The Sermon At Rajagaha

And the Blessed One having dwelt some time in Uruvela went forth

to Rajagaha, accompanied by a great number of bhikkhus, many of

whom had been Jatilas before; and the great Kassapa, chief of the

Jatilas and formerly a fireworshipper, went with him.

When the Magadha king, Seniya Bimbisara, heard of the arrival of

Gotama Sakyamuni, of whom the people said, "He is the Holy One,

the blessed Buddha, guiding men as a driver curbs bullocks, the

teacher of high and low," he went out surrounded with his

counsellors and generals and came to the grove where the Blessed

One was. 2

There they saw the Blessed One in the company of Kassapa, the

great religious teacher of the Jatilas, and they were astonished

and thought: "Has the great Sakyamuni placed himself under the

spiritual direction of Kassapa, or has Kassapa become a disciple

of Gotama?"

And the Tathagata, reading the thoughts of the people, said to

Kassapa: "What knowledge hast thou gained, O Kassapa, and what

has induced thee to renounce the sacred fire and give up thine

austere penances?"

Kassapa said: "The profit I derived from adoring the fire was

continuance in the wheel of individuality with all its sorrows

and vanities. This service I have cast away, and instead of

continuing penances and sacrifices I have gone in quest of the

highest Nirvana. Since I have seen the light of truth, I have

abandoned worshipping the fire."

The Buddha, perceiving that the whole assembly was ready as a

vessel to receive the doctrine, spoke thus to Bimbisara the king:

"He who knows the nature of self and understands how the senses

act, finds no room for selfishness, and thus he will attain

peace unending. The world holds the thought of self, and from

this arises false apprehension.

"Some say that the self endures after death, some say it

perishes. Both are wrong and their error is most grievous.

"For if they say the self is perishable, the fruit they strive

for will perish too, and at some time there will be no hereafter.

Good and evil would be indifferent. This salvation from

selfishness is without merit.

"When some, on the other hand, say the self will not perish, then

in the midst of all life and death there is but one identity

unborn and undying. If such is their self, then it is perfect and

cannot be perfected by deeds. The lasting, imperishable self

could never be changed. The self would be lord and master, and

there would be no use in perfecting the perfect; moral aims and

salvation would be unnecessary.

"But now we see the marks of joy and sorrow. Where is any

constancy? If there is no permanent self that does our deeds,

then there is no self; there is no actor behind our actions, no

perceiver behind our perception, no lord behind our deeds.

"Now attend and listen: The senses meet the object and from their

contact sensation is born. Thence results recollection. Thus, as

the sun's power through a burning-glass causes fire to appear, so

through the cognizance born of sense and object, the mind

originates and with it the ego, the thought of self, whom some

Brahman teachers call the lord. The shoot springs from the seed;

the seed is not the shoot; both are not one and the same, but

successive phases in a continuous growth. Such is the birth of

animated life.

"Ye that are slaves of the self and toil in its service from morn

until night, ye that live in constant fear of birth, old age,

sickness, and death, receive the good tidings that your cruel

master exists not.

"Self is an error, an illusion, a dream. Open your eyes and

awaken. See things as they are and ye will be comforted.

"He who is awake will no longer be afraid of nightmares. He who

has recognized the nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent

will cease to tremble.

"He who has found there is no self will let go all the lusts and

desires of egotism.

"The cleaving to things, covetousness, and sensuality inherited

from former existences, are the causes of the misery and vanity

in the world.

"Surrender the grasping disposition of selfishness, and you will

attain to that calm state of mind which conveys perfect peace,

goodness, and wisdom."

And the Buddha breathed forth this solemn utterance:

"Do not deceive, do not despise

Each other, anywhere.

Do not be angry, nor should ye

Secret resentment bear;

For as a mother risks her life

And watches o'er her child,

So boundless be your love to all,

So tender, kind and mild.

"Yea, cherish good-will right and left,

All round, early and late,

And without hindrance, without stint,

From envy free and hate,

While standing, walking, sitting down,

Whate'er you have in mind,

The rule of life that's always best

Is to be loving-kind.

"Gifts are great, the founding of viharas is meritorious,

meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart,

comprehension of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than

all is lovingkindness. As the light of the moon is sixteen times

stronger than the light of all the stars, so lovingkindness is

sixteen times more efficacious in liberating the heart than all

other religious accomplishments taken together.

"This state of heart is the best in the world. Let a man remain

steadfast in it while he is awake, whether he is standing,

walking, sitting, or lying down."

When the Enlightened One had finished his sermon, the Magadha

king said to the Blessed One:

"In former days, Lord, when I was a prince, I cherished five

wishes. I wished: O, that I might be inaugurated as a king. This

was my first wish, and it has been fulfilled. Further, I wished:

Might the Holy Buddha, the Perfect One, appear on earth while I

rule and might he come to my kingdom. This was my second wish and

it is fulfilled now. Further I wished: Might I pay my respects to

him. This was my third wish and it is fulfilled now. The fourth

wish was: Might the Blessed One preach the doctrine to me, and

this is fulfilled now. The greatest wish, however, was the fifth

wish: Might I understand the doctrine of the Blessed One. And

this wish is fulfilled too.

"Glorious Lord! Most glorious is the truth preached by the

Tathagata! Our Lord, the Buddha, sets up what has been

overturned; he reveals what has been hidden; he points out the

way to the wanderer who has gone astray; he lights a lamp in the

darkness so that those who have eyes to see may see.

"I take my refuge in the Buddha. I take my refuge in the Dharma.

I take my refuge in the Sangha."

The Tathagata, by the exercise of his virtue and by wisdom,

showed his unlimited spiritual power. He subdued and harmonized

all minds. He made them see and accept the truth, and throughout

the kingdom the seeds of virtue were sown.

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