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The venerable Ânanda, seeing the earth shaking on every side, his heart was fearful and his hair erect; he asked the cause thereof of Buddha. . 1847

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Buddha replied: 'Ânanda! I have fixed three months to end my life, the rest of life I utterly give up; this is the reason why the earth is greatly shaken.' . 1848

Ânanda, hearing the instruction of Buddha, was moved with pity and the tears flowed down his face, even as when an elephant of mighty strength shakes (with a blow) the sandal-wood tree. . 1849

Thus was (Ânanda) shaken and his mind perturbed, whilst down (his cheeks) the tears, like drops of perfume, flowed; so much he loved the lord his master, so full of kindness (was he), and, as yet, not freed from earthly thoughts (desire) 1. . 1850

Thinking then on these four things 2 alone, he gave his grief full liberty, nor could he master it, (but said), 'Now I hear the lord declare that he has fixed for good his time to die (Nirvâna), . 1851

'My body fails, my strength is gone, my mind is dazed, my soul is all discordant, and all the words of truth forgotten; a wild deserted waste seems heaven and earth. . 1852

'Have pity! save me, master (lord of the world)! perish not so soon 3! Perished with bitter cold 4, I chanced upon a fire--forthwith it disappeared. . 1853

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'Wandering amid the wilds of grief and pain, deceived, confused, I lost my way--suddenly a wise and prudent guide encountered me, but hardly saved from my bewilderment, he once more vanished. . 1854

'Like some poor man treading through endless mud, weary and parched with thirst, longs for the water, suddenly he lights upon a cool refreshing lake, he hastens to it--lo! it dries before him. . 1855

'The deep blue, bright, refulgent eye 1, piercing through all the worlds, with wisdom brightens the dark gloom, the darkness (but) for a moment is dispelled 2. . 1856

'As when the blade shoots through the yielding earth, the clouds collect and we await the welcome shower, then a fierce wind drives the big clouds away, and so with disappointed hope we watch the dried-up field! . 1857

'Deep darkness reigned for want of wisdom, the world of sentient creatures groped for light, Tathâgata lit up the lamp of wisdom, then suddenly extinguished it--ere he had brought it out 3.' . 1858

Buddha, hearing Ânanda speaking thus, grieved at his words, and pitying his distress, with soothing accents and with gentle presence spake with purpose to declare the one true 4 law: . 1859

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'If men but knew their own 1 nature, they would not dwell (indulge) in sorrow; everything that lives, whate’er it be 2, all this is subject to destruction's law; . 1860

'I have already told you plainly, the law (nature) of things "joined 3" is to "separate;" the principle of kindness and of love 4 is not abiding, ’tis better then to reject this pitiful and doting heart. . 1861

'All things around us bear the stamp of instant change; born, they perish; no self-sufficiency 5; those who would wish to keep them long, find in the end no room for doing so. . 1862

'If things around us could be kept for aye, and were not liable to change or separation, then this would be salvation 6! where then can this be sought? . 1863

'You, and all that lives, can seek in me this great deliverance! That which you may all attain

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[paragraph continues] I have already told you, (and tell you) to the end. . 1864

'Why then should I preserve this body? The body of the excellent law 1 shall long endure! I am resolved; I look for rest! This is the one thing needful 2. . 1865

'So do I now instruct all creatures, and as a guide, not seen before, I lead them; prepare yourselves to cast off consciousness 3, fix yourselves well in your own island 4. . 1866

Those who are thus fixed (mid-stream), with single aim and earnestness striving in the use of means, preparing quietly a quiet place, not moved by others' way of thinking, . 1867

'Know well, such men are safe on the law's island. Fixed in contemplation, lighted by the lamp of wisdom, they have thus finally destroyed ignorance and gloom. Consider well the world's four bounds, . 1868

'And dare to seek for true religion only; forget "yourself," and every "ground of self," the bones, the nerves, the skin, the flesh, the mucus, the blood that flows through every little vein; . 1869

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'Behold these things as constantly impure, what joy then can there be in such a body? every sensation born from cause, like the bubble floating on the water. . 1870

'The sorrow coming from (the consciousness of) birth and death and inconstancy, removes all thought of joy--the mind acquainted with the law of production 1, stability, and destruction, (recognises) how again and once again things follow or (succeed one another) with no endurance. . 1871

'But thinking well about Nirvân2, the thought of endurance is for ever dismissed, (we see how) the samskâras 3 from causes have arisen, and how these aggregates will again dissolve, all of them impermanent. . 1872

'The foolish man conceives the idea of "self," the wise man sees there is no ground on which to build the idea of "self," thus through the world he rightly looks and well concludes, . 1873

'All, therefore, is but evil (one perverse way)--the aggregate amassed by sorrow must perish (in the end)! if once confirmed in this conviction, that man perceives the truth. . 1874

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'This body, too, of Buddha now existing (soon will) perish, the law is one and constant, and without exception.' Buddha having delivered this excellent sermon, appeased the heart of Ânanda, . 1875

Then all the Likkhavis, hearing the report 1, with fear and apprehension assembled in a body; devoid of their usual ornaments, they hastened to the place where Buddha was. . 1876

Having saluted him according to custom, they stood on one side, wishing to ask him a question, but not being able to find words. Buddha, knowing well their heart, by way of remedy, in the right use of means 2, spake thus: . 1877

'Now I perfectly understand that you have in your minds unusual thoughts, not referring to worldly matters, but wholly connected with subjects of religion; . 1878

'And now you wish to hear from me, what may be known respecting the report about my resolve to terminate my life, and my purpose to put an end to the repetition of birth. . 1879

'Impermanence is the nature of all that exists 3, constant change and restlessness its conditions; unfixed, unprofitable, without the marks of long endurance. . 1880

'In ancient days the Rishi kings, Vasishtha Rishi,

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[paragraph continues] Mândhâtri, the Kakravartin monarchs, and the rest, these and all others like them, . 1881

'The former conquerors (Ginas), who lived with strength like Îsvara, these all have long ago perished, not one remains till now; . 1882

The sun and moon, Sakra himself, and the great multitude of his attendants, will all, without exception, perish 1; there is not one that can for long endure; . 1883

All the Buddhas of the past ages, numerous as the sands of the Ganges, by their wisdom enlightening the world, have all gone out as a lamp 2; . 1884

'All the Buddhas yet to come will also perish in the same way; why then should I alone be different? I too will pass into Nirvâna; . 1885

'But as they prepared others for salvation, so now should you press forward in the path; Vaisâlî may be glad indeed, if you should find the way of rest! . 1886

'The world, in truth, is void of help, the "three worlds" not enough for joy--stay then the course of sorrow, by engendering a heart without desire. . 1887

'Give up for good the long and straggling (way of life), press onward on the northern track 3, step by

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step advance along the upward road, as the sun skirts along (approaches) the western 1 mountains.' . 1888

At this time the Likkhavis, with saddened hearts, went back along the way; lifting their hands to heaven and sighing bitterly: 'Alas! what sorrow this! . 1889

'His body like the pure gold mountain 2, the marks upon his person so majestic, ere long and like a towering crag he falls; not to live, then why not, "not to love 3?" . 1890

'The powers of birth and death, weakened awhile; the lord Tathâgata, himself the fount (mother) of wisdom (appeared), and now to give it up and disappear! without a saviour now, what check to sorrow. . 1891

'The world long time endured in darkness, and men were led by a false light along the way--when lo! the sun of wisdom rose; and now, again, it fades and dies--no warning given. . 1892

'Behold the whirling waves of ignorance engulfing all the world! (Why is) the bridge or raft of wisdom in a moment cut away? . 1893

'The loving and the great physician king (came) with remedies of wisdom, beyond all price, to heal the hurts and pains of men--why suddenly goes he away? . 1894

'The excellent and heavenly flag of love adorned with wisdom's blazonry, embroidered with the diamond

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heart, the world not satisfied with gazing on it, . 1895

'The glorious flag of heavenly worship 1! Why in a moment is it snapped? Why such misfortune for the world, when from the tide of constant revolutions . 1896

'A way of escape was opened-but now shut again! and there is no escape from weary sorrow!' Tathâgata, possessed of fond and loving heart, now steels himself and goes away; . 1897

He holds his heart 2 so patient and so loving, and, like the Wai-ka-ni (Vakkani?) flower, with thoughts cast down (irresolute) and tardy, he goes depressed along the road; . 1898

Or like a man fresh from a loved one's grave, the funeral past and the last farewell taken, comes back (with anxious look). . 1899


269:1 'Freedom from desire' (vîtarâga) was the distinction of an Arhat; Ânanda had not yet arrived at this condition.

269:2 'These four things,' or, the things of the world; 'the four' denoting the 'four quarters,' that is, 'the world.'

269:3 This and the previous line may otherwise be translated,' Have pity! save the world, O lord! from this so unexpected an end (of your life).'

269:4 These and the succeeding comparisons represent the condition of Ânanda in prospect of Buddha's death.

270:1 That is, the eye of Buddha, about which so much is said in the books.

270:2 Such appears to be the meaning of the passage, implying that the disappearance of darkness is but for a moment.

270:3 Or, alas! why bring it out!

270:4 The expression here, as in other cases, is a strong affirmative, 'the true law of truth,' 'the only true law;' the word 'law' means religious system.

271:1 '(The character of) self-nature,' or as in the text.

271:2 'All things that have a personal or individual existence.' It would be well to compare the, spirit of this sermon with the old belief of the Veda, respecting the birth of the 'one nature' from which the visible world took shape (History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature by Max Müller, p. 561). It seems that the effort of Buddha was to transcend the time of the birth of this nature, and thus arrive at the condition of the original first cause, which 'breathed breathless;' in other words, this is the condition of Nirvâna.

271:3 As in the concluding verse of the Vagrakkhedikâ Sûtra, 'târakâ timiram,' &c. Analecta Oxoniensia, Aryan Series, vol. I, part i, p. 46.

271:4 'Love' in the sense of parental love; or the love which produced the world.

271:5 In the Rig-veda (according to Dr. Muir) the gods though spoken of as immortal are not regarded as unbeginning or self-existent; see Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1864, p. 62.

271:6 That is, there would be no need to seek salvation, for it would be already possessed.

272:1 The 'body of the law' represents the teaching of the word of Buddha, which teaching is supposed to be accompanied with or attended by a living power, ever dwelling with the congregation of the faithful.

272:2 'That which is wanting only resides in this.'

272:3 The Chinese 'siang' is equivalent to Sanskrit sañgñâ, the third skandha (constituents of personal being). It is the receptive (subjective) power, in distinction to the perceptive power (vedanâ). Buddha denied the necessity of personal consciousness (i.e. of self-consciousness, or consciousness of self) as an element of life, i.e. life in the abstract.

272:4 This idea of 'an island' (dvipa), fixed amid the running stream of life, is found in Dhammapada, verse 25.

273:1 The law of production, stability, and destruction; this refers to the Buddhist theory of the successive stages in the development of the world. The world is produced from chaos, established for a period, and then destroyed; and this law is a perpetual one, extending through all space (the infinite systems of worlds) and through all time.

273:2 Nirvâna, quietness and extinction.

273:3 The samskâras, the elements of being, i.e. individual being (for a full account of this term, see Childers' Pâli Dict. sub voce). With regard to the use of the Chinese 'hing' for samskâra, see Eitel, Handbook, sub samskâra; also consult Colebrooke, Hindu Philosophy, p. 254, and Burnouf (Introduction, pp. 504, 505, note 2).

274:1 'Hearing it,' in the original, i.e. hearing the report of Buddha's approaching death.

274:2 'The right use of means' is the rendering of the Chinese 'fang pien,' the Sanskrit upâya; this term may mean 'by artifice,' or, 'by way of expedient;' but generally it refers to the use of means to an end, where the 'means' are evanescent and illusory; the end attained, lasting and real.

274:3 Here we have the well-known Pâli formula 'sabbe samkhârâ anikkâ.'

275:1 That the gods were considered to be mortal appears, as Wilson says (Rig-veda, vol. i, p. 7 n), from the title (nara) given to them. Compare also Coxe, Mythol. II, p. 13, and Muir, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1864, p. 62.

275:2 This idea of a lamp going out is a fundamental one as a definition of Nirvâna (paggotassa nibbânam). Its meaning has been discussed by Professor Max Müller in his Introduction to Buddhaghosha's Parables (by Captain Rogers).

275:3 That is, the northern track of the sun.

276:1 The idea appears to be, that as the sun advances in his course, he approaches the western mountains as his true setting place, i.e. he approaches the equinoctial point.

276:2 This comparison of Buddha's body to the golden mountain (sumeru) is a very frequent one, and is probably allied in its origin with the idea of Bel, 'the great mountain' (sadu rabu).

276:3 The sense is, 'if he dies, where is the proof of his love?'

277:1 Religious sacrifices.

277:2 That is, he restrains himself.

Next: Varga 25. Parinirvâna