THE Blessed One proceeded with a great company of the brethren to the sala grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of Kusinara on the further side of the river Hirannavati, and when he had arrived he addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: "Make ready for me, I pray you, Ananda, the couch with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. I am weary, Ananda, and wish to lie down."
"Be it so, Lord!" said the venerable Ananda, and he spread a couch with its head to the north, between the twin sala trees. And the Blessed One laid himself down, and he was mindful and self-possessed.
Now, at that time the twin sala trees were full of bloom with flowers out of season; and heavenly songs came wafted from the skies, out of reverence for the successor of the Buddhas of old. And Ananda was filled with wonder that the Blessed One was thus honored. But the Blessed One said: "Not by such events, Ananda, is the Tathagata rightly honored, held sacred, or revered. But the devout man, who continually fulfills the greater and lesser duties, walking according to the precepts, it is who rightly honors, holds sacred, and reveres the Tathagata with the worthiest homage. Therefore, O Ananda, be ye constant in the fulfillment of the greater and of the lesser duties, and walk according to the precepts; thus, Ananda, will ye honor the Master."
Then the venerable Ananda went into the vihara, and stood leaning against the doorpost, weeping at the thought: "Alas! I remain still but a learner, one who has yet to work out his own perfection. And the Master is about to pass away from me-who is so kind!"
Now, the Blessed One called the brethren, and said: "Where, O brethren, is Ananda?" One of the brethren went and called Ananda. And Ananda came and said to the Blessed One: "Deep darkness reigned for want of wisdom; the world of sentient creatures was groping for want of light; then the Tathagata lit up the lamp of wisdom, and now it will be extinguished again, ere he has brought it out."
The Blessed One said to the venerable Ananda, as he sat there by his side: "Enough, Ananda! Let not thy self be troubled; do not weep! Have I not already, on former occasions, told you that it is in the very nature of all things most near and dear unto us that we must separate from them and leave them? The foolish man conceives the idea of 'self,' the wise man sees there is no ground on which to build the idea of 'self,' thus he has a right conception of the world and well concludes that all compounds amassed by sorrow will be dissolved again, but the truth will remain. Why should I preserve this body of flesh, when the body of the excellent law will endure? I am resolved; having accomplished my purpose and attended to the work set me, I look for rest! For a long time, Ananda, thou hast been very near to me by thoughts and acts of such love as is beyond all measure. Thou hast done well, Ananda! Be earnest in effort and thou too shalt soon be free from evils, from sensuality, from selfishness, from delusion, and from ignorance!"
Ananda, suppressing his tears, said to the Blessed One: "Who shall teach us when thou art gone?"
And the Blessed One replied: "I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax, and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure; such as I now proclaim."
Ananda said: "How shall we know him?" The Blessed One said: "He will be known as Metteyya, which means 'he whose name is kindness.'"