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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."

The venerable Ananda addressed the Blessed One and said: "Vouchsafe, Lord, to remain with us, O Blessed One I 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. 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!"

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."

Then 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, practice 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 tranquility of mind. Eat your food to satisfy your hunger, and drink to satisfy your 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, O 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. Practice 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."

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