The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Third Chapter for Recitation]

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[19: Eight Reasons for Earthquakes]

Then it occured to venerable Ānanda: “Surely it is wonderful, surely it is marvellous, this great earthquake, this very great earthquake, and (this) awful, hair-raising, crash of the Divinities' (thunder) drum. What was the reason, what was the cause, for the occurrence of this great earthquake?”

Then venerable Ānanda approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, he sat down at one side. Sitting on one side venerable Ānanda said this to the Gracious One: “Surely it is wonderful, reverend Sir, surely it is marvellous, reverend Sir, this great earthquake, this very great earthquake, and (this) awful, hair-raising, crash of the Divinities' (thunder) drum. What was the reason, reverend Sir, what was the cause, for the occurrence of this great earthquake?”

“There are these eight reasons, eight causes, Ānanda, for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

Which eight?

  1. This great Earth, Ānanda, stands in the water, the water stands in the atmosphere, the atmosphere stands in space. I interpret vāta (normally wind) here as atmosphere. This is quite an accurate description of the facts, especially given the time it was made.01 There comes a time, Ānanda, when great winds blow, with the great winds blowing, the waters move, the waters having moved, the Earth moves. This is the first reason, the first cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  2. Furthermore, Ānanda, when an ascetic or a brahmin or a Divinity, one of great power, one of great majesty, has, through spiritual power, attained (complete) mastery of the mind, and has then developed even a trifling perception of the Earth, or an unlimited perception of water, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the second reason, the second cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  3. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Buddha-to-be falls away from the Tusita hosts, A Buddha-to-be is said to always spend his penultimate life amongst the Gods in Tusita Heaven, and from there to descend to Earth for the last time.03 and mindfully, with full awareness, enters his mother's womb, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the third reason, the third cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  4. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Buddha-to-be mindfully, with full awareness, exits his mother's womb, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the fourth reason, the fourth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  5. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Realised One perfectly awakens to the unsurpassed and Perfect Awakening, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the fifth reason, the fifth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  6. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Realised One sets the unsurpassed wheel of the Teaching rolling, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the sixth reason, the sixth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  7. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Realised One mindfully, with full awareness gives up the life-process, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the seventh reason, the seventh cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

  8. Furthermore, Ānanda, when the Realised One is Finally Emancipated in the Emancipation-element which has no basis for attachment remaining, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the eighth reason, the eighth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

These are the eight reasons, the eight causes, Ānanda, for the occurrence of a great earthquake.