Dharma, and let him spend his time in
pondering on the well-spoken truths of the Dharma.
"A treasure that is laid up in a deep pit profits nothing and may
easily be lost. The real treasure that is laid up through charity
and piety, temperance, self-control, or deeds of merit, is hid
secure and cannot pass away. it is never gained by despoiling or
wronging others, and no thief can steal it. A man, when he dies,
must leave the fleeting wealth of the world, but this treasure of
virtuous acts he takes with him. Let the wise do good deeds; they
are a treasure that can never be lost."
Then the bhikkhus praised the wisdom of the Tathagata: "Thou hast
passed beyond pain; thou art holy, O Enlightened One, we consider thee
one that has destroyed his passions. Thou art glorious, thoughtful,
and of great understanding. O thou who puttest an end to pain, thou
hast carried us across our doubt. Because thou sawest our longing
and carriedst us across our doubt, adoration be to thee, O muni, who
hast attained the highest good in the ways of wisdom. The doubt we had
before, thou hast cleared away, O thou clearly-seeing one; surely thou
art a great thinker, perfectly enlightened, there is no obstacle for
thee. All thy troubles are scattered and cut off; thou art calm,
subdued, firm, truthful.
Adoration be to thee, O noble sage, adoration be to thee, O thou
best of beings; in the world of men and gods there is none equal to
thee. Thou art the Buddha, thou art the Master, thou art the muni that
conquers Mara; after having cut off desire thou hast crossed over
and carriest this generation to the other shore."
AMITABHA, THE UNBOUNDED LIGHT
ONE of the disciples came to the Blessed One with a trembling
heart and his mind full of doubt. And he asked the Blessed One: "O
Buddha, our Lord and Master, in what way do we give up the pleasures
of the world, if thou forbiddest us to work miracles and to attain the
supernatural? Is not Amitabha, the infinite light of revelation, the
source of innumerable miracles?"
And the Blessed One, seeing the anxiety of a truth seeking mind,
said: "O savaka, thou art a novice among the novices, and thou art
swimming on the surface of samsara. How long will it take thee to
grasp the truth? Thou hast not understood the words of the
Tathagata. The law of karma is unbreakable, and supplications have
no effect, for they are empty words."
Said the disciple: "Sayest thou there are no miraculous and
The Blessed One replied: "Is it not a wonderful thing, mysterious
and miraculous to the worldling, that a man who commits wrong can
become a saint, that by attaining true enlightenment he will find
the path of truth and abandon the evil ways of selfishness? The
bhikkhu who renounces the transient pleasures of the world for the
eternal bliss of holiness, performs the only miracle that can truly be
called a miracle. A holy man changes the curses of karma into
blessings. But the desire to perform miracles arises either from
covetousness or from vanity. The mendicant does right who does not
think: "People should salute me; who, though despised by the world,
yet cherishes no ill-will towards it. That mendicant does right to
whom omens, meteors, dreams, and signs are things abolished; he is
free from all their evils. Amitabha, the unbounded light, is the
source of wisdom, of virtue, of Buddhahood. The deeds of sorcerers and
miracle-mongers are frauds, but what is more wondrous, more
mysterious, more miraculous than Amitabha?"
"But, Master," continued the savaka, is the promise of the happy
region vain talk and a myth?"
"What is this promise?" asked the Buddha; and the disciple
replied: "There is in the west a paradise called the Pure Land,
exquisitely adorned with gold and silver and precious gems. There
are pure waters with golden sands, surrounded by pleasant walks and
covered with large lotus flowers. Joyous music is heard, and flowers
rain down three times a day. There are singing birds whose
harmonious notes proclaim the praises of religion, and in the minds of
those who listen to their sweet sounds, remembrance arises of the
Buddha, the law, and the brotherhood. No evil birth is possible there,
and even the name of hell is unknown. He who fervently and with a
pious mind repeats the words 'Amitabha Buddha' will be transported
to the happy region of this pure land, and when death draws nigh,
the Buddha, with a company of saintly followers, will stand before
him, and there will be perfect tranquility."
"In truth," said the Buddha, "there is such a happy paradise. But
the country is spiritual and it is accessible only to those that are
spiritual. Thou sayest it lies in the west. This means, look for it
where he who enlightens the world resides. The sun sinks down and
leaves us in utter darkness, the shades of night steal over us, and
Mara, the evil one, buries our bodies in the grave. Sunset is
nevertheless no extinction, and where we imagine we see extinction,
there is boundless light and inexhaustible life."
"I understand," said the savaka that the story of the Western
Paradise is not literally true."
"Thy description of paradise," the Buddha continued, "is
beautiful; yet it is insufficient and does little justice to the glory
of the pure land. The worldly can speak of it in a worldly way only;
they use worldly similes and worldly words. But the pure land in which
the pure live is more beautiful than thou canst say or imagine.
However, the repetition of the name Amitabha Buddha is meritorious
only if thou speak it with such a devout attitude of mind as will
cleanse thy heart and attune thy will to do works of righteousness. He
only can reach the happy land whose soul is filled with the infinite
light of truth. He only can live and breathe in the spiritual
atmosphere of the Western Paradise who has attained enlightenment. I
say to thee, the Tathagata lives in the pure land of eternal bliss
even now while he is still in the body. The Tathagata preaches the law
of religion unto thee and unto the whole world, so that thou and thy
brethren may attain the same peace, the same happiness."
Said the disciple: "Teach me, O Lord, the meditations to which I
must devote myself in order to let my mind enter into the paradise
of the pure land."
Buddha said: "There are five meditations. The first meditation is
the meditation of love in which thou must so adjust thy heart that
thou longest for the weal and welfare of all beings, including the
happiness of thine enemies.
"The second meditation is the meditation of pity, in which thou
thinkest of all beings in distress, vividly representing in thine
imagination their sorrows and anxieties so as to arouse a deep
compassion for them in thy soul.
"The third meditation is the meditation of joy in which thou
thinkest of the prosperity of others and rejoicest with their
"The fourth meditation is the meditation on impurity, in which
thou considerest the evil consequences of corruption, the effects of
wrongs and evils. How trivial is often the pleasure of the moment
and how fatal are its consequences!
"The fifth meditation is the meditation on serenity, in which thou
risest above love and hate, tyranny and thraldom, wealth and want, and
regardest thine own fate with impartial calmness and perfect
"A true follower of the Tathagata founds not his trust upon
austerities or rituals, but giving up the idea of self relies with his
whole heart upon Amitabha, which is the unbounded light of truth."
The Blessed One after having explained his doctrine of Amitabha, the
immeasurable light which makes him who receives it a Buddha, looked
into the heart of his disciple and saw still some doubts and
anxieties. And the Blessed One said: "Ask me, my son, the questions
which weigh upon thy soul."
The disciple said: "Can a humble monk, by sanctifying himself,
acquire the talents of supernatural wisdom called Abhinnas and the
supernatural powers called Iddhi? Show me the Iddhi-pada, the path
to the highest wisdom. Open to me the Jhanas which are the means of
acquiring samadhi, the fixity of mind which enraptures the soul. And
the Blessed One said: "Which are the Abhinnas?"
The disciple replied: "There are six Abhinnas: The celestial eye;
the celestial ear; the body at will or the power of transformation;
the knowledge of the destiny of former dwellings, so as to know former
states of existence; the faculty of reading the thoughts of others;
and the knowledge of comprehending the finality of the stream of
And the Blessed One replied: "These are wondrous things; but verily,
every man can attain them. Consider the abilities of thine own mind;
thou wert born about two hundred leagues from here and canst thou
not in thy thought, in an instant travel to thy native place and
remember the details of thy father's home? Seest thou not with thy
mind eye the roots of the tree which is shaken by the wind without
being overthrown? Does not the collector of herbs see in his mental
vision, whenever he pleases, any plant with its roots, its stern,
its fruits, leaves, and even the uses to which it can be applied?
Cannot the man who understands languages recall to his mind any word
whenever he pleases, knowing its exact meaning and import? How much
more does the Tathagata understand the nature of things; he looks into
the hearts of men and reads their thoughts. He knows the evolution
of beings and foresees their ends."
Said the disciple: "Then the Tathagata teaches that man can attain
through the Jhanas the bliss of Abhinna." And the Blessed One asked in
reply: "Which are the Jhanas through which man reaches Abhinna?"
The disciple replied: "There are four Jhanas. The first Jhana is
seclusion in which one must free his mind from sensuality; the
second Jhana is a tranquility of mind full of joy and gladness; the
third Jhana is a taking delight in things spiritual; the fourth
Jhana is a state of perfect purity and peace in which the mind is
above all gladness and grief."
"Good, my son," enjoined the Blessed One. "Be sober and abandon
wrong practices which serve only to stultify the mind." Said the
disciple: "Forbear with me, O Blessed One, for I have faith without
understanding and I am seeking the truth. O Blessed One, O
Tathagata, my Lord and Master, teach me the Iddhipada."
The Blessed One said: "There are four means by which Iddhi is
acquired: Prevent bad qualities from arising. Put away bad qualities
which have arisen. Produce goodness that does not yet exist.
Increase goodness which already exists.-Search with sincerity, and
persevere in the search. In the end thou wilt find the truth."
THE TEACHER UNKNOWN
THE Blessed One said to Ananda: "There are various kinds
assemblies, O Ananda; assemblies of nobles, of Brahmans, of
householders, of bhikkhus, and of other beings. When I used to enter
an assembly, I always became, before I seated myself, in color like
unto the color of my audience, and in voice like unto their voice. I
spoke to them in their language and then with religious discourse I
instructed, quickened, and gladdened them.
"My doctrine is like the ocean, having the same eight wonderful
qualities. Both the ocean and my doctrine become gradually deeper.
Both preserve their identity under all changes. Both cast out dead
bodies upon the dry land. As the great rivers, when falling into the
main, lose their names and are thenceforth reckoned as the great
ocean, so all the castes, having renounced their lineage and entered
the Sangha, become brethren and are reckoned the sons of Sakyamuni.
The ocean is the goal of all streams and of the rain from the
clouds, yet is it never overflowing and never emptied: so the Dharma
is embraced by many millions of people, yet it neither increases nor
decreases. As the great ocean has only one taste, the taste of salt,
so my doctrine has only one flavor, the flavor of emancipation. Both
the ocean and the Dharma are full of gems and pearls and jewels, and
both afford a dwelling-place for mighty beings. These are the eight
wonderful qualities in which my doctrine resembles the ocean.
"My doctrine is pure and it makes no discrimination between noble
and ignoble, rich and poor. My doctrine is like unto water which
cleanses all without distinction. My doctrine is like unto fire
which consumes all things that exist between heaven and earth, great
and small. My doctrine is like unto the heavens, for there is room
in it, ample room for the reception of all, for men and women, boys
and girls, the powerful and the lowly.
"But when I spoke, they knew me not and would say, 'Who may this
be who thus speaks, a man or a god?' Then having instructed,
quickened, and gladdened them with religious discourse, I would vanish
away. But they knew me not, even when I vanished away."
PARABLES & STORIES
THE Blessed One thought: "I have taught the truth which is
in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end;
it is glorious in its spirit and glorious in its letter. But simple as
it is, the people cannot understand it. I must speak to them in
their own language. I must adapt my thoughts to their thoughts. They
are like unto children, and love to hear tales. Therefore, I will tell
them stories to explain the glory of the Dharma. If they cannot
grasp the truth in the abstract arguments by which I have reached
it, they may nevertheless come to understand it, if it is
illustrated in parables.
THE WIDOW'S MITE, AND THE THREE MERCHANTS
THERE was once a lone widow who was very destitute, and having
gone to the mountain she beheld hermits holding a religious
assembly. Then the woman was filled with joy, and uttering praises,
said, It is well, holy priests! but while others give precious
things such as the ocean caves produce, I have nothing to offer."
Having spoken thus and having searched herself in vain for something
to give, she recollected that some time before she had found in a
dung-heap two coppers, so taking these she offered them forthwith as a
gift to the priesthood in charity.
The superior of the priests, a saint who could read the hearts of
men, disregarding the rich gifts of others and beholding the deep
faith dwelling in the heart of this poor widow, and wishing the
priesthood to esteem rightly her religious merit, burst forth with
full voice in a canto. He raised his right hand and said, "Reverend
priests attend!" and then he proceeded:
"The poor coppers of this widow
To all purpose are more worth
Than all the treasures of the oceans
And the wealth of the broad earth.
"As an act of pure devotion
She has done a pious deed;
She has attained salvation,
Being free from selfish greed."
The woman was mightily strengthened in her mind by this thought,
said, It is even as the Teacher says: what I have done is as much as
if a rich man were to give up all his wealth."
And the Teacher said: "Doing good deeds is like hoarding up
treasures, and he expounded this truth in a parable: "Three
merchants set out on their travels each with his wealth; one of them
gained much, the second returned with his wealth, and the third one
came home after having lost his wealth. What is true in common life
applies also to religion.
"The wealth is the state a man has reached, the gain is heaven;
the loss of his wealth means that a man will be reborn in a lower
state, as a denizen of hell or as an animal. These are the courses
that are open to the sinner.
"He who brings back his wealth, like unto one who is born again as a
man. Those who through the exercise of various virtues become pious
householders will be born again as men, for all beings will reap the
fruit of their actions. But he who increases his wealth is like unto
one who practices eminent virtues. The virtuous, excellent man attains
in heaven to the glorious state of the gods."
THE MAN BORN BLIND
THERE was a man born blind, and he said: "I do not believe
world of light and appearance. There are no colors, bright or
somber. There is no sun, no moon, no stars. No one has witnessed these
things." His friends remonstrated with him, but he clung to his
opinion: "What you say that you see," he objected, "are illusions.
If colors existed I should be able to touch them. They have no
substance and are not real. Everything real has weight, but I feel
no weight where you see colors."
A physician was called to see the blind man. He mixed four
simples, and when he applied them to the cataract of the blind man the
gray film melted, and his eyes acquired the faculty of sight. The
Tathagata is the physician, the cataract is the illusion of the
thought "I am," and the four simples are the four noble truths.
THE LOST SON
THERE was a householder's son who went away into a distant
country, and while the father accumulated immeasurable riches, the son
became miserably poor. And the son while searching for food and
clothing happened to come to the country in which his father lived.
The father saw him in his wretchedness, for he was ragged and
brutalized by poverty, and ordered some of his servants to call him.
When the son saw the place to which he was conducted, he thought, "I
must have evoked the suspicion of a powerful man, and he will throw me
into prison." Full of apprehension he made his escape before he had
seen his father.
Then the father sent messengers out after his son, who was caught
and brought back in spite of his cries and lamentations. Thereupon the
father ordered his servants to deal tenderly with his son, and he
appointed a laborer of his son's rank and education to employ the
lad as a helpmate on the estate. And the son was pleased with his
new situation. From the window of his palace the father watched the
boy, and when he saw that he was honest and industrious, he promoted
him higher and higher.
After some time, he summoned his son and called together all his
servants, and made the secret known to them. Then the poor man was
exceedingly glad and he was full of joy at meeting his father. Just so
little by little, must the minds of men be trained for higher truths.
THE GIDDY FISH
THERE was a bhikkhu who had great difficulty in keeping his senses
and passions under control; so, resolving to leave the Order, he
came to the Blessed One to ask him for a release from the vows. And
the Blessed One said to the bhikkhu: "Take heed, my son, lest thou
fall a prey to the passions of thy misguided heart. For I see that
in former existences, thou hast suffered much from the evil
consequences of lust, and unless thou learnest to conquer thy
sensual desire, thou wilt in this life be ruined through thy folly.
"Listen to a story of another existence of thine, as a fish. The
fish could be seen swimming lustily in the river, playing with his
mate. She, moving in front, suddenly perceived the meshes of a net,
and slipping around escaped the danger; but he, blinded by love,
shot eagerly after her and fell straight into the mouth of the net.
The fisherman pulled the net up, and the fish, who complained bitterly
of his sad fate, saying, 'this indeed is the bitter fruit of my
folly,' would surely have died if the Bodhisattva had not chanced to
come by, and, understanding the language of the fish, took pity on
him. He bought the poor creature and said to him: 'My good fish, had I
not caught sight of thee this day, thou wouldst have lost thy life.
I shall save thee, but henceforth avoid the evil of lust.' With
these words he threw the fish into the water.
"Make the best of the time of grace that is offered to thee in thy
present existence, and fear the dart of passion which, if thou guard
not thy senses, will lead thee to destruction."
THE CRUEL CRANE OUTWITTED
A TAILOR who used to make robes for the brotherhood was wont to
cheat his customers, and thus prided himself on being smarter than
other men. But once, on entering upon an important business
transaction with a stranger, he met his master in the way of cheating,
and suffered a heavy loss.
The Blessed One said: "This is not an isolated incident in the
greedy tailor's fate; in other incarnations he suffered similar
losses, and by trying to dupe others ultimately ruined himself. This
same greedy character lived many generations ago as a crane near a
pond, and when the dry season set in he said to the fishes with a
bland voice: care you not anxious for your future welfare There is
at present very little water and still less food in this pond. What
will you do should the whole pond become dry, in this drought?'
'Yes, indeed' said the fishes what should we do?' Replied the crane:
'I know a fine, large lake, which never becomes dry. Would you not
like me to carry you there in my beak?' When the fishes began to
distrust the honesty of the crane, he proposed to have one of them
sent over to the lake to see it; and a big carp at last decided to
take the risk for the sake of the others, and the crane carried him to
a beautiful lake and brought him back in safety. Then all doubt
vanished, and the fishes gained confidence in the crane, and now the
crane took them one by one out of the pond and devoured them on a
"There was also a lobster in the pond, and when the crane wanted
to eat him too, he said: 'I have taken all the fishes away and put
them in a fine, large lake. Come along. I shall take thee, too!'
'But how wilt thou hold me to carry me along?' asked the lobster. 'I
shall take hold of thee with my beak, said the crane. 'Thou wilt let
me fall if thou carry me like that. I will not go with thee!'
replied the lobster. 'Thou needst not fear,' rejoined the crane; 'I
shall hold thee quite tight all the way.'
"Then said the lobster to himself: 'If this crane once gets hold
of a fish, he will certainly never let him go in a lake! Now if he
should really put me into the lake it would be splendid; but if he
does not, then I will cut his throat and kill him!' So he said to
the crane: 'Look here, friend, thou wilt not be able to hold me
tight enough; but we lobsters have a famous grip. If thou wilt let
me catch hold of thee round the neck with my claws, I shall be glad to
go with thee.'
"The crane did not see that the lobster was trying to outwit him,
and agreed. So the lobster caught hold of his neck with his claws as
securely as with a pair of blacksmith's pincers, and called out:
'Ready, ready, go!' crane took him and showed him the lake, and then
turned off toward the varana-tree. 'My dear uncle!' cried the lobster,
"The lake lies that way, but thou art taking me this other way.'
Answered the crane: 'Thinkest so? Am I thy dear uncle? Thou meanest me
to understand, I suppose, that I am thy slave, who has to lift thee up
and carry thee about with him, where thou pleasest! Now cast thine eye
upon that heap of fish-bones at the root of yonder varana-tree. Just
as I have eaten those fish, every one of them, just so will I devour
"'Ah! those fishes got eaten through their own stupidity, answered
the lobster, 'but I am not going to let thee kill me. On the contrary,
it is thou that I am going to destroy. For thou, in thy folly, hast
not seen that I have outwitted thee. If we die, we both die
together; for I will cut off this head of thine and cast it to the
ground!' So saying, he gave the crane's neck a pinch with his claws as
with a vise.
"Then gasping, and with tears trickling from his eyes, and trembling
with the fear of death, the crane besought the lobster, saying: 'O, my
Lord! Indeed I did not intend to eat thee. Grant me my life!' 'Very
well! fly down and put me into the lake,' replied the lobster. And the
crane turned round and stepped down into the lake, to place the
lobster on the mud at its edge. Then the lobster cut the crane's
neck through as clean as one would cut a lotus-stalk with a
hunting-knife, and then entered the water!"
When the Teacher had finished this discourse, he added: "Not now
only was this man outwitted in this way, but in other existences, too,
by his own intrigues."
FOUR KINDS OF MERIT
THERE was a rich man who used to invite all the Brahmans of the
neighborhood to his house, and, giving them rich gifts, offered
great sacrifices to the gods.
But the Blessed One said: "If a man each month repeat a thousand
sacrifices and give offerings without ceasing, he is not equal to
him who but for one moment fixes his mind upon righteousness." The
Buddha continued: "There are four kinds of offering: first, when the
gifts are large and the merit small; secondly, when the gifts are
small and the merit small; thirdly, when the gifts are small and the
merit large; and fourthly, when the gifts are large and the merit is
"The first is the case of the deluded man who takes away life for
the purpose of sacrificing to the gods, accompanied by carousing and
feasting. Here the gifts are great, but the merit is small indeed.
Next, the gifts are small and the merit is also small, when from
covetousness and an evil heart a man keeps to himself a part of that
which he intends to offer.
"The merit is great, however, while the gift is small, when a man
makes his offering from love and with a desire to grow in wisdom and
in kindness. And lastly, the gift is large and the merit is large,
when a wealthy man, in an unselfish spirit and with the wisdom of a
Buddha, gives donations and founds institutions for the best of
mankind to enlighten the minds of his fellow-men and to administer
unto their needs."
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
THERE was a certain Brahman in Kosambi, a wrangler and well versed
in the Vedas. As he found no one whom he regarded his equal in
debate he used to carry a lighted torch in his hand, and when asked
for the reason of his strange conduct, he replied: 'The world is so
dark that I carry this torch to light it up, as far as I can." A
samana sitting in the market-place heard these words and said: "My
friend, if thine eyes are blind to the sight of the omnipresent
light of the day, do not call the world dark. Thy torch adds nothing
to the glory of the sun and thy intention to illumine the minds of
others is as futile as it is arrogant." Whereupon the Brahman asked:
"Where is the sun of which thou speakest?" And the samana replied:
"The wisdom of the Tathagata is the sun of the mind. His radiancy is
glorious by day and night, and he whose faith is strong will not
lack light on the path to Nirvana where he will inherit bliss
WHILE the Buddha was preaching his doctrine for the conversion
the world in the neighborhood of Savatthi, a man of great wealth who
suffered from many ailments came to him with clasped hands and said:
"World-honored Buddha, pardon me for my want of respect in not
saluting thee as I ought but I suffer greatly from obesity,
excessive drowsiness, and other complaints, so that I cannot move
The Tathagata, seeing the luxuries with which the man was surrounded
asked him: "Hast thou a desire to know the cause of thy ailments?" And
when the wealthy man expressed his willingness to learn, the Blessed
One said: "There are five things which produce the condition of
which thou complainest: opulent dinners, love of sleep, hankering
after pleasure, thoughtlessness, and lack of occupation. Exercise
self-control at thy meals, and take upon thyself some duties that will
exercise thy abilities and make thee useful to thy fellow-men. In
following this advice thou wilt prolong thy life."
The rich man remembered the words of the Buddha and after some
time having recovered his lightness of body and youthful buoyancy
returned to the World-honored One and, coming afoot without horses and
attendants, said to him: "Master, thou hast cured my bodily
ailments; I come now to seek enlightenment of my mind."
And the Blessed One said: "The worldling nourishes his body, but the
wise man nourishes his mind. He who indulges in the satisfaction of
his appetites works his own destruction; but he who walks in the
path will have both the salvation from evil and a prolongation of
THE COMMUNICATION OF BLISS
ANNABHARA, the slave of Sumana, having just cut the grass on the
meadow, saw a samana with his bowl begging for food. Throwing down his
bundle of hay he ran into the house and returned with the rice that
had been provided for his own food. The samana ate the rice and
gladdened him with words of religious comfort.
The daughter of Sumana having observed the scene from a window
called out: "Good! Annabhara, good! Very good!" Sumana hearing these
words inquired what she meant, and on being informed about Annabhara's
devotion and the words of comfort he had received from the samana,
went to his slave and offered him money to divide the bliss of his
offering. "My lord, said Annabhara, let me first ask the venerable
man." And approaching the samana, he said: "My master has asked me
to share with him the bliss of the offering I made thee of my
allowance of rice. Is it right that I should divide it with him?"
The samana replied in a parable. He said: "In a village of one
hundred houses a single light was burning. Then a neighbor came with
his lamp and lit it; and in this same way the light was communicated
from house to house and the brightness in the village was increased.
Thus the light of religion may be diffused without stinting him who
communicates it. Let the bliss of thy offering also be diffused.
Annabhara returned to his master's house and said to him: "I present
thee, my lord, with a share of the bliss of my offering. Deign to
accept it." Sumana accepted it and offered his slave a sum of money,
but Annabhara replied: "Not so, my lord; if I accept thy money it
would appear as if I sold thee my share. Bliss cannot be sold; I beg
thou wilt accept it as a gift." The master replied: "Brother
Annabhara, from this day forth thou shalt be free. Live with me as
my friend and accept this present as a token of my respect."
THE LISTLESS FOOL
THERE was a rich Brahman, well advanced in years, who, unmindful
of the impermanence of earthly things and anticipating a long life,
had built himself a large house. The Buddha wondered why a man so near
to death had built a mansion with so many apartments, and he sent
Ananda to the rich Brahman to preach to him the four noble truths
and the eightfold path of salvation. The Brahman showed Ananda his
house and explained to him the purpose of its numerous chambers, but
to the instruction of the Buddha's teachings he gave no heed. Ananda
said: "It is the habit of I fools to say, 'I have children and
wealth.' He who says so is not even master of himself; how can he
claim possession of children, riches, and servants? Many are the
anxieties of the worldly, but they know nothing of the changes of
Scarcely had Ananda left, when the old man was stricken with
apoplexy and fell dead. The Buddha said, for the instruction of
those who were ready, to learn: "A fool, though he live in the company
of the wise, understands nothing of the true doctrine, as a spoon
tastes not the flavor of the soup. He thinks of himself only, and
unmindful of the advice of good counselors is unable to deliver
RESCUE IN THE DESERT
THERE was a disciple of the Blessed One, full of energy and zeal
the truth, who, living under a vow to complete a meditation in
solitude, flagged in a moment of weakness. He said to himself: "The
Teacher said there are several kinds of men; I must belong to the
lowest class and fear that in this birth there will be neither path
nor fruit for me. What is the use of a hermit's life if I cannot by
constant endeavor attain the insight of meditation to which I have
devoted myself?" And he left the solitude and returned to the
When the brethren saw him they said to him: "Thou hast done wrong, O
brother, after taking a vow, to give up the attempt of carrying it
out"; and they took him to the Master. When the Blessed One saw them
he said: "I see, O mendicants, that you have brought this brother here
against his will. What has he done?"
"Lord, this brother, having taken the vows of sanctifying a faith,
has abandoned the endeavor to accomplish the aim of a member of the
order, and has come back to us." Then the Teacher said to him: Is it
true that thou hast given up trying?"
"It is true, O Blessed One I was the reply.
The Master said: "This present life of thine is a time of grace.
If thou fail now to reach the happy state thou wilt have to suffer
remorse in future existences. How is it, brother, that thou hast
proved so irresolute? Why, in former states of existence thou wert
full of determination. By thy energy alone the men and bullocks of
five hundred wagons obtained water in the sandy desert, and were
saved. How is it that thou now givest up?" By these few words that
brother was re-established in his resolution. But the others
besought the Blessed One, saying: "Lord! Tell us how this was."
"Listen, then, O mendicants!" said the Blessed One; and having
thus excited their attention, he made manifest a thing concealed by
change of birth. Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was reigning in
Kasi, the Bodhisattva was born in a merchant's family; and when he
grew up, he went about trafficking with five hundred carts. One day he
arrived at a sandy desert many leagues across. The sand in that desert
was so fine that when taken in the closed fist it could not be kept in
the hand. After the sun had risen it became as hot as a mass of
burning embers, so that no man could walk on it. Those, therefore, who
had to travel over it took wood, and water, and oil, and rice in their
carts, and traveled during the night. And at daybreak they formed an
encampment and spread an awning over it, and, taking their meals
early, they passed the day lying in the shade. At sunset they
supped, and when the ground had become cool they yoked their oxen
and went on. The traveling was like a voyage over the sea: a
desert-pilot had to be chosen, and he brought the caravan safe to
the other side by his knowledge of the stars.
"Thus the merchant of our story crossed the desert. And when he
had passed over fifty-nine leagues he thought, "Now, in one more night
we shall get out of the sand, and after supper he directed the
wagons to be yoked, and so set out. The pilot had cushions arranged on
the foremost cart and lay down, looking at the stars and directing the
men where to drive. But worn out by want of rest during the long
march, he fell asleep, and did not perceive that the oxen had turned
round and taken the same road by which they had come. The oxen went on
the whole night through. Towards dawn the pilot woke up, and,
observing the stars, called out: "Stop the wagons, stop the wagons!"
The day broke just as they stopped and were drawing up the carts in
a line. Then the men cried out: "Why, this is the very encampment we
left yesterday! We have but little wood left and our water is all
gone! We are lost!" And unyoking the oxen and spreading the canopy
over their heads, they lay down in despondency, each one under his
But the Bodhisattva said to himself, "If I lose heart, all these
will perish, and walked about while the morning was yet cool. On
seeing a tuft of kusa-grass, he thought: "This could have grown only
by soaking up some water which must be beneath it." And he made them
bring a spade and dig in that spot. And they dug sixty cubits deep.
And when they had got thus far, the spade of the diggers struck on a
rock; and as soon as it struck, they all gave up in despair. But the
Bodhisattva thought, "There must be water under that rock," and
descending into the well he got upon the stone, and stooping down
applied his ear to it and tested the sound of it. He heard the sound
of water gurgling beneath, and when he got out he called his page. "My
lad, if thou givest up now, we shall all be lost. Do not lose heart.
Take this iron hammer, and go down into the pit, and give the rock a
The lad obeyed, and though they all stood by in despair, he went
down full of determination and struck at the stone. The rock split
in two and fell below, so that it no longer blocked the stream, and
water rose till its depth from the bottom to the brim of the well
was equal to the height of a palm-tree. And they all drank of the
water, and bathed in it. Then they cooked rice and ate it, and fed
their oxen with it. And when the sun set, they put a flag in the well,
and went to the place appointed. There they sold their merchandise
at a good profit and returned to their home, and when they died they
passed away according to their deeds. And the Bodhisattva gave gifts
and did other virtuous acts, and he also passed away according to
After the Teacher had told the story he formed the connection by
saying in conclusion, "The caravan the Bodhisattva, the future Buddha;
the page who at that time despaired not, but broke the stone, and gave
water to the multitude, was this brother without perseverance; and the
other men were attendants on the Buddha."
BHARADVAJA, a wealthy Brahman farmer, was celebrating his
harvest-thanksgiving when the Blessed One came with his alms-bowl,
begging for food. Some of the people paid him reverence, but the
Brahman was angry and said: "O samana, it would be more fitting for
thee to go to work than to beg. I plough and sow, and having
ploughed and sown, I eat. If thou didst likewise, thou, too, wouldst
have something to eat."
The Tathagata answered him and said: "O Brahman, if too, plough
and sow, and having ploughed and sown, I eat." "Dost thou profess to
be a husbandman?" replied the Brahman. "Where, then, are thy bullocks?
Where is the seed and the plough?"
The Blessed One said: "Faith is the seed I sow: good works are the
rain that fertilizes it; wisdom and modesty are the plough; my mind is
the guiding-rein; I lay hold of the handle of the law; earnestness
is the goad I use, and exertion is my draught-ox. This ploughing is
ploughed to destroy the weeds of illusion. The harvest it yields is
the immortal fruits of Nirvana, and thus all sorrow ends." Then the
Brahman poured rice-milk into a golden bowl and offered it to the
Blessed One, saying: "Let the Teacher of mankind partake of the
rice-milk, for the venerable Gotama ploughs a ploughing that bears the
fruit of immortality."
WHEN Bhagavat dwelt at Savatthi in the Jetavana, he went out with
his alms-bowl to beg for food and approached the house of a Brahman
priest while the fire of an offering was blazing upon the altar. And
the priest said: "Stay there, O shaveling; stay there, O wretched
samana; thou art an outcast."
The Blessed One replied: "Who is an outcast? An outcast is the man
who is angry and bears hatred; the man who is wicked and hypocritical,
he who embraces error and is full of deceit. Whosoever is a provoker
and is avaricious, has evil desires, is envious, wicked, shameless,
and without fear to commit wrong, let him be known as an outcast.
Not by birth does one become an outcast, not by birth does one
become a Brahman; by deeds one becomes an outcast, by deeds one
becomes a Brahman."
THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
ANANDA, the favorite disciple of the Buddha, having been sent
Lord on a mission, passed by a well near a village, and seeing Pakati,
a girl of the Matanga caste, he asked her for water to drink. Pakati
said: "O Brahman, I am too humble and mean to give thee water to
drink, do not ask any service of me lest thy holiness be contaminated,
for I am of low caste." And Ananda replied: "I ask not for caste but
for water"; and the Matanga girl's heart leaped joyfully and she
gave Ananda to drink.
Ananda thanked her and went away; but she followed him at a
distance. Having heard that Ananda was a disciple of Gotama Sakyamuni,
the girl repaired to the Blessed One and cried: "O Lord help me, and
let me live in the place where Ananda thy disciple dwells, so that I
may see him and minister unto him, for I love Ananda." The Blessed One
understood the emotions of her heart and he said: "Pakati, thy heart
is full of love, but thou understandest not thine own sentiments. It
is not Ananda that thou lovest, but his kindness. Accept, then, the
kindness thou hast seen him practice unto thee, and in the humility of
thy station practice it unto others. Verily there is great merit in
the generosity of a king when he is kind to a slave; but there is a
greater merit in the slave when he ignores the wrongs which he suffers
and cherishes kindness and good-will to all mankind. He will cease
to hate his oppressors, and even when powerless to resist their
usurpation will with compassion pity their arrogance and
"Blessed art thou, Pakati, for though thou art a Matanga thou wilt
be a model for noblemen and noble women. Thou art of low caste, but
Brahmans may learn a lesson from thee. Swerve not from the path of
justice and righteousness and thou wilt outshine the royal glory of
queens on the throne."
IT is reported that two kingdoms were on the verge of war for
possession of a certain embankment which was disputed by them. And the
Buddha seeing the kings and their armies ready to fight, requested
them to tell him the cause of their quarrels. Having heard the
complaints on both sides, he said:
"I understand that the embankment has value for some of your people;
has it any intrinsic value aside from its service to your men?"
"It has no intrinsic value whatever was the reply.
The Tathagata continued: "Now when you go to battle is it not sure
that many of your men will be slain and that you yourselves, O
kings, are liable to lose your lives?" And they said: "It is sure that
many will be slain and our own lives be jeopardized."
"The blood of men, however," said Buddha, "has it less intrinsic
value than a mound of earth?" "No," the kings said, "The lives of
men and above all the lives of kings, are priceless." Then the
Tathagata concluded: care you going to stake that which is priceless
against that which has no intrinsic value whatever?-The wrath of the
two monarchs abated, and they came to a peaceable agreement.
THE HUNGRY DOG
THERE was a great king who oppressed his people and was hated
subjects; yet when the Tathagata came into his kingdom, the king
desired much to see him. So he went to the place where the Blessed One
stayed and asked: "O Sakyamuni, canst thou teach a lesson to the
king that will divert his mind and benefit him at the same time?"
And the Blessed One said: "I shall tell thee the parable of the
hungry dog: There was a wicked tyrant; and the god Indra, assuming the
shape of a hunter, came down upon earth with the demon Matali, the
latter appearing as a dog of enormous size. Hunter and dog entered the
palace, and the dog howled so woefully that the royal buildings
shook by the sound to their very foundations. The tyrant had the
awe-inspiring hunter brought before his throne and inquired after the
cause of the terrible bark. The hunter said, "The dog is hungry,"
whereupon the frightened king ordered food for him. All the food
prepared at the royal banquet disappeared rapidly in the dog's jaws,
and still he howled with portentous significance. More food was sent
for, and all the royal store-houses were emptied, but in vain. Then
the tyrant grew desperate and asked: 'Will nothing satisfy the
cravings of that woeful beast?' "Nothing," replied the hunter, nothing
except perhaps the flesh of all his enemies.' 'And who are his
enemies?' anxiously asked the tyrant. The hunter replied: 'The dog
will howl as long as there are people hungry in the kingdom, and his
enemies are those who practice injustice and oppress the poor." The
oppressor of the people, remembering his evil deeds, was seized with
remorse, and for the first time in his life he began to listen to
the teachings of righteousness."
Having ended his story, the Blessed One addressed the king, who
had turned pale, and said to him: "The Tathagata can quicken the
spiritual ears of the powerful, and when thou, great king, hearest the
dog bark, think of the teachings of the Buddha, and thou mayest
still learn to pacify the monster."
THE DESPOT CURED
KING BRAHMADATTA happened to see a beautiful woman, the wife of
Brahman merchant and, conceiving a passion for her ordered a
precious jewel secretly to be dropped into the merchant's carriage.
The jewel was missed, searched for, and found. The merchant was
arrested on the charge of stealing, and the king pretended to listen
with great attention to the defense, and with seeming regret ordered
the merchant to be executed, while his wife was consigned to the royal
Brahmadatta attended the execution in person, for such sights were
wont to give him pleasure, but when the doomed man looked with deep
compassion at his infamous judge, a flash of the Buddha's wisdom lit
up the king's passion beclouded mind; and while the executioner raised
the sword for the fatal stroke, Brahmadatta felt the effect in his own
mind, and he imagined he saw himself on the block. "Hold,
executioner!" shouted Brahmadatta, it is the king whom thou
slayest!" But it was too late! The executioner had done the bloody
deed. The king fell back in a swoon, and when he awoke a change had
come over him. He had ceased to be the cruel despot and henceforth led
a life of holiness and rectitude. The people said that the character
of the Brahman had been impressed into his mind.
O you who commit murders and robberies! The evil of self-delusion
covers your eyes. If you could see things as they are, not as they
appear, you would no longer inflict injuries and pain on your own
selves. You see not that you will have to atone for your evil deeds,
for what you sow you will reap.
VASAVADATTA, THE COURTESAN
THERE was a courtesan in Mathura named Vasavadatta. She happened
to see Upagutta, one of Buddha's disciples, a tall and beautiful
youth, and fell desperately in love with him. sent an invitation to
the young man, but he replied: "The time has not yet arrived when
Upagutta will visit Vasavadatta." The courtesan was astonished at
the reply, and she sent again for him, saying: "Vasavadatta desires
love, not gold, from Upagutta." But Upagutta made the same enigmatic
reply and did not come.
A few months later Vasavadatta was having a love intrigue with the
chief of the artisans. But at that time a wealthy merchant came to
Mathura, and fell in love with Vasavadatta. Seeing his wealth, and
fearing the jealousy of her other lover, she contrived the death of
the chief of the artisans, and concealed his body under a dung-hill.
When the chief of the artisans had disappeared, his relatives and
friends searched for him and found his body. Vasavadatta was tried
by a judge, and condemned to have her ears and nose, her hands and
feet cut off, and flung into a graveyard. Vasavadatta had been a
passionate girl, but kind to her servants, and one of her maids
followed her, and out of love for her former mistress ministered to
her in her agonies, and chased away the crows.
Now the time had arrived when Upagutta decided to visit Vasavadatta.
When he came, the poor woman ordered her maid to collect and hide
under a cloth her severed limbs; and he greeted her kindly, but she
said with petulance: "Once this body was fragrant like the lotus,
and I offered thee my love. In those days I was covered with pearls
and fine muslin. Now I am mangled by the executioner and covered
with filth and blood."
"Sister," said the young man, "it is not for my pleasure that I
approach thee. It is to restore to thee a nobler beauty than the
charms which thou hast lost. I have seen with mine eyes the
Tathagata walking upon earth and teaching men his wonderful
doctrine. But thou wouldst not have listened to the words of
righteousness while surrounded with temptations while under the
spell of passion and yearning for worldly pleasures. Thou wouldst
not have listened to the teachings of the Tathagata, for thy heart was
wayward, and thou didst set thy trust on the sham of thy transient
charms. The charms of a lovely form are treacherous, and quickly
lead into temptations, which have proved too strong for thee. But
there is a beauty which will not fade, and if thou wilt but listen
to the doctrine of our Lord, the Buddha, thou wilt find that peace
which thou wouldst have found in the restless world of sinful
Vasavadatta became calm and a spiritual happiness soothed the
tortures of her bodily pain; for where there is much suffering there
is also great bliss. Having taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma,
and the Sangha, she died in pious submission to the punishment of
THE MARRIAGE-FEAST IN JAMBUNADA
THERE was a man in Jambunada who was to be married the next day,
he thought, "Would that the Buddha, the Blessed One, might be
present at the wedding." And the Blessed One passed by his house and
met him, and when he read the silent wish in the heart of the
bridegroom, he consented to enter. When the When the Holy One appeared
with the retinue of his many bhikkhus, the host, whose means were
limited, received them as best he could, saying: "Eat, my Lord, and
all thy congregation, according to your desire."
While the holy men ate, the meats and drinks remained
undiminished, and the host thought to himself: "How wondrous is
this! I should have had plenty for all my relatives and friends. Would
that I had invited them all. all." When this thought was in the host's
mind, all his relatives and friends entered the house; and although
the hall in the house was small there was room in it for all of
them. They sat down at the table and ate, and there was more than
enough for all of them. The Blessed One was pleased to see so many
guests full of good cheer and he quickened them and gladdened them
with words of truth, proclaiming the bliss of righteousness:
"The greatest happiness which a mortal man can imagine is the bond
of marriage that ties together two loving hearts. But there is a
greater happiness still: it is the embrace of truth. Death will
separate husband and wife, but death will never affect him who has
espoused the truth. Therefore be married unto the truth and live
with the truth in holy wedlock. The husband who loves his wife and
desires for a union that shall be everlasting must be faithful to
her so as to be like truth itself, and she will rely upon him and
revere him and minister unto him. And the wife who loves her husband
and desires a union that shall be everlasting must be faithful to
him so as to be like truth itself; and he will place his trust in her,
he will provide for her. Verily, I say unto you, their children will
become like their parents and will bear witness to their happiness.
Let no man be single, let every one be wedded in holy love to the
truth. And when Mara, the destroyer, comes to separate the visible
forms of your being, you will continue to live in the truth, and
will partake of the life everlasting, for the truth is immortal."
There was no one among the guests but was strengthened in his,
spiritual life, and recognized the sweetness of a life of
righteousness; and they took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the
IN SEARCH OF A THIEF
HAVING sent out his disciples, the Blessed One himself wandered
place to place until he reached Uruvela. On his way he sat down in a
grove to rest, and it happened that in that same grove was a party
of thirty friends who were enjoying themselves with their wives; and
while they were sporting, some of their goods were stolen. Then the
whole party went in search of the thief and, meeting the Blessed One
sitting under a tree, saluted him and said: "Pray, Lord, didst thou
see the thief pass by with our goods?"
And the Blessed One said: "Which is better for you, that you go in
search for the thief or for yourselves?" And the youths cried: "In
search for ourselves!"
"Well then," said the Blessed One "sit down and I will preach the
truth to you." And the whole party sat down and they listened
eagerly to the words of the Blessed One. Having grasped the truth,
they praised the doctrine and took refuge in the Buddha.
IN THE REALM OF YAMARAJA
THERE was a Brahman, a religious man and fond in his affections
but without deep wisdom. He had a son of great promise, who, when
seven years old, was struck with a fatal disease and died. The
unfortunate father was unable to control himself; he threw himself
upon the corpse and lay there as one dead. The relatives came and
buried the dead child and when the father came to himself, he was so
immoderate in his grief that he behaved like an insane person. He no
longer gave way to tears but wandered about asking for the residence
of Yamaraja, the king of death, humbly to beg of him that his child
might be allowed to return to life.
Having arrived at a great Brahman temple the sad father went through
certain religious rites and fell asleep. While wandering on in his
dream he came to a deep mountain pass where he met a number of samanas
who had acquired supreme wisdom. "Kind sirs," he said, "Can you not
tell me where the residence of Yamaraja is?" And they asked him, "Good
friend, why wouldst thou know?" Whereupon he told them his sad story
and explained his intentions. Pitying his self-delusion, the samanas
said: "No mortal man can reach the place where Yama reigns, but some
four hundred miles westward lies a great city in which many good
spirits live; every eighth day of the month Yama visits the place, and
there mayst thou see him who is the King of Death and ask him for a
The Brahman rejoicing at the news went to the city and found it as
the samanas had told him. He was admitted to the dread presence of
Yama, the King of Death, who, on hearing his request, said: "Thy son
now lives in the eastern garden where he is disporting himself; go
there and ask him to follow thee." Said the happy father: "How does it
happen that my son, without having performed one good work, is now
living in paradise?" Yamaraja replied: "He has obtained celestial
happiness not for performing good deeds, but because he died in
faith and in love to the Lord and Master, the most glorious Buddha.
The Buddha says: 'The heart of love and faith spreads as it were a
beneficent shade from the world of men to the world of gods.' This
glorious utterance is like the stamp of a king's seal upon a royal
The happy father hastened to the place and saw his be beloved
child playing with other children, all transfigured by the peace of
the blissful existence of a heavenly life. He ran up to his boy and
cried with tears running down his cheeks: "My son, my son, dost thou
not remember me, thy father who watched over thee with loving care and
tended thee in thy sickness? Return home with me to the land of the
living." But the boy, while struggling to go back to his playmates,
upbraided him for using such strange expressions as father and son.
"In my present state, he said, "I know no such words, for I am free
On this, the Brahman departed, and when he woke from his dream he
bethought himself of the Blessed Master of mankind, the great
Buddha, and resolved to go to him, lay bare his grief, and seek
consolation. Having arrived at the Jetavana, the Brahman told his
story and how his boy had refused to recognize him and to go home with
And the World-honored One said: "Truly thou art deluded. When man
dies the body is dissolved into its elements, but the spirit is not
entombed. It leads a higher mode of life in which all the relative
terms of father, son, wife, mother, are at an end, just as a guest who
leaves his lodging has done with it, as though it were a thing of
the past. Men concern themselves most about that which passes away;
but the end of life quickly comes as a burning torrent sweeping away
the transient in a moment. They are like a blind man set to look after
a burning lamp. A wise man, understanding the transiency of worldly
relations, destroys the cause of grief, and escapes from the
seething whirlpool of sorrow. Religious wisdom lifts a man above the
pleasures and pains of the world and gives him peace everlasting." The
Brahman asked the permission of the Blessed One to enter the community
of his bhikkhus, so as to acquire that heavenly wisdom which alone can
give comfort to an afflicted heart.