11 April 2007

"Samsara and Nirvana"

This is an excerpt from Paul Carus's Gospel of Buddha According to Old Records, published in 1894. It was meant to show the many similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, in part by writing it in chapters and verses. It's a beautiful piece.

II. Samsara and Nirvana

Look about you 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 day.
Wherever you look, there is a rushing and a pushing, an eager pursuit of pleasures, a panic flight from pain and death, a vanity fair, and the flames of burning desires. The world is full of changes and transformations. All is Samsara.
Is there nothing permanent in the world? Is there in the universal turmoil no resting-place where your troubled heart can find peace? Is there nothing everlasting?
Is there no cessation of anxiety? Can the burning desires not be extinguished? When shall the mind become tranquil and composed?
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 forever and ever.
Ye who long for life, know that immortality is hidden in transiency. Ye who wish for a happiness that contains not the seeds of disappointment or of regret, follow the advice of the great Master and lead a life of righteousness. Ye who yearn for riches, come and receive treasures that are eternal.
The truth is eternal; it knows neither birth nor death; it has no beginning and no end. Hail the truth, O mortals! Let the truth take possession of your souls.
The truth is the immortal part of mind. The possession of truth is wealth, and a life of truth is happiness.
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.
Buddha is the truth; let Buddha dwell in your heart. Extinguish in your soul every desire that antagonizes Buddha, and in the end of your spiritual evolution you will become like Buddha.
That of your soul 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 misery.
You can make your soul immortal by filling it with truth. Therefore become like unto vessels fit to receive the ambrosia of the Master's words. Cleanse yourselves of sin and sanctify your lives. There is no other way of reaching the truth.
Learn to distinguish between Self and Truth. Self is the cause of selfishness and the source of sin; 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 sinful unrest.
He who seeks self must learn to distinguish between the false self and the true self. His ego and all his egotism are the false self. They are unreal illusions and perishable combinations. 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 bliss; he has become that which is 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 forever.
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 bliss.
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 Buddha.

Eventually I'll read the whole thing. I came across that while reading A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings From East and West, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

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