The Difference Between Should Not Be and Is

It is my estimation that many people suffer and find it difficult to come to terms with, when things are not how they are supposed to be. People can tend to have a view of how things should be and when they aren’t it can be difficult to accept.

When someone dies young, perhaps a well-liked and popular father of two, it is a tragedy in some people’s eyes. {Why is it never an anti-social loner?}

It should not happen like that. But life is life. As John Lennon said, “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Is it tragic to get cancer? No not really, it is a fact of life that some people get cancer. Yet if we frame it as a tragedy, with a bit of it is not fair sauce, does that make it any easier to handle? I doubt it. Feeling hard done by does not exactly enhance the quality of life.

I am due my first Covid PCR test in about four weeks’ time. If it is negative, I get to drink four litres of industrial grade laxative and then have a colonoscopy. If it is positive, I will develop covid symptoms and the colonoscopy will be put off until such time as I am no longer an infectious being.  If I die of Covid I won’t get a colonoscopy nor have to drink the laxative of doom. I am not entirely sure which is preferrable.

There is no should here. There are simply a few different event trajectories.

The likelihood of Covid is small given a lack of human encounters and my double vaccination. I have to take my Covid passport to the meeting with the anaesthetist in two weeks’ time. I don’t see what the fuss is all about, I have been showing proof of vaccination on and off for nearly fifty years. We had to prove we did not have tuberculosis to get let into Australia in 1970. I can still remember having the X-rays taken at Llwynypia Hospital where my grandfather later died. This hospital is now called Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda. They were excited that we were going to Australia. I foresee as the years go by that I will be visiting the hospital more regularly.

People can spend, and this is the correct word, a great deal of time bemoaning about how things should be and how things should not be.

It is the difference between supposition and reality which causes mental angst.

I can sit here this afternoon and say with a high degree of confidence that for the foreseeable future my life will be gardening, DIY, cooking and the occasional walkies. The only imminent caveat is what happens with the colonoscopy. I have no plans to try to change my circumstance any time soon. This is how it is.

I personally do not see why anyone else might have a problem with that.

There is a vague possibility that others may think that this should not be the case.

To re-sate the hypothesis then.

The difference between supposition, conditional preconception, and reality causes suffering. It is a root cause of suffering.

The Karma of Secrets

The first thing to say abouts secrets is that they all in some way itch, they itch at being. The second thing to say is that secrets bind. Secrets also have a tendency to infect and cause fear in their purveyors. They nearly always generate new Karma to be worked with and sometimes, though not always, have a habit of surfacing at the most inconvenient of times. Some secrets are carried to the grave. Organisations, governments and people use secrets when they think it expedient. Avoiding a problem today often stores it up for tomorrow.

People are fascinated by secrets. Fascination binds.

This fascination is by way of a glamour and an attachment. Because most know that secrets are “naughty” they come with a certain salaciousness and a sense of privilege. Some how the possessors and purveyors of secrets are better than others, they are in the know, others are in the dark.

Exactly who is in the dark and who is in the light, is a moot point, often unconsidered.

From a point of liberation what is most germane is their binding conspiratorial nature. If you share a secret, you share the breath of that secret, you conspire and breathe it together. Whispers in the dark, keep you in the dark, for fear of light.

The two major causes of secrets are lack of impeccability and lack of courage. If you are impeccable there is never any need for secrets.

Anything, any act, which binds you, is not good for liberation.

I suspect that there is not a being alive who has never lied nor never held a secret, at some stage or another. It is the Karma, the Dharma, of holding a secret that needs learned from. There is nothing quite like real life experience to teach.

The cure for secrets is impeccability.

It is as simple as this. If you are utterly impeccable you will never feel the need to lie or hold secrets. You may not feel the urge to spill the beans on everything you know, yet if the time to speak on it comes, there is no secret, no attachment.

People are attached to secrets. Beings often cannot move past a secret. They are log jams in evolution.

Often the secret, held deep and hidden, is no way near as bad as people have built it up to be. Its revelation seldom causes a tsunami nor the explosion of the sun. Some secrets are bad and these eat and itch at the being all of their lives.

Secrets cause suffering!

It is a matter for each individual as to which secrets they keep. One could try airing a few of these to see if God strikes you down. Theory has it He knows in any case. Much of the suffering associated with secrets is SELF generated for the SELF is what keeps or shares secrets, so as to bolster its SELF IMAGE.

As I have mentioned before, Karma is for learning by and from.

Have I ever kept a secret? Have I shared secrets about others? What have I learned through this? What am I still learning from this?

Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Karma and Self Importance

Every being has to confront and hopefully eventually overcome, Self-Importance. This dukkha or burden is common to all of mankind to a greater or lesser extent. Whilst it is current, it induces a myopia and self-centred orientation towards the world; some call this EGO. Under its influence the being imagines incorrectly that the whole world revolves around its wants, desires and convenience. When the evidential circumstance of the world is inconsistent with this, the being “suffers”. This suffering is self induced and is also inflicted upon others.

Caught up in SELF IMPORTANCE the being progresses through life trying to get its own way and exert its will over others. Unfortunately, most only come to have insight or understanding about this quality in manifestation, towards the end of life. It is only then that they can even begin to acknowledge how much harm their self importance has done both to their life and the lives around them. Many of the lessons associated with self importance are therefore autumnal.

As the leaves of a lifetime start to fall and the mind and body age, the bare tree of life starts to show through. It is in this stage of life that many self-important beings first get any sight of and start to own, how their behaviour has manifested. This realization is not possible or evident amidst a busy and hectic life. Yet as the engine starts to rev. more slowly the effects of self importance emerge from under the carpet.

Being an autumnal realisation there is little time to redress that which it is they have done. The slow appearance of understanding can lead to old age melancholy and bitterness. These are not pleasant to experience yet are by way of necessary learning in preparation for upcoming lives. Lifetime after lifetime are beings born to struggle with their own EGO and self importance. It is a lesson which is very long in the learning and because of the nature of self importance, one which so many adamantly resist to learn. They are way too self important to even begin to learn what it does and how to undo it.

The antidote is a realistic humility, and not a faux self important or “put on”, humility. Though many try to play humble, false piety is eventually transparent and God is not gullible.

If you don’t start to address self importance and that which it causes, according to Karma you will be shown some of the effects it has brought in the Autumn of your life.

It makes sense to do the work on self importance whilst you are of relatively sound body and mind. Leaving it to the last minutes in the hope that it will disappear all on its own, is not a wise strategy.

When two self-importances rub up against each other there is conflict. I mean this both at a personal level and in much wider circumstances. At the root of many world or national conflicts, there are opinions and EGOS.

Many of the major Karmic Challenges facing humanity have their root in EGO and Self Importance.

It is not possible to achieve liberation whilst one has SELF importance. This is the law.

Having said this few realize the total debilitation and self slavery, that is slavery by and to the self, with which they are encumbered. Self importance is the master of self deception. It parades as a friend and saviour, whilst in reality it is anything but!

Does my self importance bring me a sense of freedom or am I eternally busy trying to satisfy its whims?

Somebody Else’s Karma

One of the most difficult things in respect of Karma is figuring out when not to interfere. This is because interfering can stop people from learning the lesson which is due them. Altruism however, points at trying to mitigate the suffering of others; yet all too often a “helping hand” simply delays what a being needs to learn. By apparently preventing the suffering in the moment, it can actually be prolonging it.

It is not easy to ascertain when someone has Karmic learning to do. The only reliable pointer is recurrence. If a person keeps on doing the same thing and does not learn from it because others “help out”, rather than acting as a salve, that assistance, prolongs. A recurring pattern is more likely than not something Karmic and is by way of unfinished business.

It is never easy watching someone get “punched in the head” by life, yet sometimes this is exactly what is needed. Putting a glove on can appear to soften the blow yet this means that more blows are needed for the same lesson to be learned.

The desire to assist or ameliorate somebody else’s experience often comes about because of a “but for the grace of God there go I” feeling. There is something about the situation which strikes a chord of recognition. Deep down the lesson being learned is one which the being seeking to help knows is awaiting them, unless they change their ways. So they seek to mitigate the outcome of something which the world is mirroring for them. The experience which they are observing is a little too close for comfort.

Watching somebody else’s Karma can inform as to the causal consequence of one’s own actions. One can see mirrored the effect of similar causes currently being played out in one’s own life. Sometimes it is a reminder of lessons which one has already, sometimes painfully, learned; perhaps echoes of a past behaviour are surfacing again and one is given a timely reminder. Things in the mirror often reflect that which is too close for comfort for us. This is a good thing and should a situation cause discomfort, then it is a sure sign that there is some learning in and around such circumstance.

If one is serious about working with Karma, no matter how tempting it might be, Karmic challenges must be seized and not put off, nor should “help” always be accepted. If the situation is beyond current capacity, then help is OK. If laziness is at work, then help simply puts off the scheduled learning.

The motivations for interfering are many and manifold. Some of these are pure, others are not. When a situation unfolds in which one is able to assist it is always wise to be honest about the motive, for so doing. Many like to be painted hero. This in itself is a cause for subsequent effect.

In many but not all cases, people have to learn the hard way. Interfering actually prevents learning. It in effect “steals” someone’s lesson away from them!

Which is more compassionate allowing someone to learn naturally or interfering and mitigating?

The Twelve Principles of Buddhism

by Christmas Humphreys QC

    1. Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details of the man who shot it, or the length and make of the arrow. There will be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during the treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience.

    2. The first fact of existence is the law of change or impermanence. All that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought to an empire, passes through the same cycle of existence – i.e., birth, growth, decay and death. Life alone is continuous, ever seeking self-expression in new forms. ‘Life is a bridge; therefore build no house on it.’ Life is a process of flow, and he who clings to any form, however splendid, will suffer by resisting the flow.

    3. The law of change applies equally to the ‘soul’. There is no principle in an individual which is immortal and unchanging. Only the ‘Namelessness’, the ultimate Reality, is beyond change, and all forms of life, including man, are manifestations of this Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him any more than the electric light bulb owns the current which gives it light.

    4. The universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes, and man’s soul or character is the sum total of his previous thoughts and acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all reaction to them, his future condition, and his final destiny. By right thought and action he can gradually purify his inner nature, and so by self-realisation attain in time liberation from rebirth. The process covers great periods of time, involving life after life on earth, but ultimately every form of life will reach Enlightenment.

    5. Life is one and indivisible, though its everchanging forms are innumerable and perishable. There is, in truth, no death, though every form must die. From an understanding of life’s unity arises compassion, a sense of identity with the life in other forms. Compassion is described as ‘the Law of laws – eternal harmony’, and he who breaks this harmony of life will suffer accordingly and delay his own Enlightenment.

    6. Life being One, the interests of the part should be those of the whole. In his ignorance man thinks he can successfully strive for his own interests, and this wrongly directed energy of selfishness produces suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce and finally eliminate its cause. The Buddha taught Four Noble Truths:

    (a) The omnipresence of suffering;

    (b) its cause, wrongly directed desire;

    (c) its cure, the removal of the cause; and

    (d) Noble Eightfold Path of self-development which leads to the end of suffering.

    7. The Eightfold Path consists in Right (or perfect) Views or preliminary understanding, Right Aims or Motive, Right Speech, Right Acts, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration or mind development, and finally, Right Samadhi, leading to Full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a way of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is essential to self-deliverance. ‘Cease to do evil, learn to do good, cleanse your own heart: this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.’

    8. Reality is indescribable, and a God with attributes is not the final Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the All-Enlightened One, and the purpose of life is the attainment of Enlightenment. This state of Consciousness, Nirvana, the extinction of the limitations of self-hood, is attainable on earth. All men and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of Enlightenment, and the process therefore consists in becoming what you are. ‘Look within: thou art Buddha.’

    9. From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the Middle Way, the Eightfold Way ‘from desire to peace’, a process of self-development between the ‘opposites’, avoiding all extremes. The Buddha trod this Way to the end, and the only faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable belief that where a Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread. The Way must be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him, and heart and mind must be developed equally. The Buddha was the All-Compassionate as well as the All-Enlightened One.

    10. Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentration and meditation, which leads in time to the development of the inner spiritual faculties. The subjective life is as important as the daily round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are essential for a balanced life. The Buddhist should at all times be ‘mindful and self-possessed’, refraining from mental and emotional attachment to ‘the passing show’. This increasingly watchful attitude to circumstances, which he knows to be his own creation, helps him to keep his reaction to it always under control.

    11. The Buddha said: ‘Work out your own salvation with diligence.’ Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual, and that is authority for himself alone. Each man suffers the consequences of his own acts, and learns thereby, while helping his fellow men to the same deliverance; nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an effect from following its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and exemplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the individual. The utmost tolerance is practised towards all other religions and philosophies, for no man has the right to interfere in his neighbour’s journey to the Goal.

    12. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor ‘escapist’, nor does it deny the existence of God or soul, though it places its own meaning on these terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical, and all-embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone, as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny.

    Drafted by Christmas Humphreys, The Buddhist Society, London, in 1945

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

Rational thinking, in other words, ratioing one thing against another is considered sensible in some circles. It can be called reasonable. It is a basis of modern scientific thinking, where one compares hypothesis against experimental data, it is however also reductionist. We are encouraged to weigh things up, to compare one set of data against another. There is a whole bunch of this going on at the moment. For some bizarre reason people are comparing national COVID-19 responses, playing a game of who is better.

In school we are taught to compare things, even in literature. We are ranked according to grade averages. Schools which get their students through exams with a higher grade average are considered better than. Universities who do well in research excellence frameworks are better than, whilst others are worse than. People may even be prettier than or fatter than, uglier than or size zero. Someone might have a nicer more expensive car. This whole notion of comparison is in many cases a rod for our own backs. A rod of judgement, a rod with which we judge our own success and failure. A rod which on occasion we beat ourselves up with.

Comparison mind has permeated out of the theatre of appropriate use and into a mainstream.  It is so widespread, and I’ll wager that it does not bring happiness, peace and acceptance. Because of this abomination the word enough can never be sated. It, comparison, is a part of the gross illusion on the mental plane. People devote and inordinate amount of time to comparing. Who has the nicest arse, the biggest cock, the most plastic surgery? It is more than a little bizarre.

I sometimes refer to comparison mind as top trumps thinking. People look to have one metric with which they can somehow be better than someone else. If you so wish you might even be so bizarre as to call it a unique selling point an USP.

My hypothesis is this:

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

How much time do you spend / waste in comparison?

See I have asked you compare how much time you waste comparing, it is fucking groundhog mind!!

What Pandemic

Provided that I don’t turn on this computer or start the satellite box, there are no signs of pandemic here behind our gates. Not strictly true there are the blue masks and the bottles of alcohol-based gel. The birds go to the bird table, the river flows and the post lady puts things in the box. I never spoke to anyone on the ‘phone before the virus and I don’t now.

It is doing some strange stuff to my head and I am pretty good at being anti-social. I don’t need much in the way of company. I do wonder what it must be like for others. We have had the do not resuscitate conversation, just in case. If people have never had asthma the illness must be very scary even when mild. I guess were I in blighty I would be on the shielding list and I could get away with not wearing a mask.

One sign of Brexit here is that lamb is getting a bit more scarce.

The cars go by in the morning on the way to work, at lunchtimes in two directions and at the end of the day. We are in a 6 to 6 curfew. But we never left the compound after 6pm anyway. Before I did my hip, we used to go to Aikido class, but that is off. Difficult to social distance when you are grabbing someone’s wrist, in any case. What pandemic?

Only I do turn on this machine and at least once a week I have a look at the data.

On the news there are people yearning for a return to “normal”. We will be offered the holy jab, the crucifix to the vampire.  The virus could mutate. If this was a movie plot, it would mutate so that the vaccine no longer worked. We could then have an end of world disaster movie. Someone would call Tom Cruise or Will Smith and we would get that happy ending after facing near total extinction.

The days are so samey. One day is pretty much like the other.  Luckily the weather is more variable this year. We do struggle remembering what day it is. It is getting lighter as we head towards spring and today in the middle of January, it feels like spring.

I am not by nature pessimistic, but I do think this yearning for normal is misplaced. The economic implications are mounting and when the days get warmer, civil unrest will increase. Listening to the various sufferers and medics on the TV, does bring the hints of a tear to the eye. I feel sad for them. All that suffering gets the waves of compassion surging and I can feel it in my heart. I am feeling sad now. I have got to get a hold on that empathic sadness. It is not good for me.

All that suffering…it hurts…

Heart Sutra

Perceiving that all the five skandhas are empty saves all beings from suffering.

Form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

No appearing, no disappearing.

No taint, no purity.

No increase, no decrease.

All Dharmas are marked with emptiness.

No cognition-no attainment.



Unexcelled perfect enlightenment – anuttara samyak sambodhi.


Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha!



Maha Prajna Paramita

Prajñāpāramitā (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिता) in Buddhism, means “the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom.” The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā (“wisdom”) with pāramitā (“perfection”).

Tathāgata (Devanagari: तथागत, Sanskrit: [t̪əˈtɑɡət̪ə]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word that the Buddha of the Pali Canon uses when referring to himself. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata) or “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. However there are other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain


IT was night. The prince found no rest on his soft pillow; he arose and went out into the garden. “Alas!” he cried “all the world is full of darkness and ignorance; there is no one who knows how to cure the ills of existence.” And he groaned with pain.

Siddhattha sat down beneath the great jambu-tree and gave himself to thought, pondering on life and death and the evils of decay. Concentrating his mind he became free from confusion. All low desires vanished from his heart and perfect tranquility came over him.

In this state of ecstasy he saw with his mental eye all the misery and sorrow of the world; he saw the pains of pleasure and the inevitable certainty of death that hovers over every being; yet men are not awakened to the truth. And a deep compassion seized his heart.

While the prince was pondering on the problem of evil, he beheld with his mind’s eye under the jambu tree a lofty figure endowed with majesty, calm and dignified. “Whence comest thou, and who mayst thou be asked the prince.

In reply the vision said: “I am a samana. Troubled at the thought of old age, disease, and death I have left my home to seek the path of salvation. All things hasten to decay; only the truth abideth forever. Everything changes, and there is no permanency; yet the words of the Buddhas are immutable. I long for the happiness that does not decay; the treasure that will never perish; the life that knows of no beginning and no end. Therefore, I have destroyed all worldly thought. I have retired into an unfrequented dell to live in solitude; and, begging for food, I devote myself to the one thing needful.

Siddhattha asked: “Can peace be gained in this world of unrest? I am struck with the emptiness of pleasure and have become disgusted with lust. All oppresses me, and existence itself seems intolerable.”

The samana replied: “Where heat is, there is also a possibility of cold; creatures subject to pain possess the faculty of pleasure; the origin of evil indicates that good can be developed. For these things are correlatives. Thus where there is much suffering, there will be much bliss, if thou but open thine eyes to behold it. Just as a man who has fallen into a heap of filth ought to seek the great pond of water covered with lotuses, which is near by: even so seek thou for the great deathless lake of Nirvana to wash off the defilement of wrong. If the lake is not sought, it is not the fault of the lake. Even so when there is a blessed road leading the man held fast by wrong to the salvation of Nirvana, if the road is not walked upon, it is not the fault of the road, but of the person. And when a man who is oppressed with sickness, there being a physician who can heal him, does not avail himself of the physician’s help, that is not the fault of the physician. Even so when a man oppressed by the malady of wrong-doing does not seek the spiritual guide of enlightenment, that is no fault of the evil-destroying guide.”

The prince listened to the noble words of his visitor and said: “Thou bringest good tidings, for now I know that my purpose will be accomplished. My father advises me to enjoy life and to undertake worldly duties, such as will bring honor to me and to our house. He tells me that I am too young still, that my pulse beats too full to lead a religious life.”

The venerable figure shook his head and replied: “Thou shouldst know that for seeking a religious life no time can be inopportune.”

A thrill of joy passed through Siddhattha’s heart. “Now is the time to seek religion,” he said; “now is the time to sever all ties that would prevent me from attaining perfect enlightenment; now is the time to wander into homelessness and, leading a mendicant’s life, to find the path of deliverance.”

The celestial messenger heard the resolution of Siddhattha with approval. “Now, indeed he added, is the time to seek religion. Go, Siddhattha, and accomplish thy purpose. For thou art Bodhisatta, the Buddha-elect; thou art destined to enlighten the world. Thou art the Tathagata, the great master, for thou wilt fulfill all righteousness and be Dharmaraja, the king of truth. Thou art Bhagavat, the Blessed One, for thou art called upon to become the savior and redeemer of the world. Fulfill thou the perfection of truth. Though the thunderbolt descend upon thy head, yield thou never to the allurements that beguile men from the path of truth. As the sun at all seasons pursues his own course, nor ever goes on another, even so if thou forsake not the straight path of righteousness, thou shalt become a Buddha. Persevere in thy quest and thou shalt find what thou seekest. Pursue thy aim unswervingly and thou shalt gain the prize. Struggle earnestly and thou shalt conquer. The benediction of all deities, of all saints of all that seek light is upon thee, and heavenly wisdom guides thy steps. Thou shalt be the Buddha, our Master, and our Lord; thou shalt enlighten the world and save mankind from perdition.

Having thus spoken, the vision vanished, and Siddhattha’s heart was filled with peace. He said to himself: “I have awakened to the truth and I am resolved to accomplish my purpose. I will sever all the ties that bind me to the world, and I will go out from my home to seek the way of salvation. The Buddhas are beings whose words cannot fail: there is no departure from truth in their speech. For as the fall of a stone thrown into the air, as the death of a mortal, as the sunrise at dawn, as the lion’s roar when he leaves his lair, as the delivery of a woman with child, as all these things are sure and certain-even so the word of the Buddhas is sure and cannot fail. Verily I shall become a Buddha.”

The prince returned to the bedroom of his wife to take a last farewell glance at those whom he dearly loved above all the treasures of the earth. He longed to take the infant once more into his arms and kiss him with a parting kiss. But the child lay in the arms of his mother, and the prince could not lift him without awakening both. There Siddhattha stood gazing at his beautiful wife and his beloved son, and his heart grieved. The pain of parting overcame him powerfully. Although his mind was determined, so that nothing, be it good or evil, could shake his resolution, the tears flowed freely from his eyes, and it was beyond his power to check their stream. But the prince tore himself away with a manly heart, suppressing his feelings but not extinguishing his memory.

The Bodhisattva mounted his noble steed Kanthaka, and when he left the palace, Mara stood in the gate and stopped him: “Depart not, O my Lord,” exclaimed Mara. “In seven days from now the wheel of empire will appear, and will make thee sovereign over the four continents and the two thousand adjacent islands. Therefore, stay, my Lord.”

The Bodhisattva replied: “Well do I know that the wheel of empire will appear to me; but it is not sovereignty that I desire. I will become a Buddha and make all the world shout for joy.”

Thus Siddhattha, the prince, renounced power and worldly pleasures, gave up his kingdom, severed all ties, and went into homelessness. He rode out into the silent night, accompanied only by his faithful charioteer Channa. Darkness lay upon the earth, but the stars shone brightly in the heavens.


excerpted from:


By Paul Carus

Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,