Gospel of Buddha


Gautama Siddhartha

(The Original Buddha)  


I have taught the truth which is excellent in the beginning,
excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end;
it is glorious in its spirit and glorious in its letter.
But simple as it is, the people cannot understand it.
I must speak to them in their own language.
I must adapt my thoughts to their thoughts.
They are like unto children, and love to hear tales.
Therefore, I will tell them stories to explain the glory of the Dharma.
If they cannot grasp the truth in the abstract arguments by which I have reached it,
they may nevertheless come to understand it, if it is illustrated in parables.




All things are made of one essence,
yet things are different according to the forms
which they assume under different impressions.
As they form themselves so they act,
and as they act so they are.

It is as if a potter made different vessels out of the same clay.
Some of these pots are to contain sugar,
others rice, others curds and milk;
others still are vessels of impurity.
There is no diversity in the clay used;
the diversity of the pots is only due
to the moulding hands of the potter
who shapes them for the various uses
that circumstances may require.

And as all things originate from one essence,
so they are developing according to one law
and they are destined to one aim which is Nirvana.

Nirvana comes to you,
when you understand thoroughly,
and when you live according to your understanding,
that all things are of one essence
and that there is but one law.
Hence, there is but one Nirvana
as there is but one truth,
not two or three.

And the Tathagata is the same unto all beings,
differing in his attitude only
in so far as all beings are different. 

The Tathagata recreates the whole world
like a cloud shedding its waters without distinction.
He has the same sentiments
for the high as for the low,
for the wise as for the ignorant,
for the noble-minded as for the immoral. 

The great cloud full of rain
comes up in this wide universe
covering all countries and oceans
to pour down its rain everywhere,
over all grasses, shrubs, trees
of various species, families of plants
of different names growing on the earth,
on the hills, on the mountains, or in the valleys.

Then, the grasses, shrubs, herbs and wild trees
suck the water emitted from that great cloud
which is all of one essence
and has been abundantly poured down;
and they will, according to their nature,
acquire a proportionate development,
shooting up and producing blossoms
and their fruits in season. 

Rooted in one and the same soil,
all those families of plants and germs
are quickened by water of the same essence. 

The Tathagata, however, knows the law whose essence is salvation,
and whose end is the peace of Nirvana.
He is the same to all,
and yet knowing the requirements of every single being,
he does not reveal himself to all alike.
He does not impart to them at once the fullness of omniscience,
but pays attention to the disposition of various beings.




I have obtained deliverance by the extinction of self.
My body is chastened, my mind is free from desire,
and the deepest truth has taken abode in my heart.
I have obtained Nirvana,
and this is the reason that my countenance is serene and my eyes are bright.
I now desire to found the kingdom of truth upon earth,
to give light to those who are enshrouded in darkness
and to open the gate of deathlessness.

I have recognized the deepest truth,
which is sublime and peace-giving,
but difficult to understand;
for most men move in a sphere of worldly interests
and find their delights in worldly desires.

The worldly person will not understand the doctrine,
for to him there is happiness in selfhood only,
and the bliss that lies in a complete surrender to truth
is unintelligible to him.

What the enlightened mind considers the purest joy, he will call resignation.
Where the perfected one finds immortality, he will see annihilation.
What the conqueror of self knows to be life everlasting, he will regard as death  

The truth remains hidden from him who is in the bondage of hate and desire.
Nirvana remains incomprehensible and mysterious
to the vulgar whose minds are beclouded with worldly interests.
Should I preach the doctrine and mankind not comprehend it,
it would bring me only fatigue and trouble.




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. 

Self is an error, an illusion, a dream.
Open your eyes and awaken.
See things as they are
and you 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.




The restless, busy nature of the world,
this, I declare, is at the root of pain.
Attain that composure of mind
which is resting in the peace of immortality.
Self is but a heap of composite qualities,
and its world is empty like a fantasy.

Who is it that shapes our lives?
Is it Isvara, a personal creator?
If Isvara be the maker,
all living things should have to submit to their maker's power.
They would be like vessels formed by the potter's hand;
and if this were so, how would it be possible to practise virtue?

If the world had been made by Isvara
there should be no such thing as sorrow, or calamity, or evil;
for both pure and impure deeds must come from him.
If not, there would be another cause beside him,
and he would not be self-existent.
Thus, you see, the thought of Isvara is overthrown. 

Again, it is said that the Absolute has created us.
But that which is absolute cannot be a cause.
All things around us come from a cause
as the plant comes from the seed;
but how can the Absolute be the cause of all things alike?
If it pervades them, then, certainly, it does not make them.

Again, it is said that Self is the maker.
But if self is the maker, why did it not make things pleasing?
The causes of sorrow and joy are real and objective.
How can they have been made by self?

Again, if we adopt the argument that there is no maker,
our fate is such as it is, and there is no causation,
what use would there be in shaping our lives
and adjusting means to an end?

Therefore, we argue that all things that exist are not without cause.
However, neither Isvara, nor the absolute, nor the self,
nor causeless chance, is the maker,
but our deeds produce results both good and evil
according to the law of causation.

Let us, then, abandon the heresy of worshipping Isvara and of praying to him;
let us no longer lose ourselves in vain speculations of profitless subtleties;
let us surrender self and all selfishness,
and as all things are fixed by causation,
let us practise good so that good may result from our actions.



Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise,
it remains a fact, and the fixed and necessary constitution of being,
that all conformations are transitory.
This fact a Buddha discovers and masters,
and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are transitory.

Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise,
it remains a fact, and a fixed and necessary constitution of being,
that all conformations are suffering.
This fact a Buddha discovers and masters,
and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are suffering.

Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise,
it remains a fact, and a fixed and necessary constitution of being,
that all conformations are lacking a self.
This fact a Buddha discovers and masters,
and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are lacking a self.




There is, O monks, a state where there is neither earth,
nor water, nor heat, nor air;
neither infinity of space nor infinity of consciousness,
nor nothingness, nor perception nor non-perception;
neither this world nor that world, neither sun nor moon.
It is the uncreate.

That, O monks, I term
neither coming nor going nor standing;
neither death nor birth.
It is without stability, without change;
it is the eternal which never originates
and never passes away.
There is the end of sorrow.

It is hard to realize the essential,
the truth is not easily perceived;
desire is mastered by him who knows,
and to him who sees aright that all things are naught.

There is, O monks,
an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed.
Were there not, O monks,
this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed,
there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed.




The Tathagata does not seek salvation in austerities,
but neither does he for that reason indulge in worldly pleasures, nor live in abundance.
The Tathagata has found the middle path. 

There are two extremes, O bhikkhus,
which the man who has given up the world ought not follow -
the habitual practice, on the one hand,
of self-indulgence which is unworthy, vain and fit only for the worldly-minded -
and the habitual practice, on the other hand,
of self-mortification, which is painful, useless and unprofitable. 

Neither abstinence from fish or flesh, nor going naked,
nor shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair,
nor dressing in a rough garment, nor covering oneself with dirt,
nor sacrificing to Agni, will cleanse a man
who is not free from delusions.

Reading the Vedas, making offering to priests,
or sacrifices to the gods, self-mortification by heat or cold,
and many such penances performed for the sake of immortality,
these do not cleanse the man who is not free from delusions.

Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry, deception, envy, self-praise,
disparaging others, superciliousness and evil intentions constitute uncleanness;
not verily the eating of flesh.

A middle path, O bhikkhus,
avoiding the two extremes, discovered by the Tathagata -
a path which opens the eyes, and bestows understanding,
which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom,
to full enlightenment, to Nirvana!

Let me teach you, O bhikkhus, the middle path,
which keeps aloof from both extremes.
By suffering, the emaciated devotee produces confusion
and sickly thoughts in his mind.
Mortification is not conducive even to worldly knowledge;
how much less to a triumph over the senses! 

He who fills the lamp with water will not dispel the darkness,
and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail.
How can anyone be free from self by leading a wretched life,
if he does not succeed in quenching the fires of lust,
if he still hankers after either worldly or heavenly pleasures.
But he in whom self has become extinct is free from lust;
he will desire neither worldly nor heavenly pleasures,
and the satisfaction of his natural wants will not defile him.
However, let him be moderate,
let him eat and drink according to the needs of the body.

Sensuality is enervating; the self-indulgent man is a slave to his passions,
and pleasure-seeking is degrading and vulgar. 

But to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil.
To keep the body in good health is a duty,
for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom,
and keep our mind strong and clear.
Water surrounds the lotus-flower,
but does not wet its petals. 

This is the middle path, O bhikkhus,
that keeps aloof from both extremes.




We are encompassed on all sides by the rocks of birth,
old age, disease, and death,
and only by considering and practising the true law
can we escape from this sorrow-piled mountain.

What profit, then, in practising iniquity? 

All who are wise spurn the pleasures of the body.
They are disgusted with lust
and seek instead to promote their spiritual existence.

When a tree is burning with fierce flames,
how can the birds congregate therein?
Truth cannot dwell where passion lives.
He who does not know this,
though he be a learned man
and be praised by others as a sage,
is beclouded with ignorance.

To him who has this knowledge true wisdom dawns,
and he will beware of hankering after pleasure.
To acquire this state of mind, wisdom is the one thing needful.
To neglect wisdom will lead to failure in life. 

The teachings of all religions should centre here,
for without wisdom there is no reason.

There are ways from light into darkness and from darkness into light.
There are ways, also, from the gloom into deeper darkness,
and from the dawn into brighter light.
The wise man will use the light he has to receive more light.
He will constantly advance in the knowledge of truth.

Exhibit true superiority by virtuous conduct and the exercise of reason;
meditate deeply on the vanity of earthly things,
and understand the fickleness of life. 

Elevate the mind,
and seek sincere faith with firm purpose;
transgress not the rules of kingly conduct,
and let your happiness depend,
not upon external things,
but upon your own mind.
Thus you will lay up a good name for distant ages
and will secure the favour of the Tathagata.




Guard against looking on a woman.

If you see a woman, let it be as though you saw her not,
and have no conversation with her.

If you must speak with her,
let it be with a pure heart,
and think to yourself,
'I as a student of wisdom will live in this sinful world
as the spotless leaf of the lotus,
unsoiled by the mud in which it grows.'

If the woman be old, regard her as your mother,
if young, as your sister,
if very young, as your child.

The student of wisdom who looks on a woman as a woman,
or touches her as a woman, has broken his vow
and is no longer a disciple of the Tathagata.

The power of lust is great with men,
and is to be feared withal;
take then the bow of earnest perseverance,
and the sharp arrow-points of wisdom.

Lust beclouds a man's heart,
when it is confused with woman's beauty,
and the mind is dazed. 

Better far with red-hot irons bore out both your eyes,
than encourage in yourself sensual thoughts,
or look upon a woman's form with lustful desires.

Better fall into the fierce tiger's mouth,
or under the sharp knife of the executioner,
than dwell with a woman and excite in yourself lustful thoughts.

A woman of the world is anxious to exhibit her form and shape,
whether walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping.
Even when represented as a picture,
she desires to captivate with the charms of her beauty,
and thus to rob men of their steadfast heart.

How then ought you to guard yourselves?

By regarding her tears and her smiles as enemies,
her stooping form, her hanging arms, and her disentangled hair
as toils designed to entrap man's heart.

Therefore, I say, restrain the heart,
give it no unbridled license.




The rational nature of man is a spark of the true light;
it is the first step on the upward road.
But new births are required to insure an ascent to the summit of existence,
the enlightenment of mind and heart,
where the immeasurable light of moral comprehension is gained
which is the source of all righteousness.

Having attained this higher birth,
I have found the truth and have taught you the noble path
that leads to the city of peace.

I have shown you the way to the lake of Ambrosia,
which washes away all evil desire.
I have given you the refreshing drink called the perception of truth,
and he who drinks of it becomes free from excitement, passion, and wrong-doing.




Life is instantaneous and living is dying.
Just as a chariot-wheel in rolling
rolls only at one point of the tire,
and in resting rests only at one point;
in exactly the same way, the life of a living being
lasts only for the period of one thought.
As soon as that thought has ceased
the being is said to have ceased. 

As it has been said:
'The being of a past moment of thought has lived,
but does not live, nor will it live.
The being of a future moment of thought will live,
but has not lived, nor does it live.
The being of the present moment of thought does live,
but has not lived, nor will it live.' 

As to Name and Form we must understand how they interact.
Name has no power of its own, nor can it go on of its own impulse,
either to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement.
Form also is without power and cannot go on of its own impulse.
It has no desire to eat, or to drink, or to utter sounds, or to make a movement.
But Form goes on when supported by Name,
and Name when supported by Form.
When Name has a desire to eat, or to drink,
or to utter sounds, or to make a movement,
then Form eats, drinks, utters sounds, makes a movement.

It is as if two men, the one blind from birth
and the other a cripple, were desirous of going travelling,
and the man blind from birth were to say to the cripple as follows:
'See here! I am able to use my legs,
but I have no eyes with which to see the rough
and the smooth places in the road.'

And the cripple were to say to the man blind from birth as follows:
'See here! I am able to use my eyes,
but I have no legs with which to go forward and back.'

And the man blind from birth, pleased and delighted,
were to mount the cripple on his shoulders.
And the cripple sitting on the shoulders of the man blind from birth
were to direct him, saying:
'Leave the left and go to the right;
leave the right and go the left.'

Here the man blind from birth is without power of his own, and weak,
and cannot go of his own impulse or might.
The cripple also is without power of his own, and weak,
and cannot go of his own impulse or might.
Yet when they mutually support one another
it is not impossible for them to go.

In exactly the same way Name is without power of its own,
and cannot spring up of its own might, nor perform this or that action.
Form also is without power of its own, and cannot spring up of its own might,
nor perform this or that action.
Yet when they mutually support one another
it is not impossible for them to spring up and go on.

There is no material that exists for the production of Name and Form;
and when Name and Form cease, they do no go anywhere in space.
After Name and Form have ceased,
they do not exist anywhere in the shape of heaped-up music material.
Thus when a lute is played upon, there is no previous store of sound;
and when the music ceases it does not go anywhere in space.
When it has ceased, it exists nowhere in a stored-up state.
Having previously been non-existent,
it came into existence on account of the structure
and stem of the lute and the exertions of the performer;
and as it came into existence so it passes away.
In exactly the same way, all the elements of being,
both corporeal and non-corporeal
come into existence after having previously been non-existent;
and having come into existence pass away.

There is not a self residing in Name and Form,
but the co-operation of the conformations
produce what people call a man.

Just as the word 'chariot'
is but a mode of expression for axle, wheels, the chariot-body
and other constituents in their proper combinations,
so a living being is the appearance of the groups
with the four elements as they are joined in a unit.
There is no self in the carriage
and there is no self in man. 

This doctrine is sure and an eternal truth,
that there is no self outside of its parts.
This self of ours which constitutes Name and Form
is a combination of the groups with the four elements,
but there is no ego entity,
no self in itself.

Paradoxical though it may sound:
There is a path to walk on,
there is walking being done,
but there is no traveller.
There are deeds being done, but there is no doer.
There is a blowing of the air, but there is no wind that does the blowing.
The thought of self is an error
and all existences are hollow as the plantain tree
and as empty as twirling water bubbles.

Therefore, O bhikkhus,
as there is no self, there is no transmigration of a self;
but there are deeds and the continued effect of deeds.
There is rebirth of karma; there is reincarnation.
This rebirth, this reincarnation, this reappearance of the conformations
is continuous and depends on the law of cause and effect.
Just as a seal is impressed upon the wax
reproducing the configurations of its device,
so the thoughts of men, their characters, their aspirations
are impressed upon others in continuous transference
and continue their karma,
and good deeds will continue in blessings
while bad deeds will continue in curses.

There is no entity here that migrates,
no self is transferred from one place to another;
but here is a voice uttered here and the echo of it comes back.
The teacher pronounces a stanza and the disciple
who attentively listens to his teacher's instruction, repeats the stanza.
Thus the stanza is reborn in the mind of the disciple.

The body is a compound of perishable organs.
It is subject to decay;
and we should take care of it as of a wound or a sore;
we should attend to its needs
without being attached to it, or loving it.

The body is like a machine,
and there is no self in it that makes it walk or act,
but the thoughts of it, as the windy elements,
cause the machine to work. 

Dismiss the error of the self
and do not cling to possessions which are transient
but perform deeds that are good,
for deeds are enduring
and in deeds your karma continues.




Those only who do not believe, call me Gautama,
but you call me the Buddha, the Blessed One, the Teacher.
And this is right, for I have in this life entered Nirvana,
while the life of Gautama has been extinguished.

Self has disappeared
and the truth has taken its abode in me.
This body of mine is Gautama's body
and it will be dissolved in due time,
and after its dissolution no one,
neither God nor man,
will see Gautama again.
But the truth remains.
The Buddha will not die;
the Buddha will continue to live
in the holy body of the law.

You are my children, I am your father;
through me have you been released from your sufferings.

I myself having reached the other shore,
help others to cross the stream;
I myself having attained salvation,
am a saviour of others;
being comforted, I comfort others
and lead them to the place of refuge. 

I was born into the world
as the king of truth
for the salvation of the world.

The subject on which I meditate is truth.
The practice to which I devote myself is truth.
The topic of my conversation is truth.
My thoughts are always in the truth.
For lo and behold! - my self has become the truth.

Whoever comprehends the truth will see the Blessed One,
for the truth has been preached by the Blessed One.




A fool, though he lives in the company of the wise,
understands nothing of the true doctrine,
as a spoon tastes not the flavour of the soup.
He thinks of himself only,
and unmindful of the advice of good counsellors
is unable to deliver himself.




A disciple must not boast of any superhuman perfection.
The disciple who with evil intent
and from covetousness boasts of a superhuman perfection,
be it celestial visions or miracles,
is no longer a disciple of wisdom.

I forbid you, O bhikkhus,
to employ any spells or supplications,
for they are useless,
since the law of karma governs all things.
He who attempts to perform miracles
has not understood the doctrine of the Tathagata. 




The doctrine of the conquest of self,
is not taught to destroy the souls of men, but to preserve them.
He who has conquered self is more fit to live,
to be successful, and to gain victories
than he who is the slave of self.

He whose mind is free from the illusion of self,
will stand and not fall in the battle of life.

He who harbours in his heart love of truth
will live and not die,
for he has drunk the water of immortality.

Struggle then, O general, courageously;
and fight thy battles vigorously,
but be a soldier of truth
and the Tathagata will bless thee.

Unless you take refuge in the Buddha and find rest in Nirvana,
Your life is but vanity - empty and desolate vanity.
To travel the world is idle, and to enjoy life is empty.
The world, including man, is but like a phantom,
and the hope of heaven is as a mirage.

The worldly person seeks pleasures fattening himself like a caged fowl.
But the Buddhist saint flies up to the sun like the wild crane.
The fowl in the coop has food but will soon be boiled in the pot.
No provisions are given to the wild crane,
but the heavens and the earth are his.

He whose lusts have been destroyed,
who is free from pride,
who has overcome all the ways of passion,
is subdued, perfectly happy, and of a firm mind.
Such a one will wander rightly in the world.

Faithful is he who is possessed of knowledge,
seeing the way that leads to Nirvana;
he who is not partisan;
he who is pure and virtuous,
and has removed the veil from his eyes.
Such a one will wander rightly in the world.

Whatever is to be done by him
who aspires to attain the tranquillity of Nirvana
let him be able and upright, conscientious and gentle, and not proud.

Let a man's pleasure be the Dharma,
let him delight in the Dharma,
let him stand fast in the Dharma,
let him know how to inquire into the Dharma,
let him not raise any dispute that pollutes the Dharma,
and let him spend his time in pondering
on the well-spoken truths of the Dharma.

Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Seek salvation alone in the truth.
Look not for assistance to anyone besides yourselves.

The student who renounces the transient pleasure of the world
for the eternal bliss of holiness,
performs the only miracle
that can truly be called a miracle.



These writings taken from "The Gospel of Buddha", by Paul Carus.