Buddha, The Gospel


500 BC






REJOICE at the glad tidings! The Buddha our Lord has found the

root of all evil; he has shown us the way of salvation. The Buddha

dispels the illusions of our mind and redeems us from the terror of


The Buddha, our Lord, brings comfort to the weary and

sorrow-laden; he restores peace to those who are broken down under

the burden of life. He gives courage to the weak when they would fain

give up self-reliance and hope. You who suffer from the tribulations

of life, you who have to struggle and endure, you who yearn for a

life of truth, rejoice at the glad tidings!

There is balm for the wounded, and there is bread for the hungry.

There is water for the thirsty, and there is hope for the despairing.

There is light for those in darkness, and there is inexhaustible

blessing for the upright.

Heal your wounds, you wounded, and eat your fill, you hungry.

Rest, you weary, and you who are thirsty quench your thirst. Look up

to the light, you who sit in darkness; be full of good cheer, you

who are forlorn.

Trust in truth, you who love the truth, for the kingdom of

righteousness is founded upon earth. The darkness of error is

dispelled by the light of truth. We can see our way and take firm

and certain steps. The Buddha, our Lord, has revealed the truth. The

truth cures our diseases and redeems us from perdition; the truth

strengthens us in life and in death; the truth alone can conquer the

evils of error. Rejoice at the glad tidings!



LOOK about and contemplate life! Everything is transient and

nothing endures. There is birth and death, growth and decay; there is

combination and separation. The glory of the world is like a flower:

it stands in full bloom in the morning and fades in the heat of the


Wherever you look, there is a rushing and a struggling, and an

eager pursuit of pleasure. There is a panic flight from pain and

death, and hot are the flames of burning desires. The world is Vanity

Fair, full of changes and transformations. All is Samsara, the

turning Wheel of Existence.

Is there nothing permanent in the world? Is there in the universal

turmoil no resting-place where our troubled heart can find peace? Is

there nothing everlasting? Oh, that we could have cessation of

anxiety, that our burning desires would be extinguished! When shall

the mind become tranquil and composed?

The Buddha, our Lord, was grieved at the ills of life. He saw the

vanity of worldly happiness and sought salvation in the one thing

that will not fade or perish, but will abide for ever and ever.

You who long for life, learn that immortality is hidden in

transiency. You who wish for happiness without the sting of regret,

lead a life of righteousness. You who yearn for riches, receive

treasures that are eternal. Truth is wealth, and a life of truth is


All compounds will be dissolved again, but the verities which

determine all combinations and separations as laws of nature endure

for ever and aye. Bodies fall to dust, but the truths of the mind

will not be destroyed.

Truth knows neither birth nor death; it has no beginning and no

end. Welcome the truth. The truth is the immortal part of mind.

Establish the truth in your mind, for the truth is the image of the

eternal; it portrays the immutable; it reveals the everlasting; the

truth gives unto mortals the boon of immortality.

The Buddha has proclaimed the truth; let the truth of the Buddha

dwell in your hearts. Extinguish in yourselves every desire that

antagonizes the Buddha, and in the perfection of your spiritual

growth you will become like unto him. That of your heart which cannot

or will not develop into Buddha must perish, for it is mere illusion

and unreal; it is the source of your error; it is the cause of your


You attain to immortality by filling your minds with truth.

Therefore, become like unto vessels fit to receive the Master's

words. Cleanse yourselves of evil and sanctify your lives. There is

no other way of reaching truth.

Learn to distinguish between Self and Truth. Self is the cause of

selfishness and the source of evil; truth cleaves to no self; it is

universal and leads to justice and righteousness. Self, that which

seems to those who love their self as their being, is not the

eternal, the everlasting, the imperishable. Seek not self, but seek

the truth.

If we liberate our souls from our petty selves, wish no ill to

others, and become clear as a crystal diamond reflecting the light

of truth, what a radiant picture will appear in us mirroring things

as they are, without the admixture of burning desires, without the

distortion of erroneous illusion, without the agitation of clinging

and unrest.

Yet you love self and will not abandon self-love. So be it, but

then, verily, you should learn to distinguish between the false self

and the true self. The ego with all its egotism is the false self.

It is an unreal illusion and a perishable combination. He only who

identifies his self with the truth will attain Nirvana; and he who

has entered Nirvana has attained Buddhahood; he has acquired the

highest good; he has become eternal and immortal.

All compound things shall be dissolved again, worlds will break to

pieces and our individualities will be scattered; but the words of

Buddha will remain for ever.

The extinction of self is salvation; the annihilation of self is

the condition of enlightenment; the blotting out of self is Nirvana.

Happy is he who has ceased to live for pleasure and rests in the

truth. Verily his composure and tranquility of mind are the highest


Let us take our refuge in the Buddha, for he has found the

everlasting in the transient. Let us take our refuge in that which

is the immutable in the changes of existence. Let us take our refuge

in the truth that is established through the enlightenment of the

Buddha. Let us take our refuge in the community of those who seek

the truth and endeavor to live in the truth.



THE things of the world and its inhabitants are subject to change.

They are combinations of elements that existed before, and all

living creatures are what their past actions made them; for the law

of cause and effect is uniform and without exception.

But in the changing things there is a constancy of law, and when

the law is seen there is truth. The truth lies hidden in Samsara as

the permanent in its changes.

Truth desires to appear; truth longs to become conscious; truth

strives to know itself.

There is truth in the stone, for the stone is here; and no power

in the world, no god, no man, no demon, can destroy its existence.

But the stone has no consciousness. There is truth in the plant and

its life can expand; the plant grows and blossoms and bears fruit.

Its beauty is marvelous, but it has no consciousness. There is truth

in the animal; it moves about and perceives its surroundings; it

distinguishes and learns to choose. There is consciousness, but it

is not yet the consciousness of Truth. It is a consciousness of self


The consciousness of self dims the eyes of the mind and hides the

truth. It is the origin of error, it is the source of illusion, it

is the germ of evil. Self begets selfishness. There is no evil but

what flows from self. There is no wrong but what is done by the

assertion of self. Self is the beginning of all hatred, of iniquity

and slander, of impudence and indecency, of theft and robbery, of

oppression and bloodshed. Self is Mara, the tempter, the evil-doer,

the creator of mischief. Self entices with pleasures. Self promises

a fairy's paradise. Self is the veil of Maya, the enchanter. But the

pleasures of self are unreal, its paradisian labyrinth is the road

to misery, and its fading beauty kindles the flames of desires that

never can be satisfied.

Who shall deliver us from the power of self? Who shall save us

from misery? Who shall restore us to a life of blessedness?

There is misery in the world of Samsara; there is much misery and

pain. But greater than all the misery is the bliss of truth. Truth

gives peace to the yearning mind; it conquers error; it quenches the

flames of desires; it leads to Nirvana. Blessed is he who has found

the peace of Nirvana. He is at rest in the struggles and

tribulations of life; he is above all changes; he is above birth and

death; he remains unaffected by the evils of life.

Blessed is he who has found enlightenment. He conquers, although

he may be wounded; he is glorious and happy, although he may suffer;

he is strong, although he may break down under the burden of his

work; he is immortal, although he will die. The essence of his being

is purity and goodness.

Blessed is he who has attained the sacred state of Buddhahood, for

he is fit to work out the salvation of his fellow-beings. The truth

has taken its abode in him. Perfect wisdom illumines his

understanding, and righteousness ensouls the purpose of all his

actions. The truth is a living power for good, indestructible and

invincible! Work the truth out in your mind, and spread it among

mankind, for truth alone is the savior from evil and misery. The

Buddha has found the truth and the truth has been proclaimed by the

Buddha! Blessed be the Buddha!



THERE was in Kapilavatthu a Sakya king, strong of purpose and

reverenced by all men, a descendant of the Okkakas, who call

themselves Gotama, and his name was Suddhodana or Pure-Rice. His

wife Maya-devi was beautiful as the water-lily and pure in mind as

the lotus. As the Queen of Heaven, she lived on earth, untainted by

desire, and immaculate.

The king, her husband, honored her in her holiness, and the spirit

of truth, glorious and strong in his wisdom like unto a white

elephant, descended upon her. When she knew that the hour of

motherhood was near, she asked the king to send her home to her

parents; and Suddhodana, anxious about his wife and the child she

would bear him, willingly granted her request.

At Lumbini there is a beautiful grove, and when Maya-devi passed

through it the trees were one mass of fragrant flowers and many

birds were warbling in their branches. The Queen, wishing to stroll

through the shady walks, left her golden palanquin, and, when she

reached the giant sala tree in the midst of the grove, felt that her

hour had come. She took hold of a branch. Her attendants hung a

curtain about her and retired. When the pain of travail came upon

her, four pure-minded angels of the great Brahma held out a golden

net to receive the babe, who came forth from her right side like the

rising sun bright and perfect.

The Brahma-angels took the child and placing him before the mother

said: "Rejoice, O queen, a mighty son has been born unto thee."

At her couch stood an aged woman imploring the heavens to bless

the child. All the worlds were flooded with light. The blind

received their sight by longing to see the coming glory of the Lord;

the deaf and dumb spoke with one another of the good omens

indicating the birth of the Buddha to be. The crooked became

straight; the lame walked. All prisoners were freed from their chains

and the fires of all the hells were extinguished.

No clouds gathered in the skies and the polluted streams became

clear, whilst celestial music rang through the air and the angels

rejoiced with gladness. With no selfish or partial joy but for the

sake of the law they rejoiced, for creation engulfed in the ocean of

pain was now to obtain release. The cries of beasts were hushed; all

malevolent beings received a loving heart, and peace reigned on

earth. Mara, the evil one, alone was grieved and rejoiced not.

The Naga kings, earnestly desiring to show their reverence for

most excellent law, as they had paid honor to former Buddhas, now

went to greet the Bodhisattva. They scattered before him mandara

flowers, rejoicing with heartfelt joy to pay their religious homage.

The royal father, pondering the meaning of these signs, was now

full of joy and now sore distressed. The queen mother, beholding her

child and the commotion which his birth created, felt in her

timorous heart the pangs of doubt.

Now there was at that time in a grove near Lumbini Asita, a rishi,

leading the life of a hermit. He was a Brahman of dignified mien,

famed not only for wisdom and scholarship, but also for his skill in

the interpretation of signs. And the king invited him to see the

royal babe.

The seer, beholding the prince, wept and sighed deeply. And when

the king saw the tears of Asita he became alarmed and asked: "Why has

the sight of my son caused thee grief and pain?"

But Asita's heart rejoiced, and, knowing the king's mind to be

perplexed, he addressed him, saying: "The king, like the moon when

full, should feel great joy, for he has begotten a wondrously noble

son. I do not worship Brahma, but I worship this child; and the gods

in the temples will descend from their places of honor to adore him.

Banish all anxiety and doubt. The spiritual omens manifested

indicate that the child now born will bring deliverance to the whole


"Recollecting that I myself am old, on that account I could not

hold my tears; for now my end is coming on and I shall not see the

glory of this babe. For this son of thine will rule the world. The

wheel of empire will come to him. He will either be a king of kings

to govern all the lands of the earth, or verily will become a Buddha.

He is born for the sake of everything that lives. His pure teaching

will be like the shore that receives the shipwrecked. His power of

meditation will be like a cool lake; and all creatures parched with

the drought of lust may freely drink thereof. On the fire of

covetousness he will cause the cloud of his mercy to rise, so that

the rain of the law may extinguish it. The heavy gates of despondency

will he open, and give deliverance to all creatures ensnared in the

self-entwined meshes of folly and ignorance. The king of the law has

come forth to rescue from bondage all the poor, the miserable, the


When the royal parents heard Asita's words they rejoiced in their

hearts and named their new-born infant Siddhattha, that is, "he who

has accomplished his purpose."

And the queen said to her sister, Pajapati: "A mother who has

borne a future Buddha will never give birth to another child. I

shall soon leave this world, my husband, the king, and Siddhattha,

my child. When I am gone, be thou a mother to him." And Pajapati

wept and promised.

When the queen had departed from the living, Pajapati took the boy

Siddhattha and reared him. And as the light of the moon increases

little by little, so the royal child grew from day to day in mind

and in body; and truthfulness and love resided in his heart. When a

year had passed Suddhodana the king made Pajapati his queen and

there was never a better stepmother than she.



WHEN Siddhattha had grown to youth, his father desired to see him

married, and he sent to all his kinsfolk, commanding them to bring

their princesses that the prince might select one of them as his


But the kinsfolk replied and said: "The prince is young and

delicate; nor has he learned any of the sciences. He would not be

able to maintain our daughter, and should there be war he would be

unable to cope with the enemy."

The prince was not boisterous, but pensive in his nature. He loved

to stay under the great jambu-tree in the garden of his father, and,

observing the ways of the world, gave himself up to meditation. And

the prince said to his father: "Invite our kinsfolk that they may

see me and put my strength to the test." And his father did as his

son bade him.

When the kinsfolk came, and the people of the city Kapilavatthu

had assembled to test the prowess and scholarship of the prince, he

proved himself manly in all the exercises both of the body and of

the mind, and there was no rival among the youths and men of India

who could surpass him in any test, bodily or mental. He replied to

all the questions of the sages; but when he questioned them, even the

wisest among them were silenced.

Then Siddhattha chose himself a wife. He selected his cousin

Yasodhara, the gentle daughter of the king of Koli. In their wedlock

was born a son whom they named Rahula which means "fetter" or "tie,"

and King Suddhodana, glad that an heir was born to his son, said:

"The prince having begotten a son, will love him as I love the

prince. This will be a strong tie to bind Siddhattha's heart to the

interests of the world, and the kingdom of the Sakyas will remain

under the scepter of my descendants."

With no selfish aim, but regarding his child and the people at

large, Siddhattha, the prince, attended to his religious duties,

bathing his body in the holy Ganges and cleansing his heart in the

waters of the law. Even as men desire to give happiness to their

children, so did he long to give peace to the world.



THE palace which the king had given to the prince was resplendent

with all the luxuries of India; for the king was anxious to see his

son happy. All sorrowful sights, all misery, and all knowledge of

misery were kept away from Siddhattha, for the king desired that no

troubles should come nigh him; he should not know that there was

evil in the world.

But as the chained elephant longs for the wilds of the jungles, so

the prince was eager to see the world, and he asked his father, the

king, for permission to do so. And Suddhodana ordered a

jewel-fronted chariot with four stately horses to be held ready, and

commanded the roads to be adorned where his son would pass.

The houses of the city were decorated with curtains and banners,

and spectators arranged themselves on either side, eagerly gazing at

the heir to the throne. Thus Siddhattha rode with Channa, his

charioteer, through the streets of the city, and into a country

watered by rivulets and covered with pleasant trees.

There by the wayside they met an old man with bent frame, wrinkled

face and sorrowful brow, and the prince asked the charioteer: "Who

is this? His head is white, his eyes are bleared, and his body is

withered. He can barely support himself on his staff."

The charioteer, much embarrassed, hardly dared speak the truth. He

said: "These are the symptoms of old age. This same man was once a

suckling child, and as a youth full of sportive life; but now, as

years have passed away, his beauty is gone and the strength of his

life is wasted."

Siddhattha was greatly affected by the words of the charioteer,

and he sighed because of the pain of old age. "What joy or pleasure

can men take," he thought to himself, "when they know they must soon

wither and pine away!"

And lo! while they were passing on, a sick man appeared on the

way-side, gasping for breath, his body disfigured, convulsed and

groaning with pain. The prince asked his charioteer: "What kind of

man is this?" And the charioteer replied and said: "This man is sick.

The four elements of his body are confused and out of order. We are

all subject to such conditions: the poor and the rich, the ignorant

and the wise, all creatures that have bodies are liable to the same


And Siddhattha was still more moved. All pleasures appeared stale

to him, and he loathed the joys of life.

The charioteer sped the horses on to escape the dreary sight, when

suddenly they were stopped in their fiery course. Four persons

passed by, carrying a corpse; and the prince, shuddering at the

sight of a lifeless body, asked the charioteer: "What is this they

carry? There are streamers and flower garlands; but the men that

follow are overwhelmed with grief!"

The charioteer replied: "This is a dead man: his body is stark;

his life is gone; his thoughts are still; his family and the friends

who loved him now carry the corpse to the grave." And the prince was

full of awe and terror: "Is this the only dead man," he asked, "or

does the world contain other instances?"

With a heavy heart the charioteer replied: "All over the world it

is the same. He who begins life must end it. There is no escape from


With bated breath and stammering accents the prince exclaimed: "O

worldly men! How fatal is your delusion! Inevitably your body will

crumble to dust, yet carelessly, unheedingly, ye live on." The

charioteer observing the deep impression these sad sights had made

on the prince, turned his horses and drove back to the city.

When they passed by the palace of the nobility, Kisa Gotami, a

young princess and niece of the king, saw Siddhattha in his manliness

and beauty, and, observing the thoughtfulness of his countenance,

said: "Happy the father that begot thee, happy the mother that nursed

thee, happy the wife that calls husband this lord so glorious."

The prince hearing this greeting, said: "Happy are they that have

found deliverance. Longing for peace of mind, I shall seek the bliss

of Nirvana."

Then asked Kisa Gotami: "How is Nirvana attained?" The prince

paused, and to him whose mind was estranged from wrong the answer

came: "When the fire of lust is gone out, then Nirvana is gained;

when the fires of hatred and delusion are gone out, then Nirvana is

gained; when the troubles of mind, arising from blind credulity, and

all other evils have ceased, then Nirvana is gained!"

Siddhattha handed her his precious pearl necklace as a reward for

the wisdom she had inspired in him, and having returned home looked

with disdain upon the treasures of his palace.

His wife welcomed him and entreated him to tell her the cause of

his grief. He said: "I see everywhere the impression of change;

therefore, my heart is heavy. Men grow old, sicken, and die. That is

enough to take away the zest of life."

The king, his father, hearing that the prince had become estranged

from pleasure, was greatly overcome with sorrow and like a sword it

pierced his heart.



IT was night. The prince found no rest on his soft pillow; he

arose and went out into the garden. "Alas!" he cried "all the world

is full of darkness and ignorance; there is no one who knows how to

cure the ills of existence." And he groaned with pain.

Siddhattha sat down beneath the great jambu-tree and gave himself

to thought, pondering on life and death and the evils of decay.

Concentrating his mind he became free from confusion. All low

desires vanished from his heart and perfect tranquility came over


In this state of ecstasy he saw with his mental eye all the misery

and sorrow of the world; he saw the pains of pleasure and the

inevitable certainty of death that hovers over every being; yet men

are not awakened to the truth. And a deep compassion seized his


While the prince was pondering on the problem of evil, he beheld

with his mind's eye under the jambu tree a lofty figure endowed with

majesty, calm and dignified. "Whence comest thou, and who mayst thou

be?" asked the prince.

In reply the vision said: "I am a samana. Troubled at the thought

of old age, disease, and death I have left my home to seek the path

of salvation. All things hasten to decay; only the truth abideth

forever. Everything changes, and there is no permanency; yet the

words of the Buddhas are immutable. I long for the happiness that

does not decay; the treasure that will never perish; the life that

knows of no beginning and no end. Therefore, I have destroyed all

worldly thought. I have retired into an unfrequented dell to live in

solitude; and, begging for food, I devote myself to the one thing


Siddhattha asked: "Can peace be gained in this world of unrest? I

am struck with the emptiness of pleasure and have become disgusted

with lust. All oppresses me, and existence itself seems intolerable."

The samana replied: "Where heat is, there is also a possibility of

cold; creatures subject to pain possess the faculty of pleasure; the

origin of evil indicates that good can be developed. For these

things are correlatives. Thus where there is much suffering, there

will be much bliss, if thou but open thine eyes to behold it. Just

as a man who has fallen into a heap of filth ought to seek the great

pond of water covered with lotuses, which is near by: even so seek

thou for the great deathless lake of Nirvana to wash off the

defilement of wrong. If the lake is not sought, it is not the fault

of the lake. Even so when there is a blessed road leading the man

held fast by wrong to the salvation of Nirvana, if the road is not

walked upon, it is not the fault of the road, but of the person. And

when a man who is oppressed with sickness, there being a physician

who can heal him, does not avail himself of the physician's help,

that is not the fault of the physician. Even so when a man oppressed

by the malady of wrong-doing does not seek the spiritual guide of

enlightenment, that is no fault of the evil-destroying guide."

The prince listened to the noble words of his visitor and said:

"Thou bringest good tidings, for now I know that my purpose will be

accomplished. My father advises me to enjoy life and to undertake

worldly duties, such as will bring honor to me and to our house. He

tells me that I am too young still, that my pulse beats too full to

lead a religious life."

The venerable figure shook his head and replied: "Thou shouldst

know that for seeking a religious life no time can be inopportune."

A thrill of joy passed through Siddhattha's heart. "Now is the

time to seek religion," he said; "now is the time to sever all ties

that would prevent me from attaining perfect enlightenment; now is

the time to wander into homelessness and, leading a mendicant's life,

to find the path of deliverance."

The celestial messenger heard the resolution of Siddhattha with

approval. "Now, indeed," he added, "is the time to seek religion. Go,

Siddhattha, and accomplish thy purpose. For thou art Bodhisatta, the

Buddha-elect; thou art destined to enlighten the world. Thou art the

Tathagata, the great master, for thou wilt fulfill all righteousness

and be Dharmaraja, the king of truth. Thou art Bhagavat, the Blessed

One, for thou art called upon to become the savior and redeemer of

the world. Fulfill thou the perfection of truth. Though the

thunderbolt descend upon thy head, yield thou never to the

allurements that beguile men from the path of truth. As the sun at

all seasons pursues his own course, nor ever goes on another, even so

if thou forsake not the straight path of righteousness, thou shalt

become a Buddha. Persevere in thy quest and thou shalt find what thou

seekest. Pursue thy aim unswervingly and thou shalt gain the prize.

Struggle earnestly and thou shalt conquer. The benediction of all

deities, of all saints of all that seek light is upon thee, and

heavenly wisdom guides thy steps. Thou shalt be the Buddha, our

Master, and our Lord; thou shalt enlighten the world and save

mankind from perdition."

Having thus spoken, the vision vanished, and Siddhattha's heart

was filled with peace. He said to himself: "I have awakened to the

truth and I am resolved to accomplish my purpose. I will sever all

the ties that bind me to the world, and I will go out from my home to

seek the way of salvation. The Buddhas are beings whose words cannot

fail: there is no departure from truth in their speech. For as the

fall of a stone thrown into the air, as the death of a mortal, as

the sunrise at dawn, as the lion's roar when he leaves his lair, as

the delivery of a woman with child, as all these things are sure and

certain- even so the word of the Buddhas is sure and cannot fail.

Verily I shall become a Buddha."

The prince returned to the bedroom of his wife to take a last

farewell glance at those whom he dearly loved above all the

treasures of the earth. He longed to take the infant once more into

his arms and kiss him with a parting kiss. But the child lay in the

arms of his mother, and the prince could not lift him without

awakening both. There Siddhattha stood gazing at his beautiful wife

and his beloved son, and his heart grieved. The pain of parting

overcame him powerfully. Although his mind was determined, so that

nothing, be it good or evil, could shake his resolution, the tears

flowed freely from his eyes, and it was beyond his power to check

their stream. But the prince tore himself away with a manly heart,

suppressing his feelings but not extinguishing his memory.

The Bodhisattva mounted his noble steed Kanthaka, and when he left

the palace, Mara stood in the gate and stopped him: "Depart not, O

my Lord," exclaimed Mara. "In seven days from now the wheel of

empire will appear, and will make thee sovereign over the four

continents and the two thousand adjacent islands. Therefore, stay,

my Lord."

The Bodhisattva replied: "Well do I know that the wheel of empire

will appear to me; but it is not sovereignty that I desire. I will

become a Buddha and make all the world shout for joy."

Thus Siddhattha, the prince, renounced power and worldly

pleasures, gave up his kingdom, severed all ties, and went into

homelessness. He rode out into the silent night, accompanied only by

his faithful charioteer Channa. Darkness lay upon the earth, but the

stars shone brightly in the heavens.