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Buddha meets a Determinist

When, soon after his enlightenment, he set off for Benares, which lay several arduous days on foot away, the Buddha was only thirty-five years old. He had been a householder, a sramana and an ascentic. He had known sexual love, political power, the homelessness of a sramana, the trances of a yogi and the self-mortification of an ascetic. And now after this range of human experience he had known what he thought was true wisdom.

A naked sramana, one of the Ajivikas who were extreme determinists, met him on his way to Benares, and was clearly struck by his confident mood. He asked the Buddha who was his teacher. The Buddha declared that he was the enlightened one, had no teacher and was a teacher himself. Instead of falling at his feet, the sramana merely said, ‘it may be so, brother,’ and walked away.


Pankaj Mishra, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World – p. 188 quoting Majjhima Nikaya, trans. as The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, by Bhikkhu Nanamoli, pp263-4.

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