The Buddha (BC 623-BC 543)
Researched by- Myoma Myint Kywe
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The Lord Buddha was the founder of Buddhism, began his life as a prince in India. The word "Buddha" can be defined as "the Enlightened One", or "the Awakened One".
The Lord Buddha was born in 623 B.C. in a country called Kapilavatthu in Northern India (its present site within Nepal's boundary). Born in the noble Sakya clan, he was named Siddhattha Gotama.
He was born at Lumbini Park on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. Deities from all heavenly realms came to welcome him and pay reverence. Even eminent gods like Brahma and Indra were there to express their joy at his birth. Heavenly music filled the air and two showers, one hot and one cold, came down from the sky to bathe the child. The earth trembled and the heavenly beings gave out loud acclaims of joy.
It is also said that, immediately after his birth, the infant stood firmly on the ground and took seven strides to the north, surrounded by gods and men. A white canopy was held over his head. Having walked the seven steps, he stopped to look around and gave out a fearless utterance known as the 'lion's roar' (sihanada). His proclamation may be translated as follows:
"Supreme am I in the world;
"Greatest am I in the world;
"Noblest am I in the world.
"This is my last birth,
"Never shall I be reborn."
It is possible that the miracles accompanying the Buddha's birth described in the early commentaries may point to something deeper and more meaningful.
As a prince of the country, he did not have to face the unsatisfactoriness and sufferings encountered by the common folks. He married his cousin Princess Yasodhara, who bore him a son by the name of Rahula. Life was good and without worries.
However, things changed after Prince Siddhattha took a private visit out of the palace and saw the four sights of Sickness, Old Age, Death and a holy man. That prompted him to renounce his comfortable life to seek out the truth in order to end the sufferings of common people. At the age of 29, B.C 594, he left his palace quietly in search of the truth. He had studied under ascetic teachers, and tried various methods of self-mortification, but to no avail. He learnt later that extremes (of indulgence versus torture) are not going to work out. After searching for 6 years, for 6 year Gautama strived as a hermit, at the age of 35, B.C 588, one day, he sought shelter under a tree, and through intense meditation that he finally attained Enlightenment, and sees things as they really are. Henceforth, he is known as the Lord Buddha. The tree under which the Buddha gained Enlightenment has since been known as the Bodhi Tree. The Lord Gautama Buddha gained a flash of insight that he felt gave him an answer to the problem of suffering. He began to share with other the meaning of His enlightenment since B.C 588.
The Lord Buddha and his disciples travelled vast areas (on foot) throughout India to expound the Dhamma, helping lots of suffering people along the way. His relentless effort lasted for 45 years. The Buddha spent 45 years the four Noble Truth and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha passed into Parinibbana (or passed away in simplified layman's term) at the ripe old age of 80 B.C 543. When Buddha died, his physical death is defined as Parinibbana.
Known as the Buddha or Enlightened One, Gautama Buddha taught that people can escape the circle of rebirth by eliminating desire and by following rules of behaviour, the Eightfold Path. Since Lord Buddha's death, B.C 543, Buddhism has become one of the world's great religions.
One of the teachings of Lord Buddha about KALAMA SUTTA
The Buddha proceeds to list the criteria by which any sensible person can decide which teachings to accept as true. Do not believe religious teachings, he tells the Kalamas, just because they are claimed to be true, or even through the application of various methods or techniques. Direct knowledge grounded in one's own experience can be called upon. He advises that the words of the wise should be heeded and taken into account. Not, in other words, passive acceptance but, rather, constant questioning and personal testing to identify those truths which you are able to demonstrate to yourself actually reduce your own stress or misery:
Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.
Thus, the Buddha provides ten specific sources which should not be used to accept a specific teaching as true, without further verification:
Instead, the Buddha says, only when one personally knows that a certain teaching is skillful, blameless, praiseworthy, and conducive to happiness, and that it is praised by the wise, should one then accept it as true and practice it. Thus, as stated by Bhikkhu Bodhi, neither was this teaching intended as an endorsement of radical skepticism:
On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker's kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes. ”
However, it seems not all Buddhists agree. According to Ven. Soma Thera, the Kalama Sutta is just that; the Buddha's charter of free inquiry:
“ The instruction of the Kalamas (Kalama Sutta) is justly famous for its encouragement of free inquiry; the spirit of the sutta signifies a teaching that is exempt from fanaticism, bigotry, dogmatism, and intolerance.
The first and main part of the Kalama Sutta is often quoted, but an equally important section of the Kalama Sutta follows on from this. This section (17) features the Buddha's four assurances, or solaces. Vaguely reminiscent of Pascal's Wager, the Buddha says that whether or not there are consequences to one's actions or not (kamma), whether there is an afterlife or not (rebirth), a happy, morally correct life in the here and now is what is most important and is assurance in itself:
"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom four solaces are found here and now."
"Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss." This is the first solace found by him.
"Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself." This is the second solace found by him.
"Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?" This is the third solace found by him.
"Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case". This is the fourth solace found by him.
"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, these four solaces are found." - (Kalama Sutta, translated by Soma Thera)
On these four solaces, Ven. Soma Thera wrote:
“ The Kalama Sutta, which sets forth the principles that should be followed by a seeker of truth, and which contains a standard things are judged by, belongs to a framework of the Dhamma; the four solaces taught in the sutta point out the extent to which the Buddha permits suspense of judgment in matters beyond normal cognition. The solaces show that the reason for a virtuous life does not necessarily depend on belief in rebirth or retribution, but on mental well-being acquired through the overcoming of greed, hate, and delusion.
The story of his last days of life is reported in the texts of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, with touching particulars.
At the age of 80 years (BC 543), Buddha realized that his death was coming, after having spent the last 45 years of his life preaching his doctrine.
Basic words for a Buddhist
Buddham saranam gacchami.( I go to the Buddha for refuge.)
Dhammam saranam gacchami. ( I go to the Dhamma (teachings of Buddha) for refuge.
Sangham saranam gacchami. ( I go to the Sangha (Monks) for refuge.)
The Nine Qualities of Lord Buddha
8. buddho and
The qualities of the Buddha are infinite and all those infinite qualities are included in these nine.
Araham means that the Buddha had eradicated all the defilements. Defilement in plain language means bad thoughts, bad reactions like anger, anxiety, hatred, frustration, stress, depression, ignorance, jealousy, gossip, attachment, dogmatism and so on; the Buddha had got rid of all these. The Buddha inspires us with His qualities. Because He had got rid of all defilement, He is Araham. While repeating the word Araham, you go on reflecting at the same time comparing the quality. The rosary is only an instrument to help you concentrate. The word Arahant and Arahat come from the same etymological background and have the same meaning with Araham.
This means to discover and understand fully, the Four Noble Truths , without any aid from a teacher. The Four Noble Truths that we have read about, heard about, thought about — we still have difficulty in understanding them fully.
3. VIJJA -CARANA-SAMPANO
Vijja-Carana-Sampano is knowledge and conduct, or theory and practice; the Buddha is endowed with both. He says as He acts and He does what He says. When you see things like this, you realize how great is the quality of Vijja-Carana-Sampano the Buddha posses, and how valuable are all His qualities. Some people know the theory but do not practice it.
Sugato is a great speaker, who is adept in the art of choosing the right words, saying them at the right time, and in such a way as will benefit the listener. The Buddha was a master of that. Another meaning of Sugato is that the Buddha walks the best path to reach His goal — the path leading to freedom from suffering (dukkha). When He meditates and a pain arises, He observes the pain without increasing dukkha, whereas the majority of people personalize pain or suffering and misperceives it through attachment and pride (mana). The Buddha avoided this path of misconstruing things and followed the right path. He had chosen to deal with things in the right way that freed Him from suffering. The Buddha, being a Sugata, walked the path of freedom and freed Himself from mental suffering.
Lokavidu is the person who knows about the world. What do we mean by Loka? As There are six worlds; the seeing world, the hearing world, the smelling world, the tasting world, the touching world and the thinking world. There are no other worlds than these six. The Buddha understands how they arise and cease. He knows how clashes and harmony happen in this world. He knows why people can be trapped in them or be free from them. That is why He is called Lokavidu. You are in harmony with the world only when you know about it and live accordingly accepting as it is.
6. ANUTTARO PURISA DHAMMA-SARATHI
Anuttaro Purisa Dhamma-Sarathi means that the Buddha is the best teacher who can bring the wayward back into the fold. The Buddha can make people understand with either just one sentence or a whole series of talks, like the time He gave His first sermon to the five ascetics, which took five whole days. We should reflect on this quality of the Buddha whenever we experience problems in teaching or explaining things to children. How capable the Buddha is in these things!
7. SATTA DEVA-MANUSSANAM
Satta Deva-Manussanam — the teacher and leader of devas and men. Let alone knowing more than the Buddha or even knowing as much as the Buddha did, we struggle to understand even a tiny bit of what He has said in His sermons and this is in spite of having many learned monks teaching us. He was the Satta Deva Manussanam. There were many that became the Buddha's followers. Even after He passed away, there are many like us who regard the Buddha as their teacher and leader.
Buddho is the person who knows the Four Noble Truths . This is similar to Samma Sambuddho, which emphasizes the fact that the Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths by Himself. Buddho just emphasizes the fact that he knows it well. He was the Awakened One, who had awakened from ignorance and delusion.
1. Araham: Exalted; Accomplished One
Far away from internal conflict
Destroyer of defilements
Worthy of requisites
Devoid of secrets and evil doing
2. Samma sambuddho: Perfectly Self Enlightened
Knows all things by himself
3. Vijja-Carana Sampanno: Endowed with Knowledge and Virtue
4. Sugato: Well Spoken;
Speaking Good & Beneficial things.
i. Good & Benificial: This is the way the Buddha Spoke
ii. ~ Good & Beneficial
iii. Good & ~ Beneficial
iv. ~ Good & ~ Beneficial
Some may like the message some may dislike the message
5. Lokavidu: Knower of the Worlds
Knower of the 3 Kinds of Worlds
iii. The relationship between Space and Beings
6. Anuttaro Purisadammasarathi: Supreme trainer of persons to be tamed
Anuttaro: supreme or peerless
7. Sattha devamanussanam: Teacher of Gods and Humans
The Buddha was able to teach Gods and Men, and he made time in each day to teach.
Deva: divine beings
Manussanam: Men / People
8. Buddho: The Enlightened One
Discovered the 4 Noble Truths
i. The truth of suffering
ii. The truth of the cause of suffering
iii. The truth of the cessation of suffering
iv. The truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering
9. Bhagava: Blesses One
Having the characteristic of magnetic attraction.
When you meet him, you want to go back to see him.
When you hear him speak, you want to back to hear him speak again.
Buddhist Five Main Precepts (PANCA SILA)
The Five Precepts (Pali: pañca-s?l?ni; Sanskrit: pañca-??l?ni) constitute the basic Buddhist code of ethics, undertaken by lay followers (Up?saka and Up?sik?) of the Buddha Gautama in the Theravada (practised mainly Burma, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, southeast Asia, etc and India, Sri Lanka south Asia, etc) and Mahayana (practised in China, Korea, and Japan) traditions. The Five Precepts are commitments to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. Undertaking the five precepts is part of both lay Buddhist initiation and regular lay Buddhist devotional practices.
They are not formulated as imperatives, but as training rules that laypeople undertake voluntarily to facilitate practice.
The following are the five precepts (pañca-sikkh?pada) or five virtues (pañca-s?la) rendered in English and Pali:
Panati-pata veramani sikkha padam samadiyami
Adinna-dana veramani sikkhi padam samadiyami
Kamesu miccha~cara veramani sikkha padam samadiyami
Musavada veramani sikkha padam samadiyami
Sura meraya-maija-pama~datthana veramani sikkha padam samadiyami
1. Refrain From Killing
2. Refrain from Stealing
3. Refrain from Sexual Misconduct
4. Refrain from Lying, Slandering, Gossiping and Spreading Rumours
5. Refrain from Taking Intoxicants
The law of cause and effect is known as karma. Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserves it. We receive exactly what we earn, whether it is good or bad. We are the way we are now due to the things we have done in the past. Our thoughts and actions determine the kind of life we can have. If we do good things, in the future good things will happen to us. If we do bad things, in the future bad things will happen to us. Every moment we create new karma by what we say, do, and think. If we understand this, we do not need to fear karma. It becomes our friend. It teaches us to create a bright future.
The Buddha said:
"The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit."
That's from Dhammapada.
Known as Dukkha in Pali, the 1st noble truth can be translated to mean suffering, or (in a seemingly less pessimistic sense) unsatisfactoriness. To say that we encounter suffering every now and then may not be obvious; but then Dukkha encompasses more: unfulfilled wish is also suffering, coming into contact (and being forced to spend long hours) with people we do not like is Dukkha, separated from people we love is Dukkha. Drilling down further, we may come to realize that we do at least now and then come into contact with suffering. Some people could take Dukkha too hard to bear that they resort to ending their lives.
2: Cause of Suffering
The cause of all the suffering is craving, or attachment. This is the 2nd noble truth.
3: End of Suffering
The 3rd noble truth is the complete end of suffering - Nibbana. This can be achieved when all forms of craving are eradicated.
4: Way Leading to the End of Suffering
How to reach the end of suffering? This could be explained by the 4th noble truth - The Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble 8-fold Path
The Buddha urged His disciples to do eight things: By avoiding extremes and following the eightfold path, a person could attain Nibbana (Nirvana), a state of freedom from the circle of rebirth.
1. Right Understanding
The understanding of things as they really are; the knowledge of the 4 Noble Truths.
2. Right Thought
Includes benevolent and loving-kindness thoughts, which are the opposites of ill-will and cruelty respectively.
3. Right Speech
Not lying, slandering, using harsh words and engaging in frivolous talks (including meaningless gossiping).
4. Right Action
Refraining from killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct.
5. Right Livelihood
Not having occupation that trades in arms, human beings, life stocks, intoxicating drinks, and poisons.
6. Right Effort
Effort made to eradicate/reduce evil-doings and effort made to promote/enhance good deeds.
7. Right Mindfulness
Being mindful (as opposed to heedlessness/carelessness) of body, mind, etc.
8. Right Concentration
One-pointedness of the mind (as can be seen and achieved in meditation).
Kamma could simply be defined as action. However, it is not any kind of action, but intentional action, including physical action, speech, or thought. So, an intentional evil thought constitutes a Kamma - an unwholesome one.
Kamma (action) is always discussed in conjunction with Vipaka (fruits, or the reaction). To a farmer, it is reaping what seed that is sowed. To a scientist, an analogy would be cause and effect (e.g. Newton's Law). To sum up, bad Kamma begets bad Vipaka, and good Kamma reaps good results. Thus, Kamma explains many of the inequalities experienced by mankind - why some are born handicapped, etc.
Having mentioned the above, Buddhists believe that Kamma is not a pre-destination for oneself and nothing could be done. Having suffered this life, a person could actively perform more good deeds such that not only others would benefit from the good deeds, but good Kamma could be accumulated, no matter when in the future the good results are reaped-Cannot just sit around and let things to fate; must make constant effort to change for the better for oneself and other sentient beings!
Understanding Kamma is only the first step. One must encourage wholesome Kamma and avoid (if not eliminate) unwholesome Kamma. At the end of the day, as mentioned in the Dhammapada (verse 165):
By oneself is evil done,
By oneself is one defiled,
By oneself is no evil done,
By oneself is one purified.
Both defilement and purity depend on oneself.
No one is purified by another.
The organization of the Buddha's disciples had come to be known as the Sangha. The Sangha refers to the followship of disciples of the Buddha. Generally, it includes the Buddhist monks and nuns, who had made their commitments to lead a monastic way of life, and to carry on and preserve the teachings and tradition left behind by the Buddha. On a wider scope, Sangha includes the lay disciples.
Metta is a Pali word for loving-kindness (Sanskrit = Maitri). Metta is essential for everyone. Put simply, loving-kindness means wishing all beings be well and happy, and that harm and suffering be away from them. It is a wish, a prayer, and a state of mind. For a Buddhist practising loving-kindness, it is supposed to be universal --> you cannot be wishing your loved ones well and on the other hand wishing your competitors/enemies to go to hell! Some Buddhists practise meditation on loving-kindness.
According to the Buddha, a person who practises meditation on loving-kindness regularly could see some results, e.g. sleeps peacefully, disturbing dreams do not occur, pleasing to others, etc.
May all beings be void of enmity, disease and grief, and may they take care of themselves happily; May I be free from envy, may I be free from jealousy. May I be free from malice; may my beloved parents be well and happy; may my loving brothers and sisters be well and happy; may my kind teachers be well and happy; may my dear friends and relatives be well and happy; may my dutiful servants be well and happy; may all the non-friendly be well and happy.
Practice of vipassan?
Vipassan? meditation differs in the modern Buddhist traditions and in some nonsectarian forms. It includes any meditation technique that cultivates insight including contemplation, introspection, observation of bodily sensations, analytic meditation, and observations about lived experience. Therefore, the term can include a wide variety of meditation techniques across lineages.
In the Therav?da
Vipassan? as practiced in the Therav?da includes contemplating Buddhist teachings, including the Four Noble Truths, as well as more experiential forms such as deep body awareness. In the latter forms it is a simple technique which depends on direct experience and observation. It can be related to the three trainings taught by the Buddha as the basis of a spiritual path: adherence to a s?la (Sanskrit: ??la) (abstinence from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxication), which is not an end in itself but a requirement for the second part, concentration of the mind (sam?dhi). With this concentrated mind, the third training, in the context of this technique (paññ?, Sanskrit prajñ?), is detached observation of the reality of the mind and body from moment to moment.
Who is a Bodhisatta (or Bodhisattva in Sanskrit)?
The components of the term explains. Bodhi refers to "enlightenment" and Satta means "devoted to". As such, this term can generally be used to refer to someone who is striving for enlightenment. In a focused sense, a Bodhisatta is someone who will eventually become a Buddha.
A Bodhisatta in the course of helping others, practices the Perfections:-
What is the purpose of Buddhists in worshipping and making Buddha images?
Buddhists cast Buddha images and statues as reminders of the Buddha. People of various countries designed national flags to represent each of their own countries which are held as important, worth of respect. Such practice does not imply paying a respect to the cloth or its colour but to the highest national institution. In the same manner, Buddha images and statues also are objects of respect.
Our respect does not aim only at wood or metal which Buddha images are made of but mainly at the 3 qualities of the Buddha, namely: wisdom, purity, and compassion. A Buddhist paying respect to a Buddha image is away of reminding oneself that one needs to improve one's own wisdom, purity, and compassion in order to follow the Buddha's triple quality at the same time.
What are the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha?
To be a Buddhist, one is expected primarily to take refuge in the Triple Gem: the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Buddha means the Enlightened One. Dhamma means Truth realised and taught by the Buddha. Sangha means the Buddha's disciples who behave and practise righteously. The ideal Sangha means those who attain the Four States of Noblehood.
(2) The Second Level
The Buddha : The Enlightened One, who was formerly Prince Siddhattha of the Sakya clan. He renounced the worldly life in search of Truth and after His Enlightenment established Buddhism.
Dhamma : Truth realised and taught by the Buddha, learned and put into practice by the Buddhists, both ordained and lay people.
Sangha : the Buddha's noble disciples who have attained the Four States of Noblehood.
(3) The Third Level
The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha become one. The Buddha in this level is identical with Dhamma as it was stated by Him that "One who sees Dhamma sees me; one who seems me sees Dhamma." This shows that Buddhahood is Dhamma and Dhamma is Buddhahood. The ideal Sangha is the embodiment of the realised Dhamma.
Is it true that Buddhism is pessimistic?
The belief that Buddhism is pessimistic derives from the misunderstanding of the First Noble Truth which teaches that all sentient beings are subject to the suffering of birth, old age and death, etc. Only when one accepts the truth of this suffering will one begin to investigate the cause of suffering, the cessation of its cause and practice the path leading to its cessation.
In this sense we will see that Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor optimistic; it is rather realistic. The Buddha may be compared to a medical doctor who diagnoses that human beings do have a severe disease, but he did not stop there. He pointed out that it can be overcome and further prescribed medicine to remedy it. Buddhism seeks to overcome human suffering. Each individual needs to develop morality, concentration, and wisdom in order to solve the problems of life. Buddhists are taught to face the world in its reality and try to overcome its binding forces and ultimately arrive at spiritual freedom which is known as Nirvana or Nibbana. But how wonderful it will be for all those who have arrived in Nirvana or Nibbana, they will be no more sickness, suffering, crying and death. So please study correctly in Vipassana Meditation before it is forever too late.
What are the main doctrinal tenets of Buddhism?
The main doctrinal tenets of Buddhism can be summarised as follows:
(1) To refrain from all evil
(2)To do what is good
(3)To purify the mind
(2)The cause of suffering
(3)The cessation of suffering
(4)The way leading to the cessation of suffering
Buddhism in Burma (also known as Myanmar) is predominantly of the Theravada tradition, practised by 89% of the country's population. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion.
Today, most Buddhists are birth certificate Buddhists. There are estimated 1.9 billion of these kinds of Buddhists. The estimates range between 1500 million and just over2 billion. Buddhism population is between 1500 and 1,900 million including India, China, Japan, Korea, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao, Malaysia, Singapore, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and some regions of Russia, etc. Hinduism population is between 1000 and 1,084 million, including India, South Asia, Bali, Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and among the overseas Indian communities.
Buddhism and Hinduism are two religions or ways of thought that came from the same region and share similar terminology. The meanings of the terms can be different in some ways. Several Indian thinkers consider Buddhism as it existed in India to be a part of the larger Hindu tradition, which they identify as all those practices and religions native to the Indian subcontinent. The Buddha himself is considered by many Hindus to be an avatar or reincarnation of Vishnu, an important Indian deity. However, according to the Buddha in the Tripitaka, Vishnu was a young deva newly arisen in the deva plane who paid him a visit and spoke verses in praise of the Buddha.
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