BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

Buddha and the gospel of Buddhism

by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy


Gautama, who was now Buddha, the Enlightened, remained seated and motionless for seven days, realizing the bliss of Nibbana; and thereafter rising, he remained standing for seven days more, steadfastly regarding the spot where had been won the fruit of countless deeds of heroic virtue performed in past births: then for seven days more he paced to and fro along a cloistered path from West to East, extending from the throne beneath the Wisdom Tree to the place of the Steadfast Gazing; and again for seven days he remained seated in a god-wrought pavilion near to the same place, and there reviewed in detail, book by book, all that is taught in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, as well as the whole doctrine of causality; then for seven days more he sat beneath the Nigrodha tree of Sujata's offering, meditating on the doctrine and the sweetness of Nibbana—and according to some books it was at this time the temptation by the daughters of Mara took place;

and then for seven days more while a terrible storm was raging, the snake king Mucalinda sheltered him with his sevenfold hood; and for seven days more he sat beneath a Rajayatana tree, still enjoying the sweetness of liberation.

And so passed away seven weeks, during which the Buddha experienced no bodily wants, but fed on the joy of contemplation, the joy of the Eightfold Path, and the joy of its fruit, Nibbana.

Only upon the last day of the seven weeks he desired to bathe and eat, and receiving water and a tooth-stick from the god Sakka, the Buddha bathed his face and seated himself at the foot of a tree. Now at that time two Brahman merchants were travelling with a caravan from Orissa to the middle country, and a Deva, who had been a blood relation of the merchants' in a former life, stopped the carts, and moved their hearts to make an offering of rice and honey cakes to the Lord. They went up to him accordingly, saying: "O Blessed One, have mercy upon us, and accept this food." Now the Buddha no longer possessed a bowl, and as the Buddhas never receive an offering in their hands, he reflected how he should take it. Immediately the Four Great Kings, the Regents of the Quarters appeared before him, each of them with a bowl; and in order that none of them should be disappointed, the Buddha received the four bowls, and placing them one above the other made them to be one, showing only the four lines round the mouth, and in this bowl the Blessed One received the food, and ate it, and gave thanks. The two merchants took refuge in the Buddha, the Norm, and the Order, and became professed disciples. Then the Buddha rose up and returned again to the tree of Sujata's offering and there took his seat. And there, reflecting upon the depth of truth which he had found, a doubt arose in his mind whether it would be possible to make it known to others: and this doubt is experienced by every Buddha when he becomes aware of the Truth. But Maha Brahma exclaiming: "Alas! the world will be altogether lost!" came thither in haste, with all the Deva hosts, and besought the Master to proclaim the Truth; and he granted their prayer.1

The First Turning of the Wheel of the Law Then he considered to whom he should first reveal the Truth, and he remembered Alara, his former teacher, and Uddaka, thinking that these great sages would quickly comprehend it; but upon close reflection he discovered that each of them had recently died. Then he thought of the Five Wanderers who had been his disciples, and upon reflection he saw that they were then residing in the Deer Park at Isipatana in Benares, and he resolved to go there. When the Five Wanderers, whose chief was Kondanna, perceived the Buddha afar off, they said together: "My friends, here comes Gautama the Bhikkhu. We owe him no reverence, since he has returned to a free use of the necessaries of life, and has recovered his strength, and beauty. However, as he is well-born, let us prepare him a seat." But the Blessed One perceived their thought,

1 "Great truths do not take hold of the hearts of the masses. . . . And now, as all the world is in error, I, though I know the true path—how shall I, how shall I guide? If I know that I cannot succeed and yet try to force success, this would be but another source of error. Better, then, to desist and strive no more. But if I strive not, who will ?"— Chuang Tzu. It is highly characteristic of the psychology of genius that when this doubt assails the Buddha he nevertheless immediately responds to a definite request for guidance; the moment the pupil puts the right questions, the teacher's doubts are resolved.

Plate B 38

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