Common Buddhist Text

Common Buddhist Text [7e] Part I: The Buddha | Chapter 1: The Life Of The Historical Buddha | Conception, birth and early life

Chief Editor: Venerable Brahmapundit
Editor: Peter Harvey

Translators: Tamás Agócs, Peter Harvey | Dharmacārī Śraddhāpa | P.D. Premasiri
G.A Somaratne | Venerable Thich Tue Sy

PART I: THE BUDDHA

 CHAPTER 1: THE LIFE OF THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA

Conception, birth and early life

 

L.7 The quest for awakening

In this passage, the Buddha describes the ‘noble search’ for that which is beyond the limitations of conditioned existence, and how he began this search.

Monks, there are these two kinds of search: the noble search and the ignoble search. Monks, what is the ignoble search? Monks, here someone being himself subject to birth seeks what is also subject to birth; being himself subject to ageing he seeks what is also subject to ageing; being himself subject to sickness he seeks what is also subject to sickness; being himself subject to death he seeks what is also subject to death; being himself subject to sorrow he seeks what is also subject to sorrow; being himself subject to defilements he seeks what is also subject to defilement.

Monks, what may be spoken of as subject to birth? Wife and children are subject to  birth; men and women slaves are subject to birth; goats and sheep are subject to birth; fowl and pigs are subject to birth; elephants, cattle, horses, and mares are subject to birth;  gold  and  silver are subject to birth. Monks, these acquisitions are subject to birth. One who is tied to these things, infatuated  with them, and addicted to them, being himself subject to birth seeks what is also subject to birth.… [‘Wife and children’ etc. are then likewise each explained to be subject to ‘ageing’ and ‘defilement’,[1]I.e. both mental faults, and impurities in precious metals. and all but ‘gold and silver’ to be subject to ‘sickness’, ‘death’, and ‘sorrow’]. One who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and addicted to them, being himself subject to ageing [etc.] seeks what  is also subject to ageing [etc.]. Monks, this is the ignoble search.

Monks, what is the noble search? Here someone, being himself subject to birth, knowing the danger in what is subject to birth, seeks the unborn supreme security from bondage, nirvana; being himself subject to ageing, knowing the danger in what is subject to ageing, he seeks the unageing supreme security from bondage, nirvana; being himself subject to sickness, knowing the danger in what is subject to sickness, he seeks the unailing supreme security from bondage, nirvana; being himself subject to death, knowing the danger in what is subject to death, he seeks the deathless supreme security from bondage, nirvana; being himself subject to sorrow, knowing the danger in what is subject to sorrow, he seeks sorrowless supreme security from bondage, nirvana; being himself subject to defilement, knowing the danger in what is subject to defilement, he seeks the undefiled supreme security from bondage, nirvana. Monks, this is the noble search.

Monks, before my awakening, not yet fully awakened, while I was still a bodhisatta, I too being myself subject to birth, sought what was also subject to birth; being myself subject to ageing… sickness… death… sorrow… and defilement, I sought what was also subject to these.

Monks, then I considered: ‘Why, being myself subject to birth, do I seek what is also subject to birth? Why, being myself subject to ageing… sickness… death… sorrow… and defilement, do I seek what is also subject to these?

Suppose that, being myself subject to birth, knowing the danger in what is subject to birth, I seek the unborn supreme security from bondage, nirvana. Suppose that, being myself subject to ageing [etc.], knowing the danger in what is subject to ageing [etc.], I seek the unageing… the unailing… the deathless… the sorrowless… the undefiled supreme security from bondage, nirvana.

Monks, later while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, though my mother and father wished otherwise and wept with tearful faces, I shaved off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and went forth from the home life into homelessness.[2]The life of a wandering renunciant.

Ariya-pariyesana Sutta: Majjhima-nikāya I.161–163, trans. G.A.S.

References
1 I.e. both mental faults, and impurities in precious metals.
2 The life of a wandering renunciant.

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