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The Buddha Announces His Death






Said the Tathagata to Ananda: "In former years, Ananda, Mara, the
Evil One, approached the holy Buddha three times to tempt him.

"And now, Ananda, Mara, the Evil One, came again today to the
place where I was, and, standing beside me, addressed me in the
same words as he did when I was resting under the shepherd's
Nigrodha tree on the bank of the Neranjara river: 'Be greeted,
thou Holy One. Thou hast attained the highest bliss and it is
time for thee to enter into the final Nirvana.'

"And when Mara had thus spoken, Ananda, I answered him and said:
'Make thyself happy, O wicked one; the final extinction of the
Tathagata shall take place before long.'"

And the venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One and said:
"Vouchsafe, Lord, to remain with us, O Blessed One! for the good
and the happiness of the great multitudes, out of pity for the
world, for the good and the gain of mankind!"

Said the Blessed One: "Enough now, Ananda, beseech not the
Tathagata!"

And again, a second time, the venerable Ananda besought the
Blessed One in the same words. And he received from the Blessed
One the same reply.

And again, the third time, the venerable Ananda besought the
Blessed One to live longer; and the Blessed One said: "Hast thou
faith, Ananda?"

Said Ananda: "I have, my Lord!"

And the Blessed One, seeing the quivering eyelids of Ananda, read
the deep grief in the heart of his beloved disciple, and he asked
again: "Hast thou, indeed, faith, Ananda?"

And Ananda said: "I have faith, my Lord."

Than the Blessed One continued: "If thou hast faith, Ananda, in
the wisdom of the Tathagata, why, then, Ananda, dost thou trouble
the Tathagata even until the third time? Have I not formerly
declared to you that it is in the very nature of all compound
things that they must be dissolved again. We must separate
ourselves from all things near and dear to us, and must leave
them. How then, Ananda, can it be possible for me to remain,
since everything that is born, or brought into being, and
organized, contains within itself the inherent necessity of
dissolution? How, then, can it be possible that this body of mine
should not be dissolved? No such condition can exist! And this
mortal existence, O Ananda, has been relinquished, cast away,
renounced, rejected, and abandoned by the Tathagata."

And the Blessed One said to Ananda: "Go now, Ananda, and assemble
in the Service Hall such of the brethren as reside in the
neighborhood of Vesali."

Then the Blessed One proceeded to the Service Hall, and sat down
there on the mat spread out for him. And when he was seated, the
Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said:

"O brethren, ye to whom the truth has been made known, having
thoroughly made yourselves masters of it, practise it, meditate
upon it, and spread it abroad, in order that pure religion may
last long and be perpetuated, in order that it may continue for
the good and happiness of the great multitudes, out of pity for
the world, and to the good and gain of all living beings!

"Star-gazing and astrology, forecasting lucky or unfortunate
events by signs, prognosticating good or evil, all these are
things forbidden.

"He who lets his heart go loose without restraint shall not
attain Nirvana; therefore, must we hold the heart in check, and
retire from worldly excitements and seek tranquillity of mind.

"Eat your food to satisfy your hunger, and drink to satisfy you
thirst. Satisfy the necessities of life like the butterfly that
sips the flower, without destroying its fragrance or its texture.

"It is through not understanding and grasping the four truths,
brethren, that we have gone astray so long, and wandered in this
weary path of transmigrations, both you and I, until we have
found the truth.

"Practise the earnest meditations I have taught you. Continue in
the great struggle against sin. Walk steadily in the roads of
saintship. Be strong in moral powers. Let the organs of your
spiritual sense be quick. When the seven kinds of wisdom
enlighten your mind, you will find the noble, eightfold path that
leads to Nirvana.

"Behold, O brethren, the final extinction of the Tathagata will
take place before long. I now exhort you, saying: 'All component
things must grow old and be dissolved again. Seek ye for that
which is permanent, and work out your salvation with diligence.'"0





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Previous: The Buddha's Farewell Address



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