The birth of Buddha or the Enlightened One:
He was born in Lumbini (Presently in Nepal) in the year 53 BC to Queen Maya and King Suddhodana, the leader of the Shakya clan. Siddhartha Gautama was his birth name.
In order to protect his son from getting attracted to the spiritual aspects of life, the King forbade him to leave the Palace; and therefore, being confined to the Palace, he could only enjoy the pleasures and luxuries of life as a Prince. Engaged in rigorous training cut off from the rest of the world Siddhartha was starting to emerge as a great leader as his father had hoped until one day, as fate would have it he left the palace and was finally exposed to the harsh reality and sufferings of his people. The Prince who had been oblivious to the truths of life and death had all of a sudden confronted the concepts of death, sickness, old age, and asceticism. It evoked a change in him. Despite the king’s desperate attempts to bring Siddhartha back into family life, he left his wife and newborn in search of higher truth and solutions to man’s sufferings.
As far as food habits, sleep, and daily life are concerned, he followed a life of self-discipline and extreme austerity. He developed physical suffering as a result of his body slowly giving up. Having realized this would not be the right path, he understood the importance of balance.
Under a fig tree, he began 49 days of meditation, since he always acknowledged the importance of meditation. Upon finishing his meditation, he was said to have gained answers, insight into the causes of suffering and how to escape from this entire trauma. From that moment, Siddhartha ceased to exist. It was the birth of Buddha or the enlightened one.
A path to obtaining spiritual enlightenment has four steps according to Gautama Buddha –
- Dukkha ( agony)
- Samudaya (source of suffering)
- Nirodha (absence of suffering in the mind)
- Marga (solution to suffering)
The Four Noble Truths
The path he suggested is a constitution of practical ethics that has a reasonable outlook. Buddhism was more gregarious than religious. It supported social equivalency. In his time Buddha didn’t concern himself with the dissensions about ‘atman’ ( soul) and ‘Brahma’. He was more concerned with worldly problems.
The Four Noble Trueness: foundational teaching of Buddhism
He sermonized his followers on the four “Noble Verities” (Chatvari Arya Satyani)
(1)We live in a world that is filled with suffering
(2) Suffering can be caused by thirst, desire, attachment, etc. that lead to worldly things,
(3)In order to stop suffering, thirst, desire, etc. must be destroyed.
(4) The path leads to the liberation of suffering.
Buddha discussed the chain of causes that lead to suffering, then suggested the eightfold path (Arya Ashtanga Marg) as a means to deliverance from these regrets
( 1) Right speech
(2) Right action
(3) Right means of livelihood Bulletins
( 4) Right exercise
(5) Right mindedness
(6) Right contemplation
(7) Right judgment
( 8) Right view.
The first three practices lead to Sila or carnal control, the lasting three lead to Samadhi or psychological control, the last two lead to Prajna or growth of inner sight.
The eight-fold path is known as the middle path. It lies between two maxima, namely, the life of ease and luxury and the life of severe asceticism. According to Buddha, this middle path sometimes leads to final bliss or‘Nirvana’.‘Nirvana’literally means “ blowing out” or the end of dolly or desire or Trishna for reality in all its forms.
It’s a tranquil state to be realized by a person who’s free from all dolly or desire. It’s deliverance or freedom from resurgence. Nirvana is an eternal state of peace or bliss which is free from grief and desire (Asoka), decay (Akshaya), distemperature (Abyadhi), and birth and death (amrita).
Buddha also defined a decalogue of conduct for his followers.
These are called the‘Ten Principles”, the dovetailing of
(1) Don’t commit violence
(2) Don’t steal
(3) Don’t involve yourself in demoralized practices
( 4) Don’t tell a fable
(5) Don’t exploit intoxicants or abuse drugs
(6) Don’t use a comfy bed
(7) Don’t chaperone dance and music
(8) Don’t take food desultorily
(9) Don’t accept gifts or covet other’s property,
(10) Don’t save all your earnings
By following these ten principles, one can lead a moral life.
Law of Karma
Buddha laid great stress on the Law of Karma and its working and the transmigration of souls. According to him the condition of man in this life and the following depends upon his own demeanor. Man is the maker of his own kismet, not any god or gods. One can nowise escape the consequences of his deeds. However, he’ll be regenerated in a late-life, and so on till he attains nirvana, If a man does good deeds in this life. Evil deeds are sure to be disciplined. We’re born again and again to reap the fruit of our Karmas. This is the law of Karma.
Ahimsa or Nonviolence
One of the important tenants of Buddha’s instruction is Ahimsa. Non-violence towards life is more important than good deeds. He advised that one shouldn’t kill or injure others, man or beast. People were discouraged from the entrapment or lucre of beasties. He condemned beast immolation and meat-eating. Though Buddha attached great consequence to non-violence, he permitted his followers to take meat when no other food is available to keep them alive.
Buddha neither accepts nor rejects the actuality of God. When he was questioned about the actuality of God, he either maintained silence or remarked that Gods or gods were also under the eternal law of Karma. He kept himself out of any theoretical discussion about God. He was only concerned with the deliverance of man from suffering.
Opposition to the Vedas
The Buddha opposed the authority of the Vedas. He also denied the serviceableness of Vedic and complex Brahmanical practices and rituals for the purpose of rescue. He dispraised the Brahmanical supremacy.
Opposition to Caste System
The Buddha opposed Varna’s order or order system. According to him, a man is to be judged not by virtue of his birth but by his grades. In his eyes all orders are equal. He won the support of the lower orders because of his opposition to the order system.
The Buddhist Church
The Samgha or the Buddhist Church was alike important as the Buddha and his doctrines. The registry of the Buddhist Church was open to all persons irrespective of any class or order distinctions, above fifteen whiles of age, handed they didn’t suffer from leprosy and other maladies. Women were also admitted. A person to the Sangha seeking ordination as a monk had to choose a schoolteacher and realize the sanction of the assembly of monks. The convert was formally ordained after taking the sanction. He’d to take the word of piety to the head of the Sangha.
The word was
“ Buddham sharanam gachhami”
( I take shelter in the Buddha)
“ Dharamam sharanam gachhami”
(I take shelter in Dharma)
Sangham sharanam gachhami”
( I take shelter in Sangha)
The convert was admitted to lower ordination or “ Pravrajya” and either he had to rehearse stern morality, rigorous austerity for 10 days, or he was admitted to refined ordination or “ Upasampada”. After the punitive period was over he went a full-hedged member of the church and his life was guided by the rules of Patimokkha.
How Buddhism continues to impact lives in the present day:
Many people are becoming interested in Buddhism due to the fast pace and high stress of modern life. Meditation is in particular something that many participants are interested in learning, both for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and to enhance spiritual experience. Kadampa Buddhism responds to this growing interest by offering many different methods of learning Buddhism and practicing meditation.