Rediscovering the Buddha: Legends of the Buddha and Their Interpretation

By Hans H. Penner | Go to book overview

5
Enlightenment and Liberation

It was the time of the full- moon night of April/May. No longer afflicted with the pangs of hunger, the future Buddha went toward the tree of enlightenment along a road the gods had prepared with celestial perfumes and flowers; celestial choruses poured forth heavenly music and shouts of acclaim. As he headed down the road there came from the opposite direction a grass cutter named Sotthiya who was carrying grass, and when he approached and saw that it was a holy man he gave him eight handfuls of grass. Gotama took the grass and headed for the tree of enlightenment.

The future Buddha approached the tree and stood on the southern side facing the north. Instantly the southern half of the world sank until it seemed to touch the Avici hell, while the northern half rose to the highest heavens. This was obviously not the right place for meditation. Walking around the tree with his right side toward it, he came to the western side and faced east. The western side of the world then sank until it seemed to touch the Avici hell, while the eastern half rose to the highest heavens, as if a huge cart wheel was lying on its side and someone was stepping on the rim. This clearly was not a place for meditation. And so he walked around the tree and came to its northern side and faced south, and the earth pitched once again as before.

He then came to the eastern side and faced west; it is the side that all Buddhas have sat cross- legged, the side that neither sinks nor raises. He then said, “This is the place, the immovable spot on which

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