Tathāgata

This from Wikipedia:

Tathāgata (Sanskrit: [tɐˈtʰaːɡɐtɐ]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word; Gautama Buddha uses it when referring to himself in the Pāli Canon. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata), “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata), or sometimes “one who has thus not gone” (tathā-agata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathāgata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are, however, other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain.

The Buddha is quoted on numerous occasions in the Pali Canon as referring to himself as the Tathāgata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This may be meant to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth and death, i.e. beyond dukkha.

The term Tathāgata has a number of possible meanings.

Etymology and interpretation

The word’s original significance is not known and there has been speculation about it since at least the time of Buddhaghosa, who gives eight interpretations of the word, each with different etymological support, in his commentary on the Digha Nikaya, the SUMAṄGALAVILĀSINĪ.

  1. He who has arrived in such fashion, i.e. who has worked his way upwards to perfection for the world’s good in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas.
  2. He who walked in such fashion, i.e. (a) he who at birth took the seven equal steps in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas or (b) he who in the same way as all previous Buddhas went his way to Buddhahood through the four Jhanas and the Paths.
  3. He who by the path of knowledge has come at the real essentials of things.
  4. He who has won Truth.
  5. He who has discerned Truth.
  6. He who declares Truth.
  7. He whose words and deeds accord.
  8. The great physician whose medicine is all-potent.

Monks, in the world with its devas, Mara and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed and cognized, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind—all that is fully understood by the Tathagata. That is why he is called the Tathagata. (Anguttara Nikaya 4:23)

Modern scholarly opinion generally opines that Sanskrit grammar offers at least two possibilities for breaking up the compound word: either tathā and āgata (via a sandhi rule ā + ā → ā), or tathā and gata. Tathā means “thus” in Sanskrit and Pali, and Buddhist thought takes this to refer to what is called “reality as-it-is” (yathābhūta). This reality is also referred to as “thusness” or “suchness” (tathatā), indicating simply that it (reality) is what it is.

Tathāgata is defined as someone who “knows and sees reality as-it-is” (yathā bhūta ñāna dassana). Gata “gone” is the past passive participle of the verbal root gam “go, travel”. Āgata “come” is the past passive participle of the verb meaning “come, arrive”. In this interpretation, Tathāgata means literally either “the one who has gone to suchness” or “the one who has arrived at suchness”.

Another interpretation, proposed by the scholar Richard Gombrich, is based on the fact that, when used as a suffix in compounds, -gata will often lose its literal meaning and signifies instead “being”. Tathāgata would thus mean “one like that”, with no motion in either direction.

According to Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, the term has a non-Buddhist origin, and is best understood when compared to its usage in non-Buddhist works such as the Mahabharata. Shcherbatskoy gives the following example from the Mahabharata (Shantiparva, 181.22): “Just as the footprints of birds (flying) in the sky and fish (swimming) in water cannot be seen, Thus (tātha) is going (gati) of those who have realized the Truth.”

The French author René Guénon, in an essay distinguishing between Pratyēka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, writes that the former appear outwardly superior to the latter, simply because they are allowed to remain impassible, whereas the latter must in some sense appear to rediscover “a way” or at least recapitulate it, so that others, too, may “go that way,” hence tathā-gata

The nature of a Tathāgata

A number of passages affirm that a Tathāgata is “immeasurable”, “inscrutable”, “hard to fathom”, and “not apprehended”. A tathāgata has abandoned that clinging to the skandhas (personality factors) that render citta (the mind) a bounded, measurable entity, and is instead “freed from being reckoned by” all or any of them, even in life. The aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and cognizance that compose personal identity have been seen to be dukkha (a burden), and an enlightened individual is one with “burden dropped”. The Buddha explains “that for which a monk has a latent tendency, by that is he reckoned, what he does not have a latent tendency for, by that is he not reckoned. These tendencies are ways in which the mind becomes involved in and clings to conditioned phenomena. Without them, an enlightened person cannot be “reckoned” or “named”; he or she is beyond the range of other beings, and cannot be “found” by them, even by gods, or Mara. In one passage, Sariputta states that the mind of the Buddha cannot be “encompassed” even by him.

The Buddha and Sariputta, in similar passages, when confronted with speculation as to the status of an arahant after death, bring their interlocutors to admit that they cannot even apprehend an arahant that is alive. As Sariputta puts it, his questioner Yamaka “can’t pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life.” These passages imply that condition of the arahant, both before and after parinirvana, lies beyond the domain where the descriptive powers of ordinary language are at home; that is, the world of the skandhas and the greed, hatred, and delusion that are “blown out” with nirvana.

In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, an ascetic named Vaccha questions the Buddha on a variety of metaphysical issues. When Vaccha asks about the status of a tathagata after death, the Buddha asks him in which direction a fire goes when it has gone out. Vaccha replies that the question “does not fit the case … For the fire that depended on fuel … when that fuel has all gone, and it can get no other, being thus without nutriment, it is said to be extinct.” The Buddha then explains: “In exactly the same way …, all form by which one could predicate the existence of the saint, all that form has been abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra-tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future. The saint … who has been released from what is styled form is deep, immeasurable, unfathomable, like the mighty ocean.” The same is then said of the other aggregates. A variety of similar passages make it clear that the metaphor “gone out, he cannot be defined” (atthangato so na pamanam eti) refers equally to liberation in life. In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta itself, it is clear that the Buddha is the subject of the metaphor, and the Buddha has already “uprooted” or “annihilated” the five aggregates. In Sn 1074, it is stated that the sage cannot be “reckoned” because he is freed from the category “name” or, more generally, concepts. The absence of this precludes the possibility of reckoning or articulating a state of affairs; “name” here refers to the concepts or apperceptions that make propositions possible.

Nagarjuna expressed this understanding in the nirvana chapter of his Mulamadhyamakakarika: “It is not assumed that the Blessed One exists after death. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither. It is not assumed that even a living Blessed One exists. Neither is it assumed that he does not exist, or both, or neither.”

Speaking within the context of Mahayana Buddhism (specifically the Perfection of Wisdom sutras), Edward Conze writes that the term ‘tathagata’ denotes inherent true selfhood within the human being:

Just as tathata designates true reality in general, so the word which developed into “Tathagata” designated the true self, the true reality within man.

Chunda, The Smith

Excerpted from “Buddha the Gospel ” by Paul Carus.

THE Blessed One went to Pava. When Chunda, the worker in metals, heard that the Blessed One had come to Pava and was staying in his mango grove, he came to the Buddha and respectfully invited him and the brethren to take their meal at his house. And Chunda prepared rice-cakes and a dish of dried boar’s meat.

When the Blessed One had eaten the food prepared by Chunda, the worker in metals, there fell upon him a dire sickness, and sharp pain came upon him even unto death. But the Blessed One, mindful and self-possessed, bore it without complaint. And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Come, Ananda, let us go on to Kusinara.”

On his way the Blessed One grew tired, and he went aside from the road to rest at the foot of a tree, and said: “Fold the robe, I pray thee, Ananda, and spread it out for me. I am weary, Ananda, and must rest awhile!” “Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda; and he spread out the robe folded fourfold. The Blessed One seated himself, and when he was seated he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda. I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”

When he had thus spoken, the venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “But just now, Lord, five hundred carts have gone across the brook and have stirred the water; but a river, O Lord, is not far off. Its water is clear and pleasant, cool and transparent, and it is easy to get down to it. the Blessed One may both drink water and cool his limbs.”

A second time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, saying: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda, and would drink.”

And a second time the venerable Ananda said: “Let us go to the river.”

Then the third time the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Fetch me some water, I pray thee, Ananda, I am thirsty, Ananda and would drink.” “Be it so, Lord!” said the venerable Ananda in assent to the Blessed One; and, taking a bowl, he went down to the streamlet. And lo! the streamlet, which, stirred up by wheels, had become muddy, when the venerable Ananda came up to it, flowed clear and bright and free from all turbidity. And he thought: “How wonderful, how marvelous is the great might and power of the Tathagata!”

Ananda brought the water in the bowl to the Lord, saying: “Let the Blessed One take the bowl. Let the Happy One drink the water. Let the Teacher of men and gods quench his thirst. Then the Blessed One drank of the water.

Now, at that time a man of low caste, named Pukkusa, a young Malla, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing along the high road from Kusinara to Pava. Pukkusa, the young Malla, saw the Blessed One seated at the foot of a tree. On seeing him he went up to the place where the Blessed One was, and when he had come there, he saluted the Blessed One and took his seat respectfully on one side. Then the Blessed One instructed, edified, and gladdened Kukkusa, the young Malla, with religious discourse.

Aroused and gladdened by the words of the Blessed One, Pukkusa, the young Malla, addressed a certain man who happened to pass by, and said: “Fetch me, I pray thee, my good man, two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.”

“Be it so, sir!” said that man in assent to Pukkusa, the young Malla; and he brought two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear.

The Malla Pukkusa presented the two robes of cloth of gold, burnished and ready for wear, to the Blessed One, saying: “Lord, these two robes of burnished cloth of gold are ready for wear. May the Blessed One show me favor and accept them at my hands!”

The Blessed One said: “Pukkusa, robe me in one, and Ananda in the other one.” And the Tathagata’s body appeared shining like a flame, and he was beautiful above all expression.

The venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One: “How wonderful a thing is it, Lord, and how marvelous, that the color of the skin of the Blessed One should be so clear, so exceedingly bright! When I placed this robe of burnished cloth of gold on the body of the Blessed One, lo! it seemed as if it had lost its splendor!”

The Blessed One said: “There are two occasions on which a Tathagata’s appearance becomes clear and exceeding bright. In the night, Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that utter passing away which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly existence to remain.

And the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: “Now it may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up remorse in Chunda, the smith, by saying: ‘It is evil to thee, Chunda, and loss to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision.’ Any such remorse, Ananda, in Chunda, the smith, should be checked by saying: ‘It is good to thee, Chunda, and gain to thee, that the Tathagata died, having eaten his last meal from thy provision. From the very mouth of the Blessed One, O Chunda, have I heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying, “These two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of much greater profit than any other: the offerings of food which a Tathagata accepts when he has attained perfect enlightenment and when he passes away by the utter passing away in which nothing whatever of his earthly existence remains behind-these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit and much greater profit than any other. There has been laid up by Chunda, the smith, a karma redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of great power.”‘ In this way, Ananda, should be checked any remorse in Chunda, the smith.”

Then the Blessed One, perceiving that death was near, uttered these words: “He who gives away shall have real gain. He who subdues himself shall be free, he shall cease to be a slave of passions. The righteous man casts off evil; and by rooting out lust, bitterness, and illusion, do we reach Nirvana.”

THE BUDDHA’S FATHER

THE Buddha’s name became famous over all India and Suddhodana, his father, sent word to him saying: “I am growing old and wish to see my son before I die. Others have had the benefit of his doctrine, but not his father nor his relatives.” And the messenger said: “O world-honored Tathagata, thy father looks for thy coming as the lily longs for the rising of the sun.”

The Blessed One consented to the request of his father and set out on his journey to Kapilavatthu. Soon the tidings spread in the native country of the Buddha: “Prince Siddhattha, who wandered forth from home into homelessness to obtain enlightenment, having attained his purpose, is coming back.”

Suddhodana went out with his relatives and ministers to meet the prince. When the king saw Siddhattha, his son, from afar, he was struck with his beauty and dignity, and he rejoiced in his heart, but his mouth found no words to utter. This, indeed, was his son; these were the features of Siddhattha. How near was the great samana to his heart, and yet what a distance lay between them! That noble muni was no longer Siddhattha, his son; he was the Buddha, the Blessed One, the Holy One, Lord of truth, and teacher of mankind. Suddhodana the king, considering the religious dignity of his son, descended from his chariot and after saluting his son said: “It is now seven years since I have seen thee. How I have longed for this moment!”

Then the Sakyamuni took a seat opposite his father, and the king gazed eagerly at his son. He longed to call him by his name, but he dared not. “Siddhattha,” he exclaimed silently in his heart, “Siddhattha, come back to thine aged father and be his son again!” But seeing the determination of his son, he suppressed his sentiments, and, desolation overcame him. Thus the king sat face to face with his son, rejoicing in his sadness and sad in his rejoicing. Well might he be proud of his son, but his pride broke down at the idea that his great son would never be his heir.

“I would offer thee my kingdom,” said, the king, “but if I did, thou wouldst account it but as ashes.”

And the Buddha said: “I know that the king’s heart is full of love and that for his son’s sake he feels deep grief. But let the ties of love that bind him to the son whom he lost embrace with equal kindness all his fellow-beings, and he will receive in his place a greater one than Siddhattha; he will receive the Buddha, the teacher of truth, the preacher of righteousness, and the peace of Nirvana will enter into his heart.”

Suddhodana trembled with joy when he heard the melodious words of his son, the Buddha, and clasping his hands, exclaimed with tears in his eyes: “Wonderful in this change! The overwhelming sorrow has passed away. At first my sorrowing heart was heavy, but now I reap the fruit of thy great renunciation. It was right that, moved by thy mighty sympathy, thou shouldst reject the pleasures of royal power and achieve thy noble purpose in religious devotion. Now that thou hast found the path, thou canst preach the law of immortality to all the world that yearns for deliverance.” The king returned to the palace, while the Buddha remained in the grove before the city.


BUDDHA, THE GOSPEL

By Paul Carus

Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,

[1894]

THE JEALOUSY OF DEVADATTA

WHEN Devadatta, the son of Suprabuddha and a brother of Yasodhara, became a disciple, he cherished the hope of attaining the same distinctions and honors as Gotama Siddhattha. Being disappointed in his ambitions, he conceived in his heart a jealous hatred, and, attempting to excel the Perfect One in virtue, he found fault with his regulations and reproved them as too lenient.

Devadatta went to Rajagaha and gained the ear of Ajatasattu, the son of King Bimbisara. And Ajatasattu built a new vihara for Devadatta, and founded a sect whose disciples were pledged to severe rules and self-mortification.

Soon afterwards the Blessed One himself came to Rajagaha and stayed at the Veluvana vihara. Devadatta called on the Blessed One, requesting him to sanction his rules of greater stringency, by which a greater holiness might be procured. “The body,” he said, consists of its thirty-two parts and has no divine attributes. It is conceived in sin and born in corruption. Its attributes are liability to pain and dissolution, for it is impermanent. It is the receptacle of karma which is the curse of our former existences; it is the dwelling place of sin and diseases and its organs constantly discharge disgusting secretions. Its end is death and its goal the charnel house. Such being the condition of the body it behooves us to treat it as a carcass full of abomination and to clothe it in such rags only as have been gathered in cemeteries or upon dung-hills.”

The Blessed One said: “Truly, the body is full of impurity and its end is the charnel house, for it is impermanent and destined to be dissolved into its elements. But being the receptacle of karma, it lies in our power to make it a vessel of truth and not of evil. It is not good to indulge in the pleasures of the body, but neither is it good to neglect our bodily needs and to heap filth upon impurities. The lamp that is not cleansed and not filled with oil will be extinguished, and a body that is unkempt, unwashed, and weakened by penance will not be a fit receptacle for the light of truth. Attend to your body and its needs as you would treat a wound which you care for without loving it. Severe rules will not lead the disciples on the middle path which I have taught. Certainly, no one can be prevented from keeping more stringent rules, if he sees fit to do so but they should not be imposed upon any one, for they are unnecessary.”

Thus the Tathagata refused Devadatta’s proposal; and Devadatta left the Buddha and went into the vihara speaking evil of the Lord’s path of salvation as too lenient and altogether insufficient. When the Blessed One heard of Devadatta’s intrigues, he said: “Among men there is no one who is not blamed. People blame him who sits silent and him who speaks, they also blame the man who preaches the middle path.”

Devadatta instigated Ajatasattu to plot against his father Bimbisara, the king, so that the prince would no longer be subject to him. Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son in a tower, where he died, leaving the kingdom of Magadha to his son Ajatasattu.

The new king listened to the evil advice of Devadatta, and he gave orders to take the life of the Tathagata. However, the murderers sent out to kill the Lord could not perform their wicked deed, and became converted as soon as they saw him and listened to his preaching. The rock hurled down from a precipice upon the great Master split in twain, and the two pieces passed by on either side without doing any harm. Nalagiri, the wild elephant let loose to destroy the Lord, became gentle in his presence; and Ajatasattu, suffering greatly from the pangs of his conscience, went to the Blessed One and sought peace in his distress.

The Blessed One received Ajatasattu kindly and taught him the way of salvation; but Devadatta still tried to become the founder of a religious school of his own. Devadatta did not succeed in his plans and having been abandoned by many of his disciples, he fell sick, and then repented. He entreated those who had remained with him to carry his litter to the Buddha, saying: “Take me, children, take me to him; though I have done evil to him, I am his brother-in-law. For the sake of our relationship the Buddha will save me.” And they obeyed, although reluctantly.

And Devadatta in his impatience to see the Blessed One rose from his litter while his carriers were washing their hands. But his feet burned under him; he sank to the ground; and, having chanted a hymn on the Buddha, died.


BUDDHA, THE GOSPEL

By Paul Carus

Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,

[1894]

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.

Nirvana.

 

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

THE BODHISATTVAS RENUNCIATION

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:

BUDDHA, THE GOSPEL

By Paul Carus

Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,

[1894]