Siddhartha, who later became known as the ‘Buddha – or The Enlightened One’ was a prince, who forsook the comforts of a palace to seek enlightenment. He realised the essential unreality of the world, in the bliss of nirvana and spent the remainder of his life teaching others how to escape the endless cycle of birth and death.
Buddha was born approximately 400 BC. He was born in a palace with all the comforts and luxuries possible. Growing up a young noble prince, it is said his father sought to shield the young prince Siddhartha from the pain and suffering of the world.
However, at one point, Buddha sought to find a greater meaning to life. So, in disguise, he left the Palace and wandered around the Kingdom. Here, Siddhartha came across, death, old age, illness and suffering. This showed him the transitory nature of life, so he resolved to seek the meaning of life.
Siddhartha resolved to give up worldly comforts and seek enlightenment amongst the ascetics of the forest. He left the Palace, leaving behind his wife and child, to travel into the forests to spend his time meditating with other ascetics.
In his quest for enlightenment, the Buddha fasted excessively so his body wasted away; however, enlightenment remained a far cry. At one point, a passing women gave him some food to eat and the Buddha realised it was a mistake to seek enlightenment by torturing the body. He regained his strength and resolved to follow a ‘middle path’ of avoiding excesses of fasting and feasting.
On one day, the Buddha decided to sit under a Bodhi tree until he attained enlightenment. For several days, he sat in meditation seeking nirvana. He was tested by various forces which tried to prevent him realising the goal.
However, the Buddha was successful and entered in the blissful consciousness of nirvana for several days. On returning to normal consciousness, The Buddha made the decision to spend the remainder of his life teaching others how to escape the inherent suffering of life.
For many years, the Buddha travelled around India, especially around the Ganges plain and in Nepal, teaching his philosophy of liberation. His teachings were transmitted orally and not written down until many years after his death.
“For centuries the light of the Buddha has shone as a beacon beckoning men from across the sea of darkness. Like lost children, millions of seekers have reached out to the light with their heart’s inmost cry, and the Buddha has shown them the Way. The world stood before the Buddha with it’s ignorance, and the Buddha, the Enlightened One, gave man Truth. The world offered its age old suffering to the Buddha’s heart and the Buddha, Lord of Compassion, showed man the Dharma.”
- Sri Chinmoy
Teachings of the Buddha
Some of the fundamentals of the teachings of Gautama Buddha are:
* The Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an inherent part of existence; that the origin of suffering is ignorance and the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment and craving; that attachment and craving can be ceased; and that following the Noble Eightfold Path will lead to the cessation of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.
* The Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
* Love. The Buddha stressed the importance of calming the mind and seeking the peace that each individual has within. With this inner peace, we can react to awkward situations with love, compassion and generosity.
Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.
* Power of the Mind. The Buddha taught it is our own mind which creates our own suffering, but also we can use this power to create happiness.
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much
as your own unguarded thoughts.”
- The Buddha
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought,
happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. ”
- Lord Buddha