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Buddha and Brahma

By Adams, Henry

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Book Id: WPLBN0000707198
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 130,275 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2007
Full Text

Title: Buddha and Brahma  
Author: Adams, Henry
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Poetry, Verse drama
Collections: Poetry Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Public Library Association


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Adams, H. (n.d.). Buddha and Brahma. Retrieved from


Excerpt: The Buddha, known to men by many names - // Siddartha, Sakya, Muni, Blessed One,- // Sat in the forest, as had been his wont // These many years since he attained perfection; // In silent thought, abstraction, purity, // His eyes fixed on the Lotus in his hand, // He meditated on the perfect Life, // While his disciples, sitting round him, waited // His words of teaching, every syllable // More and more precious as the Master gently // Warned them how near was come his day of parting. // In silence , as the Master gave example, // They meditated on the Path and Law, // Till one, Malunka, looking up and speaking, // Said to the Buddha: O Omniscient One, // Teach us, if such be in the Perfect Way, // Whether the World exists eternally. // The Buddha made no answer, and in silence // All the disciples bent their contemplation // On the perfection of the Eight-fold Way, // Until Malunka spoke again: O Master, // What answer shall we offer to the Brahman // Who asks us if our Master holds the World // To be, or not, Eternal? // Still the Buddha sat // As though he heard not, contemplating // The pure white Lotus in his sacred hand, // Till a third time Malunka questioned him: // Lord of the World, we know not what we ask; // We fear to teach what thou hast not made pure. // Then gently, still in silence, lost in thought, // The Buddha raised the Lotus in his hand, // His eyes bent downward, fixed upon the flower. // No more! A moment so he held it only, // Then his hand sank into its former rest. // Long the disciples pondered on the lesson // Much they discussed its mystery and meaning, // Each finding something he could make his own, // Some hope or danger in the Noble Way, // Some guide or warning to the Perfect Life. // Among them sat the last of the disciples, // Listening and pondering, silently and still; // And when the scholars found no certain meaning // In Buddha's answer to Malunka's prayer, // The young man pondered: I will seek my father, // The wisest man of all men in the world, // And he with one word will reveal the secret, // And make me in an instant reach the light // Which these in many years have not attained // Though guided by the Buddha and the Law. // So the boy sought his father - an old man // Famous for human wisdom, subtle counsel, // Boldness in action, recklessness in war - // Gautama's friend, the Rajah of Mogadha. // No follower of Buddha, but a Brahman, // Devoted first to Vishnu, then to caste, // He made no sign of anger or remonstrance // When his son left him at Siddartha's bidding // To take the vows of poverty and prayer - // If Vishnu willed it, let his will be done! // The Rajah sat at evening in his palace, // Deep in solitude of his own thought, // When silently the young man entering // Crouched at a distance, waiting till his father // Should give some sign of favor. Then he spoke: // Father, you are wise! I come to ask you // A secret meaning none of us can read; // For, when Malunka three times asked the Master // Whether the world was or was not eternal, // Siddartha for a moment lifted up // The Lotus, and kept silence. // The Rajah pondered long, with darkened features, // As though in doubt increasing. Then he said: // Reflect, my son! The Master had not meant // This last and deepest lesson to be learned // From any but himself - by any means // But silent thought, abstraction, purity, // The living spirit of his Eight-fold Way, // The jewels of his Lotus. Least of all // Had he, whose first and easiest lesson taught // The nothingness of caste, intended you // To seek out me, a Warrior, Kshatriya, // Knowing no duties but to caste and sword, // To teach the Buddha and unveil his shrine. // My teaching is not his; mine not his way; // You quit your Master when you question me. // Silent they say, and long. The slowly spoke // 2 // The younger: Father, you are wise. // I must have Wisdom. Not so, my son. // Old men are often fools, but young men always. // Your duty is to act; leave thought to us. // The youngest sat in patience, eyes, cast down, // Voice low and gentle as the Master taught; // But still repeated the same prayer: You are wise; // I must have wisdom. Life for me is thought, // But, were it action, how, in youth or age, // Can man act wisely, leaving thought aside? // The Rajah made no answer, but almost // His mouth seemed curving to a sudden smile // That hardened to a frown; and then he spoke: // If Vishnu wills it, let his will be done! // The child sees jewels on his father's sword, // And cries until he gets it for a plaything. // He cannot use it but to wound himself; // Its perfect workmanship wakes no delight; // Its jewels are for him but common glass; // The sword means nothing that the child can know; // But when at last the child has grown to man, // Has learned the beauty of the weapon's art, // And proved its purpose on the necks of men, // Still must he tell himself, as I tell you: // Use it, but ask no questions! Think not! Strike! // This counsel you reject, for you want wisdom. // So be it! I swear to you in truth // That all my wisdom lies in these three words. // You ask Gautama's meaning, for you know // That since his birth, his thoughts and acts alike // Have been to me a mirror, clearer far // Than to himself, for no man sees himself. // With the solemnity of youth, you ask // Of me, on whom the charm of childhood still // Works greater miracles than magicians know, // To tell, as though it were a juggler's trick // The secret meaning which himself but now // Could tell you only by a mystic sign, // The symbol of a symbol - so far-thought, // So vagues and vast and intricate its scope. // And I, whom you compel to speak for him, // Must give his thought through mine, for his // Passes your powers - yours and all your school. // Your Master, Sakya, Muni, Gautama, // Is, like myself and you, a Kshatriya, // And in our youths we both, like you, rebelled // Against the priesthood and their laws of caste. // We sought new paths, deperate to find escape // Out of the jungle that the priest had made. // Gautama found a path. You follow it. // 3 // I found none, and I stay here, in the jungle, // Content to tolerate what I cannot mend. // I blame not him or you, but would you know // Gautama's meaning, you must fathom mine. // He failed to cope with life; renounced its cares; // Fled to the forest, and attained the End, // Reaching the End by sacrificing life. // You know both End and Path. You, too, attain. // I could not. Ten years older, I; // Already trained to rule, to fight, to scheme, // To strive for objects that I dared not tell, // Not for myself alone, but for us all; // Had I thrown down my sword, and fled my throne, // Not all the hermits, priests, and saints of Ind, // Buddhist or Brahman, could have saved our heads // From rolling in the dirt; for Rajahs know // A quicker that the Eight - fold Noble Way // To help their scholars to attain the End. // Renounce I could not, and could not reform. // How could I battle with the Brahman priests, // Or free the people from the yoke of caste, // When, with the utmost aid that priests could give, // And willing service from each caste in turn, // I saved but barely both my throne and them. // So came it that our paths were separate, // And his led up to so supreme a height // That from its summit he can now look down // And see where still the jungle stifles me. // Yet was our starting-point the same, and though // We now seem worlds apart - hold fast to this! - // The Starting-point must be the End-point too! // You know the Veda, and need not be taught // The first and last idea of all true knowledge: // One single spirit from which all things spring; // One thought containing all thoughts possible; // Not merely those that we, in our thin reason, // Hold to be true, but all their opposites; // For Brahma is Beginning, Middle, End, // Matter and Mind, Time, Space, Form, Life and Death. // The Universal has no time limit. Thought // Travelling in constant circles, round and round, // Muist ever pass through endless contradictions, // Returning on itself at last, till lost // In silence. // This is the Veda, as you know, // The alphabet of all philosophy, // For he who cannot or who dares not grasp // And follow this necessity of Brahma, // Is but a fool and weakling; and must perish // Among the follies of his own reflection. // 4 // Your Master, you and I, and all wise men, // Have one sole purpose which we never lose: // Through different paths we each seek to attain, // Sooner or later, as your paths allow, // A perfect union with the single Spirit. // Gautama's way is best, but all are good. // He breaks a path at once to what he seeks. // By silence and absorption he unites // His soul with the great sould from which it started. // But we, who cannot fly the world, must seek // To live two separate lives; one, in the world // Which we must ever seem to treat as real; // The other in ourselves, behind a veil // Not to be raised without disturbing both. // The Rajah is an instrument of Brahma, // No more, no less, than sunshine, lightning, rain; // And when he meets resistance in his path, // And when his sword falls on a victim's neck, // It strikes as strikes the lightning - as it must; // Rending it way through darkness to the point // It needs must seek, by no choice of its own. // Thus in the life of the Ruler, Warrior, Master, // The wise man knows his wisdom has no place, // And when most wise, we act by rule and law, // Talk to conceal our thought, and think // Only within the range of daily need, // Ruling our subjects while ourselves rebel, // Death always on our lips and in our act. // This is the jungle in which we must stay, // According to the teachings of the Master, // Never can we attain the Perfect Life. // Yet in this world of selfishness and striving // The wise man lives as deeply sunk in silence, // As conscious of the Perfect Life he covets, // As the recluse in his forest shadows, // As any Yogi in his mystic trances. // We need no Noble Way to teach us Freedom // Amid the clamor of a world of slaves. // We need no Lotus to love purity // Where life is else corruption. // So read Siddartha's secret! He has taught // A certain pathway to attain the End; // And best and simplest yet devised by man, // Yet still so hard that every energy // Must be devoted to its sacred law. // Then, when Malunka turns to ask for knowledge, // Would seek what lies beyond the Path he teaches, // What distant horizon transcends his own, // He bids you look in silence on the Lotus. // For you, he means no more. For me, this meaning // 5 // Points back and forward to that common goal // From which all paths diverge; to which, // All paths must tend - Brahma, the only Truth! // Gautama tells me my way too is good; // Life, Time, Space, Thought, the World, the Universe // End where they first begin, in one sole Thought // Of Purity in Silence. // Henry Adams...


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