At the age of 80, Siddhartha Gautama ate his last meal, which he had received as an offering from a blacksmith. Buddha realized that his end was fast approaching; he passed away the following day, in 543 B.C.E. on a full-moon day in the month of May (known in the Indian calendar as Vesak).
The Buddha addressed all the monks, and these were the last words he spoke:
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in this world are impermanent. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
Then the Buddha lapsed into meditative absorptions. Going from level to level, one after the other, ever deeper and deeper. Then he came out of the meditative absorption for the last time and passed into nirvana.
The Buddha’s final words warn us of impermanence. All formations are impermanent and all that originate must someday cease to be. It is the great illusion of nature that things seem fixed and solid, for all things are in a constant state of flux, including ourselves.