Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": GOTAMA BUDDHA PONDERS

'MUST I NOW PREACH WHAT I SO HARDLY WON?'


('Majjhima-.nikaya,' XXVI ['Ariya-pariyesana-sutta'])

I have attained, thought I, to this Doctrine profound, recondite, hard to comprehend, serene, excellent, beyond dialectic, abstruse, and only to be perceived by the learned. But mankind delights, takes delight, and is happy in what it clings on to, so that for it, being thus minded it is hard to understand causal relations and the chain of causation, hard to understand the stilling of all artificial forces, or the renunciation of all worldly ties, the extirpation of craving, passionlessness, peace and Nirvana. Were I to preach the Doctrine, and were others not to understand it, that would be labour and annoyance to me ! Yes, and on the instant there flashed across my mind these verses, which no man had heard before:-

Must I now preach what I so hardly won?

Men sunk in sin and lusts would find it hard

to plumb this Doctrine,-up stream all the way,

abstruse, profound, most subtle, hard to grasp.

Dear lusts will blind them that they shall not see,

-in densest mists of ignorance befogged.

As thus I pondered, my heart inclined to rest quiet and not to preach my Doctrine. But, Brahma Sahampati's mind came to know what thoughts were passing within my mind, and he thought to himself: The world is undone, quite undone, inasmuch as the heart of the Truth-finder inclines to rest quiet and not to preach his Doctrine I Hereupon, as swiftly as a strong man might stretch out his arm or might draw back his outstretched arm, Brahma Sahampati vanished from the Brahma-world and appeared before me. Towards me he came with his right shoulder bared, and with his clasped hands stretched out to me in reverence, saying:-May it please the Lord, may it please the Blessed One, to preach his doctrine ! Beings there are whose vision is but little dimmed, who are perishing because they do not hear the Doctrine;-these will understand it !


Translation by Lord Chalmers, Further Dialogues of the Buddha, I (London, 1926), pp. 118-119

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