Kamanita And Vasitthi
[~By KARL GJELLERUP]
"Do you think so, my friend? How would it be if
the Tathāgata had not pointed to the end of all suffering as
the final Goal — even as he also began with suffering in
the beginning — but had extolled an eternal and blessèd
life out beyond it and beyond this life of ours. Many of his
disciples would assuredly have been delighted with the
idea, would have clung to it eagerly, would have longed
for its fulfilment but with the passionate longing which
disturbs all true cheerfulness and serenity. So would they
not also then have been involved unperceived in the
meshes of the powerful net of craving for existence? And
while clinging to a Beyond, for which by necessity they
had to borrow all the colouring from this life, would they
not have only clung even more to the present the more
they pursued that Beyond?
"Whatever kinds of existence there are, in any way,
anywhere, all are impermanent, pain‐haunted and subject
to change. So, one who sees this as it is abandons craving
for existence without relishing non‐existence. And how
does such a one see this Reality? They see whatever has
come into being as simply having come into being. By
seeing it thus they have entered upon the way to dispass‐
ion for it, to the fading and cessation of craving for it. That
is how one with vision sees.
"For, like a watch‐dog that, bound to a post and
trying to free itself, rushes in a circle around about it —
even so those worthy disciples who, even though they
dearly long to transcend this body and the world, they still
remain bound to it whether they love it or they hate it,
rushing in endless circles around it."
"Though I am certainly compelled to acknowledge
this danger," Kāmanīta answered, "I still hold that the
other danger, the uncertainty evoked by silence, is by far
the more dangerous, in as much as it cripples the energies
from the very beginning. For how can the disciple be
expected to exert himself with all his might to overcome
all suffering, with decision and courage, if he doesn't
know what is to follow: eternal bliss or non‐existence?"
"My friend, what would you think in such a case as
this? Let us say that a house is burning, and that the ser‐
vant runs to waken his master, saying — 'Get up, sir! Fly!
The house is on fire! Already the rafters are burning and
the roof is about to fall in.' Would the master be likely to
answer — 'Go, my good fellow, and see whether there is
rain and storm outside, or whether it is a fine moonlit
night. In the latter case we will take ourselves outside?'"
"How, Venerable Sir, could the master give such an
answer? For the servant had called to him in terror — 'Fly,
sir! The house is on fire! Already the rafters are burning
and the roof threatens to fall in.'"
"Indeed the servant had called to him thus. But if,
in spite of that, the master answered — 'Go, my good
fellow, and see whether there is rain and storm outside,'
would you not conclude from it that the master had not
heard correctly what his faithful servant had said — that
the mortal danger which hung over his head had by no
means become clear to him?"
"I would certainly be forced to that conclusion,
Venerable Sir, otherwise it would be unthinkable that the
man could give such a foolish answer."
"Even so, friend — you should therefore also act as
if your head were encompassed by flames, as if your
house were on fire. And what house? The world! And set
on fire by what flame? By the flame of desire, by the flame
of hate, by the flame of delusion. The whole world is
being consumed by flames, the whole world is enveloped
in smoke, the whole world rocks to its foundations!"
Addressed thus, Kāmanīta trembled as does a
young buffalo when it hears for the first time the roar of
the tiger in a neighbouring thicket. With bent body, head
sunk on his breast, his face suffused with burning colour,
he sat for some time without uttering a word.
*****************to be continued**************
Edited by yawares