The Buddha's Farewell Address
When the Blessed One had remained as long as he wished at
Ambapali's grove, he went to Beluva, near Vesali. There the
Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said: "O mendicants, take
up your abode for the rainy season round about Vesali, each one
according to the place where his friends and near companions may
five. I shall enter upon the rainy season here at Beluva."
When the Blessed One had thus entered upon the rainy season there
fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp pains came upon him even
unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed, bore
his ailments without complaint.
Then this thought occurred to the Blessed One, "It would not be
right for me to pass away from life without addressing the
disciples, without taking leave of the order. Let me now, by a
strong effort of the will, subdue this sickness, and keep my hold
on life till the allotted time have come."
And the Blessed One, by a strong effort of the will subdued the
sickness, and kept his hold on life till the time he fixed upon
should come. And the sickness abated.
Thus the Blessed One began to recover; and when he had quite got
rid of the sickness, he went out from the monastery, and sat
down on a seat spread out in the open air. And the venerable
Ananda, accompanied by many other disciples, approached where the
Blessed One was, saluted him, and taking a seat respectfully on
one side, said: "I have beheld, Lord, how the Blessed One was in
health, and I have beheld how the Blessed One had to suffer. And
though at the sight of the sickness of the Blessed One my body
became weak as a creeper, and the horizon became dim to me, and
my faculties were no longer clear, yet notwithstanding I took
some little comfort from the thought that the Blessed One would
not pass away from existence until at least he had left
instructions as touching the order."
And the Blessed One addressed Ananda in behalf of the order,
"What, then, Ananda, does the order expect of me? I have preached
the truth without making any distinction between exoteric and
esoteric doctrine; for in respect of the truth, Ananda, the
Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who
keeps some things back.
"Surely, Ananda, should there be any one who harbors the thought,
'It is I who will lead the brotherhood,' or, 'The order is
dependent upon me,' he should lay down instructions in any matter
concerning the order. Now the Tathagata, Ananda, thinks not that
it is he who should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is
dependent upon him.
"Why, then, should the Tathagata leave instructions in any matter
concerning the order?
"I am now grown old, O Ananda, and full of years; my journey is
drawing to its close, I have reached the sum of my days, I am
turning eighty years of age.
"Just as a worn-out cart can not be made to move along without
much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata can only be kept
going with much additional care.
"It is only, Ananda, when the Tathagata, ceasing to attend to
any outward thing, becomes plunged in that devout meditation of
heart which is concerned with no bodily object, it is only then
that the body of the Tathagata is at ease.
"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on
yourselves, and do not rely on external help.
"Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the
truth. Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves.
"And how, Ananda, can a brother be a lamp unto himself, rely on
himself only and not on any external help, holding fast to the
truth as his lamp and seeking salvation in the truth alone,
looking not for assistance to any one besides himself?
"Herein, O Ananda, let a brother, as he dwells in the body, so
regard the body that he, being strenuous, thoughtful, and
mindful, may, whilst in the world, overcome the grief which
arises from the body's cravings.
"While subject to sensations let him continue so to regard the
sensations that he, being strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful,
may, whilst in the world, overcome the grief which arises from
"And so, also, when he thinks or reasons, or feels, let him so
regard his thoughts that being strenuous, thoughtful, and mindful
he may, whilst in the world, overcome the grief which arises from
the craving due to ideas, or to reasoning, or to feeling.
"Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto
themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any
external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and
seeking their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look
for assistance to any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda,
among my bhikkhus, who shall reach the very topmost height! But
they must be anxious to learn."
Next: The Buddha Announces His Death