The Bodhisatta, having put Mara to flight, gave himself up to
meditation. All the miseries of the world, the evils produced by
evil deeds and the sufferings arising therefrom, passed before
his mental eye, and he thought:
"Surely if living creatures saw the results of all their evil
deeds, they would turn away from them in disgust. But selfhood
blinds them, and they cling to their obnoxious desires.
"They crave pleasure for themselves and they cause pain to
others; when death destroys their individuality, they find no
peace; their thirst for existence abides and their selfhood
reappears in new births.
"Thus they continue to move in the coil and can find no escape
from the hell of their own making. And how empty are their
pleasures, how vain are their endeavors! Hollow like the
plantain-tree and without contents like the bubble.
"The world is full of evil and sorrow, because it is full of
lust. Men go astray because they think that delusion is better
than truth. Rather than truth they follow error, which is
pleasant to look at in the beginning but in the end causes
anxiety, tribulation, and misery."
And the Bodhisatta began to expound the Dharma. The Dharma is the
truth. The Dharma is the sacred law. The Dharma is religion. The
Dharma alone can deliver us from error, from wrong and from
Pondering on the origin of birth and death, the Enlightened One
recognized that ignorance was the root of all evil; and these are
the links in the development of life, called the twelve nidanas:
In the beginning there is existence blind and without knowledge;
and in this sea of ignorance there are stirrings formative and
organizing. From stirrings, formative and organizing, rises
awareness or feelings. Feelings beget organisms that live as
individual beings. These organisms develop the six fields, that
is, the five senses and the mind. The six fields come in contact
with things. Contact begets sensation. Sensation creates the
thirst of individualized being. The thirst of being creates a
cleaving to things. The cleaving produces the growth and
continuation of selfhood. Selfhood continues in renewed births.
The renewed births of selfhood are the cause of suffering, old
age, sickness, and death. They produce lamentation, anxiety, and
The cause of all sorrow lies at the very beginning; it is hidden
in the ignorance from which life grows. Remove ignorance and you
will destroy the wrong appetences that rise from ignorance;
destroy these appetences and you will wipe out the wrong
perception that rises from them. Destroy wrong perception and
there is an end of errors in individualized beings. Destroy the
errors in individualized beings and the illusions of the six
fields will disappear. Destroy illusions and the contact with
things will cease to beget misconception. Destroy misconception
and you do away with thirst. Destroy thirst and you will be free
of ail morbid cleaving. Remove the cleaving and you destroy the
selfishness of selfhood. If the selfishness of selfhood is
destroyed you will be above birth, old age, disease, and death,
and you will escape all suffering.
The Enlightened One saw the four noble truths which point out the
path that leads to Nirvana or the extinction of self:
The first noble truth is the existence of sorrow.
The second noble truth is the cause of suffering.
The third noble truth is the cessation of sorrow.
The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path that leads to the
cessation of sorrow.
This is the Dharma. This is the truth. This is religion. And the
Enlightened One uttered this stanza:
"Through many births I sought in vain
The Builder of this House of Pain.
Now, Builder, thee I plainly see!
This is the last abode for me.
Thy gable's yoke and rafters broke,
My heart has peace. All lust will cease."
There is self and there is truth. Where self is, truth is not.
Where truth is, self is not. Self is the fleeting error of
samsara; it is individual separateness and that egotism which
begets envy and hatred. Self is the yearning for pleasure and the
lust after vanity. Truth is the correct comprehension of things;
it is the permanent and everlasting, the real in all existence,
the bliss of righteousness. 17 The existence of self is an
illusion, and there is no wrong in this world, no vice, no evil,
except what flows from the assertion of self.
The attainment of truth is possible only when self is recognized
as an illusion. Righteousness can be practised only when we have
freed our mind from passions of egotism. Perfect peace can dwell
only where all vanity has disappeared.
Blessed is he who has understood the Dharma. Blessed is he who
does no harm to his fellow-beings. Blessed is he who overcomes
wrong and is free from passion. To the highest bliss has he
attained who has conquered all selfishness and vanity. He has
become the Buddha, the Perfect One, the Blessed One, the Holy
Next: The First Converts
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