The Buddha went about teaching the Path to Enlightenment for 45 years. When he was 80 years old, he became ill and predicted that after three months, he would enter Nirvana.

When he journeyed to Pava, a blacksmith by the name of Chunda offered him some food and the Buddha became seriously ill. He continued on his journey and reached the forest near Kusinagara.

Lying between two large sala trees, the Buddha said his last words to his followers gathered around him: “Make yourself a light. Rely upon yourself. Do not depend upon anyone else…

”Consider your body. Think of its impurity. Knowing that both its pain and its delight are both causes of suffering, how can you indulge in its desires? …

“Control your own mind. Keep your mind from greed and you will keep your behaviour right, your mind pure, and your words faithful. By always thinking about the transiency of life, you will be able to resist all evils… Be the master of your mind.

”…Our parting is near… do not vainly lament, but realise that nothing is permanent and learn about the emptiness of human life. Do not forget that death is only the end of the physical body…“

Then the Buddha entered into perfect tranquility.

His body was cremated by his friends at Kusinagara. The ashes of the funeral pyre were divided among eight great countries and were also given to two rulers. Ten towers were built to enshrine his relics and his ashes.

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(Picture: A scroll in an antique shop in Tokyo, photographed with permission)