Posted by: ADMIN | April 9, 2011

the life of the Buddha: The Buddha Finds His Former Disciples

4. The Buddha Finds His Former Disciples

THE Blessed One entered the great city of Benares. He wandered through the streets, asking for alms; he ate the food that was given him, then he went to the Deer Park where he knew he would find Rudraka’s former disciples.

The five disciples saw him in the distance. They thought they recognized him, and they said to each other:

“Do we not know this man, walking toward us? Is he not the one whose austerities, formerly, used to astonish us, and who, one day, revolted against the severe self-discipline he had been observing? If his mortifications did not show him the way to supreme knowledge then, how can his thoughts profit us to-day when he is swayed by greed and cowardice? Let us not go and meet him, or rise when he approaches; let us not relieve him of his cloak or of his alms-bowl; let us not even offer him a seat. We will say to him, ‘All the seats here are taken.’ And we will give him nothing to eat or drink.”

Thus did they decide. But the Blessed One kept

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drawing nearer, and the closer he came the more uncomfortable they felt. They were seized with a great desire to rise from their seats. They were like birds frantically trying to escape from a cage under which a fire has been kindled. They were restless; they seemed to be ill. Finally, they broke their resolution. They rose as one man; they ran to the Blessed One, and they greeted him. One took his alms-bowl, another his cloak; a third offered him a seat. They brought him water to bathe his feet, and with one voice they cried:

“Welcome, friend, welcome. Take a seat in our midst.”

The Blessed One sat down and bathed his feet. Then he said to the five hermits:

“Do not address me as friend, O monks. I am the Saint, the Perfect One, the supreme Buddha. Open your ears, O monks; the path is discovered that leads to deliverance. I will show you the path; I will teach you the law. Listen well, and you will learn the sacred truth.”

Bur they answered:

“Formerly, in spite of your austere practises, you did not arrive at perfect knowledge, so how could you have attained it, now that you lead a life of self-indulgence?”

“O monks,” replied the Blessed One, “I do not lead a life of self-indulgence; I have renounced

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none of the blessings to which I aspired. I am the Saint, the Perfect One, the supreme Buddha. Open your ears, O monks; the path is discovered that leads to deliverance. I will show you the path; I will teach you the law. Listen well, and you will learn the sacred truth.”

He added, “O monks, will you admit that I have never before addressed you in this manner?” “We admit it, Master.”

“I say unto you: I am the Saint, the Perfect One, the supreme Buddha. Open your ears, O monks; the path is discovered that leads to deliverance. Listen well.”

And the five monks listened as he spoke.

“There are two extremes that he must avoid who would lead a life governed by his intelligence. Some devote themselves to pleasure; their lives are a constant round of dissipations; they seek only to gratify their senses. Such beings are contemptible; their conduct is ignoble and futile; it is unworthy of him who would acquire intelligence. Others devote themselves to self-mortification; they deprive themselves of everything; their conduct is gloomy and futile; it is unworthy of him who would acquire intelligence. From these two extremes, O monks, the Perfect One stands aloof. He has discovered the middle path, the path that opens the eyes and opens the mind, the path that leads to

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rest, to knowledge, to nirvana. This sacred path, O monks, has eight branches: right faith, right resolve, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right thought, right meditation. This, O monks, is the middle path, the path that I, the Perfect One, discovered, the path that leads to rest, to knowledge, to nirvana.”

All five held their breath, the better to hear him. He paused a moment, then continued:

“O monks, I will tell you the truth about suffering. Suffering is birth, suffering is old age, suffering is sickness, suffering is death. You are bound to that which you hate: suffering; you are separated from that which you love: suffering; you do not obtain that which you desire: suffering. To cling to bodies, to sensations, to forms, to impressions, to perceptions: suffering, suffering, suffering. O monks, I will tell you the truth about the origin of suffering. The thirst for existence leads from rebirth to rebirth; lust and pleasure follow. Power alone can satisfy lust. The thirst for power, the thirst for pleasure, the thirst for existence; there, O monks, is the origin of suffering. O monks, I will tell you the truth about the suppression of suffering. Quench your thirst by annihilating desire. Drive away desire. Forgo desire. Free yourselves of desire. Be ignorant of desire. O monks, I will tell you the truth about the path that leads to the extinction

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of suffering. It is the sacred path, the noble eight-fold path: right faith, right resolve, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right thought, right meditation. O monks, you know the sacred truth about suffering; no one before me had discovered it; my eyes opened, and suffering was revealed to me. I understood the truth about suffering; you, O monks, must now understand it. O monks, you know the sacred truth about the origin of suffering; no one before me had discovered it; my eyes opened, and the origin of suffering was revealed to me. I understood the truth about the origin of suffering; you, O monks, must now understand it. O monks, you know the sacred truth about the suppression of suffering; no one before me had discovered it; my eyes opened, and the suppression of suffering was revealed to me. I understood the truth about the suppression of suffering; you, O monks, must now understand it. O monks, you know the sacred truth about the path that leads to the extinction of suffering; no one before me had discovered it; my eyes opened, and the path that leads to the extinction of suffering was revealed to me. I understood the truth about the path that leads to the extinction of suffering; you must now understand it, O monks.”

The five disciples listened with rapture to the words of the Blessed One. He spoke again:

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“O monks, as long as I did not have a complete understanding of these four truths, I knew that neither in this world nor in the world of the Gods, in Mara’s world nor in Brahma’s world I knew that among all beings, men, Gods, hermits or brahmans, I had not attained the supreme rank of Buddha. But, O monks, now that I have a complete understanding of these four truths, I know that in this world as in the world of the Gods, in Mara’s world and in Brahma’s world, I know that among all beings, men, Gods, hermits or brahmans, I have attained the supreme rank of Buddha. I am for ever set free: for me there will be no new birth.”

Thus spoke the Blessed One, and the five monks joyfully acclaimed him and glorified him.


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