In what does the practice of faith (çraddhâ) consist?
This part of the Discourse is intended for those beings who have not yet entered into the order of constant truth (samyaktvaniyata-râçi).
What is meant by faith? How should one practise faith?
There are four aspects of faith. [As to faith in general]: (1) To believe in the fundamental [truth], that is, to think joyfully of suchness (bhûtatathatâ). [As to particular faiths:] (2) To believe in the Buddha as sufficingly enveloping infinite merits, that is, to rejoice in worshipping him, in paying homage to him, in making offerings to him, in hearing the good doctrine (saddharma), in disciplining oneself according to the doctrine, and in aspiring after omniscience (sarvajñâna). (3) To believe in the Dharma as having great benefits, that is, to rejoice always in practising all pâramitâs. (4) To believe in the Samgha as observing true morality, that is, to be ready to make offerings to the congregation of Bodhisattvas, and to practise truthfully all those deeds which are beneficial at once to oneself and others.
Faith will be perfected by practising the following five deeds: (1) charity (dâna); (2) morality (çîla),(3) patience (kshânti); (4) energy (vîrya); (5) cessation [or tranquilisation, çamatha] and intellectual insight (vidarçana or vipaçyana).
How should people practise charity (dâna)?
(1) If persons come and ask them for something, they should, as far as their means allow, supply it ungrudgingly and make them rejoice in it. (2) If they see people threatened with danger, they should try every means of rescuing them and impart to them a
feeling of fearlessness (vaiçâradya). (3) If they have people who come to them desiring instruction in the Doctrine, they should, so far as they are acquainted with it, and, according to their own discretion, deliver speeches on religious discipline.
And when they are performing those three acts of charity, let them not cherish any desire for fame or advantages, nor covet any worldly rewards. Only thinking of those benefits and blessings that are at once for themselves and others, let them aspire to the most excellent, most perfect knowledge (anuttarasamyaksambodhi).
How should they practise morality (çîla)?
Those Bodhisattvas who have families [i.e., lay members of Buddhism] should abstain from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, duplicity, slander, frivolous talk, covetousness, malice, currying favor, and false doctrines. 1
In the case of Çramanas, they should, in order to vanquish all prejudices (kleça or âçrava), retire from the boisterousness of worldly life, and, abiding in solitude (aranya), should practise those deeds which lead to moderation and contentment as well as those of the Dhûtaguna. 2 Even at the violation of minor
rules (çila) they should deeply feel fear, shame, and remorse. Strictly observing all those precepts given by the Tathâgata, they should not call forth the blame or disgust of the outsider, but they should endeavor to induce all beings to abandon the evil and to practise the good. 1
How should they practise patience (kshânti)?
If they meet with the ills of life they should not
shun them. If they suffer sufferings, they should not feel afflicted. But they should always rejoice in contemplating the deepest significance of the Dharma. 1
How should they practise energy (vîrya)?
Practising all good deeds, they should never indulge in indolence (kausîdya). They should think of all their great mental and physical sufferings, which they are now vainly suffering on account of their having coveted worldly objects during their existences in innumerable former ages (kalpa), and which do not give the least nourishment to their spiritual life. They should, therefore, in order to be emancipated from those sufferings in the future, be indefatigably energetic, and never raise the thought of indolence, but endeavor, out of deep compassion (mahâkaruna), to benefit all beings. Though disciplining themselves in faith, all novice Bodhisattvas, on account of the hindrances of their evil karma (karmâvarana) produced by the violation of many important precepts in their previous existences, may sometimes be annoyed by evil Mâras, sometimes entangled in worldly engagements, sometimes threatened by various diseases. As these things will severally disturb their religious course and make them neglect practising good deeds, they should dauntlessly, energetically, unintermittently, all
six watches, day and night, pay homage to all Buddhas, make offerings (pûjâ) to them, praise them, repent and confess (kshamâ) to them, aspire to the most excellent knowledge (samyaksambodhi), make great vows (mahâpranidhâna); and thereby annihilate the hindrances of evils and increase the root of merit (kuçalamûla).
How should they practise cessation [or tranquilisation, çamatha] and intellectual insight (vidarçana or vipaçyana)?
To bring all mental states that produce frivolous sophistries to a stand is called cessation. To understand adequately the law of causality and transformation is called intellectual insight. Each of them should be practised separately by the beginner. But when by degrees he obtains facility and finally attains to perfection, the two will naturally become harmonised. 1
Those who practise cessation should dwell in solitude (âranyaka) and, sitting cross-legged 2 rectify the
attitude and pacify the mind. 1 Do not fix the thoughts on the breath (ânâpânasmrti) 2; do not fix the thoughts on the forms (samjñâ) 3 and colors; do not fix the
thoughts on space (âkâça); 1 do not fix the thoughts on earth, water, fire, and ether; 1 do not fix the thoughts on what you see, hear, learn, or memorise (vijñânakrtsnâyatana) 1. All particularisations, imaginations and recollections should be excluded from consciousness, even the idea of exclusion being excluded; because [the suchness of] all things is uncreate, eternal, and devoid of all attributes (alakshana).
[Now in the constant flux of thoughts,] that which precedes [i.e., a sensation] has been awakened by an external object; so the next [step to be taken by the practiser] is to abandon the idea of an external world. Then that which succeeds [in that constant flux of thoughts] is elaborated in his own mind; so he should in turn abandon reflexion [or thought]. In short, as his attention is distracted by the external world [outer vishaya], he is warned to turn it to inner consciousness [inner citta]; while as his retrospection in turn calls forth a succession of thoughts [or ideal associations], he is again warned not to attach himself to the latter; because, independent of suchness, they [thoughts] have no existence of their own.
At all times, while moving, standing, sitting, or
lying, the practiser should constantly discipline himself as above stated. Gradually entering the samâdhi of suchness, 1 he will finally vanquish all prejudices (kleça or âçrava), be strengthened in faith (çraddhâ),--and immediately attain to the state of never-returning (avaivartikatva). But those who are sceptical, sacrilegious, destitute of faith, encumbered with the hindrances (âvarana) of karma, arrogant, or indolent, are not entitled to enter therein.
And again when the practiser by virtue of his samâdhi 2 attains an immediate insight into the nature of the universe (dharmadhâtu), he will recognise that the Dharmakâya of all Tathâgatas and the body of all beings are one and the same (samatâ), are consubstantial (ekalakshana). On that account it is also called the samâdhi of oneness (ekalakshanasamâdhi). By disciplining oneself in this samâdhi, one can obtain infinite
samâdhis, because suchness is the source of all samâdhis.
Some people scantily supplied with the root of merit (kuçalamûla) may yield to the temptation of Mâras, tîrthakas, or evil spirits. [For instance] those evil ones sometimes assuming horrible forms may frighten the practiser; sometimes manifesting themselves in beautiful figures, they may fascinate him; 1 sometimes appearing in form of a deva, or of a Boddhisattva, or even of a Buddha with all his excellent and magnified features, 2 they may speak about dhârani 3 or the pâramitâ, or may give instructions about various means of emancipation (mukti), declaring that there is no hatred, no friendship, no causation, no
retribution, or declaring that all things in the world are absolute nothingness (atyantaçûnyatâ), that they are in their essence Nirvâna itself. Or they may reveal to the practiser his own past and future states of existence, they may teach him to read the thoughts of others, 1 may grant him incomparable power of eloquence, may induce him to crave covetously for worldly fame and advantages.
Further, through the influence of those evil ones the practiser may sometimes be inordinately susceptible to dissatisfaction or delight; he may sometimes be too misanthropic or too philanthropic; he may sometimes be inclined to enjoy drowsiness; he may sometimes not sleep for a long time; he may sometimes be affected by diseases; be may sometimes remain discouraged and indolent; he may sometimes rise all on a sudden with full energy, but only to sink down again into languor; he may sometimes, being over-sceptical, not believe in anything; he may sometimes, abandoning the excellent religious observance, enjoy himself in frivolous occupations, indulge in worldly affairs, gratify his desires and inclinations;
he may sometimes attain to the samâdhi of heretics [i.e., tîrthaka] and, remaining in a state of trance a day or two, or even seven, and being supplied imaginarily with some palatable food and drink, and feeling very comfortable mentally and physically, he may have no sensation of hunger or thirst; 1 he may sometimes be induced to enjoy female fascinations; he may sometimes be very irregular in taking meals, either too much or too little; he may sometimes look either very handsome or very ugly in appearance.
If the practiser get enraptured by those visions and prejudices (kleça), he will lose his root of merit (kuçalamûla) accumulated in his previous existences. Therefore he should exercise a deep and thorough contemplation, thinking that all those [heretical states of samâdhi] are the temptations of Mâras or evil spirits that take advantage of his deficiency in merits and his intensity of karma-hindrances (karmâvarana).
After this thought he should make another thought, viz., that all these are nothing but mental hallucinations. When he makes these thoughts, the visions and imaginations will instantly disappear, and, becoming free from all attributes [of limitation], be will enter into the true samâdhi. He has then not only liberated himself from all modes of subjectivity, he has also effaced the idea of suchness. Even when
he rises up from a deep meditation, no visionary images, no prejudices will take possession of in his mind, since he has destroyed the root of illusion through the power of the samâdhi. On the contrary, all the excellent and virtuous deeds which are in conformity with suchness will be constantly performed by him, while all hindrances without exception will be removed by him, who now exhibiting great spiritual energy will never become exhausted. 1
Those who do not practise this kind of samâdhi will not be able to enter into the essence of the Tathâgata, for all other samâdhis practised in common with the tîrthakas have invariably some attributes [of imperfection] and do not enable one to come into the presence of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore let Bodhisattvas [who aspire to the highest knowledge] assiduously apply themselves to the discipline and attain to the perfection of this samâdhi.
Those who practise this samâdhi will procure in their present life ten beneficial results:
1. They will always be remembered and guarded by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in all quarters.
2. They will not be molested by Mâras or evil spirits.
3. They will not be led astray by false doctrines. 1
4. They will be free from disparaging the deepest Doctrine (gambhîradharma). Their serious misdemeanors as well as their karma-hindrances will be attenuated.
5 . They will destroy all doubts, sinful recollections, and contemplations.
6. They will be strengthened in their belief in the spiritual state of Tathâgata.
7. They will be liberated from gloomy remorse; they will be courageous and unflinching in the face of birth and death.
8. Being free from arrogance and presumptuousness, they will be meek and patient and will be revered by all the world.
9. If not practising deep meditation, those prejudices (âçrava) which are now getting weaker, will not assert themselves in them.
10. While practising meditation, they will not be disturbed by any external objects, such as voices, sounds, etc.
But mind: when the practiser is trained only in cessation (çamatha), his mind will sink down into stupidity, and acquiring a habit of indolence, cannot rejoice in doing good acts, as he will estrange himself from deep compassion (mahâkaruna). Accordingly he should discipline himself in intellectual insight (vidarçana) as well.
In what does this discipline consist?
The practiser should contemplate that all things in the world are subject to a constant transformation, that since they are transient they are misery, that since they are misery they are not things-in-themselves [i.e., atman]. 1
He should contemplate that all things in the past are like a dream, those in the present are like the lightning, those in the future are like clouds that spontaneously come into existence.
He should contemplate that all that has a body is impure, being a lodging place of obnoxious vermin and the intermixture of prejudices (âçrava).
Contemplate that ignorant minds, on account of their groundless imagination, take the unreal as they see it, for reality.
Contemplate that all objects which come into existence by a combination of various causes (pratyaya)
are like a chimera, having [only a transitory existence and] no [genuine] realness at all.
Contemplate that the highest truth (paramârthasatya) is not a production of mind [or subjectivity], cannot be [fully] illustrated by analogy, cannot be [exhaustively] treated by reasoning. 1
Contemplate that on account of the perfuming power of ignorance (avidya) all beings from eternity suffer great mental and physical sufferings in immeasurable ways; that those immeasurable and innumerable sufferings are suffered in the present and will be suffered in the future that while it is extremely difficult to disentangle, to emancipate themselves from those sufferings, all beings always abiding in the midst of them are not conscious of the fact, and this makes them the more pitiable.
After these contemplations the practiser should awake positive knowledge [or unerring understanding], feel the highest and deepest compassion (karunâ) for all suffering beings, rouse dauntless energy, and make great vows (mahâpranidhâna) as follows:
"May my mind be freed from all contradictions; may I abandon particularisation; may I personally attend on all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, whom I shall pay homage to, make offerings to, revere and praise, and to whose instructions in the good Doctrine (saddharma) I shall listen; may I truthfully discipline myself according to their teachings, and to the end of
the future never be negligent in self-discipline; may I with innumerable expediencies (upâya) [of salvation] deliver all beings who are drowned in the sea of misery, and bring them to the highest bliss of Nirvâna."
After these vows the practiser should at all times, so far as his energy permits, practise those deeds which are beneficial both to himself and others. While moving, standing, sitting, or lying, he should assiduously meditate what should be done and what should be avoided. This is called the practising of intellectual insight (vidarçana or vipaçyana).
And again when the practiser disciplines himself only in intellectual insight his mind may lack tranquilisation, and becoming too susceptible to scepticism, may not be in accord with the highest truth, may not attain to the wisdom of non-particularisation. Therefore cessation and intellectual insight should be practised side by side. He should consider that nothing is self-existent (svabhâva), and things [in their essence] are uncreate, eternally tranquil, and Nirvâna itself. But at the same time let him not forget to reflect that karma and its retribution, both good and evil, being produced by a co-operation of principle and conditions, will neither be lost nor destroyed. He should thus ponder on the law of causation, both in its good and evil karma and retribution, but at the same time lei him not forget to perceive that all things, though in their essence uncreate, have no self-existence, etc., they are Nirvâna.
By practising cessation, common people (prthagjana) will be cured of finding pleasures in worldliness, while Çrâvakas and Pratyekabuddhas will be cured of feeling intimidation at the thought of birth and death.
By practising intellectual insight common people will be cured of not cultivating their root of merit (kuçalamûla), while Çrâvakas and Pratyekabuddhas will be cured of narrow-mindedness whereby they cannot raise deep compassion [for mankind].
Therefore, cessation and-intellectual insight are supplementary to, not independent of, each other. If one of the two is wanting, the practiser will surely be unable to attain to the most excellent knowledge (bodhiparinishpatti).
And again when those novice Bodhisattvas who are living in this present life [sahâlokadhâtu, i.e., the enduring world of actual existence], may sometimes suffer misfortunes that are caused by climate, weather, unforeseen famine, or what not; and when they witness those people who are immoral, fearful, infatuated with the three venomous passions (akuçalamûla), cling to false and self-contradictory doctrines, desert the good law and acquire evil habits; they [that is, novice Bodhisattvas], living in the midst of them, may feel so discouraged that they may come to doubt whether they can see Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, whether they can actualise their pure and spotless faith (çraddhâ).
Therefore, it is advisable for those novices to cherish
this thought: All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten quarters having great, unimpeded supernatural powers (abhijñâ), are able to emancipate all suffering beings by means of various expediencies that are good and excellent (upâyakauçalya).
After this reflexion, they should make great vows (mahâpranidhâna), and with full concentration of spiritual powers think of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas When they have such a firm conviction, free from all doubts, they will assuredly be able to be born in the Buddha-country beyond (buddha-kshetra), when they pass away from this present life, and seeing there Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to complete their faith and to eternally escape from all evil creations (apâya). 1
Therefore, it is said in the Sûtra 2 that if devoted
men and women would be filled with concentration of thought, think of Amitâbha Buddha in the world of highest happiness (sukhâvatî) in the Western region, and direct (parinâma) all the root of their good work toward being born there, they would assuredly be born there.
Thus always seeing Buddhas there, their faith will be strengthened, and they will never relapse therefrom. Receiving instruction in the doctrine, and recognising the Dharmakâya of the Buddha, they will by gradual discipline be able to enter upon the state of truth [i.e., Buddhahood] (samyaktva-râçi).
129:1 Açvaghosha evidently refers to the ten virtues (daçakuçalâni), for which see p. 114, though this list counts more than ten.
129:2 There are twelve dhûtagunas or dhûtagangas to be observed by Bhikshus; dhûta means shaking off, that is, shaking off the dust of evil passions: (1) Paindapâtika, the rule to live on whatever food they can get by begging from door to door, that they p. 130 may become free from egotism. (2) Traicîvarika, the rule allowing the possession of three clothings: Samghâti, dress made of scraps; Uttarasamghâti, outer robe; Antaravâsaka, something like skirt. (3) Khalupaçcâdbhahtika, the prohibition of taking any food or beverage when the proper time is over, lest their attention should be disturbed. (4) Naishadhyika, to be in a sitting attitude while sleeping, that they may not become over-indolent. (5) Yathâsamstarika, spreading a night-couch where they happen to be. (6) Vrkshamûlika, sitting under a tree. (7) Ekâsanika, taking one meal in a day, that their mental energy may not be weakened by eating too often. (8) Abhyavakâçika, living in an unsheltered place. (9) Aranyaka, leading a solitary, retired life in the wood. (10) Cmâçânaka, abiding in or by a cemetery, that they may constantly ponder on the transiency and uncleanliness of bodily existence. (11) Pâmskûlika, the wearing of the dress made of rags or remnants, that they may have no attachment to luxury. (12) Nâmatika, wearing cloth made of hair. There is a Sûtra named Twelve Dhûtagunas among the Chinese collection of the Tripitaka. The list in that book is a little different from what we have here; the fifth and twelfth are dropped and instead of them we have the rule of begging in due order, corresponding to Sâpadâna-cârikâ in the Pâli list, and the rule of prohibiting taking too much food at one time, which overtaxing the stomach will obscure the clearness of mind.
130:1 The reference is to the threefold precept (trividhaçîla) which is (1) the precept of good behavior (sambhâraçîla); (2) the precept of accumulating virtues (kuçalasamgrâhaçîla); (3) the precept of being benevolent towards all beings (sattvârthakriyâçîla).
131:1 The older translation reads: "Patiently bearing evils inflicted by others, they should not cherish any idea of revenge. They should also bear such [worldly vicissitudes] as prosperity and decline, reprehension and commendation, renown and defamation, worry and ease, etc."
132:1 Observe that cessation should be practised by the beginner, and for a time only, for the purpose of affording the mind an appreciation of suchness in its purity; the conception of this state of abstraction should then be harmonised with intellectual insight. Observe also that the methods of Indian recluses, such as fixing the breath and going into trances by fixing the thoughts on objects, are rejected as improper. The practice should assist a beginner to understand that suchness, though all particulars are dependent on it, is in its purity a reality.
132:2 Those who practise this have to place the left leg above the right with both close to the body, so that the toes of the left foot shall rest on the right thigh, and those of the right foot on the left thigh, while the soles are turned upwards. This posture is considered to be the best adapted for meditation or for obtaining mental equilibrium.
133:1 Among the followers of the Dhyâna sect both in Japan and China, it is customary, while sitting cross-legged and meditating on religious subjects, to expand the abdomen outwards and to breathe very slowly, by which they can, in their opinion, most effectively concentrate their attention and gain perfect mental equilibrium. Prof. J. M. Baldwin in his Mental Development says in connexion with bashfulness and modesty, p. 205 footnote: ''The only way that I, for one, can undo this distressing outgo of energy, and relieve these uncomfortable inhibitions, is to expand the abdomen by a strong muscular effort and at the same time breathe in as deeply as I can. . . . The comparative relief found in expanding the abdominal muscles is probably due to the fact that it allows the contents of the body to fall, and so relieves the heart from any artificial pressure which may be upon it from the surrounding organs. Further the increased heart-action which is itself a part of shyness requires all the space it can get."
133:2 One of the eight subjects of recollection (anusmrti), or of the five methods of mental pacification. The eight subjects are: (1) Buddha; (2) dharma; (3) samgha; (4) çîla, morality; (5) câga or tyâga, liberality; (6) deva, gods; (7) ânâpâna, regulation of inspiration and respiration; (8) marana, death. The five methods are: (1) Açubhabhâvanâ, contemplation on the impurity of the body; (2) maitrîkarunâ, love and compassion; (3) ânâpânasmrti, the regulation of inspiration and respiration; (4) nidâna, law of transformation; (5) buddhasmrti, recollection on Buddha.
133:3 There are nine Açbhasamjnâs, notions arising from the contemplation of the impurity of a dead body, which is intended to convince one of the fact that our body is not worth while clinging to: (1) Swelling (vyâdhmataka); (2) fissuring from decay (vipayaka); (3) bloody (vilohita); (4) festering (vipadumaka); (5) blackish (vinîlaka); (6) being devoured by animals (vikhâditaka); (7) scattering (vikshiptaka); (8) bone (asthi); (9) burned up (vidagdhaka). The Pâli Açubhas count one more.
134:1 These constitute the ten Krtsâyatanas which are: (1) Blue (nîla); (2) yellow (pîta); (3) red (lohita); (4) white (avadâta); (5) earth (prtivî); (6) water (ap); (7) fire (tejas); (8) air (vâyu); (9) space (âkâsa); (10) consciousness (vijñâna). The term Krtsâyâtana means an universal object or element on which the attention of a samâdhi-practiser is to be fixed.
135:1 That is, perfect identification of oneself with suchness.
135:2 Samâdhi is commonly rendered by ecstasy, trance, concentration, or meditation, all of which are misleading. The term means mental equilibrium, and the reasons why Buddhism recommends the practising of it are, that it helps us in keeping our minds free from disturbance, that it prepares us for a right comprehension of the nature of things, that it subjugates momentary impulses, giving us time for deliberation. Ecstasy or trance, instead of producing those benefits, will lead us to a series of hallucinations, and this is the very opposite of mental quietude. Rhys Davids thinks samâdhi corresponds to faith in Christianity (S. B. E., XI., p. 145), and S. Beal agrees with him in his translation of Açvaghosha's Buddhacarita; but I doubt its correctness for the above-stated reasons.
136:1 The older translation has the following passage inserted here. "If he [the practiser] remembers that these are merely subjective, the phenomena will disappear by themselves and will no more trouble him."
136:2 Buddha is supposed to have thirty-two general and eighty minor marks of bodily perfection. For particulars see the Dharmasamgraha, pp. 18, 19, 51 et seq., edited by Kasawara Kenjiu.
136:3 Dhârani, which comes from the root dhr, meaning to bold, to maintain, to retain, to support, etc., is the name given to any concise statement describing Buddha's virtue, or stating some essential points of Buddhist teachings, or expressing supplication, or containing the exclamations of a vehement feeling; and it implies many significances in a few words, it is a kind of epigram. But later Buddhists came to use the term in quite a different sense; they called a dhârani any tantric expression which was considered to have some mysterious, supernatural powers to bring wealth to destroy enemies, to keep away calamities, etc., etc. Here dhârani means simply any epigrammatic proposition which will serve as a key to the deep significance of the Doctrine.
137:1 Some of these miraculous powers here mentioned are considered to be possessed by the Arhat. Six supernatural faculties (abhijnâ) are commonly enumerated: (1) divine eyes (divyacakshu) by which the Arhat perceives all that is occurring in the world; (2) the divine hearing (divyaçrotra), by which he hears all sounds in the world; (3) reading the thoughts of others (paracittajnâna); (4) memory of his former lives (pûrvanivâsânu-smrti); (5) miraculous powers (rddhi); (6) knowledge how to destroy evil passions (âçravakshaya).
138:1 This apparently alludes to the Yoga-praxis, by which man is said to be able to perform several sorts of miracles beside those mentioned here.
139:1 The two preceding paragraphs read in the older translation as follows: "On this account, the practiser, always exercising intellectual insight, should save his mind from being entangled in the netting of falsity; he should, dwelling in right contemplation, not cling or attach [to any object], and thereby he will be able to liberate himself from all kinds of karma-hindrance. It should be known that all samâdhis practised by heretics [i.e., tîrthaka] are invariably the production of the (egoistic] conception and desire and self-assumption, that they are hankering after worldly renown advantages, and reverence. The samâdhi of suchness [on the other hand] has nothing to do with subjectivity and attachment. If one is free from indolence even when rising from meditation one's prejudices will by degrees get attenuated."
140:1 The older translation reads: "the ninety-five heretical doctrines."
141:1 The idea is: that which is transient is dependent, conditional and not self-regulating; and that which is without freedom is necessarily miserable, that is to say, it has no self-regulating Atman within itself.
142:1 The last three clauses are missing in the older translation.
145:1 The same idea of salvation is expressed in the Bhagavadgîtâ, Chap. VIII., p. 78: "And he who leaves this body and departs (from this world) remembering me in (his) last moment, comes into my essence. There is no doubt of that. . . . Therefore at all times remember me. . . . Fixing your mind and understanding on me you will come to me, there is no doubt He who thinks of the supreme divine being, O son of Prithâ! with the mind not (running) to other (objects), and possessed of abstraction in the shape of continuous meditation (about the Supreme) goes to him.'
145:2 It is not exactly known from what Sûtra this passage is taken, but it is not difficult to discover similar passages in the Sûtras which constitute the canonical books of the Sukhâvatî sect, i.e., in the larger or smaller Sukhâvatî-vyûha, or in the Amitâyurdhyâna. I here quote such a passage from Max Müller's English translation of the larger Sukhâvatî-vyûha-Sûtra, Sec. XXVII.: "And if, O Ânanda, any son or daughter of a good family should wish--What?--How then may I see that Tathâgata Amitâbha visibly, then he must raise his thought on to the highest perfect knowledge, he must direct his thought with perseverance and excessive p. 146 desire towards that Buddha country, and direct the stock of his good works towards being born there." As I noticed elsewhere, if those Mahâyâna texts had been considered at the time of Açvaghosha, that is, in the first century after or before Christ, as a genuine teaching of Buddha, then it would have to be admitted, it seems to me, that the Mahâyâna system existed at an early stage of the development of Buddhism, most probably side by side with Hînayânism, which is generally supposed by Pâli scholars to be more primitive. But the history of Buddhism in India as a whole is still veiled with dark clouds of uncertainty, in spite of the fact that quite a few original Sanskrit texts have been recovered.