Chapter 4

"My son, Rahula!" cried Yashodara, bursting into tears.

"Be strong, Mother!" exclaimed Rahula firmly, though in a soft waning voice, as Shakyamuni laid him on a bed. He was present in the main assembly hall in the middle of the monastery along with Shakyamuni's twelve senior disciples and Yashodara.

The aura of an enlightened one emanated from Rahula's being lighting the entire room with splendor as he spoke. "All people that are born must die, but it's how we face death, with our delusory 'I' or Ego being dissolved, we attain absolute happiness while alive, and enter nirvana after death."

Rahula's voice took on the omniscient quality of his father's, seeming to reverberate throughout the earth. "If we achieve this while living, we appreciate the blessings of being born human from the bottom of our heart. For only in the human form can we hear Dharma, attain Truth, and release from the birth-death cycle. After this body dies, I don't go into extinction, but will be reborn in the Buddhas Purelands, to become a Buddha myself. Then I return to the delusory worlds, to guide all beings as Father has guided me."

"My son, I shall show you all the Buddhalands, and you tell me, which land you wish to be reborn in," Shakyamuni spoke solemnly, but with deep love. "Bhikushus (monks) gathered here. Let Rahula's final nirvana be an eternal example of accomplishing the purpose of many lives!"

Shariputra lowered his head in reverence, touching his forehead to Rahula's feet on the bed. "I always treated you like a novice monk since your childhood, but now I honor you as my Teacher, the way I do Lord Tathagata himself," Shariputra wept, kissing Rahula's hands.

"Please, guide me to enlightenment, help me be strong," prayed Yashodara, kissing him after Shariputra. "I am proud of you, Rahula, for telling me to have faith in your father's teaching, Dharma, the light and Truth."

All disciples gathered kissed Rahula's hands as their way of saying goodbye. Shakyamuni spoke telepathically to Yashodara to avoid disturbing the ceremony.

Yashodara, was I a decent father who raised him, after I took him into the sangha away from castle life? He asked to her heart. I know I haven't been your husband in the conventional sense after becoming the Tathagata.

My lord, I accept you as Teacher first, husband second, as that's only an earthly bond that collapses at death, Yashodara replied back mentally. You guided him to eternal happiness that no earthly treasure can give. For that, I love as your disciple.

The two exchanged tender smiles then took opposite positions aside Rahula's bed. They no longer maintained the intimacy of marriage since Shakyamuni became a Buddha but maintained deep friendship. Each held Rahula's hand as Shakyamuni gave his final teaching.

"Rahula, tell me which Pureland you wish to be reborn in," proclaimed Shakyamuni. And he released divine light from the Buddha's eye on his forehead illuminating all of the Buddhas realms in the universe.

"Of all the lands I behold," began Rahula, lost in the magnificence of the realms. "I see one to the West, beyond a myriad of kotis that far outshines the rest! What is that magnificent place, so peerless, from whence the Dharma reverberates in song unsurpassed, and light beyond all brilliance in the universe itself?"

"That is Amitbha's Pureland!" exclaimed Shakyamuni, himself glowing brilliantly when speaking joyously of this Buddha. "He is my Teacher, peerless in virtue, splendor and deed, whose virtue creates his Sukvati (Purland), more radiant than all other Buddhas of the universe. We, the Tathagatas, who reside in countless worlds to guide living beings, praise him as our Teacher, our minds one with his in Truth."

"Your praise of Amitbha has summoned me to this Saha world of earth," echoed a heavenly voice throughout the chamber. "I am Mahāsthāmaprāpta bodhisattva, the Wisdom of Amitbha, and I appear at Rahula's nirvana for the benefit of all sentient beings. For nothing delights me more than to hear of my Teacher."

A glowing body of light formed above Rahula, human in shape yet illuminated from the inside out. Mahāsthāmaprāpta was adorned in flowing robes and the image of Amitbha was engraved in the crown upon his head. He floated to the ground and bowed with palms joined to Shakyamuni Buddha.

"O Blessed One, teacher of gods and men, Buddha of this world. I bow to you, who has the same enlightenment as my Master, and beseech: may I expound this Dharma?" asked Mahāsthāmaprāpta.

Shakyamuni nodded gesturing to the bodhisattva to rise, while still holding Rahula's hand.

"Venerable Rahula, in ages to come after your Father's passing, the Dharma will decline as human beings become more beset by worldly passions," explained Mahāsthāmaprāpta gently. "When that time comes, they'll no longer be able to save themselves into enlightenment through their own power, since their delusions have become so strong. My Teacher, Amitbha, knowing this perfectly well made a vow to carry them."

"Human beings are made of blind passions that make them suffer: desire, anger, and ignorance," continued the bodhisattva. "Just as a snowman is made of snow, so humans are made of worldly passions that make us suffer, heavy like a rock. Rahula, if you were to throw a rock into Jetavana monastery's pond, where Shakyamuni bathes, the rock would sink from its own weight. But imagine a raft of sticks is constructed to carry the rock across and make it float without changing its nature. Likewise, Amitbha's vow is strong like that raft that makes the rock float, without changing the rock's heavy nature."

"Absolute happinessis attained without severing blind passions," uttered Rahula, feeling his body fall away. "And to your Master's Pureland I wish to go as I enter nirvana!"

Before Rahula's eyes, deep blue sapphire's like his father's shut for the last time, final breath exhaled and mortal heart stopped, he whispered, "Mother, Father, I love you, and I'll guide all beings under Mahāsthāmaprāpta's instruction."

Tears of joy and sadness befell the entire assembly as Rahula's physical body died, but his Essence rose in splendor equal to Mahāsthāmaprāpta's bodhisattva. The heavens and earth shook he entered final nirvana. Scores of unseen gods, nature spirits, and beings lamented his death but rejoiced in his rebirth.

In his new light body Rahula smiled, kissing his parents goodbye and vanished from earthly sight with Mahāsthāmaprāpta to the Buddha realms of bliss. Here ends the story of Rahula Gautama, the Buddha's son, who guides us as all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the universe do to attain the Absolute Happiness.