In the town
of Savathi every child knew the name of the Illustrious Buddha and every
house was ready to fill the alms-bowls of Gautam's silently begging
disciples. Near the town was Gautam's favourite abode, the Jetavana grove,
which the rich merchant, Anathapindika, a great devotee of the Illustrious
One, had presented to him and his followers.
two young ascetics, in their search for Gautam's abode, had been referred to
this destrict by tales and answers to their questions, and on their arrival
at Savathi, food was offered to them immediately at the first house in front
of whose door they stood silently begging. They partook of food and
Siddhartha asked the lady who handed him the food:
lady, we should very much like to know where the Buddha, the Illustrious
One, dwells for we are two Samanas from the forest and have come to see the
Perfect One and hear his teachings from his own lips.'
woman said: 'You have come to the right place, O Samanas from the forest.
The Illustrious One sojourns in Jetavana, in the garden of Anathapindika.
You may spend the night there, pilgrims, for there is enough room for the
numerous people who flock there to hear the teachings from his lips.'
Govinda rejoiced and happily said: 'Ah, then we have reached our goal and
our journey is at an end. But tell us, mother of pilgrims, do you know the
Buddha? Have you seen him with your own eyes?'
woman said: 'I have seen the Illustrious One many times. On many a day I
have seen him walk through the streets, silently, in a yellow cloak, and
silently hold out his alms-bowl at the house doors and return with his
Govinda listened enchanted and wanted to ask many more questions and hear
much more, but Siddhartha reminded him that it was time to go. They
expressed their thanks and departed. It was hardly necessary to inquire the
way, for quite a number of pilgrims and monks from Gautam's followers were
on the way to Jetavana. When they arrived there at night, there were
continual new arrivals. There was a stir of voices from them, requesting and
obtaining shelter. The two Samanas, who were used to life in the forest,
quickly and quietly found shelter and stayed there till morning.
sunrise they were astounded to see the large number of believers and curious
people who had spent the night there. Monks in yellow robes wandered along
all the paths of the magnificent grove. Here and there they sat under the
trees, lost in meditation or engaged in spirited talk. The shady gardens
were like a town, swarming with bees. Most of the monks departed with their
alms-bowls, in order to obtain food for their midday meal, the only one of
the day. Even the Buddha himself went begging in the morning.
Siddhartha saw him and recognized him immediately, as if pointed out to him
by a god. He saw him, bearing an alms-bowl, quietly leaving the place, an
unassuming man in a yellow cowl.
'Look,' said Siddhartha softly to Govinda, 'there is the Buddha.'
Govinda looked attentively at the monk in the yellow cowl, who could not be
distinguished in any way from the hundreds of other monks, and yet Govinda
soon recognized him. Yes, it was he, and they followed him and watched him.
Buddha went quietly on his way, lost in thought. His peaceful countenance
was neither happy nor sad. He seemed to be smiling gently inwardly. With a
secret smile, not unlike that of a healthy child, he waked along peacefully,
quietly. He wore his gown and walked along exactly like the other monks, but
his face and his step, his peaceful downward glance, his peaceful
downward-hanging hand, and very finger of his hand spoke of peace, spoke of
completeness, sought nothing, imitated nothing, reflected a continual quiet,
an unfading light, an invulnerable peace.
Gautam wandered into the town to obtain alms, and the two Samanas recognized
him only by his complete peacefulness of demeanour, by the stillness of his
form, in which there was no seeking, no will, no counterfeit, no effort
only light and peace.
we will hear the teaching from his own lips,' said Govinda.
Siddhartha did not reply. He was not very curious about the teachings. He
did not think they would teach him anything new. He, as well as Govinda, had
heard the substance of the Buddha's teachings, if only from second- and
third-hand reports. But he looked attentively at Gautam's head, at his
shoulders, at his feet, at his still, downward-hanging hand, and it seemed
to him that in every joint of every finger of his hand there was knowledge;
they spoke, breathed, radiated truth. This man, this Buddha, was truly a
holy man to his finger tips. Never had Siddhartha esteemed a man so much,
never had he loved a man so much.
both followed the Buddha into the town and returned in silence. They
themselves intended to abstain from food that day. They saw Gautam return,
saw him take his meal within the circle of his disciples
what he ate would not have
satisfied a bird
and saw him withdraw to the
shades of the mango tree.
evening, however, when the heat abated and everyone in the camp was alert
and gathered together, they heard the Buddha preach. They heard his voice,
and this also was perfect, quiet and full of peace. Gautam talked about
suffering, the origin of suffering, the way to release from suffering. Life
was pain, the world was full of suffering, but the path to the release from
suffering had been found. There was salvation for those who went the way of
the Buddha had finished
it was already night
many pilgrims came forward
and asked to be accepted into the community, and the Buddha accepted them
and said: 'You have listened well to the teachings. Join us then and walk in
bliss; put an end to suffering.'
Govinda, the shy one, also stepped forward and said: 'I also wish to pay my
allegiance to the Illustrious One and his teachings.' He asked to be taken
into the community and was accepted.
soon as the Buddha had withdrawn for the night, Govinda turned to Siddhartha
and said eagerly: 'Siddhartha, it is not for me to reproach you. We have
both listened to the Illustrious One, we have both heard his teachings.
Govinda has listened to the teachings and has accepted them, but you my dear
friend, will you not also tread the path of salvation? Will you delay, will
you still wait?'
he heard Govinda's words, Siddhartha awakened as if from a sleep. He looked
at Govinda's face for a long time. Then he spoke softly and there was no
mockery in his voice. 'Govinda, my friend, you have taken the step, you have
chosen your path. You have always been my friend, Govinda, you have always
gone a step behind me. Often I have thought: will Govinda ever take a step
without me, from his own conviction? Now, you are a man and have chosen your
own path. May you go along it to the end, my friend. May you find
Govinda, who did not yet fully understand, repeated his question
impatiently: 'Speak, my dear friend, say that you also cannot do other than
swear allegiance to the Buddha.'
Siddhartha placed his hand on Govinda's shoulder. 'You have heard my
blessing, Govinda. I repeat it. May you travel this path to the end. May you
that moment, Govinda realized that his friend was leaving him and he began
'Siddhartha,' he cried.
Siddhartha spoke kindly to him. 'Do not forget, Govinda, that you now belong
to the Buddha's holy men. You have renounced home and parents, you have
renounced origin and property, you have renounced your own will, you have
renounced friendship. That is what the teachings preach, that is the will of
the Illustrious One. That is what you wished yourself. Tomorrow, Govinda, I
will leave you.'
long time the friends wandered through the woods. They lay down for a long
time but could not sleep. Govinda pressed his friend again and again to tell
him why he would not follow the Buddha's teachings, what flaw he found in
them, but each time Siddhartha waved him off: 'Be at peace, Govinda. The
Illustrious One's teachings are very good. How could I find a flaw in them?'
in the morning, one of the Buddha's followers, one of his oldest monks, went
through the garden and called to him all the new people who had sworn their
allegiance to the teachings, in order to place upon them the yellow robe and
instruct them in the first teachings and duties of their order. Thereupon
Govinda tore himself away, embraced the friend of his youth, and drew on the
Siddhartha wandered through the grove deep in thouht.
he met Gautam, the Illustrious One, and as he greeted him respectfully and
the Buddha's expression was so full of goodness and peace, the young man
plucked up courage and asked the Illustrious One's permission to speak to
him. Silently the Illustrious One nodded his permission.
Siddhartha said: 'Yesterday, O Illustrious One, I had the pleasure of
hearing your wonderful teachings. I cam from afar with my friend to hear
you, and now my friend will remain with you; he has sworn allegiance to you.
I, however, am continuing my pilgrimage anew.'
you wish,' said the Illustrious One politely.
talk is perhaps too bold,' continued Siddhartha, 'but I do not wish to leave
the Illustrious One without sincerely communicating to him my thoughts. Will
the Illustrious One hear me a little longer?'
Silently the Buddha nodded his consent.
Siddhartha said: 'O Illustrious One, in one thing above all have I admired
your teachings. Everything is completely clear and proved. You show the
world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain, linked together by
cause and effect. Never has it been presented so clearly, never has it been
so irrefutably demonstrated. Surely every Brahmin's heart must beat more
quickly, when through your teachings he looks at the world, completely
coherent, without a loophole, clear as crystal, not dependent on chance, not
dependent on the gods. Whether it is good or evil, whether life itself is
pain or pleasure, whether it is uncertain
that it may perhaps be this
is not important
but the unity of the world,
the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and the small from the
same stream, from the same law of cause, of becoming and dying: this shines
clearly from your exalted teachings, this unity and logical consequence of
all things is broken in one place. Through a small gap there streams into
the world of unity something strange, something new, something that was not
there before and that cannot be demonstrated and proved: that is your
doctrine of rising above the world, of salvation. With this small gap,
through this small break, however, the eternal and single world law breaks
down again. Forgive me if I raise this objection.'
had listened quietly, motionless. And now the Perfect One spoke in his kind,
polite and clear voice. 'You have listened well to the teachings, O
Brahmin's son, and it is a credit to you that you have thought so deeply
about them. You have found a flaw. Think well about it again. Let me warn
you, you who are thirsty for knowledge, against the thicket of opinions and
the conflict of words. Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly,
clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them. The teaching which you
have heard, however, is not my opinion, and its goal is not to explain the
world to those who are thirsty for knowledge. Its goal is quite different;
the goal is salvation from suffering. That is what Gautam teaches, nothing
not be angry with me, O Illustrious One,' said the young man. 'I have not
spoken to you thus to quarrel with you about words. You are right when you
say that opinions mean little, but may I say one thing more? I did not doubt
you for one moment. Not for one moment did I doubt that you were the Buddha,
that you have reached the highest goal which so many thousands of Brahmin's
and Brahmin's sons are striving to reach. You have done so by your own
seeking in your own way, through thought, through meditation, through
knowledge, through enlightenment. You have learned nothing through
teachings, and so I think, O Illustrious One, that nobody finds salvation
through teachings. To nobody, O Illustrious One, can you communicate in
words and teachings, what happened to you in the hour of your enlightenment.
The teachings of the enlightened Buddha embrace much, they teach much
how to live righteously, how
to avoid evil. But there is one thing that this clever, worthy instruction
does not contain; it does not contain the secret of what the Illustrious One
he alone among hundreds of
thousands. That is what I thought and realized when I heard your teachings.
That is why I am going on my way
not to seek another and
better doctrine, for I know thee is none, but to leave all doctrines and all
teachers and to reach my goal alone
or die. But I will often
remember this day, O Illustrious One, and this hour when my eyes beheld a
Buddha's eyes were lowered, his unfathomable face expressed complete
hope you are not mistaken in your reasoning,' said the Illustrious One
slowly. 'May you reach your goal! But tell me, have you seen my gathering of
holy men, my many brothers who have sworn allegiance to the teachings? Do
you think, O Samana from afar, that it would be better for all these to
relinquish the teachings and to return to the life of the world and
thought never occurred to me,' cried Siddhartha. 'May they all follow the
teachings! May they reach their goal! It is not for me to judge another
life. I must judge for myself. I must choose and reject. We Samanas seek
release from the Self, O Illustrious One. If I were one of your followers, I
fear that it would only be on the surface, that I would deceive myself that
I was at peace and had attained salvation, while in truth the Self would
continue to live and grow, for it would have been transformed into your
teachings, into my allegiance and love for you and for the community of the
smiling, with imperturbable brightness and friendliness, the Buddha looked
steadily at the stranger and dismissed him with a hardly visible gesture.
are clever, O Samana,' said the Illustrious One; 'you know how to speak
cleverly, my friend. Be on your guard against too much cleverness.'
Buddha walked away and his look and half-smile remained imprinted in
Siddhartha's memory for ever. I have never seen a man look and smile, sit
and walk like that, he thought. I, also, would like to look and smile, sit
and walk like that, so free, so worthy, so restrained, so candid, so
childlike and mysterious. A man only looks and walks like that when he has
conquered his Self. I also will conquer my Self.
been one man, one man only, thought Siddhartha, before whom I must lower my
eyes. I will never lower my eyes before any other man. No other teachings
will attract me, since this man's teachings have not done so.
Buddha has robbed me, thought Siddhartha. He has robbed me, yet he has given
me something of greater value. He has robbed me of my friend,
who believed in me and who now believes in him; he was my shadow and
is now Gautam's shadow. But he has given me Siddhartha, myself.