E. P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
HAZEL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
LONDON AND AYLESBURY,
|I.||The Praise of the Thought of Enlightenment||37|
|II.||The Confession of Sin||40|
|III.||Taking the Thought of Enlightenment||44|
|IV.||Heedfulness in the Thought of Enlightenment||48|
|VI.||The Perfect Long-Suffering||59|
|VII.||The Perfect Strength||73|
|VIII.||The Perfect Contemplation||82|
|IX.||The Perfect Knowledge||92|
THE object of the Editors of this series is a very definite one. They desire above all things that, in their humble way, these books shall be the ambassadors of good-will and understanding between East and West—the old world of Thought and the new of Action. In this endeavour, and in their own sphere, they are but followers of the highest example in the land. They are confident that a deeper knowledge of the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought may help to a revival of that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations of another creed and colour. Finally, in thanking press and public for the very cordial reception given to the "Wisdom of the East" Series, they wish to state that no pains have been spared to secure the best specialists for the treatment of the various subjects at hand.
S. A. KAPADIA.
185 Piccadilly, W.
"WHEN the religion formerly received is rent by discords," remarks Bacon in his subtle essay on the "Vicissitudes of Things," "and when the holiness of the professors of religion is decayed and full of scandal, and withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and barbarous, you may doubt the springing up of a new sect; if then also there should arise any extravagant and strange spirit to make himself author thereof. If a new sect have not two properties, fear it not, for it will not spread: the one is the supplanting, or the opposing of authority established—for nothing is more popular than that; the other is the giving licence to pleasures and a voluptuous life: for as for speculative heresies (such as were in ancient times the Arians, and now the Arminians), though they work mightily upon men's wits, they do not produce any great alteration in States, except it be by the help of civil occasions. There be three manners of plantations of new sects: by the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence and wisdom of speech and persuasion; and by the sword. For martyrdoms, I reckon them amongst miracles, because they seem to exceed the strength of human nature; and I may do the like of superlative and admirable holiness of life."
So far as his range of knowledge extended, Bacon's remarks are true. But when we attempt to apply them to the history of Buddhism, we find that they need considerable qualification. Buddhism arose in an age when "the holiness of the professors of religion," the influence of the Brahman hierarchy in India, was "decayed and full of scandal." But the times, far from being "stupid, ignorant, and barbarous," were full of eager intellectual and moral activity; on all sides ancient doctrines were being reaffirmed by their professors and assailed by critics, while new systems of thought were rising everywhere. The Buddha himself was not an "extravagant and strange spirit," but a man whose thought in essentials was thoroughly in harmony with the ideas of Hinduism, and whose character fulfilled a Hindu ideal. His Church did indeed endeavour to supplant the authority of the Brahmans; but it sought to attain this end neither by "the giving licence to pleasures and a voluptuous life," nor by the sword. Its marvellous success was due to "the eloquence and wisdom of speech and I persuasion" and to "the superlative and admirable holiness of life" of the Buddha.
About a hundred miles north from Benares, on the border of Nepal, where the plain of the Ganges begins to rise to the uplands at the edge of the mighty Himalayas, lies a little region which was once the home of the Śākyas, a class of Kshatriyas, or men of the warrior caste. To Suddhodana of Kapila-vastu, a nobleman of the Gautama family of this tribe, was born about 560 B.C. a son Siddhārtha. When he grew up Siddhārtha likewise married and begot a son, Rahula by name. And then, when he was about twenty-nine years of age, as tradition relates, Siddhārtha became weary of the world and the flesh. The ghastly riddle of Life—Life with its endless vicissitudes of phantom pleasure and ever-renewed pain—was ceaselessly pressing itself upon him, as it has pressed itself upon so many thousands of other Hindus, and he could find no rest in his father's home. So he left the world, to become a wandering beggar-student, in the hope of finding the key to the great mystery in the teachings of some master of philosophic lore. But none of the teachers whom he met could satisfy the hunger of his soul, and the severest mortifications of the flesh brought him no light.
One day, as he sat meditating in the shadow of a fig-tree, his long searchings of heart came to an end, and the answer to the mystery of life was revealed to him. Henceforth he was the Buddha, the Enlightened Seer, who had won the perfect peace of spiritual knowledge, the Nirvāna; and the remaining years of his long life were passed in imparting his teaching for the salvation of his fellow-creatures, and thus founding the Buddhist Church, until about 482 B.C., full of years and honour, he departed to the supreme Nirvāna.
When we examine the doctrines which appear to have been taught by the Buddha, we see that they are founded upon two ancient conceptions that are characteristic of Hindu thought: the pessimistic idea of Karma, and the Samsāra, "works" and "wandering." According to the usual Indian creed, the universe is tenanted by a countless number of souls in various degrees of elevation; and each of them must pass through an endless number of births and deaths in the most various kinds of bodies. Every moment of experience that each soul undergoes in each incarnation is the direct result of an act performed in a former birth or later, and in its turn bears fruit in a future experience, thus forming a series of sorrows without beginning and without end. For life, however pleasant it may seem, is in reality but a long illusive agony, from which only the few escape who by their perfect spiritual insight win to identity with the transcendental Being, Brahma.
Now the Buddha, according to the ancient tradition of the Pali Canon, dissented from this teaching on one very important point. He denied that there is a soul in the individual, and that there is a God, or Supreme Being, working in the manifold phenomena of the universe. Of course he believed in gods: no Hindu has ever seriously called them into question; but the gods, according to him, differed only in degree from mankind, and neither class possessed that permanent centre of thought, that unchanging identity of consciousness, which we call "soul" or "self." Our thoughts are never quite the same from second to second; our mental life is only a series of causally connected instants of consciousness. By this denial the Buddha thought that he could more readily remove the moral and intellectual weakness of humanity which is founded upon the conception "I am"; for if there is no real subject of thought, no "soul" or "self," it cannot predicate its own existence, and therefore cannot conceive selfish desire. And desire is the root of embodied life, and therefore of all evil.
The Buddha therefore taught a "Middle Path," equally remote from worldly ways and from extreme asceticism, the "Noble Path of Eight Members." The members of this Path are as follows: Right Views, or acceptance of the Buddha's teachings which we have above set forth; Right Desires, or pure aspirations making for righteousness, charity, and purity of heart; Right Speech; Right Conduct; Right Livelihood; Right Effort, or constant intentness to avoid lapses into frailties of thought or conduct; Right Mindfulness, or continual dwelling of the memory on the teachings of the Faith for the same purpose; and Right Ecstasy, or spiritual exercises tending to promote the peace and sanctity of the mind. This "Noble Path" is one of the four "Noble Truths" which are the pillars of the Buddha's system—to wit, the fact that life is miserable, the fact that its misery has a cause, the fact that this cause can be killed and thereby the sorrow of life removed, and the fact that the "Noble Path" is the only method that can attain this end, for it destroys the selfish individualism inherent in the human mind, the "original sin," and creates a universal knowledge and sympathy and a spiritual calm and purity which are salvation.
The Buddha's doctrine as to the real nature of Being and consciousness was expressed in a famous formula, called in Sanskrit Pratītya-samutpāda and in Pali Patichcha-samuppāda, which means "origination in a causal series." The members of this series are as follows:
Ignorance (Sanskrit, avidyā; Pali, avijjā).
Conformations (Sanskrit, samskāras; Pali, samkhārā).
Consciousness (Sanskrit, vijnāna; Pali, viňňāna).
Name and Form (Sanskrit and Pali, nāma-rūpa).
Six sense-organs (Sanskrit, shad-āyatana; Pali, salāyatana).
Contact (Sanskrit, sparśa; Pali, phassa).
Feeling (Sanskrit and Pali, vedanā).
Desire (Sanskrit, trishnā; Pali, tanhā).
Attraction (Sanskrit and Pali, upādāna).
Being (Sanskrit and Pali, bhava).
Birth (Sanskrit and Pali, jāti).
Age and Death (Sanskrit and Pali, jarā-marana), grief, lamentation, pain, depression, and despair (Sanskrit, śoka-paridevana-duhkha-daurmanasya-upayāsa).
There are very few dogmas in the whole history of philosophy and religion that have been so copiously discussed and so differently interpreted as this. It seems to be an attempt to show how individual existences and consciousnesses arise in the cosmic process. According to Buddhist teaching, there is no permanent "soul" and there is no real "matter." There exists only an infinite number of series of consciousnesses either potentially or actively in operation, and each series consists of a succession of moments of consciousness, each moment being the direct resultant of its predecessors. Now the force which directs this process in each series is its karma, or "works," the influence of former activities, mostly in previous births; it is by reason of its former karma that a train of consciousness at a particular moment begins to develop itself into an "individual," that is to say, a consciousness of being a particular person, human, divine, or animal. So we may interpret the Buddha's formula as a vague expression for the manner in which the individual emerges from the ocean of cosmic being. First in order is "ignorance"; that is to say, when we analyse the operation of karma upon a train of moments of consciousness, we find that its primary effect is to cause ignorance, namely, the false belief held by this consciousness that it is a "self," an ego, and the other consequent delusions. This ignorance, in turn, issues in "conformations," the potentialities of love, hatred, and the like weaknesses of the spirit, which are the resultants of activities in previous individuated existences, and inspire to future activities. Then emerges consciousness of finite being in general, and from this issue "name and form," the conception of a definite world of particulars. This leads to the evolution of the sense-organs, and the union of these with the apparent world outside them produces sensation, which issues in desire. In its turn desire leads to "attraction," the attachment to individual life. So finite existence, bhava, is at last reached, and the developed consciousness passes through the stages of birth, disease, sorrow, and finally death. Then the process begins anew under the guidance of the old karma, reinforced by that which has resulted from the process that has just come to an end. If this interpretation be right (and it must be confessed that several others are equally plausible), it is evident that the formula is by no means satisfactory on all points; the causal connection between several of the members in the series in the Pratītya-samutpāda is far from being clear, and can only be regarded as a dogma—post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
An individual, according to Buddhist teaching, does not really exist; but the semblance of an individual, the phenomenal personality, is a fact that cannot be denied, and must be explained. The Buddhists explain it by saying that it is a combination of Name and Form. In "Name" are included all the subjective phenomena of thought, namely, feeling, general notions, "conformations," and definite consciousness, which are called "aggregations" (in Sanskrit, skandhas; in Pali, khandhas). "Form," meaning the four elements of physical nature (earth, water, fire, and air) and their products, is a fifth khandha. As we have seen, the force that unites these five khandhas into an apparent individual or personality is what is called in Sanskrit karma, in Pali kamma, the resultant of all his previous acts. "When a man dies, the khandhas of which he is constituted perish, but by the force of his kamma a new set of khandhas instantly starts into existence, and a new being appears in another world, who, though possessing different khandhas and a different form, is in reality identical with the man just passed away, because his kamma is the same. Kamma, then, is the link that preserves the identity of a being through all the countless changes which it undergoes in its progress through Samsāra". Now the great purpose of Buddhism, like that of most Hindu faiths, is to enable the believer to reach the perfect spiritual peace of Nirvāna, and thus come to an end of the cycle of embodied births. To attain this object he must destroy his kamma; and this can be done by walking in the "Noble Path," which will infallibly lead him, either in his present birth or later, to final salvation.
This is, in broad outline, the teaching of Buddhism as it is understood by most Buddhists in Ceylon and Further India. In theory it verges upon nihilistic idealism, for it regards all the data of finite experience as pure subjective phenomena corresponding to no objective reality, and created merely by the force of karma; there is no higher Power than man's own will, and his karma to help him towards salvation. On the deepest mysteries of existence, the origin of karma and the condition of the spirit after it has passed away for ever from the cycle of births, Buddhism has nothing to tell us. In practice it is a creed that fosters in its votaries in abundant measure both the homely virtues of laic life, and the higher spiritual aspirations of asceticism; and its ideals are well expressed in one of its best known texts, the Mangala-sutta of the Sutta-nipāta:
"Following not the foolish, following the learned, reverence for the worshipful—this is the highest blessing."
"Dwelling in a meet land, merit from deeds done of old, due heed to one's own spirit—this is the highest blessing."
"Depth of learning, craftsmanship, gentle breeding well taught, words well spoken—this is the highest blessing."
"Service to father and mother, the company of wife and child, and peaceful pursuits—this is the highest blessing."
"Almsgiving and righteousness, the company of kinsfolk, blameless works—this is the highest blessing."
"Withholding and withdrawing oneself from sin, abstinence from strong drink, needfulness in doing duty—this is the highest blessing."
"Reverence and humility, cheerfulness and gratitude, listening in due season to the Law—this is the highest blessing."
"Long-suffering, gentleness of speech, sight of godly men, conversation upon the Law in due season—this is the highest blessing."
"Mortification of the flesh and chastity, vision of the Noble Truths, and winning to the Nirvāna—this is the highest blessing."
"He whose spirit is stirred not when he is touched by the shows of the world, but abides unsorrowing, undefiled, and happy—this is the highest blessing."
"They who do thus, and are never overwhelmed, come ever to salvation—theirs is this highest blessing."
But an important question arises here. Are the doctrines which we have outlined the original teaching of the Buddha, or do they not rather represent the opinions of the school which formed the Pali Canon some centuries after his death—a monastic fraternity with a strong bent towards rationalism? Even in this Canon the teachings ascribed to the Master are full of logical inconsistencies. What then was the Master's own doctrine?
Certain knowledge on this point is impossible. But it seems most likely that the Buddha's real attitude was somewhat like that of the positivist and agnostic. He had no revelations to communicate on the highest problems of philosophy and theology. Sometimes he seems to have inclined in his utterances to one side, sometimes to another; but this was apparently for the sake of argument, and there seems to be much truth in the tradition which represents him as having forbidden his followers to speculate upon the deepest questions of life. Even of Nirvāna he refused to give any definition; when the question was bluntly put by an inquiring monk, he was told that he would never know anything about it. It is even doubtful whether his denial of the Self was an essential part of his doctrine, or whether it was only adopted for purposes of controversy. His great aim was practical. He sought to impart a remedy for the world's sorrow, to teach his fellow-creatures an escape from their karma and its fatal fruit of earthly birth. This remedy was the utter destruction of desire, even of the desire for salvation. It could be attained by the man or woman who renounced the world, entered into the monastic order, followed the "Noble Path," and in perfect calm and happiness of spirit waited until death should open the portals of the unknowable, everlasting Stillness from which there is no return. Karma and its resultant metempsychosis were to him facts of practical experience, and could be remedied by an empirical method, the suppression of desire under a practical law of conduct; as to their metaphysical basis he made no revelation. It is as the departed Teacher of the way to Nirvāna, as the Master, that he is worshipped by the orthodox.
But there were other elements in the doctrine of early Buddhism which could not fail to bear fruit. As we have already remarked, it lays stress on the impermanence of beings: nothing finite exists in itself, everything is a collection of skandhas temporarily united. It is, in fact, a theory of "phenomenalism," and thus opened a way for development in two directions. On the one hand there grew up a school of nihilism, which dialectically established the non-existence of everything; on the other hand arose an idealism which arrived at very similar conclusions.
In another and more practical issue the newer teaching departed from the old. The Buddha Gautama, according to the doctrine of his Church, was preceded by twenty-four other Buddhas, each of whom is supposed to have preached the same Law in different ages of the world. Now a Buddha can only attain the rank of Buddhahood after a long course of spiritual progress in former births of the most various kinds. A being thus destined to Buddhahood is called a Bodhi-sattva, or "creature of enlightenment." At some point in his existence he has conceived an aspiration to become a Buddha for the salvation of his fellow-creatures, and thenceforth he advances in birth after birth to higher and higher sanctity in the practice of the ten Perfections until at last he is born as the Buddha, preaches the Law, and passes away into the everlasting stillness of Nirvāna. A vast amount of Buddhist literature consists of Jātakas, or legends of the deeds in which the Bodhi-sattvas proved their fitness for their high mission.
It was around these points that the breach arose which split the Church into the divisions which we commonly and somewhat inaccurately distinguish as Northern and Southern Buddhism. The older Buddhism that we have surveyed in outline did not give enough play for the elements of mysticism and emotion that have always been strong in the Hindu spirit. Its saints, the Arhats, were regularly ordained members of monastic fraternities, who sought salvation for themselves and denied Nirvāna to laymen; and though their deeds of charity and other righteousness were incontestable, it was argued that their merit was marred by this self-seeking. Its theology was very sober, according to Indian standards; it tended towards intellectualism, and allowed little room for the large and highly coloured mythological imagination in which the Hindu thought revels. Now during the early centuries of Buddhism the Vishnuite Church grew rapidly, and the spirit that inspired it was stirring likewise in Buddhism. This force was what the Hindus call bhakti, a passionate emotional worship of a supreme God revealed on earth in human personality. Many Buddhists also longed to find a supreme God, to whom they could offer a worship of the heart, and whose personality could satisfy their restless imaginations. Thus arose upon the old foundations a new Church, a vast and gorgeous edifice of soaring fancy tenanted by countless Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas transfigured into a magnificent brilliance of godhead and worshipped with a passionate fervour of self-surrendering love. The new Church held out to all alike the dazzling hope of Buddhahood. Every man, however humble or sinful, might become a Bodhi-sattva, a candidate for Buddhahood, and finally reach that blessed end, if he would but will it so and hold to his purpose. Love for the holy Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas of the past, the omnipotent and omnipresent hierarchy of Heaven, and love for his fellow-creatures, manifested in perfect self-sacrifice for their needs, active compassion and charity, were the prime requisites for salvation. Inspired by this vivid energy the new Buddhism speedily took possession of Northern India, Tibet, Central Asia, and China.
That this movement was antinomian and fraught with danger from the first, is obvious. Its doctrine of love unfettered by considerations of social expediency and ordinary morality, and the wild luxuriance of its myth, were capable of working harm as well as good, and in practice have often lent themselves to the most disgraceful abuse. But on this dark side of the picture we need not dwell here. It is enough that we should recognise that the Mahā-yāna, the "Great Vehicle," as the new Church proudly called itself, in opposition to the more primitive Buddhism, which it scornfully styled Hīna-yāna, the "Little Vehicle," laid especial stress upon the emotional side of religion and ethics, which had been somewhat neglected in the latter school, and that it thus gained a novel character and significance.
In the doctrine of the older schools the Buddha was a teacher whose enlightenment raised him above all the gods, but withal a man, who had passed away from the world for ever, and could no more wield any influence upon it, save as a holy and blessed memory. His Nirvāna was the same as that of any other man who should attain it. He dispensed no divine power to bring his followers to salvation; only their own efforts could win for them that goal. Man's destiny is moulded by his own acts, his "karma," and each individual's karma concerns him alone, and cannot be applied for the spiritual weal of another. Lastly, as we have already remarked, salvation was confined to the monastic orders.
The Mahā-yāna changed almost everything. The Buddha now appeared as a god of the first order, invested with all the qualities that the most extravagant mythopoeic imagination could suggest. Like the conception of Christ in the Docetic schools, he was imagined as existing throughout the whole of the cosmic period, in the "Body of Enjoyment" visible to the beatified Bodhi-sattvas, and the "Body of Magic Form" revealed to common mortals; and he was multiplied to infinity. Imagination created countless periods and countless domains, each under the presidency of a Buddha; and from the beginning of our era we observe that the historical Gautama Buddha, even in his most mythical disguise, begins to fall into the background, whilst other figures of purely mythical origin become the first favourites of popular fancy. The most conspicuous of these is the Buddha Amitābha, "He of Infinite Light," a being of supreme splendour and grace; for now the Buddhas have become active dispensers of grace, at any rate from the standpoint of relative truth. Each Buddha dwells in his paradise amidst a retinue of Bodhi-sattvas; of the latter the two highest in rank serve as the ministers of his grace, constantly visiting the worlds under his rule in the forms most suitable to their purpose, in order to show their love for suffering mortality by helping them in divers ways and leading them to paradise. The paradise of Amitābha is Sukhāvāti, "The Happy Place," a fairyland which is tenanted by an entirely divine population dwelling in perfect bliss. Amitābha's chief minister is Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhi-sattva who has taken a vow not to enter Nirvāna until he has led thither all living creatures, and who for this supreme grace is worshipped throughout the North with a corresponding fervour of devotion. As a last development of this mythology, the Buddhas are associated with Tārās, or Saviour-Ladies, who under the form of sexual antithesis typify their consorts' energy of grace.
The moral standpoint is likewise changed. The ideal is no longer the calm, ascetic monk, waiting in cheerful tranquillity for the end, but the Bodhi-sattva, the self-appointed votary seeking eagerly to procure happiness for his fellow-creatures at any cost, even if he must surrender his own right to spiritual advancement as the price. For now is affirmed the principle of parināmanā: the karma of an individual is no longer confined to his experience, but can be made to redound to the benefit of others. The righteous can, of their own free will, sacrifice the merit of their own good deeds for the happiness of their fellow-creatures. Strictly speaking, as we shall see, the ideas of "self," "non-self," "happiness," and "suffering" are illusions. They are real only from the standpoint of relative truth. But this condition of imperfect reality is inseparable from humanity; it must be accepted and made the basis of a moral activity which by perfect self-sacrifice purifies the spirit from the taint of finite error. And so Śānti-deva ends his Bodhi-chayāvatāra with a chapter of prayer that the merit gained by him by his work may not only uplift him to the higher grades of beatification as a Bodhi-sattva, but may be also diverted for the benefit of fellow-creatures.
"Through the blessing which comes to me for pondering upon the entrance into the Path of Enlightenment, may all beings be brightened by walking in Enlightenment. May all that are sick of body and soul in every region find oceans of bliss and delight through my merits. Whilst embodied life lasts on, may they never lack happiness, and for ever may the world win the joy of the Sons of Enlightenment. In all the hells that are in the spheres of the universe may creatures rejoice in the delights of paradise. May they that are afflicted with cold find warmth, the heat-smitten be cooled in the oceans raining from the mighty clouds of the Son of Enlightenment. . . . May all skies be gracious to all wayfarers, and may they encompass as they purpose the enterprise for which they journey. May such as travel on ship achieve their desire, and come in happiness to shore and rejoice with their kindred. May they who stray amid wildernesses find company of travellers' troops, and journey on without dread of bandits and wild beasts. In the stress of sickness, wildernesses, and the like may the heavenly powers guard the slumbering, the distraught, and the heedless, the master-less, the young, and the aged. May they be for ever saved from all mischance, dowered with faith, understanding, and tenderness, and possessed of goodly shape and virtue. May their storehouses never fail and their treasuries rise to the skies, and may they live in freedom, without strife or affliction. May beings of little strength win much strength, and the hapless creatures that are of ill form become goodly. May all women in the world become men; and to their estate may the humble come, and lose their vanity. Through this my merit may all beings cease from every sin, and everlastingly do righteousness, lacking not the Thought of Enlightenment, surrendering themselves to the Path of Enlightenment, withholding their hands from the works of the Tempter, and be taken into the arms of the Enlightened. May all creatures have boundless term of age; may they live for ever in bliss, and the very name of death perish. May all regions become filled with Buddhas and Sons of the Buddhas, and lovely with groves of the Trees of Desire ravishing the heart with the sound of the Law. . . . As long as the heavens and the earth abide, may I continue to overcome the world's sorrows. May all the world's suffering be cast upon me, and may the world be made happy by all the merits of the Bodhi-sattva."
In its metaphysics the Mahā-yāna carried to a logical conclusion the nihilistic idealism that had begun to find expression in the older schools. Its cardinal doctrine is that "all is void." Everything that is conceived or can be conceived by the mind is but a subjective imagination in constant flux, existing only in instants of the thought of the subject and by virtue of his karma. No permanent reality can be predicated of it, except that it is really "void." "There are five skandhas, and these he considered as by their nature empty. Form is emptiness, and emptiness indeed is form. . . . Thus perception, name, conception, and knowledge also are emptiness. Thus, O Śāriputra, all things have the character of emptiness, they have no beginning, no end, they are faultless and not faultless, they are not imperfect and not perfect. Therefore, O Śāriputra, here in this emptiness there is no form, no perception, no name, no concept, no knowledge. No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. No form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and objects. . . . There is no knowledge, no ignorance, no destruction (of ignorance) . . . there is no decay and death, no destruction of decay and death; there are not (the Four Truths, viz.) that there is pain, origin of pain, stoppage of pain, and the path to it. There is no knowledge, no obtaining, no not-obtaining, of Nirvāna. Therefore, O Śāriputra, as there is no obtaining (of Nirvāna), a man who has approached the Prajnā-pāramitā of the Bodhi-sattvas dwells (for a time) enveloped in consciousness. But when the envelopment of consciousness has been annihilated, then he becomes free of all fear, beyond the reach of change, enjoying final Nirvāna".
Thus everything, even the most fundamental doctrines of Buddhism and the existence of Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas, is denied.
But the negation is not intended to be absolute. The Vedantic metaphysicians could find no term to predicate of Brahma, the absolute, transcendental Reality, but "Nay, nay!" And it is rather in this sense that we should interpret the negations of the Mahā-yanā philosophers. They predicate nothingness of everything but that which is beyond all predication, the inconceivable, transcendental All. They felt that this was a reality too vast for words, a truth before which the thought must be still. But yet they felt it as mysteriously revealing its existence in their moral consciousness, as a divine glory faintly reflected in the soul of man, and they called it the Dharma-kāya, the "Body of the Law"; for in the stillness of this transcendental unity of joy and love and peace all spirits are one, and this is the Law of the Buddha. Thus the Buddhists, like the Vedantis, were able to accept two spheres of reality. One was the absolute truth, the "Void"; the other was that of relative truth, in which they could rear their edifices of doctrine and myth. Of the Buddha and his Law they could, in transcendental truth, say only "No!" As practical realities they affirmed them heartily.
Being and thought are one, in the opinion of these Buddhist idealists; in the objects of thought there dwells no reality except the thought which conceives them. Now the highest Being is the "Void," and the understanding of this is the "absolute truth," the "enlightenment" (bodhi) or "perfect wisdom" (prajnā-pāramitā), which is the peculiar possession of a Buddha. This knowledge is actually realised by a Buddha in the ecstasy of his Nirvāna, where he dwells for ever in the utter stillness of infinite thought. But it sometimes happens that a Bodhi-sattva who, through the perfection of his wisdom and righteousness, is ripe to enter Nirvāna, will not take this step, for his abounding compassion urges him to remain in finite being, and to soothe the sorrows of his fellow-creatures. His passage into Nirvāna is then potential, capable of being realised at his will. This enlightenment in Nirvāna, actual or potential, together with the "Void" which is its object and therefore is identical with it, is the Dharma-kāya, the "Body of the Law."
But the needs of history and myth must also be satisfied; and the Mahā-yanā achieved this by inventing two more conceptions, the Sambhoga-kāya, or "Body of Enjoyment," and the Nirmāna-kāya, or "Body of Magical Form."
Every Buddha has a domain of his own, or buddha-kshetra, a universe under the rule of the Law preached by him. The magnificence of such a domain is proportionate to the nobility of the deeds performed by its ruling Buddha during his probation as a Bodhi-sattva. In these domains the reigning Buddhas are revealed to their attendant Bodhi-sattvas in gigantic radiant forms, surrounded by halos composed of magical figures of Buddhas. These forms, though manifest to the sanctified senses of the divine company, are essentially spiritual; and the Buddhas wearing them are constantly teaching their holy Law to the Bodhi-sattvas of highest rank, who appear in similarly transfigured bodies. This beatific form is the Samblioga-kāya or "Body of Enjoyment." It is the fruit of the merit acquired by the Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas through countless deeds of liberality, long-suffering, and virtue. It dwells in the celestial sphere until the far-away day when the Buddha shall enter into his final Nirvāna; then in its place will appear a stūpa, or monument-sanctuary, and the Buddha will rest in perfect stillness.
In the case of the Buddhas this transfiguration is, strictly speaking, illusory. The Buddhas have passed into Nirvāna, the Void; they are identified with the "Body of the Law," in which finitude does not exist. But the merit of their good deeds still lives on in the finite world, and becomes a force working spontaneously for the happiness and welfare of other creatures. It thus creates in the minds of the holy Bodhi-sattvas the conception of a "Sambhoga-kāya" of their Buddha revealing itself for their joy and instruction in beatific form.
While this theory of the "Body of Enjoyment" satisfied the hunger of the imagination for visions of paradise, the doctrine of the "Body of Magical Form" attempted to explain the appearance of Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas in the world of mortality. They never really appeared among men, and never will so appear, according to the Buddhist sages; they were but illusions, phantoms which the Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas in their "Bodies of Enjoyment" created from their compassion to help and instruct the blind and sorrowing creatures of the world. Even as the Buddhas' merits have been turned to the profit of the Bodhi-sattvas by conjuring up before their eyes the vision of their transfigured forms in paradise, so this same force brings blessing to the lower classes of beings by creating for them apparitions of Buddhas and Bodhi-sattvas teaching the Law in the most diverse guises. And this idea has also its metaphysical side. We have seen that, to the Buddhist philosopher, the subject and the object of thought are really one, so that the Dharma-kāya represents at once the Infinite and the understanding of the Infinite. In the same way the "Body of Magical Form" represents also the universal Intellect when, under the influence of samskāras or "conformations" resulting from former moments of consciousness and will, it conceives its object as a universe of finite forms. Thus the universal Intellect issues in what appear to themselves to be individual minds dwelling in finite worlds under the dispensation of the Buddhas. This seeming individuality and finitude is the congenital illusion of the lower orders of creatures, from which the Law of the Buddhas alone can uplift them to union with the Absolute.
The current of mystic imagination which culminated in this bold theology seems to have arisen early. Possibly it may, in a rudimentary form, have been one of the elements of primitive Buddhism which were rejected as heretical by the more puritanic schools of the "Hīna-yāna." Certainly it was already well established before the Christian era, and the famous Council of King Kanishka gave official recognition to the Mahā-yāna doctrines, and apparently granted to them the royal favour. If modern research is right in identifying the date of Kanishka's accession with the initial date of the Samvat era, 58 B.C., then the Council traditionally believed to have been held under his auspices must have sat not many years afterwards.
To a somewhat later date may be ascribed a half-legendary, half-historical character that is of singular interest. The real Nāgārjuna, the scholar who founded the Mādhyamika school, is overshadowed by the legendary Nagarjuna, the hero of a hundred myths in which he figures as a miracle-working saint who propagated his doctrine by the marvels of his magic. These wild legends have passed from Buddhist circles into the common stock of Hindu tradition, where he has become a typical sorcerer, to whom are ascribed many works on the black art and divination, notably the popular Kaksha-puta.
The real work of Nāgārjuna, however, was much more respectable. He systematised the old Mahā-yāna into the Mādhyamika school, which by its vigorous dialectic became one of the most effective vehicles of Northern Buddhism. And it is to a follower of his school, Śānti-deva, who lived in the seventh century, or possibly somewhat earlier, that we owe two works, the Bodhi-charyāvatāra and the Śikshā-samuchchaya, in which are embodied the keenest logic and the highest spiritual aspirations attained by the Buddhism of the North.
The following pages contain an abridged translation of the original Sanskrit
Bodhi-charyāvatāra, based upon two editions, that contained in
vol. ii. of the Journal of the Buddhist Text Society (Calcutta, 1894) and
that published with Pranjākara-mati's
commentary by Professor L. de la Vallée
Poussin in the
Bibliotheca Indica. I have omitted a
good deal of the text where it seemed needlessly prolix, and the whole of the
scholastic disputation which makes up the bulk of the ninth chapter. But I hope
that even in this curtailed form my translation will enable readers to
understand and fairly appreciate the fervent devotion and brotherly love which
make this little book, in spite of its errors, a lasting monument of true
religious emotion, "an everlasting possession."
THE PRAISE OF THE THOUGHT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
REVERENTLY bowing before the Blessed Ones, their Sons, the Body of the Law, and all the worshipful ones, I will briefly set forth in accordance with Holy Writ the way whereby the sons of the Blessed Ones enter the godly life. Nothing new will be told here, nor have I skill in writing of books; therefore I have done this work to hallow my own thoughts, not designing it for the welfare of others. By it the holy impulse within me to frame righteousness is strengthened; but if a fellow-creature should see it, this my book will fulfil another end likewise.
This brief estate, which once gotten is a means to all the aims of mankind, is exceeding hard to win; if one use it not for wholesome reflection, how shall it ever come again to his lot? As in the night, amidst the gross darkness of the clouds, the lightning shews for an instant its radiance, so by the grace of the Enlightened it may hap that the mind of man turn for an instant to holy works. Thus righteousness is feeble, and the power of evil is constant, mighty, and dire; by what righteousness could it be overcome, if there were not the Thought of Enlightenment? Pondering through many aeons, the Supreme Saints have found this blessing, whereby a swelling joy sweeps in sweetness down the boundless waters of mankind. They who would escape the hundreds of life's sorrows, who would end the anguish of living creatures, and who would taste hundreds of deep delights, must never surrender the Thought of Enlightenment. The wretch held in thrall by Life's minions is declared a son of the Blessed Ones straightway when the Thought of Enlightenment arises in him, and he becomes worshipful to the worlds of men and gods. This foul form that he has taken he makes into the priceless jewel of a Conqueror's form; oh, grasp firmly the Thought of Enlightenment, that exceedingly potent elixir! Ho, ye who are exiles in the marts of bodied being, grasp firmly the precious jewel of the Thought of Enlightenment, which the immeasurably wise sole Guides of the world's caravan have well assayed! Like the plantain-tree, all other righteousness fades away after its fruit is cast; but the tree of the Thought of Enlightenment bears everlasting fruit and fades not, but is ever fecund. Though he have wrought most grievous sins, a man by taking refuge therein escapes them straightway; as ignorant beings under the guardianship of a mighty man escape sore terrors, why seek they not their refuge in this? . . .
Eager to escape sorrow, men rush into sorrow; from desire of happiness they blindly slay their own happiness, enemies to themselves; they hunger for happiness and suffer manifold pains; whence shall come one so kind as he who can satisfy them with all manner of happiness, allay all their pains, and shatter their delusion—whence such a friend, and whence such a holy deed? He who repays good deed with good deed is praised; what shall be said of the Son of Enlightenment, who does kindness unsought? He who sets a banquet before a few is called a "doer of righteousness," and is honoured by the world, because in his pride he entertains men for half a day with a brief largesse of mere food; but what of him who bestows on a measureless number of creatures a satisfaction of all desires unbounded in time and perishing not when the world of heaven perishes? Such is the Master of the Banquet, the Son of the Conqueror; whosoever sins in his heart against him, saith the Lord, shall abide in hell as many ages as the moments of his sin. But he whose spirit is at peace with them shall thence get abundant fruit; and truly, wrong to the Sons of the Conqueror can be done only by great effort, but kindness towards them is easy. I do homage to the bodies of them in whom has arisen the choice jewel of the Thought, and even the ill-treatment of whom leads to happiness; in these mines of bliss I seek my refuge.
THE CONFESSION OF SIN
TO win this jewel of the Thought I offer perfect worship to the Blessed Ones, to the stainless gem of the Good Law, and to the Sons of the Enlightened, oceans of virtues. All flowers, fruits, and healing herbs, all gems and all waters clear and pleasant in the world, likewise mountains of jewels, forests sweet in their solitude, climbing plants bright with ornaments of flowers, trees whose branches bend with goodly fruit, fragrant incenses, trees of desire, and jewel-bearing trees in the worlds of the gods and their kin, lakes bedecked with lilies and wondrously pleasant with the cries of swans, harvests springing without tilth and crops of grain, and all else adorning them whom we worship, all things that are bounded by the spreading ethereal sphere and are in the possession of none, I take in spirit and offer as guerdon to the Supreme Saints and their Sons. Worthy of choicest gifts and great of compassion, may they mercifully accept this of me! I am exceeding poor, and without righteousness; there is naught else for me to offer. So may their care for others' weal be for my weal, and let the Lords take this in their native grace. Yea, I give to the Conquerors and their Sons myself entirely. Take me for your chattel, O noble beings; I make myself in love your slave. By being your chattel I am freed from fear in life, and work good for living creatures; I escape my former sins, and do evil no more. . . .
With as many obeisances as there are atoms in all the Domains I adore all the Enlightened Ones of the past, present, and future, the Law, and the noble Congregation. I worship all the memorial-sanctuaries and the dwellings of the Son of the Enlightened; I salute the preceptors and the worshipful holy men. I take refuge with the Enlightened One, awaiting the coming of the perfect Light; I take refuge in the Law and the Congregation of Sons of Enlightenment. With clasped hands I make supplication to the Enlightened Ones dwelling in all regions and to the most merciful Sons of Enlightenment. Whatsoever be the sin that I, poor brute, in my beginningless round of past births or in this birth have in my madness done or made others do or approved for my own undoing, I confess the transgression thereof, and am stricken with remorse. Whatsoever wrong I have done by sin against the Three Gems or father and mother or other elders by deed, word, or thought, whatever dire offence has been wrought by me, a sinner foul with many a stain, O Masters, I confess all. How may I escape from it? Speedily save me, lest death come too soon upon me ere my sin have faded away. Death considers not what works be done or not done, and strikes us through our ease, a sudden thunder-bolt, unsure alike for the healthy and the sick.
For the sake of things unloved and things loved have I sinned these many times; and never have I thought that I must surrender everything and depart. They whom I love not, they whom I love, I myself, shall be no more, naught shall remain. All the things whereof I have feeling shall pass away into a memory; like the vision of a dream, all departs, and is seen no more. The many whom I love or love not pass away while I stand here; only the dire sin wrought for their sake remains before me. I understood not that I was but a chance comer, and through madness, love, or hatred I have wrought many a sin. Unceasingly through night and day the waning of vital force increases; must I not die? Lying here on my bed, or standing amidst my kin, I must suffer the agonies of dissolution alone. Whence shall I find a kinsman, whence a friend, when the Death-god's messengers seize me? Righteousness alone can save me then, and for that I have not sought. Clinging to brief life, I have been blind to this terror, heedless; O my Masters, grievous guilt have I gathered. He who is taken to be maimed of his limbs at once withers away; thirst racks him, his sight is darkened, the world is changed to his sight. How then will it be with me when I am in the charge of the Death-god's hideous messengers, consumed by a fever of mighty terror, covered with filth, looking with timid glances to the four quarters of heaven for aid? Who will be the friend to save me from that awful terror? I shall see in the heavens no help, and sink back into madness; then what shall I do in that place of horror? Now, now I come for refuge to the mighty Lords of the world, the Conquerors eager for the world's protection, who allay all fear; to the Law learned by them I come with all my heart for refuge, and to the Congregation of the Sons of Enlightenment. . . . Whatsoever guilt I have gathered in my foolishness and delusion, alike the wrong of nature and the wrong of commandment, I confess it all as I stand before the Masters with clasped hands, affrighted with grief, and making obeisance again and again. May my Lords take my transgression as it is; never more, O Masters, will I do this unholy work.
TAKING THE THOUGHT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
I REJOICE exceedingly in all creatures' good works that end the sorrows of their evil lot; may the sorrowful find happiness! I rejoice in the deliverance of embodied beings from the griefs of life's wanderings, and in the Sonship of Enlightenment, and the Enlightenment that belongs to the Saviours. I rejoice in the Commanders' oceans of Thought, that bring happiness and establish welfare for all creatures. With clasped hands, I entreat the perfectly Enlightened Ones who stand in all regions that they kindle the lamp of the Law for them who in their blindness fall into sorrow. With clasped hands I pray the Conquerors who yearn for the Stillness that they abide here for endless aeons, lest this world become blind. In reward for all this righteousness that I have won by my works I would fain become a soother of all the sorrows of all creatures. May I be a balm to the sick, their healer and servitor, until sickness come never again; may I quench with rains of food and drink the anguish of hunger and thirst; may I be in the famine of the ages' end their drink and meat; may I become an unfailing store for the poor, and serve them with manifold things for their need. My own being and my pleasures, all my righteousness in the past, present, and future I surrender indifferently, that all creatures may win to their end. The Stillness lies in surrender of all things, and my spirit is fain for the Stillness; if I must surrender all, it is best to give it for fellow-creatures. I yield myself to all living things to deal with me as they list; they may smite or revile me for ever, bestrew me with dust, play with my body, laugh and wanton; I have given them my body, why shall I care? Let them make me do whatever works bring them pleasure; but may never mishap befall any of them by reason of me. If the spirit of any be wroth or pleased with me, may that be ever a cause for them to win all their desires. May all who slander me, or do me hurt, or jeer at me, gain a share in Enlightenment. I would be a protector of the unprotected, a guide of wayfarers, a ship, a dyke, and a bridge for them who seek the further Shore; a lamp for them who need a lamp, a bed for them who need a bed, a slave for all beings who need a slave. I would be a magic gem, a lucky jar, a spell of power, a sovereign balm, a wishing-tree, a cow of plenty, for embodied beings. As the earth and other elements are for the various service of the countless creatures dwelling in the whole of space, so may I in various wise support the whole sphere of life lodged in space, until all be at peace. As the Blessed of old took the Thought of Enlightenment and held fast to the rule for Sons of Enlightenment in the order thereof, so do I frame the Thought of Enlightenment for the weal of the world, and so will I observe these rules in their sequence.
When he has thus taken the Thought of Enlightenment in a spirit of grace, the sage must fill his thought with gladness in order to strengthen the issue. This day my birth is fruitful, my human life a blessing; this day have I been born in the race of the Enlightened, now am I their son. And henceforth mine is the task of them who work worthily of their race, lest any blemish fall upon this stainless stock. This Thought of Enlightenment has arisen within me I know not how, even as a gem might be gotten by a blind man from a dunghill; it is an elixir made to destroy death in the world, an unfailing treasure to relieve the world's poverty, a supreme balm to allay the world's sickness, a tree under which may rest all creatures wearied with wandering over life's paths, a bridge open to all wayfarers for passing over hard ways, a moon of thought arising to cool the fever of the world's sin, a great sun driving away the gloom of the world's ignorance, a fresh butter created by the churning of the milk of the Good Law. For the caravan of beings who wander through life's paths hungering to taste of happiness this banquet of bliss is prepared, that will satisfy all creatures coming to it. I summon to-day the world to the estate of Enlightenment, and meanwhile to happiness; may gods, daemons, and other beings rejoice in the presence of all the Saviours!
HEEDFULNESS IN THE THOUGHT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
THE son of the Conqueror, who has thus firmly laid hold of the Thought of Enlightenment, must constantly strive without slackening to observe the rule. If a work be undertaken in haste and without right reflection, one may well consider whether it should be done or no, even though a vow have been made; but how should I delay in this work, which has been perpended by the Enlightened Ones, by their most sage Sons, and by me likewise according to the measure of my power? If I fulfil not my vow by deeds, I shall be false to all beings, and what a fate will be mine! Even of a small matter it is said that he who gives not what he has purposed in thought to give becomes a tortured ghost; how, then, shall it be with him who proffers aloud and earnestly the gift of supreme happiness? I shall be false to all the world, and what a fate will be mine! . . .
Therefore I must heedfully fulfil my vow; if I labour not this very day, down, down I fall. Numberless are the Enlightened who have passed by in search of all living beings; and through my own fault I have not come into their healing hands. If this day also I shall be as I have been again and again, misery, sickness, death, maiming, dismemberment, and the like will fall to my lot; and when shall I win that most rare boon, the coming of one of the Enlightened, faith, human birth, and fitness to labour in righteousness, a day of health with food and no vexations? Life is a brief instant, and plays us false; the body is like a thing held in precarious tenure. Truly with deeds such as mine have been I shall not again win human birth; and if I win it not, evil awaits me; whence should good come? Since I work not righteousness when I am able, how shall I do it when crazed by the pains of hell? I do no righteous work, and gather sin; the very name of good destiny is lost to me for millions of aeons. Therefore the Lord has said that human birth is exceedingly hard to win; hard as for a turtle to pass its neck into the hole of a yoke in the ocean. . . .
I have found this most rare sphere of weal, I know not how; and shall I with open eyes suffer myself to be borne back to these hells? My thought cannot grasp it; like one who is driven mad by spells, I know not by whom I am crazed or who possesses me. My foes, Desire, Hate, and their kindred, are handless and footless, they are neither valiant nor cunning; how can they have enslaved me? But they dwell in my spirit, and there at their ease smite me. And withal I am not wroth with them; fie on my unseemly long-suffering! If all gods and mankind were my foes, they could not drag me to the fire of the hell Avīchī; but into this flame, at the touch whereof not even ashes would remain of Meru, these mighty enemies the Passions hurl me in an instant. No other foes have life so long as the beginningless, endless, everlasting life of my enemies the Passions. All beings may be turned by submission to kindness; but these Passions become all the more vexatious by my submission. Then whilst these everlasting foes, sole source of the birth of the floods of sorrow, are dwelling in my heart, how can I fearlessly rejoice in the life of the flesh? Whence can I have happiness, if these warders of the prison-house of existence, ay, these torturers of the damned in hell and elsewhere, lodge in the house of my spirit, in the bower of my desire? Then I will not lay down my burden until these foes be smitten before my eyes. Men of lofty spirit are stirred to wrath against even a mean offender, and sleep not until they have smitten him. They rage in the forefront of battle, furious, heeding not the anguish of wounds from arrows and javelins, to strike fiercely at the poor creatures doomed by nature to death, and turn not away until they have fulfilled their purpose. How then, and for what reason, should I, who have set myself to strike down these natural foes, the constant causes of all miseries, sink down in base despair, even for hundreds of disasters? Men bear on their limbs, like ornaments, meaningless scars gotten from their enemies; why should sufferings overcome me, who am labouring to accomplish a lofty end? Setting their thoughts upon their mere livelihood, fishers, Chandālas, husbandmen, and the like bear the miseries of cold, heat, and the rest; why should not I suffer them for the weal of the world?
Ah, when I vowed to deliver all beings within the bounds of space in its ten points from the Passions, I myself had not won deliverance from the Passions. Knowing not my now measure, I spoke like a madman. Then I will never turn back from smiting the Passions. I will grapple with them, will wrathfully make war on them all except the passion that makes for the destruction of the Passions. Though my bowels ooze out and my head fall off, I will nowise abase myself before my foes the Passions. An enemy, though driven away, may establish himself in another spot, whence he may return with gathered powers; but such is not the way of the enemy Passion. Where can this dweller in my spirit go when I cast him out; where can he stand, to labour for my destruction? It is only that I—fool that I am—make no effort; the miserable Passions are to be overcome by the vision of wisdom. The Passions lie not in the objects of sense, nor in the sense-organs, nor between them, nor elsewhere; where do they lie? And yet they disturb the whole world! They are but a phantom. Then cast away thy heart's terror, and labour for wisdom; why shouldst thou vainly torture thyself in hell? Thus resolved, I will strive to fulfil the rule as it has been taught; how should he who needs medicine find healing, if he depart from the physician's command?
HE who would keep the rules must diligently guard his thought; the rules cannot be kept by him who guards not the fickle thought. Untamed elephants in their madness do not such harm here as the thought works in Avīchī and the rest of the hells, a young elephant ranging free. But if the young elephant of thought be entirely bound by the rope of remembrance, all peril departs, and perfect happiness comes. Tigers, lions, elephants, bears, snakes, all foes, all the warders of the hells, witches and devils—all of them are bound, if only thought be bound; all are subdued if only thought be subdued. The Speaker of the Truth has said that from thought alone come all our countless terrors and griefs. Who has diligently forged the swords of hell, or its pavement of red-hot iron, and whence were born its sirens? All this has sprung from the sinful thought, as the Saint's song tells; thus in the threefold world there is no foe to fear save the thought.
If the Perfect Charity frees the world from poverty, how could the Saviours of old have had it, since the world is still poor? The Perfect Charity is declared to be the thought of surrendering to all beings our whole possessions and likewise the merit thereof; thus it is but a thought. Where can fishes and other creatures be brought into safety, that I may not slay them? When the thought to do them no hurt is conceived, that is deemed the Perfect Conduct. How many can I slay of the wicked, who are measureless as space? But when the thought of wrath is slain, all my foes are slain. Whence can be found leather enough to cover the whole earth? But with a single leather shoe the whole ground is covered. In like manner the forces without me I cannot control; but I will control the thought within me, and what need have I for control of the rest? Though aided by voice and body, indolence can never win for its prize an estate such as that of Brahma, which falls to the lot of the vigorous unaided thought. The prayers and mortifications of a heedless and feeble man, however long he labour, are all in vain, says the Omniscient. To overcome sorrow and win happiness men wander in vain, for they have not sanctified their thought, the mysterious essence of holiness. Then I must keep my thought well governed and well guarded; what need is there of any vows save the vow to guard the thought? . . .
The thief Heedlessness, waiting to escape the eye of remembrance, robs men of the righteousness they have gathered, and they come to an evil lot. The Passions, a band of robbers, seek a lodging, and when they have found it they rob us and destroy our good estate of life. Then let remembrance never withdraw from the portal of the spirit; and if it depart, let it be brought back by remembering the anguish of hell. Remembrance grows easily in happy obedient souls from the reverence raised by their teachers' lore and from dwelling with their masters. "The Enlightened and their Sons keep unfailing watch in every place. Everything is before them, I stand in their presence." Pondering this thought, a man will be possessed by modesty, obedience, and reverence, and the remembrance of the Enlightened will thus be always with him. When remembrance stands on guard at the portal of the spirit, watchfulness comes, and nevermore departs.
The thought thus must be kept ever under watch; I must always be as if without carnal sense, like a thing of wood. The eyes must never glance around without object; their gaze should always be downward, as if in meditation. But sometimes, to rest his gaze, one may look around him; he sees [strangers] as mere phantoms, but will turn his eyes upon them to bid them welcome. On the road, and other such places, he will look from time to time to the four quarters of space, to take note of danger; he will rest and turn round to look about him. He will go forward or backward with heed, and in all conditions do what he has to do with understanding. In every act that he undertakes he will consider the due posture of his body, and from time to time will look to see how it is. He will watch with great heed the wild elephant of his thought, so that it remain bound to the stout stake of holy meditation and become not loosed. He will watch to see where his mind is moving, so that it may not even for an instant cast off the yoke of rapt devotion. . . .
When the body is dragged hither and thither by vultures lusting for meat, why is it powerless to save itself? Why dost thou watch over this frame, O my spirit, as if it were thine own? if it is a thing apart from thee, what canst thou lose thereby? Silly one, what thou claimest as thine is not as clean as a wooden doll; why dost thou cling to this rotten machine framed in foulness? Lift in thy imagination this envelope of skin, and with the scalpel of wisdom remove the flesh from the frame of bones. Open likewise the bones, and look upon the marrow within them. Then ask thyself what essential thing is therein. And now that thou hast made diligent search and found therein nothing essential, say wherefore thou still clingest to the body. Thou canst not eat its impurities and entrails, nor drink its blood; what wilt thou do with the body? This poor flesh, which thou guardest in order to feed vultures, jackals, and the like, is fitted only to be a tool for men's works. Though thou guardest it thus, pitiless Death will tear away the body and give it to the vultures; and then what wilt thou do? To a servant who will not remain, gifts of garments and the like are not given; when it has eaten, the body will depart, then why waste thy riches upon it? Pay to it its wage, then set thy thought upon thine own business; for we give not to the hireling all that he may earn. Conceive of the body as a ship that travels to and fro, and make it go at thy bidding for creatures to fulfil their end.
He who is thus master of himself will ever bear a smiling face; he will put away frowns and be first to greet others, a friend of the world. He will not noisily and hastily throw down benches or the like, nor beat upon a door, but always will delight in silence. The crane, the cat, and the thief walk silently and calmly, and accomplish the end that they desire; thus the holy man will always act. He will accept with bowed head the words of those who are skilful in exhorting others and do kindness unsought; he will ever be the disciple of all men. He will give applause to all kindly words; when he sees one who does righteous works, he will gladden him with praises. . . .
The Perfections, Charity, and the rest, are of an ascending order of excellence; he will not forsake a more excellent for another, save in respect of the dyke of virtue. Thus minded, he will be always active for the welfare of others; even a forbidden deed is permitted to him in his kindliness, if he foresees a good result. He will give of his alms to the fallen, the masterless, and the religious, and eat himself but a moderate portion; he will surrender everything but his three robes. He will not for slight purpose afflict his body, which is in the service of the Good Law; for thus it will speedily fulfil the desires of living beings. And therefore he will not cast away his life for one whose spirit of mercy is impure, but only for one whose spirit is like his own; and thus naught is lost. . . .
THE PERFECT LONG-SUFFERING
ALL the righteousness, the charity, the worship of the Blessed, that have been wrought in thousands of aeons, are destroyed by ill-will. There is no guilt equal to hatred, no mortification equal to long-suffering; and therefore one should diligently practise patience in divers ways. While the arrow of hate is in the heart, none can have a peaceful mind in equipoise, or feel the joy of kindliness, none can win sleep or calm. They whom a master cursed with an evil spirit honours with wealth and favours, and who dwell under his protection, seek nevertheless to destroy him. Even his friends are in terror of him. His gifts win for him no service. In short, there is no way for a passionate man to find happiness. He who stoutly fights against wrath, the enemy that brings these and other sorrows, wins joy in this world and beyond. Nourished by discontent, hatred grows swollen and destroys me; and discontent springs from doing unpleasing works or from the baffling of desire. Then I will cut off the nourishment of my enemy, for this foe-man's sole purpose is to slay me. My cheerfulness shall not be disturbed, even by the most untoward events; discontent works no good, and only destroys merit. What profits discontent if there is a remedy; and what profits it if there is none? We shrink from sorrow, defeat, rude speech, and dishonour for ourselves and our friends, and from the opposite of these for our enemy. Happiness is hard to win, pain comes readily; there is no escape from life save by pain; then be firm, O my spirit! The Karnātas, the "little children of Durga," suffer the agonies of burning and maiming in a vain hope of salvation; why then shall I be fainthearted? There is nothing which practice cannot make easy; so by practice in slight sufferings we learn to bear great pains. Flies, stinging creatures, gnats, hunger, thirst, and other like pains, fierce itch and other like miseries—lookest thou upon these as profitless? Before cold, heat, rain, wind, travel, sickness, bondage, and blows be not tender and delicate, else thy anguish will increase. Some there are who at the sight of their own blood become exceedingly valorous, and some at sight of others' blood fall into faintness. This comes about through firmness and feebleness of spirit; then he who is unconquerable by pain will overcome suffering. Even in pain the wise man will not let the calm of his spirit be disturbed; for he is at war with the Passions, and in war suffering abounds. They who overcome their foes by presenting their bosoms to the enemy's blows are "victors," "heroes"; the rest are "slayers of the slain."
Another virtue of suffering is that from loathing of the flesh pride is brought low, and there arise pity for the creatures wandering through births, fear of sin, and love for the Conqueror.
I have no anger against the gall and the rest of my humours, although they cause great suffering; then can one be wroth against thinking beings, who likewise are deranged by outer forces? As a bodily pain arises unwilled [by the humours], so too wrath perforce arises unwilled [in the offender]. A man does not become angry of his free will and with purpose of anger; nor does wrath resolve of itself to break forth before it breaks forth. All offences, all the various sins, spring of necessity from outer forces; none are self-guided. The total of outer forces has no consciousness that it engenders an effect, and the effect has no consciousness that it is engendered. The "Primal Matter" and "Soul" of which forsooth men talk are imaginations. They do not come into being with consciousness of doing so. Before coming into being they do not exist; and who can then desire to come into being? If the "soul" is active upon its objects, it will not cease thence; and if it is constant, impassive, and like the ether, it is manifestly inactive; for though it be joined to outer forces, how can a changeless thing act? What part of the action is done by a thing which at the time of action is the same as before it? If "its own action" is the bond [between soul and object], what is the ground of this? Thus everything depends on a cause, and this cause likewise is not independent; in no wise, then, can wrath be felt against beings mechanical as phantoms.
"Then there can be no restraint; what is to be arrested, and who shall arrest it?" Not so; for since all is really the work of outer forces, hence we deem that sorrow may have an end. So when we see a foe, or even a friend, doing unrighteously, let us remember that such are the outer forces moving him, and remain in peace. If all mortals could win their ends at their own pleasure, none would suffer vexation; for none desire it.
In heedlessness, wrath, or lust for women and other things beyond their reach, men bring themselves into distress from thorns, lack of food, and the like. Some destroy themselves by hanging, springing down from a height, taking poison or unwholesome measure of food, or doing unrighteousness. Since under the sway of the passions they harm thus their own persons, which they love, how can they spare the bodies of others? Maddened by passions, striving for their own destruction, there can be only pity for them; how should we be angered? If it is the nature of fools to hurt their fellows, it is as wrong for me to feel anger against them as it is to be wroth with the fire which naturally burns me; and if again it is a passing frailty, and creatures are upright of nature, then it is as wrong to be angered against them as against the air when smoke fills it.
Say I am angered not against the instrument—the stick or whatso it may be—but against him who moves it. But he is moved by hatred; it is better then for me to hate hatred. I myself in former times have wrought the same suffering for other creatures; then I deserve this for having done hurt to living beings. The cause of my suffering is twofold—my enemy's sword and my body. He has taken the sword, I the body; with which shall I be angry? What I have got is an ulcer in the shape of a body, unable to bear the touch; and thus tortured in the blindness of desire, with what shall I be wroth? I seek not suffering, yet in my folly seek the cause of suffering; since my pain comes from my own offence, why shall I be wroth with another? The forest whose leaves are swords, the birds of hell, spring from my own works; with whom then shall I be wroth? They who do me hurt are moved thereto by my works, and thence they fall into hell; surely it is I that undo them! Thanks to them, my guilt through much patience fades away; thanks to me, they go to the long agonies of hell. It is I who do them hurt, they who do me kindness; base-spirited fellow, wherefore this absurd anger? If I fall not into hell, it will be by the merit of my spirit; what matter is it to them that I save myself? If I should return them evil for evil, they would not be saved thereby; my progress would be wrecked; and these poor creatures would be lost.
In no place and by naught can the mind be destroyed, for it is unembodied; but from imaginations clinging to the body it suffers with the body's hurt. Discomfiture, rude speech, dishonour, all these things harm not the body; then why art thou wroth, O my spirit? Can the ill-will of others towards me touch me in this life or in births to come, that I should mislike it? Haply I may mislike it because it hinders me from gaining alms; but then the alms that I get will vanish here, my guilt will stay with me for ever. Better for me to die this same day than to live long in sin, for however long I stay, the same death-agony awaits me. One man in dreams enjoys a hundred years of bliss, and awakes; another is happy for an hour, and awakes; surely the pleasure of both, when they wake, is alike ended. And so it is at the time of death with the long-lived and the short-lived. Though I may get many gifts, and long enjoy my pleasures, I shall depart empty-handed and naked, as if stripped by robbers. "By my gains I may live to wipe out my sin and do righteousness"—ay, but he who is angry for the sake of gain wipes out his righteousness and does sin. If that for which I live is lost, what profits life itself which is spent wholly in ungodliness?
"I hate him who speaks to my blame, for he brings creatures to destruction"—then why art thou not angry against him who rails at others? Thou bearest with the unkindly when their unkindness touches others, and bearest not with the caviller who touches on the growth of thy vices!
It is unmeet for me to hate them that destroy or revile images, sanctuaries, or the Good Law; for the Enlightened and their company thereby take no hurt. If men wrong thy dear ones, masters, brothers, and the rest, know as before that outer forces are working, and restrain thy wrath. Whether it be wrought by a thing with or without thought, suffering is assured to living beings; it is found in whatever has thought; then bear with it. Some in their blindness do wrong, others in their blindness are wroth with them; whom of these may we call blameless, or whom guilty? Why hast thou of old done so that thou art thus afflicted now by others? All are under the sway of their own works; who am I to undo this? Knowing this, I will strive to do righteousness, so that all may be full of love for one another.
When a house is burning, and the fire may fall upon the next house and seize upon the straw and like stuff within it, we carry this stuff away from it; and in like manner must we straightway cast out the things by touch whereof the spirit is inflamed with the fire of wrath, for fear lest the substance of our merit be consumed.
If a man doomed to death be released with one hand cut off, is it not well for him? and if one through human tribulations escapes hell, is it not also well for him? If one cannot bear the small suffering of the moment, then why does he not put away the wrath that will bring upon him the agonies of hell? By reason of wrath I have been thus afflicted in hell thousands of times, and done no service to myself or to others. My present tribulation is not so heavy, and will be very gainful; let me be glad of a suffering that redeems the world from its suffering.
If some find delight in praising one of high worth, why, O my spirit, dost thou not rejoice likewise in praising him? Such joy will bring thee no blame; it will be a fountain of happiness; it is not forbidden by men of worth; it is the noblest way to win over thy fellows. If thou art not pleased because he [who praises] is glad, then thou wouldst forbid such things as payment for service, and seen and unseen rewards alike perish. Thou art willing for thy neighbour to be glad when he praises thy worth; but thou art loth to be thyself glad when another's worth is praised. Thou hast framed the Thought of Enlightenment in desire to make all creatures happy: then why now art thou wroth with creatures who of themselves find happiness? Forsooth thou wouldst have all beings become Buddhas, and worthy of the three worlds' worship; then why art thou vexed to see their brief honours? He who nurtures them that thou shouldst nurture gives to thee; yet when thou findest one that feeds thy household, thou art wroth, not glad! He that desires the enlightenment of living beings desires all good for them; but whence can one have the Thought of Enlightenment who is angered at another's good fortune? If the gift comes not to thy neighbour, it stays in the house of the offerer; in no wise does it fall to thee: what matter to thee whether it be given or no? Shall he check his righteousness, the kindness of others, or his own worth? shall he not take what is given? say, art thou not angered in every case? Not only wilt thou not grieve for thine own sins, but thou darest to be jealous of the righteous. If sorrow could befall thine enemy at thy pleasure, what would come of it? Thy mere ill-will cannot bring forth an issue without a cause; but if it were accomplished by thy wish, what happiness wouldst thou have in his grief? The issue then would be more harmful to thee than aught else. This is in sooth a deadly hook in the hands of the fisher Passion; the wardens of hell will take thee thence in purchase and seethe thee in their kitchens.
Praise, glory, and honours make not for righteousness or long life, or for strength, or health, or pleasure of the body. But such will be the end sought by a wise man knowing his advantage; and he who desires mirth of spirit may give himself to drink, gambling, and the like. For glory men waste their substance, ay, even their lives. But will syllables feed them? and when they are dead, who has pleasure of it? As a child wails bitterly when its house of sand is broken down, so I deem my own spirit will be when praise and glory vanish. Praise is but sound, and being itself without thought, cannot praise me.
"Nay, I am glad, forsooth, because my neighbour is pleased with me." But what is it to me whether my neighbour is pleased with me or with another? the joy is his; not the smallest share of it is mine. If happiness springs from the joy of others, then I should have it in every event; so why am I not glad when men rejoice to honour another? Then gladness arises within me only because I am praised; and thus, being foreign to myself, it is an utter child's play.
These praises and honours destroy my welfare and horror of the flesh; they arouse envy of the worthy and anger at their fortune. Then they who rise against me to crush my glory and honour are in truth working to save me from falling into hell. If I seek deliverance, gains and honours are a fetter that befit me not: how can I hate them that release me from this bond? By the blessing of the Enlightened, as it were, they become a door barring my way into sorrow; how can I hate them? "But he hinders me from righteous works"—nay, it is not well to be angry for this. There is no work of mortification equal to long-suffering, and surely this is an occasion for it. If by my sin here I show not patience towards him, it is I who hinder myself from doing righteousness when the occasion for it has come. If one thing exists not without another, and exists when the other is present, the latter is the cause of the former: how can it be called a hindrance to it? The beggar who comes at the due hour makes no hindrance to the almsgiving; and if a monk comes who can administer the vows, it is not called a hindrance to our taking the vows. We find many beggars in the world, but few who will do us hurt; for if I do no wrong, no man will wrong me. Then an enemy is like a treasure found in my house, won without labour of mine; I must cherish him, for he is a helper in the way to Enlightenment. Thus this fruit of my patience is won by me and by him together; to him must be given the first share, for he is the cause of my patience.
"But my enemy seeks not to prosper my patience, and therefore he is not worthy of honour"—nay, why then do we honour the Good Law, the unconscious cause of blessing? "Nay, his purpose is to do me hurt"—but if an enemy is therefore not honoured, how can I otherwise shew patience towards him, as though he were intent, like a physician, on my welfare? It is by reason of his evil design that my patience is born; therefore he is the cause of patience, and as worthy of honour from me as the Good Law. Therefore the Saint has told of the Domain of Creatures and the Domain of Conquerors; for by seeking the favour of creatures and Conquerors many have risen to supreme fortune. Since with both creatures and Conquerors is the same gift of the qualities of the Enlightened, how may we deal partially and refuse to creatures the reverence shown to Conquerors? The greatness of the purpose lies not in itself, but in its works; hence creatures have a like greatness, and therein they are like [to the Enlightened]. The greatness of creatures is that he who has the spirit of kindliness towards them wins worship; the greatness of the Enlightened is that merit is won by love toward them. Thus creatures are like to the Conquerors by giving in part the dower of the qualities of the Enlightened, albeit none of them are peer to the Enlightened, who are oceans of virtues, infinite of parts; and if even one atom-small virtue from these sole stores of the essence of the virtues be found in any creature, the whole threefold world is not enough for his worship. In creatures is found a little power, but that most noble, for bringing forth the qualities of the Enlightened; according to that little power should creatures be honoured.
Moreover, what perfect reparation can be made to these Kinsmen without guile, these doers of immeasurable kindness, save the service of creatures? They tear their own bodies, they go down into the hell Avīchī, all for the welfare of others; then even to them who most sorely wrong us we must do all manner of good. How dare I shew pride, instead of a slave's humbleness, towards those masters for whose sake my Masters are heedless of their own lives? When they are happy, the Saints are rejoiced, and wroth when they are distressed; in their gladness is the gladness of all the Saints; when they are wronged, wrong is done to the Saints. As one whose body is entirely in flame finds no comfort in any things of desire, so when creatures are distressed these beings of mercy have no way to find pleasure. Forasmuch then as I have done hurt to all these most compassionate beings by doing hurt to living things, I confess now my sin; may the Saints pardon me for the wrong that I have done them! To win the grace of the Blessed Ones to-day I make myself utterly the slave of the world. Let the crowds of living beings set their feet upon my head, or smite me, and the Lord of the World be glad! Beyond all doubt these Merciful Ones have made the whole universe their own; truly it is our Lords who shew themselves in the form of creatures, and dare we despise them? It is this that moves the Blessed to grace, this that wins my true end, this that wipes away the misery of the world; then be this my vow!
A single henchman of the king handles a crowd rudely; and the throng, looking on from afar, dares not shew sign of passion; for he is not alone, the king's power is his strength. And likewise thou mayst not dishonour him who wrongs thee because he is weak; for the warders of hell and the Merciful Ones are his strength. Then let us seek the favour of creatures, as a servant the favour of a wrathful king. Can a king in his anger bring upon us the anguish of hell, which we shall bear for making creatures sorrowful? Can a king in his pleasure bestow aught equal to Enlightenment, which we shall bear for making creatures happy? But beside the destined Enlightenment that springs from kindness to creatures, seest thou not that herein lie fortune, glory, comfort? Favour, health, joy, long life, and abounding delight of empire fall to the lot of the patient man in the course of his lives.
THE PERFECT STRENGTH
NOW he who is patient will seek for strength, for in strength lies Enlightenment. Without strength there is no righteous work, as without the wind there is no motion. And what is strength? Vigour in well-doing. What is its contrary called? Faintness, clinging to base things, despair, self-contempt. From inaction, delight in pleasure, slumber, and eagerness for repose springs a spirit that feels no horror at the miseries of life, and from this arises faintness. Pursued by the Passions, those fishers, thou hast come into the net of Birth, and knowest thou not that this selfsame day thou hast fallen into the jaws of Death? Seest thou not thy comrades smitten down one after the other? and withal thou fallest into slumber like a bullock in the butcher's hands. Watched by the Death-god, thy ways hemmed in on every side, how canst thou find delight in food, how canst thou sleep and love? Wait a little while, until Death shall have gathered his instruments, and he will come swiftly upon thee; then it will be an ill time for thee to cast off thy faintness, and what wilt thou do? "This work untouched, this begun, this standing half-done—and lo! Death has suddenly fallen upon me! Alas, I am undone!" Such will be thy thoughts, whilst thou lookest upon thy despairing kinsmen with their eyes swollen and red with tears in the passion of their grief, and upon the faces of the Death-god's messengers, whilst thou liest racked by the memory of thy sins, hearing the noises of hell, altogether over-whelmed—and oh, what wilt thou do?
It is well for thee to think fearfully of thyself here as of a living fish, much more so for the sinner to dread the fierce anguish of hell. Thou art burnt if warm water touch thee, tender creature that thou art; and when thou doest damnable sins, how canst thou sit thus comfortably? O wretched soul, that longest for reward unearned by striving, thou that art so tender and much afflicted, thou immortal, thou art devoured by Death, and undone! Thou hast found the ship of manhood; then sail in it across the broad river of sorrow. Fool, this is no time for slumber; it will be hard to find the ship again. How canst thou forsake the noble delight in the Law, which brings an endless course of comforts, and find pleasure in wantonness, mirth, and other like sources of sorrow?
The spirit that knows not despair, the troops of the Army, devoted heed, self-submission, equal esteem of self and others, and regard of others in place of self [are the supports of strength].
Let me not despair that the Enlightenment will come to me; for the Blessed One, the speaker of truth, has revealed this truth, that they who by force of striving have gained hard-won supreme Enlightenment have been erstwhile gnats, gadflies, flies, and worms. Now I am a man by birth, able to know good and evil: why shall I not win the Enlightenment by following the rule of the All-knowing? If I am afraid when I think that I must give my hand or foot, it is because in my heedlessness I confound things of great and of small weight. I may be cleft, pierced, burnt, split open many and many a time for countless millions of aeons, and never win the Enlightenment. But this pain that wins me the Enlightenment is of brief term; it is like the pain of cutting out a buried arrow to heal its smart. All physicians restore health by painful courses; then to undo much suffering let us bear a little. But even this fitting course the Great Physician has not enjoined upon us; he heals them that are grievously sick by tender treatment. At first our Lord ordains gifts only of herbs and the like, and then in due course brings men at last to surrender even their own flesh. When there comes to man the spirit that looks upon his flesh as no more than herbs, what hardship is it for him to surrender his flesh and bone? He is not hurt, for he has cast off sin, nor sad, for knowledge is his; for distress comes in the mind from false imaginations, and in the body from sin. The body is made happy by righteous works, the spirit by knowledge; what can vex the compassionate one who remains in embodied life only for the welfare of others? Annulling his former sins, amassing oceans of righteousness, by the power of his Thought of Enlightenment he travels more swiftly than the Disciples. Having thus in the Thought of Enlightenment a chariot that removes all vexation and weariness, travelling from happiness to happiness, who that is wise will despair?
To accomplish the welfare of his fellow-creatures he has an Army, the troops of which are Love of Right, Constancy, Joy, and Abandonment. The Love of Right he will frame from the fear of Buffering and from pondering upon merits. When he has uprooted his foes, he will strive for increase of vigour by means of his armies, which are the love of right, pride, joy, abandonment, devoted heed, and self-submission. Countless are the faults in myself and my fellows that I shall have to destroy, and hundreds of thousands of aeons must pass ere even one of these fade away. But I find not in myself the least morsel of vigour to set myself to undo these faults; I am doomed to boundless anguish, and why does my bosom not burst? Many are the virtues in myself and my fellows that must be gained, and hundreds of thousands of aeons will scarce be enough for the practice of even one of them. But I have never practised the least morsel of virtue; to no purpose has been spent the birth so hardly and marvellously won. The joy of the great festivals in worship of the Lord has not been mine; I have done no honour to the Law, nor fulfilled the desire of the poor; I have not given security to them that are in fear, nor happiness to the afflicted; I have been only a vexation of my mother's womb, to work sorrow. Because of old I departed from the love of right, I am now in this evil plight; who would forsake the love of right? This love the Saint has proclaimed to be the root of all righteous works; and its root is the constant meditation upon the fruit that grows from deeds. Manifold are the pains, the sorrows, the terrors, and the disappointments that arise to sinners. Whithersoever the desire of the righteous turns, it is greeted with happy issue, because of their merits; and whithersoever turns the sinner's yearning for pleasure, it is smitten with swords of pain, because of his sins. They that are godly of works enter the wombs of broad, sweet-smelling, cool lotus-blossoms; their lustrous forms grow nurtured by the Conqueror's sweet melody; then they issue in comely beauty from the lotus-flowers awakened by the sunbeams of the Holy One, and are born as Sons of the Blessed in the presence of the Blessed. As to them that are ungodly of works, shrieking in anguish, they are flayed of their whole skin by the Death-god's henchmen, their bodies bathed with copper molten in the fire, their flesh cut off in gobbets by hundreds of blows from flaming swords and pikes, and they fall again and again upon beds of red-hot iron. Then let the love of righteousness be with you, and be heedful thus to foster it.
In setting his hand to a work one should foster pride, according to the rule of the Vajra-dhvaja Sūtra. When he has first considered the sum of circumstances, he will either begin it, or not begin it; for it is better not to begin at all than to leave undone what has been begun. For this practice will last even into other births, and from such sin will arise abounding sorrow; and not only is the present work not accomplished, but likewise others that might be done in the same time come not to pass.
In respect of three things may pride be borne—man's works, his temptations, and his power. The pride of works lies in the thought "for me alone is the task." This world, enslaved by passion, is powerless to accomplish its own weal; then I must do it for them, for I am not impotent like them. Shall another do a lowly task while I am standing by? If I in my pride will not do it, better it is that my pride perish. The very crow becomes a Garuda when he lights upon a dead lizard; if my spirit is feeble, the least occasion of sin will overcome me. To him who is palsied by a faint heart occasions of sin come abundantly; but he who has a noble pride ever alert is unconquerable even by great temptations. Then with firm spirit I will undo the occasions of undoing; if I should be conquered by them, my ambition to conquer the threefold world would be a jest. I will conquer all; none shall conquer me. This is the pride that I will bear, for I am the son of the Conqueror-Lions. Creatures who are overcome by arrogance bear the title of misery, not of pride; he that is proud falls not into the power of the foe, but they are slaves to the foe Arrogance. Through arrogance they are brought into evil estate, and even in human birth lose their joys, eating the bread of others, slaves, fools, uncomely, wasted away; despised on all sides are the wretches stiff in arrogance; if they are ranked with the proud, say, who are the miserable? Proud, victorious, heroic are they who set their pride on conquest of the foe Arrogance, who overthrow him in all his might, and freely show to the world the fruit of their conquest.
Surrounded by the troop of the Passions, a man should become a thousand times prouder, and be as unconquerable to their hordes as a lion to flocks of deer. Even in great stress the eye is unconscious of the sense of taste; and so, into whatever straits he may come, he will not fall into the power of the Passions. He will utterly give himself over to whatever task arrives, greedy for the work, insatiate of spirit, like one who lusts for the delight issuing from his sport. Every work is done for the sake of happiness, whether the happiness come or no; but how can he whose happiness is work itself be happy in doing no work? Desires, like honey on the edge of a razor's blade, bring no contentment in life; but what satiety can there be from the divine draughts of righteous deeds, that are blessed and sweet in their issue? Then when one work is brought to an end, he will plunge into another, as the elephant, vexed by the heat of midday, plunges straightway into the lake that he finds.
But when his strength fails, he will withdraw from his work; and if it be happily ended, he will leave it, in eagerness for more and more tasks. He will guard himself against the blows of the Passions, and deal stout blows against the Passions, as though fighting with the sword against a skilful foe. As one in fear swiftly takes up again a fallen sword, so he will take up the fallen sword of remembrance, bethinking himself of hell.
As poison that has reached the blood spreads through the body, so the sin that finds a weak spot spreads through the spirit. A man carrying a bowl full of oil, surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords, in fear of death if he should trip, will walk heedfully; and so it is with him that is under the vow. Then when slumber and faintness fall upon him, he will strive against them as speedily as one springs up when a serpent is creeping into his lap. Whenever he is caught unawares, he will be sorely grieved, and consider what he should do that it may not befall him again. For the sake of this he will desire godly company or tasks to come in his way, that his remembrance may be exercised in these conditions. Remembering the Sermon on Heedfulness, he will hold himself in readiness, so that even before a task comes to him he is prepared to turn to every course. As the seed of the cotton-tree is swayed at the coming and going of the wind, so will he be obedient to his resolution; and thus divine power is gained.
THE PERFECT CONTEMPLATION
WHEN thus vigour has been nurtured, it is well to fix the thought in concentred effort; the man of wandering mind lies between the fangs of the Passions. It cannot wander if body and thought be in solitude; so it is well to forsake the world and put away vain imaginations. Because of love, or hunger for gain, and the like, men will not forsake the world; then in order to cast it aside the wise will lay to heart these thoughts. Passion is overcome only by him who has won through stillness of spirit the perfect vision. Knowing this, I must first seek for stillness; it comes through the contentment that is regardless of the world. What creature of a day should cling to other frail beings, when he can never again through thousands of births behold his beloved? Yet when he sees him not, he is ill at ease; he rests not in concentred thought; and even when he beholds him he is not satisfied, but is distressed by the same longing as before. He sees not things in their reality; he loses his horror of the world; he is consumed by his grief in yearning for union with the beloved. In thoughts thereupon his brief life vainly passes away hour by hour; and the eternal Law is broken for the sake of a short-lived friend!
If he share in the life of the foolish, a man assuredly goes to hell; if he share it not, he wins hatred; what profits it to have commerce with the foolish? They are friends for a moment, foes for a moment, wrathful when they should be pleased—how hard to content are the worldly! They are angered if wholesomely counselled, and hold me back from good; if I heed them not they are wroth, and pass into hell. When can good come of a fool? He is jealous of a better man, contentious with a peer, haughty towards one that is lower, puffed up by praise, angered by blame. Exaltation of self, blame of others, discourse in praise of worldly pleasure—some such guilt will assuredly come from fool to fool. Thus it is from the union of one with another; evil thereby meets evil. I will live alone, in peace and with untroubled mind.
It is well to flee from the foolish. If he come in thy way, seek to win him over by kindness, not so as to hold commerce with him, but in a manner of godly indifference. I will take from him only enough for the holy life, as the bee takes honey from the flower; thus in every place I will hold myself from commerce with him, like the new moon.
The mortal who thinks of his gains or his honours or the favour of many men will be afraid of death when it falls upon him. Whatsoever it be in which the pleasure-crazed spirit takes its delight, that thing becomes a pain a thousand times greater. Therefore the wise man will seek not for pleasure, for from desire arises terror; and if it come of itself, let him stand firm and wait. Many there are who have found gain, many who have won fame; but none know whither they have gone, with their gains and their fame. Some loathe me; then why shall I rejoice in being praised? Some praise me; then why shall I be cast down by blame?
Living beings are of diverse character; not even the Conquerors can content them, much less simple souls such as I. Then why think of the world? They blame a fellow-creature who gains naught, they scorn him who gains something; being thus by nature unpleasant companions, what happiness can come from them? The Blessed Ones have said that the fool is no man's friend; for the fool has no love save where his interest lies. The love that rests on interest is but selfish, even as grief at loss of wealth springs from loss of pleasure.
Trees are not disdainful, and ask for no toilsome wooing; fain would I consort with those sweet companions! Fain would I dwell in some deserted sanctuary, beneath a tree or in caves, that I might walk without heed, looking never behind! Fain would I abide in nature's own spacious and lordless lands, a homeless wanderer free of will, my sole wealth a clay bowl, my cloak profitless to robbers, fearless and careless of my body! Fain would I go to my home the graveyard, and compare with other skeletons my own frail body! for this my body will become so foul that the very jackals will not approach it because of its stench. The bony members born with this corporeal frame will fall asunder from it, much more so my friends. Alone man is born, alone he dies; no other has a share in his sorrows. What avail friends, but to bar his way? As a wayfarer takes a brief lodging, so he that is travelling through the way of existence finds in each birth but a passing rest.
It is well for a man to depart to the forest ere the four bearers carry him away amidst the laments of his folk. Free from commerce and hindrance, possessing naught but his body, he has no grief at the hour of death, for already he has died to the world; no neighbours are there to vex him or disturb his remembrance of the Enlightened and like thoughts. Then I will ever woo sweet Solitude, untroubled dayspring of bliss, stilling all unrest. Released from all other thoughts, with mind utterly set upon my own spirit, I will strive to concentre and control my spirit.
The desires beget harm in this world and beyond: here, by bondage, slaughter, and loss of limb; beyond, in hell. That for the sake of which thou hast bowed many a time before bawds, heeding not sin nor infamy, and cast thyself into peril and wasted thy substance, that which by its embrace has brought thee supreme delight—it is naught but bones, now free and unpossessed; wilt thou not take thy fill of embraces now, and delight thyself? This was the face that erstwhile turned downwards in modesty and was unwilling to look up, hidden behind a veil whether eyes gazed upon it or gazed not; and this face now the vultures unveil to thee, as though they could not bear thy impatience. Look on it—why dost thou flee now from it? . . .
Mark how fortune brings endless misfortune by the miseries of winning it, guarding it, and losing it; men's thoughts cling altogether to their riches, so that they have not a moment to free themselves from the sorrows of life. Thus they who are possessed by desire suffer much and enjoy little, as the ox that drags a cart gets but a morsel of grass. For the sake of this morsel of enjoyment, which falls easily to the beast's lot, man, blinded by his destiny, wastes this brief fortune, that is so hard to win. For all time lasts the struggle for the welfare of the mean body that is doomed to depart and fall into hell, and even a millionth part of this labour would win the rank of the Enlightened. Greater is the pain of them that are possessed by desire than the pain of the way of holiness, and no Enlightenment comes to them. Neither sword, nor poison, nor fire, nor fall into abysses, nor foemen may be compared to the desires, if we bear in mind the agonies of hell and the like. Then shrink from the desires, and learn delight in solitude, in the peaceful woodlands void of strife and toil. Happy are they who are fanned by the sweet silent breezes of the forest, as they walk upon the pleasant rock-floors broad as in a palace and cooled by the moonbeams' sandal ointment, and take thought for the weal of their fellow-creatures! Dwelling anywhere for what time they will, in deserted sanctuary or cave or beneath the trees, saved from the weariness of winning and guarding possessions, they wander fancy-free at pleasure. Indra himself can hardly win the bliss of contentment that is enjoyed by him who wanders homeless at his own free will and unattached to aught.
By pondering in such wise upon the excellences of solitude a man stills vain imaginations and strengthens his Thought of Enlightenment. First he will diligently foster the thought that his fellow-creatures are the same as himself. "All have the same sorrows, the same joys as I, and I must guard them like myself. The body, manifold of parts in its division of members, must be preserved as a whole; and so likewise this manifold universe has its sorrow and its joy in common. Although my pain may bring no hurt to other bodies, nevertheless it is a pain to me, which I cannot bear because of the love of self; and though I cannot in myself feel the pain of another, it is a pain to him which he cannot bear because of the love of self. I must destroy the pain of another as though it were my own, because it is a pain; I must show kindness to others, for they are creatures as I am myself. . . . Then, as I would guard myself from evil repute, so I will frame a spirit of helpfulness and tenderness towards others."
By constant use the idea of an "I" attaches itself to foreign drops of seed and blood, although the thing exists not. Then why should I not conceive my fellow's body as my own self? That my body is foreign to me is not hard to see. I will think of myself as a sinner, of others as oceans of virtue; I will cease to live as self, and will take as my self my fellow-creatures. We love our hands and other limbs, as members of the body; then why not love other living beings, as members of the universe? By constant use man comes to imagine that his body, which has no self-being, is a "self"; why then should he not conceive his "self" to lie in his fellows also? Thus in doing service to others pride, admiration, and desire of reward find no place, for thereby we satisfy the wants of our own self. Then, as thou wouldst guard thyself against suffering and sorrow, so exercise the spirit of helpfulness and tenderness towards the world. . . .
Make thyself a spy for the service of others, and whatsoever thou seest in thy body's work that is good for thy fellows, perform it so that it may be conveyed to them. Be thou jealous of thine own self when thou seest that it is at ease and thy fellow in distress, that it is in high estate and he is brought low, that it is at rest and he is at labour. Make thine own self lose its pleasures and bear the sorrow of thy fellows; mark its deceit at each time and in each act. Cast upon its head the guilt even of others' works; make confession to the Great Saint of even its slightest sin. Darken its glory by telling of the greater glory of others. Make it a carrier in thy fellow-creatures' service, like a mean slave. It is made of sin, and because it may have some chance morsel of goodness from without, it is not therefore worthy of praise. Let no man know its goodness. In short, let all the wrong that thou hast done for the sake of thine own self to others fall upon thine own self for the sake of thy fellow-creatures. Grant it no power to talk overmuch; keep it in the condition of a young bride, abashed, timid, and guarded. Bend it to thy will by commanding it how it shall act and stand and forbear, and chastise it for disobedience. "O my spirit, thou wilt not do as I bid thee; then I will chastise thee, for in thee all sins find a home. Whither wilt thou go? I shall see thee, and overthrow all thy pride; the days are gone when I let myself be undone by thee. Put away now the hope that thou canst still seek an advantage of thine own; I have sold thee into the hands of others, heeding not however much thou mayst suffer. For if through heedlessness I deliver thee not over to my fellow-creatures, thou wilt doubtless deliver me to the warders of hell. Many times hast thou thus betrayed me, and long have I been racked; remembering these deeds of enmity, I will destroy thee, thou slave of self-seeking." If thou lovest thyself, thou must have no love of self; if thou wouldst save thyself, thou dost not well to be saving of self. The more heedfully the body is guarded, the sorer are its sufferings and the deeper its fall.
But despite its fall, the whole earth cannot satisfy the lust of the flesh; who can do its will? To him who longs for the impossible come guilt and bafflement of desire; but he who is utterly without desire has a happiness that ages not. Then give no room for the lust of the flesh to swell; blessed indeed is the thing that is not imagined for the sake of its pleasantness. The body is a motionless thing stirred by something without, and ending in ashes, a loathsome frame of foulness; why do I cling to it? What have I to do with this machine, alive or dead? What distinguishes it from such things as clods of earth? Alas, O thought of self, thou wilt not die! Through complicity with the flesh I win sorrow, all to no purpose; it is no better than a thing of wood, and what should avail its hatred or its kindness? It feels no love when I guard it, no hate when vultures devour it; then why do I love it? I am angered when it is treated with scorn, delighted when it is honoured; but if it has no knowledge, to what end is my toil? My friends, forsooth, are they who wish well to this body; but all men wish well to their own flesh, and why are not they also my friends? So I have surrendered my body indifferently for the weal of the world; it is but as an instrument of work that I still bear it, with all its guilt. Enough then of worldly ways! I follow in the path of the Wise, remembering the Discourse upon Heedfulness and putting away sloth. To overcome the power of darkness I concentre my thought, drawing the spirit away from vain paths and fixing it straightly upon its stay.
THE PERFECT KNOWLEDGE
ALL this equipment the Sage has ordained for the sake of wisdom; so he that seeks to still sorrow must get him wisdom. We deem that there are two verities, the Veiled Truth and the Transcendent Reality. The Reality is beyond the range of the understanding; the understanding is called Veiled Truth. . . . Thus there is never either cessation or existence; the universe neither comes to be nor halts in being. Life's courses, if thou considerest them, are like dreams and as the plantain's branches; in reality there is no distinction between those that are at rest and those that are not at rest. Since then the forms of being are empty, what can be gained, and what lost? who can be honoured or despised, and by whom? Whence should come joy or sorrow? What is sweet, what bitter? What is desire, and where shall this desire in verity be sought? If thou considerest the world of living things, who shall die therein? who shall be born, who is born? who is a kinsman and who a friend, and to whom? Would that my fellow-creatures should understand that all is as the void! They are angered and delighted by their matters of strife and rejoicing; with grief and labour, with despair, with rending and stabbing one another, they wearily pass their days in sin as they seek their own pleasure; they die and fall into hells of long and bitter anguish; they return again and again to happy births after births and grow wonted to joy. . . . In life are oceans of sorrow, fierce and boundless beyond compare, a scant measure of power, a brief term of years; our years are spent in vain strivings for existence and health, in hunger, faintness, and labour, in sleep, in vexation, in fruitless commerce with fools, and discernment is hard to win; how shall we come to restrain the spirit from its wont of wandering? There, too, the Spirit of Desire is labouring to cast us into deep hells; there evil paths abound, and unbelief can scarce be overcome; it is hard to win a brief return, exceeding hard for the Enlightened to arise to us; the torrent of passion can scarce be stayed. Alas, how sorrow follows on sorrow! Alas, how lamentable is the estate of them that are borne down in the floods of affliction, and in their sore distress see not how sad their plight is, like one who should again and again come forth from the waters of his bath and cast himself into fire, and so in their sore trouble deem themselves to be in happy estate! As thus they live in sport that knows not of age and dissolution, dire afflictions will come upon them, with Death in their forefront. Then when will the day come when I may bring peace to them that are tortured in the fire of sorrow by my ministrations of sweetness born from the rain-clouds of my righteousness, and when I may reverently declare to the souls who imagine a real world that all is void, and righteousness is gathered by looking beyond the Veiled Truth?
[As an epilogue to the Bodhi-charyāvatāra, I append a translation of the Kārikās, or metrical summary of the main themes of Śānti-deva's other great work, the Śikshā-samuchchaya. These verses consist of twenty-eight stanzas in the anushtubh metre, and may be taken as an epitome of the Bodhi-charyāvatāra.]
Since both I and my fellow-creatures dread and hate pain, what is the peculiar quality of my Self, that I should care for it, rather than for my fellow-men?
He that would make an end of sorrow and come to the bound of happiness must stablish firmly the root of Faith and immovably set his thought upon Enlightenment.
The Bodhi-sattva's rule of holiness developes from the Mahā-yāna. Therefore one should know its principles, and so be free from evil.
Surrender to all creatures thine own person and thy pleasures, yea, and thy righteousness too, in past, present, and future time; guard them, and increase thy holiness.
For the enjoyment of fellow-creatures are sacrificed our own persons and the like. If they be not guarded, how can they be enjoyed? and can that be a gift that is not enjoyed?
Therefore to the end that fellow-creatures may have the enjoyment thereof, one should protect his own person and the like, by leaving never the Blest Friend and by studying ever the Scriptures.
Now what means it to guard one's own person? to shun mishap. How is this all found? by shunning fruitless effort.
Fulfil this work ever by mindfulness. From deep reverence springs mindfulness; and reverence, the glory of the chastened spirit, arises from an understanding zeal.
"He that hath concentred thought understands what is as it verily is," said the Saint. Let the spirit turn away from outward action, and fall never away from its stillness.
Steadfast throughout, mild of spirit, one should by gentle address win over worthy men, and thus become acceptable.
The worldly folk who scorn the scion of the Conqueror and accept him not shall be broiled in all the hells, like fire hidden under ash.
Therefore the Conqueror in the Ratna-megha has told in brief the holy rule: "Heedfully avoid that which gives displeasure to thy fellow-creatures".
Thus to care for one's own person with medicines, clothing, and the like, if it be to indulge the lust of the flesh, leads to grievous misfortune.
"Let man set himself to good deeds, and withal know the mean throughout." Through this precept it is easy for him to guard his enjoyment.
By quenching the lust for issues of thine own advantage, thy righteousness will be well guarded. Regret not thy deeds, nor make a public talk of them.
The Bodhi-sattva will dread gain and honour, will shun exaltation; he will have glad faith in the Law, and dismiss doubts.
When the body is made pure, it becomes wholesome for creatures to enjoy, like perfect spotless rice.
As a crop of grain overgrown by weeds sinks under disease, and thrives not, so a scion of the Buddha, if overcome by sin, cannot grow in grace.
What is the "cleansing of our person"? Cleansing it of evil and sin, in obedience to the words of the Enlightened. If this endeavour be lacking, hell awaits us.
Let men be long-suffering, and fain to hear the Law, then let them withdraw to the forest, strain the thought on concentred effort, and ponder upon the uncleanness of the flesh and the like.
Understand how to make clean thy enjoyments, until thy soul be cleansed. Make thy merit pure by deeds full of the spirit of tenderness and the Void.
Full many there are who will take from thee. If thou hast but little, what of that? if it gives not full satisfaction, then it must be increased.
What is increase of the body? increase of strength and energy. Increase of enjoyment is from almsgiving full of the spirit of tenderness and the Void.
Firstly should a man with care establish firmly his resolution and purpose; then with an attendant spirit of tenderness, he should strive to increase his merit.
The rule of right conduct—worship and the like—should ever be reverently observed. Let faith and the like be always practised, likewise brotherly love and the remembrance of the Buddha.
In short, the weal of fellow-beings in all conditions, the godly gift without worldly desire, and the Thought of Enlightenment cause righteousness to increase.
Perfection arises from constancy in the heedful effort to make right
renunciations, by remembrance, by attention, and by true meditation.
1 See below, p. 18.
2 On this subject the reader will do well to study the latest, and in several respects the best, summary, Bouddhisme: Opinions sur I'Histoire de la Dogmatique, by Professor L. de la Vallée Poussin (Paris, 1909).
3 Childers, Pali Dictionary, s.v. khandho.
4 The Pāramitās, or Perfections, according to the chief Northern schools, are almsgiving, morality, long-suffering, manliness, meditation, mystic insight (prajnā), resolution, strength, knowledge, and skill in choice of means (upāya).
5 In justice to some theologians, such as Śānti-deva, it must be said that they endeavoured to correct this anti-nomianism; but they hardly succeeded.
6 One of the most popular Mahayanist texts is the Suk-hāvatī-vyūha, which is a detailed description of this fairyland.
8 See above, p. 15.
9 See above, p. 12.
10 See above, p. 16.
11 From the Larger Prajnā-pāramitā-hridaya-sūtra, translated in Sacred Books of the East, vol. xlix.
12 Abundant illustration will be found in the art of Northern Buddhism, especially in the frescoes of the recently discovered temples of Chinese Turkestan.
13 This explanation is due to M. L. de la Vallée Poussin, in his article The Three Bodies of a Buddha, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1906, p. 943 foll. The reader should also consult Suzuki's Outlines of Mahâ-yâna Buddhism.
14 I have much pleasure in acknowledging my debt of gratitude to Professor Poussin's masterly French translation of the text published in the Revue d'Histoire et de Littérature Religieuses, vols. x.-xii. (1905-1907) under the title Bodhi-caryāvatāra: Introduction à la Pratique des futurs Bouddhas.
15 "As is fitting, the book begins with homage to the 'threefold jewel,' or 'three pearls,' i.e. in early Buddhism, the Buddha (Śākya-muni), the Law preached by him (Dharma), and the brotherhood of his monks (Sangha). Here, agreeably to the doctrines of the Great Vehicle, we have (i) the Buddhas, designated by the title Sugata, 'the well gone,' or 'the well arrived,' i.e. 'they who have left the world, of becoming in order to enter Nirvāna,' or 'who know the truth,' 'who have departed to return no more,' 'who have cast off all frailty of body, speech, and mind.' These definitions aim at establishing from every point of view a fundamental difference between the Buddhas and all other beings, (ii) The sons of the Buddhas, namely (a) the Bodhi-sattvas ('creatures of enlightenment') who have reached a 'stage,' a 'ground,' even though it be the first, in their career as future Buddhas (in opposition to the future Buddhas, Bodhi-sattvas, who have not yet entered upon the career, or are only at the outset of it); (b) all 'the worshipful ones,' i.e. the 'teachers of discipline or doctrine,' etc. We must understand 'all spiritual friends.' (iii) The 'Body of the Law,' i.e. either the sum-total of the Scriptures or 'the Body of the Law of the Buddhas,' in opposition to their bodies as visible upon this earth, and to their bodies as beatified in paradise. This Body is the uncreated wisdom which constitutes the essence of all the Buddhas; and the Law preached by the Buddhas is only the intellectual or verbal expression of this wisdom" (Prof. de la Vallée Poussin).
16 The "Thought of Enlightenment" (Bodhi-chitta) is to the Mahā-yāna what 'grace' is to Christian theology. Buddhism, in common with the other schools of Indian thought, holds that all living beings are fettered in the beginningless and endless cycle of embodied births, metempsychosis or samsāra, in which every instant of present experience is a resultant of former actions. Only the Buddhas, the loving teachers of salvation to mankind, have risen after aeons of effort in countless births into the transcendental peace of Nirvāna. Hence the great religious duty of the believer is aspiration to become a Buddha for the weal of fellow-creatures. This yearning arises in his heart, by the special grace of the Buddhas, in the form of the Bodhi-chitta, which is finely expressed by our author in his third chapter. By this vow the believer constitutes himself a Bodhi-sattva, "or creature of enlightenment," of the first stage; he has devoted himself to the acquisition of merit by charity and knowledge which shall raise him through higher and higher planes of existence, until he reaches the condition of the celestial Bodhi-sattvas, such as Manju-ghosha and Avalokiteśvara, who have attained the highest beatification that the finite universe can give, and are only delaying their departure into the infinite stillness of Nirvāna in order to continue their works as loving guides and helpers of mankind towards happiness and spiritual sanctification.
17 The minions of life are the passions and other frailties which keep the soul enchained in the cycle (samsāra) of bodily births.
18 The Musa sapientun.
19 See the chapter on the Perfect Long-suffering, below.
20 The Buddhas, here styled Tathāgata, on which see the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1893, p. 103 f. Compare the term Sugata (above, note 1).
21 This term here denotes the divine Bodhi-sattvas (Avalokiteśvara, Manju-ghosha, etc.), who have reached the higher stages of beatification.
22 A Buddha-kshetra, or "domain of Buddha," is a system of a thousand millions of worlds, each under the guardianship of a Buddha.
23 This refers to the Buddha of the present era, Gautama the Śākya, and the places hallowed by his pious deeds in various births previous to his Nirvāna.
24 The Buddha, the Law, and the Congregation.
25 See above, note 2.
26 These are the celestial Bodhi-sattvas (see notes 1, 2).
27 "Stillness" is perhaps the most suitable term to express the idea of Nirvāna; compare Deussen, Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, bd. i., abteil. 3, pp. 111 f., 152 f., etc. Nirvāna does not signify extinction or annihilation, as is commonly imagined in Europe, but the very reverse, perfect spiritual self-realisation in transcendental being. The metaphor first occurs in the Upanishads, and frequently reappears later in non-Buddhist theology; it denotes moksha, the state in which the individual soul, identifying itself with universal Being, is entirely at rest in itself and in Brahma, in the stillness of infinite thought. The fire of delusion and earthly desire has become extinguished in it by the annihilation of its fuel, the false imagination of finite being. Nirvāna is thus similar to the yoga, or ecstasy of the Yogic adept, which is technically defined as chitta-vritti-nirodha, cessation of the activity of the finite imagination, and it is frequently used in the same connection. Nirvāna properly may denote either the blowing-out of a flame, or the burning of a flame undisturbed by wind (compare Bhagavad-gītā, vi. 19). The latter interpretation will suit the oldest passages where the word occurs; but the former is also applicable, and is necessary in some of the later passages. Now the Buddhists denied the existence of a soul, or permanent Self. Logically, therefore, they could not assert the existence of a Nirvāna, or transcendental existence of the soul or Self; and theoretically, indeed, the Mādhyamiki school of the Mahā-yāna denied Nirvāna as well as finite being, substituting for the whole the universal "Void," Śūnya, which however is only another name for infinite Being, the unqualified Transcendental. Buddhist orthodoxy refused to speculate on this antinomy. But in the same way as Buddhism, while denying the Brahmanic conception of the soul, substitutes for it the santāna, or succession of moments of consciousness, which practically differs very little from it, so its conception of Nirvāna practically amounted to much the same as the Brahmanic ideal. See above, p. 19.
28 The "lucky jar" is a magic vessel in which is found whatever the owner desires; the "wishing-tree" and the "cow of plenty" are part of the furniture of the Hindu paradise, and have similar properties.
29 Namely, human birth under the dispensation of a Buddha.
30 Meru is an imaginary mountain in the Hindu cosmology, which forms the centre of the universe, and around which the sun and moon turn.
31 The ten points of space are the north, south, east, west, north-east, south-east, north-west, south-west, zenith, and nadir.
32 The remembrance is of the Law of the Buddha and of the teachings of his Church.
33 The Perfect Charity (Dāna-pāramitā) is not an actual deliverance of the world from poverty (misery due to worldly desire), but an intention for such deliverance; it is a grace of the spirit. Thus purity of the will is the greatest of all virtues, and the foundation of all. Similarly, the Perfect Conduct (Śīla-paramitā), which is the subject of this chapter, consists essentially in the will to hurt no living creature.
34 Morality is higher than charity, patience than morality, etc., and the aspirant to Buddhahood must not practise charity at the expense of morality, and so on. But this rule has an exception. The essential principle of the divine Bodhi-sattvas' conduct is śiksha-samvara, "right and holy conduct," the dyke which holds in their place the "waters of righteousness"; and this principle must never be infringed by the aspirant's action.
35 The aspirant, having collected alms of food by begging from door to door, will divide it into four parts, one for each of the three classes here mentioned, and one for himself. The three robes allowed to Buddhist devotees are of yellow rags.
36 Namely, a person whose compassion is excited Merely in connection with friends, enemies, the unfortunate, etc. The aspirant devotes his whole self to the welfare of fellow-creatures, but this gift must not be too hastily given. It should be reserved for occasions when it will assist to enlightenment, etc., another aspirant of equal or greater power for good.
37 The fundamental principle of Hindu medicine, like that of the Greeks, is the existence of three "humours" (doiha, dhātu), namely, wind, gall, and slime, which when in equipoise cause health, and when disturbed produce sickness.
38 Here comes a polemic against the Sānkhya and the Vedanti schools. The former divide existence into primal Matter and individual souls which by connection with the former assume the functions of finite thought. The Vedantis believe in a single universal soul or Brahma, essentially indeterminate, which by the operation of the cosmic Illusion (Māyā) differentiates itself into individual finite souls. Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent soul, substituting for it a succession of instants of consciousness.
39 It may be objected that if all action is a purely mechanical result of previously existent forces, the action of the mind in hatred, etc., is also mechanical, and cannot be checked, and hence the peace and salvation of the spirit are unattainable. But this is not the case, according to our author. Existence is a series of forces proceeding one from the other (the pratītya-samutpāda); but by arresting one of these the individual arrests all subsequent forces as far as he is concerned; and the primary force is ignorance.
40 If I save myself from hell by refraining from retaliation upon those who wrong me, the merit of this is mine; and their merit, which consists in forcing me to suffer and expiate my guilt from former deeds, is not lessened by this merit of mine.
41 The objector claims that, while he admits the merits of the person praised, he cannot abide the pleasure which the eulogist feels in praising him. But this is a sin. To every man must be given his just reward, both in this and other worlds; and both the eulogy and the eulogist's joy are part of the reward of the person eulogised.
42 The presence of a pravrājaka, an ascetic who has himself withdrawn from the world, causes us to perform the pravrajyā, i.e. to take from him the vows of his ascetic order and become a monk in his company.
43 Living creatures are a "domain" (kshetra) for the acquisition of merit by the aspirants to enlightenment; for merit is gained by showing love, charity, etc., towards them. The Buddhas or "Conquerors" (Jina) are likewise a "domain"; merit is gained by doing service to them. (Cf. note 7 above.)
44 Both Buddhas and inferior creatures alike assist the aspirant to win merit and become a Buddha himself. True, the Buddhas are immeasurably good and great, and are always consciously beneficent, while other creatures often are in their intention maleficent. But if we measure the worth of a purpose by its results, noting that wrong-doing is a "blessing in disguise" to the sufferer, we must conclude that the purpose of a Buddha's help is not more valuable to the aspirant than the various motives of other creatures with whom he has dealings.
45 This refers to the Eastern custom of keeping fish alive in tanks until they are needed for the kitchen.
46 See p. 76.
47 This is a polemical reference to the Hīna-yāna school of Buddhism, of which the adepts (Śrāvaka) sought enlightenment and Nirvāna for themselves and by themselves. Is not such a course more rapid and sure than that recommended by our author, in which the aspirant to Buddhahood deliberately postpones his Nirvāna in order to work for the welfare of the world? Śānti-deva here brushes aside this objection. In his ninth chapter, in a passage omitted in this translation, he attempts to prove that the Hīna-yāna can attain neither Nirvāna nor suppression of passion.
48 The sacred kite on which the god Vishnu rides.
49 A reference to an ordeal in a well-known legend.
50 See Dhamma-pada, ch. ii.
51 Namely, conceptions inspired by sensual love, hatred, or delusion, which agitate the spirit.
52 To wit, alms of food and the rags from which is made the beggar-monk's robe.
53 This is a play on words. Bāla signifies (i) a fool, and (ii) the morning sun, the red glow of which does not stain the pure whiteness of the new moon.
54 The bearers of the funeral bier.
55 At the hour of death he can fix his thought upon the Buddha and the Law, without disturbance from the laments of kinsfolk and friends.
56 Under the malignant influence of former evil works men fail to use the opportunity of salvation offered by their human birth, and after death are reborn in hell or as lower beings.
57 The chief of the gods, who dwells in paradise, svarga.
58 Dhamma-pada, ch. ii.
59 This refers to the spiritual exercises practised by the Buddhists, as by other Hindu devotees. In order to render the thought immobile and uninfluenced by external sensations, various physical objects are prescribed to be rigidly contemplated by it, which, together with the themes of meditation described above, raise it to a state of still ecstasy, from which it passes either into a blessed rebirth or into final Nirvāna.
60 Namely, the Perfections of charity, morality, etc.
61 This distinction of "veiled" or conventional reality (samvriti-satya) and transcendental reality (paramārtha-satya) is shared by the Mādhyamikas with the monistic Vedāntis. The former conceives objects as they appear to the normal intelligence of finite beings; but this mode of conception is false when viewed from the standpoint of transcendental verity, which insists upon the essentially infinite and inconceivable nature of things. Thus in the higher reality nothing can be predicated of anything; all is inconceivable, "void." Our author here launches upon a long discussion, omitted in our translation, in which he argues that the impermanence of finite being, which the Hīna-yāna regards as the highest truth, is, from the transcendental standpoint of his school (the Mādhyamika) mere illusion; that the Vijnāna-vādis, who hold that nothing exists but pure absolute thought, are likewise mistaken; that the Hīna-yāna is insufficient in theory and in practice; that the conception of an ego held by non-Buddhist philosophers is false; that the principles upon which various heretical schools wrongly regard being as based are nonexistent; and that the only legitimate attitude is that of the Mādhyamikas, with their denial of the validity of the means of knowledge and their doctrine of a conventional reality on the one hand and a higher reality or "void" on the other.
62 See above, note 4.
63 The following stanza appears to mean: "In life there are many precipices, and no true reality" (reading atatvam); "there are contradictions, and can be no true reality." But as this meaning is somewhat uncertain, I have omitted it in my translation.
64 Māra, the embodiment of worldly desire and lust of the flesh.
65 The tenth chapter, which follows in the original Sanskrit, is omitted in this translation, as its 58 verses contain only prayers for the welfare of all beings for the sake of the merit acquired by our author in composing this work. A quotation is given in the Introduction, p. 26 f.
66 The word āima-bhāva, literally "condition of self," i.e. person or body, properly denotes the plexus of concepts which collectively form the idea of an individual being as conceived by himself.
67 Or, "that whereby fellow-creatures lose their faith."
68 Acts are to be inspired by knowledge of the Void and brotherly love. These two requisites (sambhāra), the intellectual and the moral, are necessary for spiritual advancement; one is of no avail without the other.---
[Transcriber's note: for this online edition I have consolidated all the footnotes and placed them at the end of the text.]