Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Buddha's last words (video)

Dhr. Seven, Eliza Darcey (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Richard Gere (PBS); Maha-parinibbana Sutta: "Last Days of the Buddha" (DN 16), Chapters 1-6 trans. Sister Vajira and Francis Story
The Buddha reclining into final nirvana between sal trees in Kusinara (Yangon, Burmese)
"All conditioned phenomena are hurtling toward destruction; work out your liberation with diligence!" the Buddha said.

This short clip of a wonderful PBS movie on the Buddha and Buddhism twists and distorts many little details, but the story is good and strong. What did the historical Buddha actually say before passing into final nirvana? (The Buddha did not "die" because another "death" is always followed by another rebirth, and liberation from rebirth by full enlightenment is liberation or moksha, release, emancipation, deliverance, salvation, final freedom).
His last words and final instructions are recorded in a very long sutra called the "Great Final-Nirvana Discourse" (DN 16, Mahaparinibbana Sutra):

Massive statue of the Buddha reclining (not sleeping) between sal trees in Kusinara.
61. Thereupon the Blessed One entered the hall of audience, and taking the seat prepared for him exhorted the monastics, saying: "Now, O monastics, I say to you that these teachings of which I have direct knowledge and which I have made known to you -- these thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practice that the purified-life [of a left-home renunciate] be established and long endure for the welfare and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being, and happiness of devas and human beings.

Part 3: Final teachings
62. "And what, monastics, are these teachings [these "things relating to enlightenment" or 37 Requisites of Enlightenment, the bodhipakkhiya-dhamma]? They are the:
  • Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  • Four Right Efforts
  • Four Constituents of Psychic Power
  • Five Faculties
  • Five Powers
  • Seven Factors of Enlightenment
  • Noble Eightfold Path.
"These, monastics, are the teachings of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known...for the benefit, well being, and happiness of devas and human beings."

63. Then the Blessed One said to them: "So, monastics, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to passing away. Strive with earnestness. The time of the Tathagata's final nirvana is near. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away."
64. And having spoken these words, the Happy One, the Teacher, spoke again, saying:

"My years are now full ripe;
The life span [kappa, kalpa] left is short.
Departing, I go hence from you,
relying on myself alone.
Be earnest, then, O monastics,
mindful, and of virtue pure!
With firm resolve, guard your heart/mind!
Whosoever untiringly pursues
this Dharma-and-Discipline
shall go beyond the Round of Rebirths
and thereby make an end of all suffering.
Part 5: Who honors the Buddha best?
5. And the Blessed One spoke to Venerable Ananda, saying: "Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom even though it is not the flowering season. The blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata [the Wayfarer, the Buddha] and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in honor of the Tathagata. Celestial coral [space] flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata, and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in honor of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and celestial instruments makes music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.
6. "Yet it is not in this way, Ananda, that the Tathagata is honored, respected, venerated, esteemed, or worshipped to the highest degree. But, Ananda, any monastic or layperson who abides by the Dharma, lives uprightly in the Dharma, walks according to the way of the Dharma -- it is by such a one that the Tathagata is  honored, respected, venerated, esteemed, and worshipped to the highest degree.

"Therefore, Ananda, train yourselves: 'We shall abide by the Dharma, live uprightly in the Dharma, walk according to the way of the Dharma.'" More

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