WHILE the Blessed One dwelt at Kosambi, a certain bhikkhu was
accused of having committed an offense, and, as he refused to
acknowledge it, the brotherhood pronounced against him the sentence of
Now, that bhikkhu was erudite. He knew the Dharma, had studied the
rules of the order, and was wise, learned, intelligent, modest,
conscientious, and ready to submit himself to discipline. And he
went to his companions and friends among the bhikkhus, saying: "This
is no offense, friends; this is no reason for a sentence of expulsion.
I am not guilty. The verdict improper and invalid. Therefore I
consider myself still as a member of the order. May the venerable
brethren assist me in maintaining my right."
Those who sided with the expelled brother went to the bhikkhus who
had pronounced the sentence, saying: "This is no offense"; while the
bhikkhus who had pronounced the sentence replied: "This is an
offense." Thus altercations and quarrels arose, and the Sangha was
divided into two parties, reviling and slandering each other.
All these happenings were reported to the Blessed One. Then the
Blessed One went to the place where the bhikkhus were who had
pronounced the sentence of expulsion, and said to them: "Do not think,
O bhikkhus, that you are to pronounce expulsion against a bhikkhu,
whatever be the facts of the case, simply by saying: 'It occurs to
us that it is so, and therefore we are pleased to proceed thus against
our brother.' Let those bhikkhus who frivolously pronounce a
sentence against a brother who knows the Dharma and the rules of the
order, who is learned, wise, intelligent, modest, conscientious, and
ready to submit himself to discipline, stand in awe of causing
divisions. They must not pronounce a sentence of expulsion against a
brother merely because he refuses to see his offense."
Then the Blessed One rose and went to the brethren who sided with
the expelled brother and said to them: "Do not think, O bhikkhus, that
if you have given offense you need not atone for it, thinking: 'We are
without offense.' When a bhikkhu has committed an offense, which he
considers no offense while the brotherhood consider him guilty, he
should think: 'These brethren know the Dharma and the rules of the
order; they are learned, wise, intelligent, modest, conscientious, and
ready to submit themselves to discipline; it is impossible that they
should on my account act with selfishness or in malice or in
delusion or in fear.' Let him stand in awe of causing divisions, and
rather acknowledge his offense on the authority of his brethren."
Both parties continued to keep Uposatha and perform official acts
independently of one another; and when their doings were related to
the Blessed One, he ruled that the keeping of Uposatha and the
performance of official acts were lawful, unobjectionable, and valid
for both parties. For he said: "The bhikkhus who side with the
expelled brother form a different communion from those who
pronounced the sentence. There are venerable brethren in both parties.
As they do not agree, let them keep Uposatha and perform official acts
And the Blessed One reprimanded the quarrelsome bhikkhus, saying
to them: "Loud is the voice which worldings make; but how can they
be blamed when divisions arise also in the Sangha? Hatred is not
appeased in those who think: 'He has reviled me, he has wronged me, he
has injured me.' For not by hatred is hatred appeased. Hatred is
appeased by not-hatred. This is an eternal law.
"There are some who do not know the need of self-restraint; if
they are quarrelsome we may excuse their behavior. But those who
know better, should learn to live in concord. If a man finds a wise
friend who lives righteously and is constant in his character, he
may live with him, overcoming all dangers, happy and mindful.
"But if he finds not a friend who lives righteously and is
constant in his character, let him rather walk alone, like a king
who leaves his empire and the cares of government behind him to lead a
life of retirement like a lonely elephant in the forest. With fools
there is no companionship. Rather than to live with men who are
selfish, vain, quarrelsome, and obstinate let a man walk alone."
And the Blessed One thought to himself: "It is no easy task to
instruct these headstrong and infatuate fools." And he rose from his
seat and went away.
THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF CONCORD
WHILST the dispute between the parties was not yet settled, the
Blessed One left Kosambi, and wandering from place to place he came at
last to Savatthi. In the absence of the Blessed One the quarrels
grew worse, so that the lay devotees of Kosambi became annoyed and
they said: "These quarrelsome monks are a great nuisance and will
bring upon us misfortune. Worried by their altercations the Blessed
One is gone, and has selected another abode for his residence. Let us,
therefore, neither salute the bhikkhus nor support them. They are
not worthy of wearing yellow robes, and must either propitiate the
Blessed One, or return to the world."
And the bhikkhus of Kosambi, when no longer honored and no longer
supported by the lay devotees, began to repent and said: "Let us go to
the Blessed One and let him settle the question of our
disagreement." Both parties went to Savatthi to the Blessed One. And
the venerable Sariputta, having heard of their arrival, addressed
the Blessed One and said: "These contentious, disputatious, and
quarrelsome bhikkhus of Kosambi, the authors of dissensions, have come
to Savatthi. How am I to behave, O Lord, toward those bhikkhus."
"Do not reprove them, Sariputta, said the Blessed One, "For harsh
words do not serve as a remedy and are pleasant to no one. Assign
separate dwelling-places to each party and treat them with impartial
justice. Listen with patience to both parties. He alone who weighs
both sides is called a muni. When both parties have presented their
case, let the Sangha come to an agreement and declare the
re-establishment of concord."
Pajapati, the matron, asked the Blessed One for advice, and the
Blessed One said: "Let both parties enjoy the gifts of lay members, be
they robes or food, as they may need, and let no one receive
preference over any other."
The venerable Upali, having approached the Blessed One, asked
concerning the re-establishment of peace in the Sangha: "Would it be
right, O Lord, said he, that the Sangha, to avoid further
disputations, should declare the restoration of concord without
inquiring into the matter of the quarrel?"
The Blessed One said: "If the Sangha declares the reestablishment of
concord without having inquired into the matter, the declaration is
neither right nor lawful. There are two ways of re-establishing
concord; one is in the letter, and the other one is in the spirit
and in the letter.
"If the Sangha declares the re-establishment of concord without
having inquired into the matter, the peace is concluded in the
letter only. But if the Sangha, having inquired into the matter and
having gone to the bottom of it, decides to declare the
re-establishment of concord, the peace is concluded in the spirit
and also in the letter. The concord re-established in the spirit and
in the letter is alone right and lawful."
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and told them the story
of Prince Dighavu, the Long-lived. He said: "In former times, there
lived at Benares a powerful king whose name was Brahmadatta of Kasi;
and he went to war against Dighiti, the Long-suffering, a king of
Kosala, for he thought, The kingdom of Kosala is small and Dighiti
will not be able to resist my armies." And Dighiti, seeing that
resistance was impossible against the great host of the king of
Kasi, fled leaving his little kingdom in the hands of Brahmadatta; and
having wandered from place to place, he came at last to Benares, and
lived there with his consort in a potter's dwelling outside the town.
"The queen bore him a son and they called him Dighavu. When
Dighavu had grown up, the king thought to himself: 'King Brahmadatta
has done us great harm, and he is fearing our revenge; he will seek to
kill us. Should he find us he will slay all three of us.' And he
sent his son away, and Dighavu having received a good education from
his father, applied himself diligently to learn all arts, becoming
very skillful and wise.
"At that time the barber of King Dighiti dwelt at Benares, and he
saw the king, his former master, and being of an avaricious nature,
betrayed him to King Brahmadatta. When Brahmadatta, the king of
Kasi, heard that the fugitive king of Kosala and his queen, unknown
and in disguise, were living a quiet life in a potter's dwelling, he
ordered them to be bound and executed; and the sheriff to whom the
order was given seized King Dighiti and led him to the place of
"While the captive king was being led through the streets of Benares
he saw his son who had returned to visit his parents, and, careful not
to betray the presence of his son, yet anxious to communicate to him
his last advice, he cried: 'O Dighavu, my son! Be not far-sighted,
be not near-sighted, for not by hatred is hatred appeased; hatred is
appeased by not-hatred only.'
"The king and queen of Kosala were executed, but Dighavu their son
bought strong wine and made the guards drunk. When the night arrived
he laid the bodies of his parents upon a funeral pyre and burned
them with all honors and religious rites. When King Brahmadatta
heard of it, he became afraid, for he thought, Dighavu, the son of
King Dighiti, is a wise youth and he will take revenge for the death
of his parents. If he espies a favorable opportunity, he will
"Young Dighavu went to the forest and wept to his heart's content.
Then he wiped his tears and returned to Benares. Hearing that
assistants were wanted in the royal elephants' stable, he offered
his services and was engaged by the master of the elephants. And it
happened that the king heard a sweet voice ringing through the night
and singing to the lute a beautiful song that gladdened his heart. And
having inquired among his attendants who the singer might be, was told
that the master of the elephants had in his service a young man of
great accomplishments, and beloved by all his comrades. They said He
is wont to sing to the lute, and he must have been the singer that
gladdened the heart of the king.'
"The king summoned the young man before him and, being much
pleased with Dighavu, gave him employment in the royal castle.
Observing how wisely the youth acted, how modest he was and yet
punctilious in the performance of his work, the king very soon gave
him a position of trust. Now it came to pass that the king went
hunting and became separated from his retinue, young Dighavu alone
remaining with him. And the king worn out from the hunt laid his
head in the lap of young Dighavu and slept.
"Dighavu thought: 'People will forgive great wrongs which they
have suffered, but they will never be at ease about the wrong which
they themselves have done. They will persecute their victims to the
bitter end. This King Brahmadatta has done us great injury; he
robbed us of our kingdom and slew my father and my mother. He is now
in my power. Thinking thus he unsheathed his sword. Then Dighavu
thought of the last words of his father. 'Be not far-sighted, be not
near-sighted. For not by hatred is hatred appeased. Hatred is appeased
by not-hatred alone.-Thinking thus, he put his sword back into the
"The king became restless in his sleep and he awoke, and when the
youth asked, 'Why art thou frightened, O king?' he replied: 'My
sleep is always restless because I often dream that young Dighavu is
coming upon me with his sword. While I lay here with my head in thy
lap I dreamed the dreadful dream again; and I awoke full of terror and
alarm.' Then the youth, laying his left hand upon the defenseless
king's head and with his right hand drawing his sword, said: 'I am
Dighavu, the son of King Dighiti, whom thou hast robbed of his kingdom
and slain together with his queen, my mother. I know that men overcome
the hatred entertained for wrongs which they have suffered much more
easily than for the wrongs which they have done, and so I cannot
expect that thou wilt take pity on me; but now a chance for revenge
has come to me.
"The king seeing that he was at the mercy of young Dighavu raised
his hands and said: 'Grant me my life, my dear Dighavu, grant me my
life. I shall be forever grateful to thee.' And Dighavu said without
bitterness or ill-will: 'How can I grant thee thy life, O king,
since my life is endangered by thee? I do not mean to take thy life.
It is thou, O king, who must grant me my life."
"And the king said: 'Well, my dear Dighavu, then grant me my life,
and I will grant thee thine.' Thus, King Brahmadatta of Kasi and young
Dighavu granted each other's life and took each other's hand and swore
an oath not to do any harm to each other.
"Then King Brahmadatta of Kasi said to young Dighavu: 'Why did thy
father say to thee in the hour of his death: "Be not far-sighted, be
not near-sighted, for hatred is not appeased by hatred. Hatred is
appeased by not-hatred alone,"-what did thy father mean by that?'
"The youth replied: 'When my father, O king, in the hour of his
death said: 'Be not far-sighted," he meant, Let 'Be not hatred go far.
And when my father said near-sighted," he meant, be not hasty to
fall out with thy friends. And when he said For not by hatred is
hatred appeased; hatred is appeased by not-hatred, he meant this: Thou
hast killed my father and mother, O king, and if I should deprive thee
of thy life, then thy partisans in turn would take away my life; my
partisans again would deprive thine of their lives. Thus by hatred,
hatred would not be appeased. But now, O king, thou hast granted me my
life, and I have granted thee thine; thus by not-hatred hatred has
"Then King Brahmadatta of Kasi thought: 'How wise is young Dighavu
that he understands in its full extent the meaning of what his
father spoke concisely.' And the king gave him back his father's
kingdom and gave him his daughter in marriage."
Having finished the story, the Blessed One said: "Brethren, ye are
my lawful sons in the faith, begotten by the words of my mouth.
Children ought not to trample under foot the counsel given them by
their father; do ye henceforth follow my admonitions. Then the
bhikkhus met in conference; they discussed their differences in mutual
good will, and the concord of the Sangha was re-established.
THE BHIKKHUS REBUKED
IT happened that the Blessed One walked up and down in the open
air unshod. When the elders saw that the Blessed One walked unshod,
they put away their shoes and did likewise. But the novices did not
heed the example of their elders and kept their feet covered.
Some of the brethren noticed the irreverent behavior of the
novices and told the Blessed One; and the Blessed One rebuked the
novices and said: "If the brethren, even now, while I am yet living,
show so little respect and courtesy to one another, what will they
do when I have passed away?"
The Blessed One was filled with anxiety for the welfare of the
truth; and he continued: "Even the laymen, O bhikkhus, who move in the
world, pursuing some handicraft that they may procure them a living,
will be respectful, affectionate, and hospitable to their teachers. Do
ye, therefore, O bhikkhus, so let your light shine forth, that ye,
having left the world and devoted your entire life to religion and
to religious discipline, may observe the rules of decency, be
respectful, affectionate, and hospitable to your teachers and
superiors, or those who rank as your teachers and superiors. Your
demeanor, O bhikkhus, does not conduce to the conversion of the
unconverted and to the increase of the number of the faithful. It
serves, O bhikkhus, to repel the unconverted and to estrange them. I
exhort you to be more considerate in the future, more thoughtful and
THE JEALOUSY OF DEVADATTA
WHEN Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of Yasodhara,
became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining the same
distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being disappointed in
his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a jealous hatred, and,
attempting to excel the Perfect One in virtue, he found fault with his
regulations and reproved them as too lenient.
Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu, the son
of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for Devadatta,
and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to severe rules and
Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha and
stayed at the Veluvana vihara. Devadatta called on the Blessed One,
requesting him to sanction his rules of greater stringency, by which a
greater holiness might be procured. "The body," he said, consists of
its thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is conceived
in sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to pain
and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of
karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the
dwelling place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly discharge
disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal the charnel
house. Such being the condition of the body it behooves us to treat it
as a carcass full of abomination and to clothe it in such rags only as
have been gathered in cemeteries or upon dung-hills."
The Blessed One said: "Truly, the body is full of impurity and its
end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined to be
dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of karma, it
lies in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not of evil. It
is not good to indulge in the pleasures of the body, but neither is it
good to neglect our bodily needs and to heap filth upon impurities.
The lamp that is not cleansed and not filled with oil will be
extinguished, and a body that is unkempt, unwashed, and weakened by
penance will not be a fit receptacle for the light of truth. Attend to
your body and its needs as you would treat a wound which you care
for without loving it. Severe rules will not lead the disciples on the
middle path which I have taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented
from keeping more stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so but they
should not be imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary."
Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta's proposal; and Devadatta
left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of the Lord's
path of salvation as too lenient and altogether insufficient. When the
Blessed One heard of Devadatta's intrigues, he said: "Among men
there is no one who is not blamed. People blame him who sits silent
and him who speaks, they also blame the man who preaches the middle
Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father
Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be subject
to him. Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower, where he died,
leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son Ajatasattu.
The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he gave
orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the murderers
sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their wicked deed, and
became converted as soon as they saw him and listened to his
preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice upon the great Master
split in twain, and the two pieces passed by on either side without
doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild elephant let loose to destroy the
Lord, became gentle in his presence; and Ajatasattu, suffering greatly
from the pangs of his conscience, went to the Blessed One and sought
peace in his distress.
The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the way of
salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of a
religious school of his own. Devadatta did not succeed in his plans
and having been abandoned by many of his disciples, he fell sick,
and then repented. He entreated those who had remained with him to
carry his litter to the Buddha, saying: "Take me, children, take me to
him; though I have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For
the sake of our relationship the Buddha will save me." And they
obeyed, although reluctantly.
And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose from his
litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his feet
burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted a hymn on
the Buddha, died.
NAME AND FORM
ON one occasion the Blessed One entered the assembly hall and the
brethren hushed their conversation. When they had greeted him with
clasped hands, they sat down and became composed. Then the Blessed One
said: "Your minds are inflamed with intense interest; what was the
topic of your discussion?"
And Sariputta rose and spake: "World-honored master, were the nature
of man's own existence. We were trying to grasp the mixture of our own
being which is called Name and Form. Every human being consists of
conformations, and there are three groups which are not corporeal.
They are sensation, perception, and the dispositions; all three
constitute consciousness and mind, being comprised under the term
Name. And there are four elements, the earthy element, the watery
element, the fiery element, and the gaseous element, and these four
elements constitute man's bodily form, being held together so that
this machine moves like a puppet. How does this name and form endure
and how can it live?"
Said the Blessed One: "Life is instantaneous and living is dying.
Just as a chariot-wheel in rolling rolls only at one point of the
tire, and in resting rests only at one point; in exactly the same way,
the life of a living being lasts only for the period of one thought.
As soon as that thought has ceased the being is said to have ceased.
As it has been said: 'The being of a past moment of thought has lived,
but does not live, nor will it live. The being of a future moment of
thought will live, but has not lived, nor does it live. The being of
the present moment of thought does live, but has not lived, nor will
"As to Name and Form we must understand how they interact. Name
has no power of its own, nor can it go on of its own impulse, either
to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement. Form
also is without power and cannot go on of its own impulse. It has no
desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement.
But Form goes on when supported by Name, and Name when supported by
Form. When Name has a desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter
sounds, or to make a movement, then Form eats, drinks, utters
sounds, makes a movement.
"It is as if two men, the one blind from birth and the other a
cripple, were desirous of going traveling, and the man blind from
birth were to say to the cripple as follows: 'See here! I am able to
use my legs, but I have no eyes with which to see the rough and the
smooth places in the road.' And the cripple were to say to the man
blind from birth as follows: 'See here! I am able to use my eyes,
but I have no legs with which to go forward and back.' And the man
blind from birth, pleased and delighted, were to mount the cripple
on his shoulders. And the cripple sitting on the shoulders of the
man blind from birth were to direct him, saying, 'Leave the left and
go to the right; leave the right and go to the left.'
"Here the man blind from birth is without power of his own, and
weak, and cannot go of his own impulse or might. The cripple also is
without power of his own, and weak, and cannot go of his own impulse
or might. Yet when they mutually support one another it is not
impossible for them to go. In exactly the same way Name is without
power of its own, and cannot spring up of its own might, nor perform
this or that action. Form also is without power of its own, and cannot
spring up of its own might, nor perform this or that action. Yet
when they mutually support one another it is not impossible for them
to spring up and go on.
"There is no material that exists for the production of Name and
Form; and when Name and Form cease, they do not go any whither in
space. After Name and Form have ceased, they do not exist anywhere,
any more than there is heaped-up music material. When a lute is played
upon, there is no previous store of sound; and when the music ceases
it does not go any whither in space. When it has ceased, it exists
nowhere in a stored-up state. Having previously been non-existent,
it came into existence on account of the structure and stern of the
lute and the exertions of the performer; and as it came into existence
so it passes away. In exactly the same way, all the elements of being,
both corporeal and non-corporeal come into existence after having
previously been non-existent; and having come into existence pass
"There is not a self residing in Name and Form, but the
cooperation of the conformations produces what people call a man. Just
as the word 'chariot' is but a mode of expression for axle, wheels,
the chariot-body and other constituents in their proper combination,
so a living being is the appearance of the groups with the four
elements as they are joined in a unit. There is no self in the
carriage and there is no self in man. O bhikkhus, this doctrine is
sure and an eternal truth, that there is no self outside of its parts.
This self of ours which constitutes Name and Form is a combination
of the groups with the four elements, but there is no ego entity, no
self in itself.
"Paradoxical though it may sound: There is a path to walk on,
there is walking being done, but there is no traveler. There are deeds
being done, but there is no doer. There is a blowing of the air, but
there is no wind that does the blowing. The thought of self is an
error and all existences are as hollow as the plantain tree and as
empty as twirling water bubbles.
"Therefore, O bhikkhus, as there is no self, there is no
transmigration of a self; but there are deeds and the continued effect
of deeds. There is a rebirth of karma; there is reincarnation. This
rebirth, this reincarnation, this reappearance of the conformations is
continuous and depends on the law of cause and effect. Just as a
seal is impressed upon the wax reproducing the configurations of its
device, so the thoughts of men, their characters, their aspirations
are impressed upon others in continuous transference and continue
their karma, and good deeds will continue in blessings while bad deeds
will continue in curses.
"There is no entity here that migrates, no self is transferred
from one place to another; but there is a voice uttered here and the
echo of it comes back. The teacher pronounces a stanza and the
disciple who attentively listens to his teacher's instruction, repeats
the stanza. Thus the stanza is reborn in the mind of the disciple. The
body is a compound of perishable organs. It is subject to decay; and
we should take care of it as of a wound or a sore; we should attend to
its needs without being attached to it, or loving it. The body is like
a machine, and there is no self in it that makes it walk or act, but
the thoughts of it, as the windy elements, cause the machine to
work. The body moves about like a cart. Therefore 'tis said:
"As ships are blown by wind on sails,
As arrows fly from twanging bow,
So, when the force of thought directs,
The body, following, must go.
"Just as machines are worked by ropes,
So are the body's gear and groove;
Obedient to the pull of mind,
Our muscles and our members move.
"No independent 'I' is here,
But many gathered mobile forces;
Our chariot is manned by mind,
And our karma is our horses.
"He only who utterly abandons all thought of the ego escapes
snares of the Evil One; he is out of the reach of Mara. Thus says
the pleasure-promising tempter:
"So long as to those things
Called 'mine, and 'I' and 'me'
Your hungry heart still clings-
My snares you cannot flee.
"The faithful disciple replies:
"Naught's mine and naught of me,
The self I do not mind!
Thus Mara, I tell thee,
My path thou canst not find.
"Dismiss the error of the self and do not cling to possessions
are transient, but perform deeds that are good, for deeds are enduring
and in deeds your karma continues.
"Since, then, O bhikkhus, there is no self, there can not be any
after life of a self. Therefore abandon all thought of self. But since
there are deeds and since deeds continue, be careful with your
deeds. All beings have karma as their portion: they are heirs of their
karma; they are sprung from their karma; their karma is their kinsman;
their karma is their refuge; karma allots beings to meanness or to
"Assailed by death in life last throes
On quitting all thy joys and woes
What is thine own, thy recompense?
What stays with thee when passing hence?
What like a shadow follows thee
And will Beyond thine heirloom be?
"'Tis deeds, thy deeds, both good and bad;
Naught else can after death be had.
Thy deeds are thine, thy recompense;
They are thine own when going hence;
They like a shadow follow thee
And will Beyond thine heirloom be.
"Let all then here perform good deeds,
For future weal a treasure store;
There to reap crops from noble seeds,
A bliss increasing evermore."
THE Blessed One thus addressed the bhikkhus: "It is through
understanding the four noble truths, O bhikkhus, that we had to wander
so long in the weary path of samsara, both you and I.
"Through contact thought is born from sensation, and is reborn by
a reproduction of its form. Starting from the simplest forms, the mind
rises and falls according to deeds, but the aspirations of a
Bodhisattva pursue the straight path of wisdom and righteousness,
until they reach perfect enlightenment in the Buddha.
"All creatures are what they are through the karma of their deeds
done in former and in present existences.
"The rational nature of man is a spark of the true light; it is
the first step on the upward road. But new births are required to
insure an ascent to the summit of existence, the enlightenment of mind
and heart, where the immeasurable light of moral comprehension is
gained which is the source of all righteousness. Having attained
this higher birth, I have found the truth and have taught you the
noble path that leads to the city of peace. I have shown you the way
to the lake of ambrosia, which washes away all evil desire. I have
given you the refreshing drink called the perception of truth, and
he who drinks of it becomes free from excitement, passion, and
"The very gods envy the bliss of him who has escaped from the floods
of passion and has climbed the shores of Nirvana. His heart is
cleansed from all defilement and free from all illusion. He is like
unto the lotus which grows in the water, yet not a drop of water
adheres to its petals. The man who walks in the noble path lives in
the world, and yet his heart is not defiled by worldly desires.
"He who does not see the four noble truths, he who does not
understand the three characteristics and has not grounded himself in
the uncreate, has still a long path to traverse by repeated births
through the desert of ignorance with its mirages of illusion and
through the morass of wrong. But now that you have gained
comprehension, the cause of further migrations and aberrations is
removed. The goal is reached. The craving of selfishness is destroyed,
and the truth is attained. This is true deliverance; this is
salvation; this is heaven and the bliss of a life immortal."
JOTIKKHA, the son of Subhadda, was a householder living in Rajagaha.
Having received a precious bowl of sandalwood decorated with jewels,
he erected a long pole before his house and put the bowl on its top
with this legend: "Should a samana take this bowl down without using a
ladder or a stick with a hook, or without climbing the pole, but by
magic power, he shall receive as reward whatever he desires."
The people came to the Blessed One, full of wonder and their
mouths overflowing with praise, saying: "Great is the Tathagata. His
disciples perform miracles. Kassapa, the disciple of the Buddha, saw
the bowl on Jotikkha's pole, and, stretching out his hand, he took
it down, carrying it away in triumph to the vihara."
When the Blessed One heard what had happened, he went to Kassapa,
and, breaking the bowl to pieces, forbade his disciples to perform
miracles of any kind.
Soon after this it happened that in one of the rainy seasons many
bhikkhus were staying in the Vajji territory during a famine. And
one of the bhikkhus proposed to his brethren that they should praise
one another to the householders of the village, saying: "This
bhikkhu is a saint; he has seen celestial visions; and that bhikkhu
possesses supernatural gifts; he can work miracles." And the villagers
said: "It is lucky, very lucky for us, that such saints are spending
the rainy season with us." And they gave willingly and abundantly, and
the bhikkhus prospered and did not suffer from the famine.
When the Blessed One heard it, he told Ananda to call the bhikkhus
together, and he asked them: "Tell me, O bhikkhus, when does a bhikkhu
cease to be a bhikkhu?"
And Sariputta replied: "An ordained disciple must not commit any
unchaste act. The disciple who commits an unchaste act is no longer
a disciple of the Sakyamuni. Again, an ordained disciple must not take
except what has been given him. disciple who takes, be it so little as
a penny's worth, is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. And lastly,
an ordained disciple must not knowingly and malignantly deprive any
harmless creature of life, not even an earthworm or an ant. The
disciple who knowingly and malignantly deprives any harmless
creature of its life is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. These
are the three great prohibitions."
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and said: "There is
another great prohibition which I declare to you: An ordained disciple
must not boast of any superhuman perfection. The disciple who with
evil intent and from covetousness boasts of a superhuman perfection,
be it celestial visions or miracles, is no longer a disciple of the
Sakyamuni. I forbid you, O bhikkhus, to employ any spells or
supplications, for they are useless, since the law of karma governs
all things. He who attempts to perform miracles has not understood the
doctrine of the Tathagata."
THE VANITY OF WORLDLINESS
THERE was a poet who had acquired the spotless eye of truth, and
he believed in the Buddha, whose doctrine gave him peace of mind and
comfort in the hour of affliction. It happened that an epidemic
swept over the country in which he lived, so that many died, and the
people were terrified. Some of them trembled with fright, and in
anticipation of their fate were smitten with all the horrors of
death before they died, while others began to be merry, shouting
loudly, "Let us enjoy ourselves today, for we know not whether
tomorrow we shall live"; yet was their laughter no genuine gladness,
but a mere pretense and affectation.
Among all these worldly men and women trembling with anxiety, the
Buddhist poet lived in the time of the pestilence, as usual, calm
and undisturbed, helping wherever he could and ministering unto the
sick, soothing their pains by medicine and religious consolation.
And a man came to him and said:
"My heart is nervous and excited, for I see people die. I am not
anxious about others, but I tremble because of myself. Help me; cure
me of my fear."
The poet replied: "There is help for him who has compassion on
others, but there is no help for thee so long as thou clingest to
thine own self alone. Hard times try the souls of men and teach them
righteousness and charity. Canst thou witness these sad sights
around thee and still be filled with selfishness? Canst thou see thy
brothers, sisters, and friends suffer, yet not forget the petty
cravings and lust of thine own heart? Noticing the desolation in the
mind of the pleasure-seeking man, the Buddhist poet composed this song
and taught it to the brethren in the vihara:
"Unless you take refuge in the Buddha and find rest in Nirvana,
Your life is but vanity-empty and desolate vanity.
To see the world is idle, and to enjoy life is empty.
The world, including man, is but like a phantom, and the hope of
heaven is as a mirage.
"The worldling seeks pleasures, fattening himself like a caged
But the Buddhist saint flies up to the sun like the wild crane.
The fowl in the coop has food but will soon be boiled in the pot;
No provisions are given to the wild crane, but the heavens and the
earth are his.
The poet said: "The times are hard and teach the people a
yet do they not heed it." And he composed another poem on the vanity
"It is good to reform, and it is good to exhort people to
The things of the world will all be swept away.
Let others be busy and buried with care.
My mind all unvexed shall be pure.
"After pleasures they hanker and find no satisfaction;
Riches they covet and can never have enough.
They are like unto puppets held up by a string.
When the string breaks they come down with a shock.
"In the domain of death there are neither great nor small;
Neither gold nor silver is used, nor precious jewels.
No distinction is made between the high and the low.
And daily the dead are buried beneath the fragrant sod.
"Look at the sun setting behind the western hills.
You lie down to rest, but soon the cock will announce morn.
Reform today and do not wait until it be too late
Do not say it is early, for the time quickly passes by.
"It is good to reform and it is good to exhort people to reform.
It is good to lead a righteous life and take refuge in the Buddha's
Your talents may reach to the skies, your wealth may be untold-
But all is in vain unless you attain the peace of Nirvana."
SECRECY AND PUBLICITY
THE Buddha said: "Three things, O disciples, are characterized
secrecy: love affairs, priestly wisdom, and all aberrations from the
path of truth. Women who are in love, O disciples seek secrecy and
shun publicity; priests who claim to be in possession of special
revelation, O disciples, seek secrecy and shun publicity; all those
who stray from the path of truth, O disciples, seek secrecy and shun
"Three things, O disciples, shine before the world and cannot be
hidden. What are the three? The moon, O disciples, illumines the world
and cannot be hidden; the sun, O disciples, illumines the world and
cannot be hidden; and the truth proclaimed by the Tathagata
illumines the world and cannot be hidden. These three things, O
disciples, illumine the world and cannot be hidden. There is no
secrecy about them."
THE ANNIHILATION OF SUFFERING
THE Buddha said: "What, my friends, is evil? Killing is evil;
stealing is evil; yielding to sexual passion is evil; lying is evil;
slandering is evil; abuse is evil; gossip is evil; envy is evil;
hatred is evil; to cling to false doctrine is evil; all these
things, my friends, are evil.
"And what, my friends, is the root of evil? Desire is the root of
evil; hatred is the root of evil; illusion is the root of evil;
these things are the root of evil.
"What, however, is good? Abstaining from killing is good; abstaining
from theft is good; abstaining from sensuality is good; abstaining
from falsehood is good; abstaining from slander is good; suppression
of unkindness is good; abandoning gossip is good; letting go all
envy is good; dismissing hatred is good; obedience to the truth is
good; all these things are good.
"And what, my friend, is the root of the good? Freedom from desire
is the root of the good; freedom from hatred and freedom from
illusion; these things, my friends, are the root of the good.
"What, however, O brethren, is suffering? What is the origin of
suffering? What is the annihilation of suffering? Birth is
suffering; old age is suffering; disease is suffering; death is
suffering; sorrow and misery are suffering; affliction and despair are
suffering; to be united with loathsome things is suffering; the loss
of that which we love and the failure in attaining that which is
longed for are suffering; all these things, O brethren, are suffering.
"And what, O brethren, is the origin of suffering? It is lust,
passion, and the thirst for existence that yearns for pleasure
everywhere, leading to a continual rebirth I It is sensuality, desire,
selfishness; all these things, O brethren, are the origin of
"And what is the annihilation of suffering? The radical and total
annihilation of this thirst and the abandonment, the liberation, the
deliverance from passion, that, O brethren, is the annihilation of
"And what, O brethren, is the path that leads to the annihilation of
suffering? It is the holy eightfold path that leads to the
annihilation of suffering, which consists of right views, right
decision, right speech, right action, right living, right
struggling, right thoughts, and right meditation.
"In so far, O friends, as a noble youth thus recognizes suffering
and the origin of suffering, as he recognizes the annihilation of
suffering, and walks on the path that leads to the annihilation of
suffering, radically forsaking passion, subduing wrath, annihilating
the vain conceit of the "I-am, leaving ignorance, and attaining to
enlightenment, he will make an end of all suffering even in this
AVOIDING THE TEN EVILS
THE Buddha said: "All acts of living creatures become bad
things, and by avoiding the ten things they become good. There are
three evils of the body, four evils of the tongue, and three evils
of the mind.
"The evils of the body are, murder, theft, and adultery; of the
tongue, lying, slander, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind,
covetousness, hatred, and error.
"I exhort you to avoid the ten evils: 1. Kill not, but have regard
for life. 2. Steal not, neither do ye rob; but help everybody to be
master of the fruits of his labor. 3. Abstain from impurity, and
lead a life of chastity. 4. Lie not, but be truthful. Speak the
truth with discretion, fearlessly and in a loving heart. 5. Invent not
evil reports, neither do ye repeat them. Carp not, but look for the
good sides of your fellow-beings, so that ye may with sincerity defend
them against their enemies. 6. Swear not, but speak decently and
with dignity. 7. Waste not the time with gossip, but speak to the
purpose or keep silence. 8. Covet not, nor envy, but rejoice at the
fortunes of other people. 9. Cleanse your heart of malice and
cherish no hatred, not even against your enemies; but embrace all
living beings with kindness. 10. Free your mind of ignorance and be
anxious to learn the truth, especially in the one thing that is
needful, lest you fall a prey either to scepticism or to errors.
Scepticism will make you indifferent and errors will lead you
astray, so that you shall not find the noble path that leads to life
THE PREACHER'S MISSION
THE Blessed One said to his disciples: "When I have passed
and can no longer address you and edify your minds with religious
discourse, select from among you men of good family and education to
preach the truth in my stead. And let those men be invested with the
robes of the Tathagata, let them enter into the abode of the
Tathagata, and occupy the pulpit of the Tathagata.
"The robe of the Tathagata is sublime forbearance and patience.
The abode of the Tathagata is charity and love of all beings. The
pulpit of the Tathagata is the comprehension of the good law in its
abstract meaning as well as in its particular application.
"The preacher must propound the truth with unshrinking mind. He must
have the power of persuasion rooted in virtue and in strict fidelity
to his vows. The preacher must keep in his proper sphere and be steady
in his course. He must not flatter his vanity by seeking the company
of the great, nor must he keep company with persons who are
frivolous and immoral. When in temptation, he should constantly
think of the Buddha and he will conquer. All who come to hear the
doctrine, the preacher must receive with benevolence, and his sermon
must be without invidiousness. The preacher must not be prone to
carp at others, or to blame other preachers; nor speak scandal, nor
propagate bitter words. He must not mention by name other disciples to
vituperate them and reproach their demeanor.
"Clad in a clean robe, dyed with good color, with appropriate
undergarments, he must ascend the pulpit with a mind free from blame
and at peace with the whole world. He must not take delight in
quarrelous disputations or engage in controversies so as to show the
superiority of his talents, but be calm and composed. No hostile
feelings shall reside in his heart, and he must never abandon the
disposition of charity toward all beings. His sole aim must be that
all beings become Buddhas. Let the preacher apply himself with zeal to
his work, and the Tathagata will show to him the body of the holy
law in its transcendent glory. He shall be honored as one whom the
Tathagata has blessed. The Tathagata blesses the preacher and also
those who reverently listen to him and joyfully accept the doctrine.
"All those who receive the truth will find perfect enlightenment.
And, verily, such is the power of the doctrine that even by the
reading of a single stanza, or by reciting, copying, and keeping in
mind a single sentence of the good law, persons may be converted to
the truth and enter the path of righteousness which leads to
deliverance from evil. Creatures that are swayed by impure passions,
when they listen to the voice, will be purified. The ignorant who
are infatuated with the follies of the world will, when pondering on
the profundity of the doctrine, acquire wisdom. Those who act under
the impulse of hatred will, when taking refuge in the Buddha, be
filled with good-will and love.
"A preacher must be full of energy, and cheerful hope, never
tiring and never despairing of final success. A preacher must be
like a man in quest of water who digs a well in an arid tract of land.
So long as he sees that the sand is dry and white, he knows that the
water is still far off. But let him not be troubled or give up the
task as hopeless. The work of removing the dry sand must be done so
that he can dig down deeper into the ground. And often the deeper he
has to dig, the cooler and purer and more refreshing will the water
be. When after some time of digging he sees that the sand be comes
moist, he accepts it as a token that the water is near. So long as the
people do not listen to the words of truth, the preacher knows that he
has to dig deeper into their hearts; but when they begin to heed his
words he apprehends that they will soon attain enlightenment.
"Into your hands, O you men of good family and education who take
the vow of preaching the words of the Tathagata, the Blessed One
transfers, intrusts, and commends the good law of truth. Receive the
good law of truth, keep it, read and re-read it, fathom it, promulgate
it, and preach it to all beings in all the quarters of the universe.
"The Tathagata is not avaricious, nor narrow-minded, and he is
willing to impart the perfect Buddha-knowledge unto all who are
ready and willing to receive it. Do you be like him. Imitate him and
follow his example in bounteously giving, showing, and bestowing the
truth. Gather round you hearers who love to listen to the benign and
comforting words of the law; rouse the unbelievers to accept the truth
and fill them with delight and joy. Quicken them, edify them, and lift
them higher and higher until they see the truth face to face in all
its splendor and infinite glory."
When the Blessed One had thus spoken, the disciples said: "O thou
who rejoicest in kindness having its source in compassion, thou
great cloud of good qualities and of benevolent mind, thou quenchest
the fire that vexeth living beings, thou pourest out nectar, the
rain of the law! We shall do, O Lord, what the Tathagata commands.
We shall fulfill his behest; the Lord shall find us obedient to his
And this vow of the disciples resounded through the universe, and
like an echo it came back from all the Bodhisattvas who are to be
and will come to preach the good law of Truth to future generations.
And the Blessed One said: "The Tathagata is like unto a powerful
king who rules his kingdom with righteousness, but being attacked by
envious enemies goes out to wage war against his foes. When the king
sees his soldiers fight he is delighted with their gallantry and
will bestow upon them donations of all kinds. Ye are the soldiers of
the Tathagata, while Mara, the Evil One, is the enemy who must be
conquered. And the Tathagata will give to his soldiers the city of
Nirvana, the great capital of the good law. And when the enemy is
overcome, the Dharma-raja, the great king of truth, will bestow upon
all his disciples the most precious crown, which jewel brings
perfect enlightenment, supreme wisdom, and undisturbed peace."
THIS is the Dharmapada, the path of religion pursued by those who
are followers of the Buddha: Creatures from mind their character
derive; mind-marshaled are they, mind-made. Mind is the source
either of bliss or of corruption. By oneself evil is done; by
oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone; by oneself one is
purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify
another. You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas are only
preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the bondage
of Mara. He who does not rouse himself when it is time to rise; who,
though young and strong, is full of sloth; whose will and thoughts are
weak; that lazy and idle man will never find the way to enlightenment.
If a man hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully; the
truth guards him who guards himself. If a man makes himself as he
teaches others to be, then, being himself subdued, he may subdue
others; one's own self is indeed difficult to subdue. If some men
conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and if another
conquer himself, he is the greatest of conquerors. It is the habit
of fools, be they laymen or members of the clergy, to think, this is
done by me. May others be subject to me. In this or that transaction a
prominent part should be played by me." Fools do not care for the duty
to be performed or the aim to be reached, but think of themselves
alone. Everything is but a pedestal of their vanity.
Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is
beneficial and good, that is very difficult. If anything is to be
done, let a man do it, let him attack it vigorously!
Before long, alas! this body will lie on the earth, despised,
without understanding, like a useless log; yet our thoughts will
endure. They will be thought again, and will produce action. Good
thoughts will produce good actions, and bad thoughts will produce
Earnestness is the path of immortality, thoughtlessness the path
of death. Those who are in earnest do not die; those who are
thoughtless are as if dead already. Those who imagine they find
truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, will never arrive at
truth, but follow vain desires. They who know truth in truth, and
untruth in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires. As
rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, passion will break
through an unreflecting mind. As rain does not break through a
well-thatched house, passion will not break through a
well-reflecting mind. lead the water wherever they like; fletchers
bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion
themselves; wise people falter not amidst blame and praise. Having
listened to the law, they become serene, like a deep, smooth, and
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him as
the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon. An evil
deed is better left undone, for a man will repent of it afterwards;
a good deed is better done, for having done it one will not repent. If
a man commits a wrong let him not do it again; let him not delight
in wrongdoing; pain is the outcome of evil. If a man does what is
good, let him do it again; let him delight in it; happiness is the
outcome of good.
Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, It will not
come nigh unto me." As by the falling of waterdrops a water-pot is
filled, so the fool becomes full of evil, though he gather it little
by little. Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, It
will not come nigh unto me." As by the falling of water-drops a
water-pot is filled, so the wise man becomes full of good, though he
gather it little by little.
He who lives for pleasure only, his senses uncontrolled,
immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, him Mara, the tempter, will
certainly overthrow, as the wind throws down a weak tree. He who lives
without looking for pleasures, his senses well-controlled, moderate in
his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly not
overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain.
The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a
fool who thinks himself wise, he is a fool indeed. To the evil-doer
wrong appears sweet as honey; he looks upon it as pleasant so long
as it bears no fruit; but when its fruit ripens, then he looks upon it
as wrong. And so the good man looks upon the goodness of the Dharma as
a burden and an evil so long as it bears no fruit; but when its
fruit ripens, then he sees its goodness.
A hater may do great harm to a hater, or an enemy to an enemy; but a
wrongly-directed mind will do greater mischief unto itself. A
mother, a father, or any other relative will do much good; but a
well-directed mind will do greater service unto itself.
He whose wickedness is very great brings himself down to that
state where his enemy wishes him to be. He himself is his greatest
enemy. Thus a creeper destroys the life of a tree on which it finds
Do not direct thy thought to what gives pleasure, that thou mayest
not cry out when burning, "This is pain." The wicked man burns by
his own deeds, as if burnt by fire. Pleasures destroy the foolish; the
foolish man by his thirst for pleasures destroys himself as if he were
his own enemy. The fields are damaged by hurricanes and weeds; mankind
is damaged by passion, by hatred, by vanity, and by lust. Let no man
ever take into consideration whether a thing is pleasant or
unpleasant. The love of pleasure begets grief and the dread of pain
causes fear; he who is free from the love of pleasure and the dread of
pain knows neither grief nor fear.
He who gives himself to vanity, and does not give himself to
meditation, forgetting the real aim of life and grasping at
pleasure, will in time envy him who has exerted himself in meditation.
The fault of others is easily noticed, but that of oneself is
difficult to perceive. A man winnows his neighbor's faults like chaff,
but his own fault he hides, as a cheat hides the false die from the
gambler. If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always
inclined to take offense, his own passions will grow, and he is far
from the destruction of passions. Not about the perversities of
others, not about their sins of commission or omission, but about
his own misdeeds and negligences alone should a sage be worried.
Good people shine from afar, like the snowy mountains; bad people
are concealed, like arrows shot by night.
If a man by causing pain to others, wishes to obtain pleasure for
himself, he, entangled in the bonds of selfishness, will never be free
from hatred. Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil
by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!
For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by
not hatred, this is an old rule.
Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked;
by these three steps thou wilt become divine. Let a wise man blow
off the impurities of his self, as a smith blows off the impurities of
silver, one by one, little by little, and from time to time.
Lead others, not by violence, but by righteousness and equity. He
who possesses virtue and intelligence, who is just, speaks the
truth, and does what is his own business, him the world will hold
dear. As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring the
flower, or its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in the community.
If a traveler does not meet with one who is his better, or his
equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no
companionship with fools. Long is the night to him who is awake;
long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do
not know the true religion. Better than living a hundred years not
seeing the highest truth, is one day in the life of a man who sees the
Some form their Dharma arbitrarily and fabricate it artificially;
they advance complex speculations and imagine that good results are
attainable only by the acceptance of their theories; yet the truth
is but one; there are not different truths in the world. Having
reflected on the various theories, we have gone into the yoke with him
who has shaken off all sin. But shall we be able to proceed together
The best of ways is the eightfold path. This is the path. There is
no other that leads to the purifying of intelligence. Go on this path!
Everything else is the deceit of Mara, the tempter. If you go on
this path, you will make an end of pain! Says the Tathagata, The
path was preached by me, when I had understood the removal of the
thorn in the flesh.
Not only by discipline and vows, not only by much learning, do I
earn the happiness of release which no worldling can know. Bhikkhu, be
not confident as long as thou hast not attained the extinction of
thirst. The extinction of evil desire is the highest religion.
The gift of religion exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of religion
exceeds all sweetness; the delight in religion exceeds all delights;
the extinction of thirst overcomes all pain. Few are there among men
who cross the river and reach the goal. The great multitudes are
running up and down the shore; but there is no suffering for him who
has finished his journey.
As the lily will grow full of sweet perfume and delight upon a
heap of rubbish, thus the disciple of the truly enlightened Buddha
shines forth by his wisdom among those who are like rubbish, among the
people that walk in darkness. Let us live happily then, not hating
those who hate us! Among men who hate us let us dwell free from
Let us live happily then, free from all ailments among the ailing!
Among men who are ailing let us dwell free from ailments! Let us
live happily, then, free from greed among the greedy! Among men who
are greedy let us dwell free from greed!
The sun is bright by day, the moon shines by night, the warrior is
bright in his armor thinkers are bright in their meditation; but among
all, the brightest, with splendor day and night, is the Buddha, the
Awakened, the Holy, Blessed.
THE TWO BRAHMANS
AT one time when the Blessed One was journeying through Kosala
came to the Brahman village which is called Manasakata. There he
stayed in a mango grove. And two young Brahmans came to him who were
of different schools. One was named Vasettha and the other Bharadvaja.
And Vasettha said to the Blessed One:
"We have a dispute as to the true path. I say the straight path
which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which has been
announced by the Brahman Pokkharasati, while my friend says the
straight path which leads unto a union with Brahma is that which has
been announced by the Brahman Tarukkha. Now, regarding thy high
reputation, O samana, and knowing that thou art called the Enlightened
One, the teacher of men and gods, the Blessed Buddha, we have come
to ask thee, are all these paths salvation? There are many roads all
around our village, and all lead to Manasakata. Is it just so with the
paths of the sages? Are all paths to salvation, and do they all lead
to a union with Brahma?
Then the Blessed One proposed these questions to the two Brahmans:
"Do you think that all paths are right?" Both answered and said: "Yes,
Gotama, we think so."
"But tell me, continued the Buddha has any one of the Brahmans,
versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?" "No sir!" was the
"But, then," said the Blessed One, has any teacher of the
Brahmans, versed in the Vedas, seen Brahma face to face?" The two
Brahmans said: "No, sir."
"But, then," said the Blessed One, has any one of the authors of the
Vedas seen Brahma face to face?" Again the two Brahmans answered in
the negative and exclaimed: "How can any one see Brahma or
understand him, for the mortal cannot understand the immortal." And
the Blessed One proposed an illustration, saying:
"It is as if a man should make a staircase in the place where four
roads cross, to mount up into a mansion. And people should ask him,
Where, good friends, is this mansion, to mount up into which you are
making this staircase? Knowest thou whether it is in the east, or in
the south, or in the west, or in the north? Whether it is high, or
low, or of medium size?' And when so asked he should answer, 'I know
it not.' And people should say to him, 'But, then, good friend, thou
art making a staircase to mount up into something-taking it for a
mansion-which all the while thou knowest not, neither hast thou seen
it.' And when so asked he should answer, That is exactly what I do;
yea I know that I cannot know it.' What would you think of him?
Would you not say that the talk of that man was foolish talk?"
"In sooth, Gotama, said the two Brahmans, it be foolish talk!" The
Blessed One continued: "Then the Brahmans should say, 'We show you the
way unto a union with what we know not and what we have not seen."
This being the substance of Brahman lore, does it not follow that
their task is vain?"
"It does follow, replied Bharadvaja.
Said the Blessed One: "Thus it is impossible that Brahmans versed in
the three Vedas should be able to show the way to a state of union
with that which they neither know nor have seen. Just as when a string
of blind men are clinging one to the other. Neither can the foremost
see, nor can those in the middle see, nor can the hindmost see. Even
so, methinks the talk of the Brahmans versed in the three Vedas is but
blind talk; it is ridiculous, consists of mere words, and is a vain
and empty thing. Now suppose," added the Blessed One that a man should
come hither to the bank of the river, and, having some business on the
other side, should want to cross. Do you suppose that if he were to
invoke the other bank of the river to come over to him on this side,
the bank would come on account of his praying?"
"Certainly not, Gotama."
"Yet this is the way of the Brahmans. They omit the practice of
those qualities which really make a man a Brahman, and say, 'Indra, we
call upon thee; Soma, we call upon thee; Varuna, we call upon thee;
Brahma, we call upon thee.' Verily, it is not possible that these
Brahmans, on account of their invocations, prayers, and praises,
should after death be united with Brahma.
"Now tell me," continued the Buddha, "what do the Brahmans say of
Brahma? Is his mind full of lust?" And when the Brahmans denied
this, the Buddha asked: "Is Brahma's mind full of malice, sloth, or
"No sir!" was the reply. "He is the opposite of all this."
And the Buddha went on: "But are the Brahmans free from these
vices?" "No, sir!" said Vasettha.
The Holy One said: "The Brahmans cling to the five things leading to
worldliness and yield to the temptations of the senses; they are
entangled in the five hindrances, lust, malice, sloth, pride, and
doubt. How can they be united to that which is most unlike their
nature? Therefore the threefold wisdom of the Brahmans is a
waterless desert, a pathless jungle, and a hopeless desolation."
When the Buddha had thus spoken, one of the Brahmans said: "We are
told, Gotama, that the Sakyamuni knows the path to a union with
And the Blessed One said: "What do you think, O Brahmans, of a man
born and brought up in Manasakata? Would he be in doubt about the most
direct way from this spot to Manasakata?"
"Certainly not, Gotama."
"Thus," replied the Buddha, the Tathagata knows the straight path
that leads to a union with Brahma. He knows it as one who has
entered the world of Brahma and has been born in it. There can be no
doubt in the Tathagata."
The two young Brahmans said: "If thou knowest the way show it to
And the Buddha said: "The Tathagata sees the universe face to face
and understands its nature. He proclaims the truth both in its
letter and in its spirit, and his doctrine is glorious in its
origin, glorious in its progress, glorious in its consummation. The
Tathagata reveals the higher life in its purity and perfection. He can
show you the way to that which is contrary to the five great
hindrances. The Tathagata lets his mind pervade the four quarters of
the world with thoughts of love. And thus the whole wide world, above,
below, around, and everywhere will continue to be filled with love,
far-reaching, grown great, and beyond measure. just as a mighty
trumpeter makes himself heard-and that without difficulty-in all the
four quarters of the earth; even so is the coming of the Tathagata:
there is not one living creature that the Tathagata passes by or
leaves aside, but regards them all with mind set free, and deep-felt
"This is the sign that a man follows the right path: Uprightness
is his delight, and he sees danger in the least of those things
which he should avoid. He trains himself in the commands of
morality, he encompasseth himself with holiness in word and deed; he
sustains his life by means that are quite pure; good is his conduct,
guarded is the door of his senses; mindful and self-possessed, he is
altogether happy. He who walks in the eightfold noble path with
unswerving determination is sure to reach Nirvana. The Tathagata
anxiously watches over his children and with loving care helps them to
see the light.
"When a hen has eight or ten or twelve eggs, over which she has
properly brooded, the wish arises in her heart, 'O would that my
little chickens would break open the eggshell with their claws, or
with their beaks, and come forth into the light in safety!' yet all
the while those little chickens are sure to break the egg-shell and
will come forth into the light in safety. Even so, a brother who
with firm determination walks in the noble path is sure to come
forth into the light, sure to reach up to the higher wisdom, sure to
attain to the highest bliss of enlightenment."