Kamanita And Vasitthi
[~By KARL GJELLERUP]
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IN THE HALL OF THE POTTER
WITH THESE WORDS the pilgrim Kāmanīta brought his narrative to a close, sat silently and gazed meditatively out upon the landscape. And the Lord Buddha also sat silently and gazed meditatively out upon the landscape.Lofty trees were to be seen, some near, some farther off, some grouping themselves in shadowy masses,others dissolving airily in cloud‐like formations and disappearing into the mists in the distance.The moon now stood directly over the porch, and its light shone into the outer part of the hall, where it lay like three white sheets upon a bleaching‐green, while the left side of the pillars gleamed as though mounted in silver. In the deep silence of the night one could hear a water‐buffalo somewhere in the neighbourhood, cropping the grass with short measured jerks. And the Master pondered within himself:
"Should I tell this seeker all I know of Vāsitthī? How faithful she was to him; how, without fault of her own, she was forced to marry Sātāgira by low fraud; how it was her doing that Angulimāla appeared in Ujjenī; and how, owing to that very visit, he himself, Kāmanīta, is now treading the path of the spiritual seeker instead of sinking in foul luxury. Should I reveal to him the path that Vāsitthī is following now?" But he decided that the time was not yet come and that such knowledge would not be helpful to the seeker in his efforts. The Master, therefore, spoke and said:
"'To be separated from what we love is suffering,to be united to what we do not love is suffering.' When this was said, it was said of such an experience as yours."
"Oh! how true!" called out Kāmanīta, in an agitated voice, "how profoundly, deeply true! Who, stranger,uttered those profound and wonderful words?"
"There is no need to be concerned about that,friend. It is of no consequence who uttered them, as long as you feel and recognise their truth."
“How could I not? They contain in a few words all my life‐trouble. Had I not already chosen a Master, I would
seek none other than the admirable one with whom these words originated.”
“Then you have a Master whose teaching you acknowledge, friend, and in whose name you have gone forth?”
“In truth, brother, I went forth in the name of no Master. On the contrary, my idea at that time was that I should win my way to the Goal unaided. And when I rested by day in the neighbourhood of a village, at the foot of a tree or in the recesses of a forest, I gave myself up with fervour to deepest thought. To such thoughts as thes— ‘What is the Self? What is the universe? Is the Self eternal and the universe temporal? Is the universe eternal and the Self temporal?’ Or — ‘Why has the highest Brahmā caused the world to come forth from Himself? And if the highest Brahmā is pure and perfect happiness, how does it happen that the universe He has created is imperfect and is afflicted with suffering?’ "And when I gave myself up to such thoughts, I reached no satisfactory solution. On the contrary, new doubts constantly arose, and I did not seem to have neared by so much as a single step, the Goal for the sake of which the noble‐minded abandon home or ever and voluntarily become homeless.”
“Yes, friend,” the Buddha replied, “it is as if one were to pursue the horizon, thinking: ‘Oh, if only I could reach the line that bounds my vision!’ In the same way does the Goal escape those who give themselves to such questions.”
Kāmanīta nodded thoughtfully, and then went on: “Then it happened one day, when the shadows of the trees had already begun to lengthen, that I came upon a hermitage in a forest glade, and there I saw young men in white robes, several of whom milked cows, while others split wood and yet others washed pails at the spring. “On a mat in front of the hall sat an aged brahmin, from whom these young people evidently learned the sacred songs and sentences. He greeted me with friendliness, and although it would take, as he said, scarcely an hour to reach the next village, he begged me to share their meal and to spend the night with them. I did so gratefully enough, and before I had laid myself down to sleep I had heard many a good and impressive utterance. “On the following day, when I was about to go on my way the brahmin addressed me with — ‘Who is your Master, young man, and in whose name have you gone forth?’
“And I answered him as I have answered you “Upon which the brahmin said — ‘How will you,friend, reach that highest Goal if you wander alone like the rhinoceros, instead of in a herd and led by an experienced leader as is the way of the wise elephant?’“At the word ‘herd,’ he glanced benevolently towards the young people standing round about; at the word 'leader' he appeared to smile with much inward satisfaction."
'For,' he went on, 'this is indeed too high and too deep for one's own comprehension, and without a teacher it must remain a closed book. On the other hand, the Veda, in the teaching of Shvetaketu, says — "Just as, O belovèd, a man who has been led blindfolded hither from the land of Gandhāra, and then has been let loose in the desert, will strike too far eastward, or it may be too far to the north, or the south, because he has been led hither with his eyes bound; but he will, after one has unbound his eyes and said to him — 'There, in that direction live the Gandhāra, go thither,' ask his way from village to village and reach his home, richer in knowledge and wisdom; so also is the man who has found a Master to direct him to the land of the Spirit. Such a man can say — 'I shall have part and lot in this world's turmoil until my liberation comes, and then I shall go to my real Home.'
"I saw at once, of course, that the brahmin was planning to secure me as a pupil. But this very desire of his destroyed any confidence which might have been awakening within me. On the other hand, I was well pleased with the saying from the Veda and, as I went on my way, repeated it over and over again to myself, in order to fix it in my memory. In doing so, a sentence occurred to me which I had once heard used regarding a particular Master:
— "The Master does not crave disciples, but the disciples, the Master." "What a very different man he must be, I thought to myself, from this forest brahmin! And I longed, Venerable One, for such a Master, who was above all such craving."
*************to be continued**************
Edited by yawares
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