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The Gospel of Buddha


  • Preface:
    by Paul Carus

  • Chapter 01:
  • Chapter 02:
    Samsara and Nirvana
  • Chapter 03:
    Truth the Saviour

    Prince Siddhattha becomes Buddha
  • Chapter 04:
    The Bodhisatta's Birth
  • Chapter 05:
    The Ties of Life
  • Chapter 06:
    The Three Woes
  • Chapter 07:
    The Bodhisatta's Renunciation
  • Chapter 08:
    King Bimbisara
  • Chapter 09:
    The Bodhisatta's Search
  • Chapter 10:
    Uruvela, the Place of Mortification
  • Chapter 11:
    Mara, the Evil One
  • Chapter 12:
  • Chapter 13:
    The First Converts
  • Chapter 14:
    Brahma's Request

    The Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness
  • Chapter 15:
  • Chapter 16:
    The Sermon at Benares
  • Chapter 17:
    The Sangha
  • Chapter 18:
    Yasa, the Youth of Benares
  • Chapter 19:
  • Chapter 20:
    The Sermon at Rajagaha
  • Chapter 21:
    The King's Gift
  • Chapter 22:
    Sariputta and Moggallana
  • Chapter 23:
  • Chapter 24:
    The Sermon on Charity
  • Chapter 25:
  • Chapter 26:
    The Three Characteristics and the Uncreate
  • Chapter 27:
    The Buddha's Father
  • Chapter 28:
  • Chapter 29:

    Consolidation of the Buddha's religion
  • Chapter 30:
    Jivaka, the Physician
  • Chapter 31:
    The Buddha's Parents Attain Nirvana
  • Chapter 32:
    Women Admitted to the Sangha
  • Chapter 33:
    The Bhikkhus' Conduct Toward Women
  • Chapter 34:
  • Chapter 35:
    The Uposatha and Patimokkha
  • Chapter 36:
    The Schism
  • Chapter 37:
    The Re-establishment of Concord
  • Chapter 38:
    The Bhikkhus Rebuked
  • Chapter 39:
  • Chapter 40:
    Name and Form
  • Chapter 41:
    The Goal
  • Chapter 42:
    Miracles Forbidden
  • Chapter 43:
    The Vanity of Worldliness
  • Chapter 44:
    Secrecy and Publicity
  • Chapter 45:
    The Annihilation of Suffering
  • Chapter 46:
    Avoiding the Ten Evils
  • Chapter 47:
    The Preacher's Mission

    The Teacher
  • Chapter 48:
    The Dhammapada
  • Chapter 49:
    The Two Brahmans
  • Chapter 50:
    Guard the Six Quarters
  • Chapter 51:
    Simha's Question Concerning Annihilation
  • Chapter 52:
    All Existence is Spiritual
  • Chapter 53:
    Identity and Non-Identity
  • Chapter 54:
    The Buddha Omnipresent
  • Chapter 55:
    One Essence, One Law, One Aim
  • Chapter 56:
    The Lesson Given to Rahula
  • Chapter 57:
    The Sermon on Abuse
  • Chapter 58:
    The Buddha Replies to the Deva
  • Chapter 59:
    Words of Instruction
  • Chapter 60:
  • Chapter 61:
    The Teacher Unknown

    Parables and Stories
  • Chapter 62:
  • Chapter 63:
    The Widow's Two Mites and the Parable of the Three Merchants
  • Chapter 64:
    The Man Born Blind
  • Chapter 65:
    The Lost Son
  • Chapter 66:
    The Giddy Fish
  • Chapter 67:
    The Cruel Crane Outwitted
  • Chapter 68:
    Four Kinds of Merit
  • Chapter 69:
    The Light of the World
  • Chapter 70:
    Luxurious Living
  • Chapter 71:
    The Communication of Bliss
  • Chapter 72:
    The Listless Fool
  • Chapter 73:
    Rescue in the Desert
  • Chapter 74:
    The Sower
  • Chapter 75:
    The Outcast
  • Chapter 76:
    The Woman at the Well
  • Chapter 77:
    The Peacemaker
  • Chapter 78:
    The Hungry Dog
  • Chapter 79:
    The Despot
  • Chapter 80:
  • Chapter 81:
    The Marriage-Feast in Jambunada
  • Chapter 82:
    A Party in Search of a Thief
  • Chapter 83:
    In the Realm of Yamaraja
  • Chapter 84:
    The Mustard Seed
  • Chapter 85:
    Following the Master Over the Stream
  • Chapter 86:
    The Sick Bhikkhu
  • Chapter 87:
    The Patient Elephant

    The Last Days
  • Chapter 88:
    The Conditions of Welfare
  • Chapter 89:
    Sariputta's Faith
  • Chapter 90:
  • Chapter 91:
    The Mirror of Truth
  • Chapter 92:
  • Chapter 93:
    The Buddha's Farewell Address
  • Chapter 94:
    The Buddha Announces His Death
  • Chapter 95:
    Chunda, the Smith
  • Chapter 96:
  • Chapter 97:
    The Buddha's Final Entering into Nirvana

  • Chapter 98:
    The Three Personalities of the Buddha
  • Chapter 99:
    The Purpose of Being
  • Chapter 100:
    The Praise of All the Buddhas

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    The Gospel of Buddha

    Identity and Non Identity

    Kutadanta, the head of the Brahmans in the village of Danamati
    having approached the Blessed One respectfully, greeted him and said:
    "I am told, O samana, that thou art the Buddha,
    the Holy One, the All-knowing, the Lord of the World.
    But if thou wert the Buddha,
    wouldst thou not come like a king
    in all thy glory and power?"

    Said the Blessed One:
    "Thine eyes are holden.
    If the eye of thy mind were undimmed
    thou couldst see the glory and the power of truth."

    Said Kutadanta:
    "Show me the truth and I shall see it.
    But thy doctrine is without consistency.
    If it were consistent, it would stand;
    but as it is not, it will pass away."

    The Blessed One replied: "The truth will never pass away." [4]

    Kutadanta said:
    "I am told that thou teachest the law,
    yet thou tearest down religion.
    Thy disciples despise rites and abandon immolation,
    but reverence for the gods can be shown only by sacrifices.
    The very nature of religion consists in worship and sacrifice."

    Said the Buddha:
    "Greater than the immolation of bullocks is the sacrifice of self.
    He who offers to the gods his evil desires
    will see the uselessness of slaughtering animals at the altar.
    Blood has no cleansing power,
    but the eradication of lust will make the heart pure.
    Better than worshipping gods
    is obedience to the laws of righteousness."

    Kutadanta, being of religious disposition
    and anxious about his fate after death,
    had sacrificed countless victims.
    Now he saw the folly of atonement by blood.
    Not yet satisfied, however, with the teachings of the Tathagata,
    Kutadanta continued:
    "Thou believest, O Master, that beings are reborn;
    that they migrate in the evolution of life;
    and that subject to the law of karma we must reap what we sow.
    Yet thou teachest the non-existence of the soul!
    Thy disciples praise utter self-extinction
    as the highest bliss of Nirvana.
    If I am merely a combination of the sankharas,
    my existence will cease when I die.
    If I am merely a compound of sensations and ideas and desires,
    wither can I go at the dissolution of the body?"

    Said the Blessed One:
    "O Brahman, thou art religious and earnest.
    Thou art seriously concerned about thy soul.
    Yet is thy work in vain because thou art lacking
    in the one thing that is needful.

    "There is rebirth of character,
    but no transmigration of a self.
    Thy thought-forms reappear,
    but there is no egoentity transferred.
    The stanza uttered by a teacher
    is reborn in the scholar who repeats the words.

    "Only through ignorance and delusion do men indulge in the dream
    that their souls are separate and self-existent entities.

    "Thy heart, O Brahman, is cleaving still to self;
    thou art anxious about heaven
    but thou seekest the pleasures of self in heaven,
    and thus thou canst not see the bliss of truth
    and the immortality of truth.

    "Verily I say unto thee:
    The Blessed One has not come to teach death, but to teach life,
    and thou discernest not the nature of living and dying.

    "This body will be dissolved
    and no amount of sacrifice will save it.
    Therefore, seek thou the life that is of the mind.
    Where self is, truth cannot be;
    yet when truth comes, self will disappear.
    Therefore, let thy mind rest in the truth;
    propagate the truth, put thy whole will in it, and let it spread.
    In the truth thou shalt live for ever.

    "Self is death and truth is life.
    The cleaving to self is a perpetual dying,
    while moving in the truth
    is partaking of Nirvana
    which is life everlasting."

    Kutadanta said: "Where, O venerable Master, is Nirvana?" [15]

    "Nirvana is wherever the precepts are obeyed,"
    replied the Blessed One. [16]

    "Do I understand thee aright," rejoined the Brahman,
    "that Nirvana is not a place,
    and being nowhere it is without reality?"

    "Thou dost not understand me aright," said the Blessed One,
    "Now listen and answer these questions:
    Where does the wind dwell?"

    "Nowhere," was the reply. [19]

    Buddha retorted: "Then, sir,
    there is no such thing as wind."

    Kutadanta made no reply;
    and the Blessed One asked again:
    "Answer me, O Brahman,
    where does wisdom dwell?
    Is wisdom a locality?"

    "Wisdom has no alloted dwelling-place," replied Kutadanta. [22]

    Said the Blessed One:
    "Meanest thou that there is no wisdom,
    no enlightenment, no righteousness, and no salvation,
    because Nirvana is not a locality?
    As a great and mighty wind
    which passeth over the world
    in the heat of the day,
    so the Tathagata comes to blow
    over the minds of mankind
    with the breath of his love,
    so cool, so sweet, so calm, so delicate;
    and those tormented by fever assuage their suffering
    and rejoice at the refreshing breeze."

    Said Kutadanta:
    "I feel, O Lord,
    that thou proclaimeat a great doctrine,
    but I cannot grasp it.
    Forbear with me that I ask again:
    Tell me, O Lord, if there be no atman,
    how can there be immortality?
    The activity of the mind passeth,
    and our thoughts are gone
    when we have done thinking."

    Buddha replied:
    "Our thinking is gone,
    but our thoughts continue.
    Reasoning ceases,
    but knowledge remains."

    Said Kutadanta: "How is that?
    Is not reasoning and knowledge the same?"

    The Blessed One explained the distinction by an illustration:
    "It is as when a man wants,
    during the night, to send a letter,
    and, after having his clerk called,
    has a lamp lit, and gets the letter written.
    Then, when that has been done, he extinguishes the lamp.
    But though the writting has been finished
    and the light has been put out the letter is still there.
    Thus does reasoning cease and knowledge remain;
    and in the same way mental activity ceases,
    but experience, wisdom, and all the fruits of our acts endure."

    Kutadanta continued:
    "Tell me, O Lord, pray tell me,
    where, if the sankharas are dissolved, is the identity of my self.
    If my thoughts are propagated, and if my soul migrates,
    my thoughts cease to be my thoughts
    and my soul ceases to be my soul.
    Give me an illustration, but pray, O Lord,
    tell me, where is the identity of my self?"

    Said the Blessed One:
    "Suppose a man were to light a lamp;
    would it burn the night through?"

    "Yes, it might do so," was the reply. [30]

    "Now, is it the same flame that burns
    in the first watch of the night as in the second?"

    Kutadanta hesitated.
    He thought "Yes, it is the same flame,"
    but fearing the complications of a hidden meaning,
    and trying to be exact, he said:
    "No, it is not." [32]

    "Then," continued the Blessed One,
    "there are flames, one in the first watch
    and the other in the second watch."

    "No, sir," said Kutadanta.
    "In one sense it is not the same flame,
    but in another sense it is the same flame.
    it burns the same kind of oil,
    it emits the same kind of light,
    and it serves the same purpose."

    "Very well," said the Buddha,
    "and would you call those flames
    the same that have burned yesterday
    and are burning now in the same lamp,
    filled with the same kind of oil,
    illuminating the same room?"

    "They may have been extinguished during the day," suggested Kutadanta. [36]

    Said the Blessed One:
    "Suppose the flame of the first watch
    had been extinguished during the second watch,
    would you call it the same if it burns again in the third watch?"

    Replied Kutadanta:
    "In one sense it is a different flame,
    in another it is not."

    The Tathagata asked again:
    "Has the time that elapsed during the extinction of the flame
    anything to do with its identity or non-identity?"

    "No, sir," said the Brahman, "it has not.
    There is a difference and an identity,
    whether many years elapsed or only one second,
    and also whether the lamp
    has been extinguished in the meantime or not."

    "Well, then, we agree that the flame of to-day
    is in a certain sense the same as the flame of yesterday,
    and in another sense it is different at every moment.
    Moreover, the flames of the same kind,
    illuminating with equal power the same kind of rooms
    are in a certain sense the same."

    "Yes, sir," replied Kutadanta. [42]

    The Blessed One continued:
    "Now, suppose there is a man
    who feels like thyself,
    thinks like thyself,
    and acts like thyself,
    is he not the same man as thou?"

    "No, sir," interrupted Kutadanta. [44]

    Said the Buddha:
    "Dost thou deny that the same logic holds good for thyself
    that holds good for the things of the world"

    Kutadanta bethought himself
    and rejoined slowly: "No, I do not.
    The same logic holds good universally;
    but there is a peculiarity about my self
    which renders it altogether different
    from everything else and also from other selves.
    There may be another man who feels exactly like me,
    thinks like me, and acts like me;
    suppose even he had the same name
    and the same kind of possessions
    he would not be myself."

    "True, Kutadanta," answered Buddha,
    "he would not be thyself.
    Now, tell me, is the person who goes to school one,
    and that same person when he has finished his schooling another?
    Is it one who commits a crime, another
    who is punished by having his hands and feet cut off?"

    "They are the same," was the reply. [48]

    "Then sameness is constituted by continuity only?" asked the Tathagata. [49]

    "Not only by continuity," said Kutadanta,
    "but also and mainly by identity of character." [50]

    "Very well," concluded the Buddha,
    "then thou agreest that persons can be the same, in the same sense
    as two flames of the same kind are called the same;
    and thou must recognize that in this sense
    another man of the same character
    and product of the same karma
    is the same as thou."

    "Well, I do." said the Brahman. [52]

    The Buddha continued:
    "And in this same sense alone art thou the same to-day as yesterday.
    Thy nature is not constituted by the matter of which thy body consists
    but by thy sankharas, the forms of the body, of sensations, of thoughts.
    Thy person is the combination of the sankharas.
    Wherever they are, thou art.
    Whithersoever they go, thou goest.
    Thus thou wilt recognize in a certain sense
    an identity of thy self, and in another sense a difference.
    But he who does not recognize the identity should deny all identity,
    and should say that the questioner is no longer the same person
    as he who a minute after receives the answer.
    Now consider the continuation of thy personality,
    which is preserved in thy karma.
    Dost thou call it death and annihilation,
    or life and continued life?"

    "I call it life and continued life," rejoined Kutadanta,
    "for it is the continuation of my existence,
    but I do not care for that kind of continuation.
    All I care for is the continuation of self
    in the other sense which makes of every man,
    whether identical with me or not,
    an altogether different person."

    "Very well," said Buddha.
    "This is what thou desirest
    and this is the cleaving to self.
    This is thy error.
    All compound things are transitory:
    they grow and they decay.
    All compound things are subject to pain:
    they will be separated from what they love
    and be joined to what they abhor.
    All compound things lack a self, an atman, an ego."

    "How is that?" asked Kutadanta.[56]

    "Where is thy self?" asked the Buddha.
    And when Kutadanta made no reply, he continued:
    "Thy self to which thou cleavest is a constant change.
    Years ago thou wast a small babe;
    then, thou wast a boy;
    then a youth, and now, thou art a man.
    Is there any identity of the babe and the man?
    There is an identity in a certain sense only.
    Indeed there is more identity between the flames
    of the first watch and the third watch,
    even though the lamp might have been extinguished during the second watch.
    Now which is thy true self,
    that of yesterday, that of to-day, or that of to-morrow,
    for the preservation of which thou clamourest?"

    Kutadanta was bewildered.
    "Lord of the world," he said,
    "I see my error, but I am still confused." [58]

    The Tathagata continued:
    "It is by a process of evolution that sankharas come to be.
    There is no sankhara which has sprung into being without a gradual becoming.
    Thy sankharas are the product of thy deeds in former existences.
    The combination of thy sankharas is thy self.
    Wheresoever they are impressed thither thy self migrates.
    In thy sankharas thou wilt continue to live
    and thou wilt reap in future existences
    the harvest sown now and in the past."

    "Verily, O Lord," rejoined Kutadanta,
    "this is not a fair retribution.
    I cannot recognize the justice
    that others after me will reap
    what I am sowing now."

    The Blessed One waited a moment and then replied:
    "Is all teaching in vain?
    Dost thou not understand that those others are thou thyself?
    Thou thyself wilt reap what thou sowest, not others.

    "Think of a man who is ill-bred and destitute,
    suffering from the wretchedness of his condition.
    As a boy he was slothful and indolent, and when he grew up
    he had not learned a craft to earn a living.
    Wouldst thou say his misery
    is not the product of his own action,
    because the adult is no longer the same person as was the boy?

    "Verily, I say unto thee:
    Not in the heavens,
    not in the midst of the sea,
    not if thou hidest thyself away in the clefts of the mountains,
    wilt thou find a place where thou canst escape the fruit of thine evil actions.

    "At the same time thou art sure
    to receive the blessings of thy good actions.

    "The man who has long been travelling and who returns home in safety,
    the welcome of kinsfold, friends, and acquaintances awaits.
    So, the fruits of his good works bid him welcome
    who has walked in the path of righteousness,
    when he passes over from the present life into the hereafter."

    Kutadanta said:
    "I have faith in the glory and excellency of thy doctrines.
    My eye cannot as yet endure the light;
    but I now understand that there is no self,
    and the truth dawns upon me.
    Sacrifices cannot save, and invocations are idle talk.
    But how shall I find the path to life everlasting?
    I know all the Vedas by heart and have not found the truth."

    Said the Buddha:
    "Learning is a good thing; but it availeth not.
    True wisdom can be acquired by practice only.
    Practise the truth that thy brother is the same as thou.
    Walk in the noble path of righteousness
    and thou wilt understand that while there is death in self,
    there is immortality in truth."

    Said Kutadanta:
    "Let me take my refuge in the Blessed One,
    in the Dharma, and in the brotherhood.
    Accept me as thy disciple
    and let me partake of the bliss of immortality."

    End Chapter 53

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    The Gospel of Buddha
    The Gospel of Buddha
    Compiled from ancient records by Paul Carus, 1894

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