THE Blessed One having dwelt some time in Uruvela went to Rajagaha, accompanied by a number of bhikkhus, many of whom had been Jatilas before. The great Kassapa, chief of the Jatilas and formerly a fire worshiper, went with him.
When the Magadha king, Seniya Bimbisara, heard of the arrival of Gotama Sakyamuni, of whom the people said, "He is the Holy One, the blessed Buddha, guiding men as a driver curbs bullocks, the teacher of high and low," he went out surrounded with his counselors and generals and came to the grove where the Blessed One was. There they saw the Blessed One in the company of Kassapa, the great religious teacher of the Jatilas, and they were astonished and thought: "Has the great Sakyamuni placed himself under the spiritual direction of Kassapa, or has Kassapa become a disciple of Gotama?"
The Tathagata, reading the thoughts of the people, said to Kassapa: "What knowledge hast thou gained, O Kassapa, and what has induced thee to renounce the sacred fire and give up thine austere penances?"
Kassapa said: "The profit I derived from adoring the fire was continuance in the wheel of individuality with all its sorrows and vanities. This service I have cast away, and instead of continuing penances and sacrifices I have gone in quest of the highest Nirvana. Since I have seen the light of truth, I have abandoned worshiping the fire."
The Buddha, perceiving that the whole assembly was ready as a vessel to receive the doctrine, spoke thus to Bimbisara the king: "He who knows the nature of self and understands how the senses act, finds no room for selfishness, and thus he will attain peace unending. The world holds the thought of self, and from this arises false apprehension. Some say that the self endures after death, some say it perishes. Both are wrong and their error is most grievous. For if they say the self is perishable, the fruit they strive for will perish too, and at some time there will be no hereafter. Good and evil would be indifferent. This salvation from selfishness is without merit.
"When some, on the other hand, say the self will not perish, then in the midst of all life and death there is but one identity unborn and undying. If such is their self, then it is perfect and cannot be perfected by deeds. The lasting, imperishable self could never be changed. self would be lord and master, and there would be no use in perfecting the perfect; moral aims and salvation would be unnecessary.
"But now we see the marks of joy and sorrow. Where is any constancy? If there is no permanent self that does our deeds, then there is no self; there is no actor behind our actions, no perceiver behind our perception, no lord behind our deeds.
"Now attend and listen: The senses meet the object and from their contact sensation is born. Thence results recollection. Thus, as the sun's power through a burning-glass causes fire to appear, so through the cognizance born of sense and object, the mind originates and with it the ego, the thought of self, whom some Brahman teachers call the lord. The shoot springs from the seed; the seed is not the shoot; both are not one and the same, but successive phases in a continuous growth. Such is the birth of animated life.
"Ye that are slaves of the self and toil in its service from morn until night, ye that live in constant fear of birth, old age, sickness, and death, receive the good tidings that your cruel master exists not. Self is an error, an illusion, a dream. Open your eyes and awaken. See things as they are and ye will be comforted. He who is awake will no longer be afraid of nightmares. He who has recognized the nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent will cease to tremble.
"He who has found there is no self will let go all the lusts and desires of egotism. The cleaving to things, covetousness, and sensuality inherited from former existences, are the causes of the misery and vanity in the world. Surrender the grasping disposition of selfishness, and you will attain to that calm state of mind which conveys perfect peace, goodness, and wisdom."
And the Buddha breathed forth this solemn utterance:
"Do not deceive, do not despise
Each other, anywhere.
Do not be angry, and do not
Secret resentment bear;
For as a mother risks her life
And watches over her child,
So boundless be your love to all,
So tender, kind and mild.
"Yea cherish good-will right and left,
For all, both soon and late,
And with no hindrance, with no stint,
From envy free and hate;
While standing, walking, sitting down,
Forever keep in mind:
The rule of life that's always best
Is to be loving-kind.
"Gifts are great, the founding of viharas is meritorious, meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart, comprehension of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is loving-kindness. As the light of the moon is sixteen times stronger than the light of all the stars, so loving-kindness is sixteen times more efficacious in liberating the heart than all other religious accomplishments taken together. This state of heart is the best in the world. Let a man remain steadfast in it while he is awake, whether he is standing, walking, sitting, or lying down."
When the Enlightened One had finished his sermon, the Magadha king said to the Blessed One: "In former days, Lord, when I was a prince, I cherished five wishes. I wished: O, that I might be inaugurated as a king. This was my first wish, and it has been fulfilled. Further, I wished: Might the Holy Buddha, the Perfect One, appear on earth while I rule and might he come to my kingdom. This was my second wish and it is fulfilled now. Further I wished: Might I pay my respects to him. This was my third wish and it is fulfilled now. The fourth wish was: Might the Blessed One preach the doctrine to me, and this is fulfilled now.
"The greatest wish, however, was the fifth wish: Might I understand the doctrine of the Blessed One. And this wish is fulfilled too.
"Glorious Lord! Most glorious is the truth preached by the Tathagata! Our Lord, the Buddha, sets up what has been overturned; he reveals what has been hidden; he points out the way to the wanderer who has gone astray; he lights a lamp in the darkness so that those who have eyes to see may see. I take my refuge in the Buddha. I take my refuge in the Dharma. I take my refuge in the Sangha."
The Tathagata, by the exercise of his virtue and by wisdom, showed his unlimited spiritual power. He subdued and harmonized all minds. He made them see and accept the truth, and throughout the kingdom the seeds of virtue were sown.