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Anathapindika









At this time there was Anathapindika, a man of unmeasured wealth,
visiting Rajagaha. Being of a charitable disposition, he was
called "the supporter of orphans and the friend of the poor."

Hearing that the Buddha had come into the world and was stopping
in the bamboo grove near the city, he set out in the very night
to meet the Blessed One.

And the Blessed One saw at once the sterling quality of
Anathapindika's heart and greeted him with words of religious
comfort. And they sat down together, and Anathapindika listened
to the sweetness of the truth preached by the Blessed One. And
the Buddha said:

"The restless, busy nature of the world, this, I declare, is at
the root of pain. Attain that composure of mind which is resting
in the peace of immortality. Self is but a heap of composite
qualities, and its world is empty like a fantasy.

"Who is it that shapes our lives? Is it I[s']vara, a personal
creator? If I[s']vara be the maker, all living things should have
silently to submit to their maker's power. They would be like
vessels formed by the potter's hand; and if it were so, how would
it be possible to practise virtue? If the world had been made by
I[s']vara there should be no such thing as sorrow, or calamity, or
evil; for both pure and impure deeds muse come from him. If not,
there would be another cause beside him, and he would not be
self-existent. Thus, thou seest, the thought of I[s']vara is
overthrown.

"Again, it is said that the Absolute has created us. But that
which is absolute cannot be a cause. All things around us come
from a cause as the plant comes from the seed; but how can the
Absolute be the cause of all things alike? If it pervades them,
then, certainly, it does not make them.

"Again, it is said that Self is the maker. But if self is the
maker, why did it not make things pleasing? The causes of sorrow
and joy are real and objective. How can they have been made by
self?

"Again, if we adopt the argument that there is no maker, our fate
is such as it is, and there is no causation, what use would there
be in shaping our lives and adjusting means to an end?

"Therefore, we argue that all things that exist are not without
cause. However, neither I[s']vara, nor the absolute, nor the self,
nor causeless chance, is the maker, but our deeds produce results
both good and evil according to the law of causation.

"Let us, then, abandon the heresy of worshipping I[s']vara and of
praying to him; let us no longer lose ourselves in vain
speculations of profitless subtleties; let us surrender self and
all selfishness, and as all things are fixed by causation, let us
practise good so that good may result from our actions."

And Anathapindika said: "I see that thou art the Buddha, the
Blessed One, the Tathagata, and I wish to open to thee my whole
mind. Having listened to my words advise me what I shall do.

"My life is full of work, and having acquired great wealth, I am
surrounded with cares. Yet I enjoy my work, and apply myself to
it with all diligence. Many people are in my employ and depend
upon the success of my enterprises.

"Now, I have heard thy disciples praise the bliss of the hermit
and denounce the unrest of the world. 'The Holy One,' they say,
'has given up his kingdom and his inheritance, and has found the
path of righteousness, thus setting an example to all the world
how to attain Nirvana.'

"My heart yearns to do what is right and to be a blessing unto my
fellows. Let me then ask thee, Must I give up my wealth, my home,
and my business enterprises, and, like thyself, go into
homelessness in order to attain the bliss of a religious life?"

And the Buddha replied: "The bliss of a religious life is
attainable by every one who walks in the noble eightfold path. He
that cleaves to wealth had better cast it away than allow his
heart to be poisoned by it; but he who does not cleave to wealth,
and possessing riches, uses them rightly, will be a blessing unto
his fellows.

"It is not life and wealth and power that enslave men, but the
cleaving to life and wealth and power.

"The bhikkhu who retires from the world in order to lead a life
of leisure will have no gain, for a life of indolence is an
abomination, and lack of energy is to be despised.

"The Dharma of the Tathagata does not require a man to go into
homelessness or to resign the world, unless he feels called upon
to do so; but the Dharma of the Tathagata requires every man to
free himself from the illusion of self, to cleanse his heart, to
give up his thirst for pleasure and lead a life of righteousness.

"And whatever men do, whether they remain in the world as
artisans, merchants, and officers of the king, or retire from the
world and devote themselves to a life of religious meditation,
let them put their whole heart into their task; let them be
diligent and energetic, and, if they are like the lotus, which,
although it grows in the water, yet remains untouched by the
water, if they struggle in life without cherishing envy or
hatred, if they live in the world not a life of self but a life
of truth, then surely joy, peace, and bliss will dwell in their
minds."





Next: The Sermon On Charity

Previous: Sariputta And Moggallana



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Buddha's Gospels