Kirpal Singh


Excerpt from the Book ‘The Crown of Life’

The teachings of Buddha represent in many ways a reaction against the religious traditions, some distorted, of the Vedas, and yet they confirm many of the basic tenets that we have already examined. The life of Buddha himself has become a legend embodying in a vivid and striking way, man’s need to turn from the phenomenal, outer world, to the noumenal, inner one. With his royal lineage and with everything that could make life happy at home, Buddha’s going out of the palace into the wilderness as a mendicant in quest of Truth was an unprecedented sacrifice. It indeed was a heroic endeavour on his part to wander for six long years, and to resort to all sorts of austerities and physical sufferings, reducing himself to a bare skeleton, and this compels deep and abiding admiration and adoration. But neither the life of luxury at home nor of tapas in the jungles could help him solve the problem of the misery, distress, sickness and death, which he had witnessed as the common lot of man’s life in the physical world. It was a momentous decision of his to forsake the ascetic life as he had done the one of luxury before.

Seated under the Bodhi tree in Gaya, in calm contemplation, he gave himself up to the divine influence that operates of itself and by itself when one resigns his self completely to the holiest and the highest in Nature, when suddenly there flashed upon his inward eye the much sought solution to the most baffling problem of life, in a seriated chain of cause and effect:

  1. the undeniable fact of suffering,
  2. the cause of suffering,
  3. the possibility of removing suffering, and lastly,
  4. the path that leads to freedom from suffering.

This was the Path of the Golden Mean, between self- indulgence and self-mortification, both of which were equally painful and unprofitable in the search after Truth. Hence it was given the name of the Middle Path, consisting of righteousness in the eightfold aspects of life, which have already been described in the earlier part of this book.

This, in brief, was the purport of the Master’s first sermon at Sarnath, delivered to the first five Bhikkhus. The simple and direct teachings, free from sophistications of the priestly order – the Brahmins – who had made rites and rituals as the be-all and end-all of man’s salvation, had a tremendous influence on the people as a whole. No wonder then that the new faith had a large number of converts from the ruling chiefs down to the layman, who eagerly took to the yellow robe.

This is the outer aspect as in all other religions of the world before and after Buddha’s time, and it worked well with the masses, for it gave them a clear perspective of life and life’s way. The intricate Vedic problems, the Vedic Pantheon and the Vedic mode of worship were bypassed in a single sweep, and the people were asked to evolve and elevate their conduct and everything else would follow of itself. This was in a way, the strict observance of yamas and niyamas that go to make for Sadachar (right conduct), the first and foremost step in the right direction.

It does not mean that Buddha denied the existence either of God, or of the steps leading up to Him on the spiritual path. A mere public non-affirmation of something of higher value and vital interest far ahead of his time and which the common man was not yet prepared and ready to accept does not mean the negation of the same. The higher Path was of course left for the chosen few and kept for the elect, who were worthy of the mystical teaching relating to transcendental hearing, as we read in the Surangama Sutra, wherein are described the spiritual experiences of the highest Bodhisatvas and Mahasatvas and great Arhats, like Maha Kasyapa, Sariputra, Samant Bhadra, Metaluniputra, Maudgalyana, Akshobya, Vejuria, Maitreya, Mahasthema-Prapta and others. All of them in their accounts testify, in one form or another, to the purple-golden brightness, the infinitude of pure mind-essence, the transcendental perception, the transcendental and intrinsic hearing experienced by the inner mind, leading to the indescribable and mysterious Sound of Dharma like the roar of a lion or the beating of drums; the penetrating power of the element of fire, making the intuitive insight luminously clear and enabling them to view all the Deva realms and finally the Buddha-land of Immovability, laying bare to the core the very heart of balanced and rhythmic ethereal vibrations. They also speak of the Supreme, wonderful and perfect Samadhi of Transcendental Consciousness called the Diamond Samadhi, that is attainable by means of Intrinsic Hearing, when the mind, freed from mental contaminations, loses itself into the Divine Stream.

After listening to the various personages, Manjusri, the prince of Dharma, laid great stress on attaining the supreme purity of mind-essence and its intrinsic brightness shining spontaneously in all directions, and exhorted the Great Assembly

to reverse the outward perception of hearing and to listen inwardly to the perfectly unified and intrinsic Sound of the mind-essence.

He then summed up the subject in the following memorable words:

This is the only way to Nirvana, and it has been followed by all the Tathagatas of the past. Moreover, it is for all the Bodhisatvas and Mahasatvas of the present and for all in the future if they are to hope for perfect enlightenment. Not only did Avalokiteswara attain perfect enlightenment in long ages past by this Golden way, but in the present, I also, am one of them […] I bear testimony that the means employed by Avalokiteswara is the most expedient means for all.1

Again, the contemplators in the Hinayana school of Buddhism were also called Shravaks which means 'hearers,' i.e., hearers of the inner Sound-Principle.

But after the passing away of the Lord, the secret teaching given by him to the chosen few gradually disappeared, and Buddhism like all other religions after having served the great need of the hour, now remains just a collection of dogmas and beliefs and offers little solace to the seekers after Truth, which comes only from a Truth-realized soul, a real Saint with spiritual attainment and inner experience of the Reality. 


Footnote: 1) For a fuller account in this connection, the interested reader is referred to the account given under the section 'Evidence from various Religions' appearing in 'Naam or Word' by the same author.