THE PATH IN ASVAGHOSA'S BUDDHACARITA
Since he was alienated by sense objects, even by those of supreme value, the Sakya King's son remained restless, he found no happiness, like a lion pierced to the heart by an extremely poisonous arrow.
One day, when devoted sons of ministers and friends witty in conversation were keeping him company, desiring to see the park, he longed for peace, and with the consent of the King he went outdoors.
Mounting Kanthaka, a beautiful horse, fitted out with a bridle bit of virgin gold, small bells, waving plumes, and graceful golden ornaments, like the brilliance of yellow flowers on a white banner, he went forth.
Longing for the forest, the splendour of the land, he went to a remote park on the edge of the wilderness. And there he saw the path of the plow transforming the ground into undulating waves, tearing it apart.
--Bunches of grass ploughed up and tender sprouts scattered about, a sprinkling of small creatures, insects, and worms, slaughtered--seeing the ground in this state, as if someone close to him had been killed, he fiercely burned.
As he gazed at the people ploughing, their appearance tarnished by wind, burning sun, and dust, and at the oxen, faltering from the strain of their effort, the Bodhisattva produced supreme compassion.
Then, descending from the back of his horse, examining the ground carefully, he was moved by grief. Reflecting upon the coming into existence and passing away of beings, he was overwhelmed and cried, "Indeed, this is misery."
Wishing to be alone with his thoughts, he banished his friends and attendants. In a solitary place he came to the root of a Jambu tree, covered with vibrant graceful leaves.
He sat down in an auspicious place where the grass resembled jewels. Reflecting upon the production and passing away of beings, he attained the path of mental stability.
Endowed with mental stability, simultaneously freed from the desires for sense objects and other anxieties, he obtained the first Dhyana, accompanied by conceptual thought and discursive thought, peaceful, pure.
Then, arriving at supreme joy and bliss born from discrimination, and at concentration of mind, he meditated on just this as transcendence, perceiving with his mind the course of the world correctly.
How pitiful when someone, personally subject to ruin, having the nature of disease, old age, and destruction, ignorant, blinded by delusion, disregards another who is afflicted by old age, has fallen ill, or has died.
If I, in the same condition myself, were to disregard another being with a similar self-nature, this would not be worthy or acceptable when I truely know this law of nature to be paramount.
Thus, as he rightly perceived the afflictions of disease, old age, and death of living beings; delusion, the belief in a self, proceeding from strength, youth, and vitality, dispersed instantly.
He did not delight, nor did he worry. He was not doubtful, lazy, or sleepy, nor was he inflamed by desire. He did not hate or look down upon others.
As the enlightenment of the Noble One increased, freeing him from passion, purified, a man approached, unseen by other people, the apparition of a monk.
The Prince addressed him: "Say who you are!" He declared, then, to him: "O Bull Among Men, afraid of birth and death, I am a religious aspirant who has left home to seek liberation.
In a world marked for destruction, desiring liberation, I seek the blissful, indestructible stance. Towards kindred and strangers my mind possesses equanimity. My defilement by desire for sense objects has come to an end.
Living anywhere, at the root of the tree, alone, in a temple, on a mountain, in the forest, I conduct myself, without possessions or wishes, towards the highest goal, as a religious mendicant.
After he finished speaking, even as the Prince watched, he ascended to the sky. A God who inspired past Buddhas in this fashion, he had approached him in order to bring about his mindfulness.
And when he was gone, like a bird in the sky, the best of men rejoiced and wondered. Since he has experienced the perception of dharma, he resolved his thought on the way to leave home.
The equal of Indra, the horses of the senses tamed, wishing to enter the city, he mounted his horse, for, taking his retinue into consideration, he did not, just then, pursue the cherished forest.
Desiring to make an end of birth and death, storing in his memory the intention to dwell in the forest, he approached the city again, without enthusiasm, like the Indra of the elephants, led from the wilds to captivity.
"Happy, alas, and at peace is the woman who has a husband like you, O One With Down-Cast Eyes!" A princess, having looked up at him entering on the path, her palms pressed together, eloquently said.
When the one whose voice was like a great thunder cloud heard this speech, he conceived of supreme peace, for, hearing her say the word "peace," he resolved his thought on the way to ultimate peace.
-to be continued