THE Blessed One proceeded to the village Nadika with a great company of brethren and there he stayed at the Brick Hall. And the venerable Ananda went to the Blessed One and mentioning to him the names of the brethren and sisters that had died, anxiously inquired about their fate after death, whether they had been reborn in animals or in hell, or as ghosts, or in any place of woe.
The Blessed One replied to Ananda and said: "Those who have died after the complete destruction of the three bonds of lust, of covetousness and of the egotistical cleaving to existence, need not fear the state after death. They will not be reborn in a state of suffering; their minds will not continue as a karma of evil deeds or sin, but are assured of final salvation.
"When they die, nothing will remain of them but their good thoughts, their righteous acts, and the bliss that proceeds from truth and righteousness. As rivers must at last reach the distant main, so their minds will be reborn in higher states of existence and continue to be pressing on to their ultimate goal which is the ocean of truth, the eternal peace of Nirvana. Men are anxious about death and their fate after death; but consider, it is not at all strange, Ananda, that a human being should die. However, that thou shouldst inquire about them, and having heard the truth still be anxious about the dead, this is wearisome to the Blessed One. I will, therefore, teach thee the mirror of truth and let the faithful disciple repeat it:
"'Hell is destroyed for me, and rebirth as an animal, or a ghost, or in any place of woe. I am converted; I am no longer liable to be reborn in a state of suffering, and am assured of final salvation.'
"What, then, Ananda, is this mirror of truth? It is the consciousness that the elect disciple is in this world possessed of faith in the Buddha, believing the Blessed One to be the Holy One, the Fully-enlightened One, wise, upright, happy, world-knowing, supreme, the Bridler of men's wayward hearts, the Teacher of gods and men, the blessed Buddha. It is further the consciousness that the disciple is possessed of faith in the truth believing the truth to have been proclaimed by the Blessed One, for the benefit of the world, passing not away, welcoming all, leading to salvation, to which through truth the wise will attain, each one by his own efforts.
"And, finally, it is the consciousness that the disciple is possessed of faith in the order, believing in the efficacy of a union among those men and women who are anxious to walk in the noble eightfold path; believing this church of the Buddha, of the righteous, the upright, the just, the law abiding, to be worthy of honor, of hospitality, of gifts, and of reverence; to be the supreme sowing-ground of merit for the world; to be possessed of the virtues beloved by the good, virtues unbroken, intact, unspotted, unblemished, virtues which make men truly free, virtues which are praised by the wise, are untarnished by the desire of selfish aims, either now or in a future life, or by the belief in the efficacy of outward acts, and are conducive to high and holy thought. This is the mirror of truth which teaches the straightest way to enlightenment which is the common goal of all living creatures. He who possesses the mirror of truth is free from fear; he will find comfort in the tribulations of life, and his life will be a blessing to all his fellow-creatures."