BUDDHA - THE THREE WARNINGS & FIRST SERMON AT SARANATH
THE THREE WARNINGS:
Didn't you ever see in the world a man or a woman, eighty, ninety or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, grey and scanty hair or bald-headed, wrinkled with blotched limbs? And did the thought never come to you that you are subject to decay that you also cannot escape it?
Did you never see in the world a man or a woman, who being sick, afflicted and grievously ill, and wallowing in his or her own filth, was lifted up by some people, and put to bed by others? And did the thought never come to you, that you, that you also are subject to disease, that you also cannot escape it?
Didn't you ever see in the world the corpse of a man or a woman, one or two or three days after death, swollen up, blue black in colour, and decomposing? And did the thought never come to you that you also are subject to death, that you also cannot escape it?
Addressing the five bhikshus, Buddha said:
" Do not call Tathagata by his name, nor address him 'friend', for he is Buddha, the Holy One. Buddha looks equally with a kind heart on all living beings and they therefore call him "FATHER". To disrespect a father is wrong, to despise him is sin.
The Tathagata does not seek liberation in austerities, but for that reason you must not think that he indulges in worldly pleasure, not does he live in abundance. Th Tathagata has found the 'Middle Path'.
Neither abstinence form fish nor flesh, nor going naked, nor shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough garment, nor covering with dirt, nor sacrificing to fire, will cleanse a man who is not free from delusions.
Reading the Vedas, making offering to priests or sacrifices to gods, self-mortification by heat or cold, and many such penances performed for the sake of immortality do not cleanse the man who is not free from delusions.
Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry, deception, envy, self-praise, disparaging others, superciliousness, and evil intentions constitute uncleanness not verily and eating of flesh.
Let me teach you, O bhikshus, the middle path, which keeps aloof from both extremes. By suffering, the emaciated devotee produces confusing and sickly thoughts in his mind. Mortification is not conducive even to worldly knowledge; how much less to a triumph over the senses!
He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness, and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail. Mortification's are painful, vain, and profitless. And how can anyone be free from self by leading a wretched life if he does not succeed in quenching the fires of lust?
All mortification's is vain so long as self remains, so long as self continues to lust after worldly or heavenly pleasures. But he in whom self has become extinct, is free from lust; he will desire neither worldly nor heavenly pleasures, and the satisfaction of his natural wants will not defile him. Let him eat and drink according to the needs of the body.
Water surrounds the lotuses, but does not wet its petals. On the other hand, sensuality of all kinds is enervating. The sensual man is a slave of his passions, and pleasure-seeking is degrading and vulgar. But to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. This is the 'Middle Path', O bhikshus, that keeps aloof from both extremes."
The Blessed One spoke so kindly to his disciples, pitying them for their errors, and pointing out the uselessness of their endeavors and the ice of ill-will that chilled their hearts melted away under the gentle warmth of the Master's persuasion.