Month: September 2017

Monk : The sight which gave Buddha inspiration

The sight of a monk was the last of the four sights which compelled the Buddha to seek a means to end suffering and eventually be enlightened.
After numerous days of consideration and pain, Siddhartha went to the city for the fourth time. As he was heading to the park, he saw a man wearing an orange shaded robe. He asked Channa about the man in robes. Channa told him that the robed man was a monk. He was enthralled by the ascetic in saffron robes. The monk’s serene strides, calm face, tranquility and the look of being unbound from the world. The Prince wondered how brilliant it would be, to become a Samanna. At that point it struck Him, this is the path, to go in seeking for the truth. He knew, when one doesn’t have anything to own, one feels free. In this manner, letting the characteristics of the psyche to develop and appear, bringing peace, and the acknowledgment of the cause of suffering.

Living in the Palace could never give the freedom of the monk. It would, however, be a deterrent to the path of freedom and truth. He made plans to leave the Palace and turn into a sammana(wandering monk), and carry on with an ascetic life, endeavoring until discovering the cause of suffering. By doing so, he could help everybody live a tranquil and content life. Resolved to do that, the Prince came back to the Palace.

He strolled for a while to think some more. As he was sitting under the cool shady tree, news came that his wife had given birth to a son. When he heard the news he stated, “An obstruction (“rahula”) has been destined to me, a barrier to my abandonment has been conceived,”. Along these lines, his child was named Rahula. Rahula implies a block in way. A newborn child implies a barrier on the way to become a monk.

As he was coming back to the palace he met a Princess named Kisagotami. She had been watching out of the castle window and, seeing the sovereign coming, was so taken by his attractive looks that she said uproariously, “Gracious! How cheerful must be the mother, and father, and the spouse of such a nice looking youthful prince!”

As he passed this lady, Siddhartha heard this and pondered internally, “In a nice looking figure the mother, father and spouse discover bliss. Be that as it may, but how can one escape snags and enduring to achieve nirvana?”. He understood what he should do after this question and decided to abandon his family life and resign from the world in journey of illumination. He sent her a teacher’s fee. Siddhartha respected his pledge and sent it to Kisagotami to appreciate what she unknowingly taught him.

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Death: the Third of the Four Sights

The third of the four sights which influenced the Buddha and compelled him to seek a means to enlightenment was death. More specifically, witnessing a dead corpse. Living a sheltered life, he was unaware of death and that nobody could escape it.

Siddhartha was disappointed and discouraged. He was often found in deep contemplation in his room after seeing the diseased man. Suddhodhana was pitiful after seeing him so changed. The prince soon approached him again for his consent to leave the castle to witness more things about the life in the city. Suddhodhana knew there would come no good by attempting to stop his child. So, he agreed to let him go again.

Siddhartha and Channa went out from the royal residence and strolled in many parts of Kapilvastu dressed as young aristocrats. The prince saw a group of people tagging along the road crying, while four men at the back were bearing a board on which a thin man lay level and still. The carried man resembled a stone, never letting out the slightest breath. The group soon ceased and the board bearers rested the man down on a heap of wood and set the wood ablaze. The man did not move as the flares were consuming the board, and afterward his body, from all sides.

Siddhartha asked Channa about it. He wondered why that man was burned like that. Channa answered that the man had died. The prince learned that everybody dies, even rulers, and nothing can stop death.

The prince was stunned. He thought about death and how it comes to everybody, sparing nobody. Was there no real way to stop it? He went home quiet. He went straight to his own room in the royal residence and sat somewhere down in thought for the remaining day.

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Sickness / Disease : the second of the Four Sights

Second of the four sights was sickness.

Suddodhana unwillingly enabled Siddhartha to visit the city again. He figured that it would not be good to stop him, and would just add to his perplexity and despondency. Suddodhana did not warn the people to be prepared or to decorate the city this time. The prince and Channa disguised themselves as young noblement so they are not recognized.

The city was very different from their last visit. No more blissful groups of people hailed the prince. There were no banners, or flowers, yet common-people carrying on with their day by day life. A metal forger was sweating and beating to make blades. The gem dealers and goldsmiths were making pieces of jewelry, bangles, studs and rings out of precious stones, gold and silver. The garments dyers were coloring materials of stunning shading and hanging them up to dry. The pastry specialists were hectically preparing bread, cakes and desserts and pitching them to the clients, who ate them still hot. The ruler took a gander at these straightforward everyday citizens. Everybody was extremely occupied, glad and satisfied in their work.

As the two strolled along they went over a man on the ground, curling his body, holding his stomach with two hands and shouting out in torment as loud as possible. Everywhere all over his body were purple fixes, and he was panting for breath as his eyes rolled. His sickness made him suffer greatly.

This was the second time that the Prince was very sad. Immediately, the prince rushed to help and rested the man’s head on his knee, asking what was wrong with him. The diseased man was not able to speak owing to his sickness, yet he cried.
He asked Channa about the reason this man was like this.

Channa warned the prince to not touch the man since he was suffering from the plague and the prince might contract it too. The Prince asked him if there are more people like it, if there are more things than this kind of plague. Channa’s answer confirmed both of these. The Prince was deeply troubled upon further learning that nobody can stop it and it can happen any time to anybody.

The prince was even sadder at the second sight, fixated on the sick man and his suffering.

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First of the Four Sights : Old Age

Suddodhana tried his best to ensure that Prince Siddhartha would be prepared for the life of a ruler. He had a high wall built around the royal residence, including its parks and gardens, yet Siddhartha was not content with living like detained. One day he expressed his desire to leave the palace and to see how other people live. The young prince was unaware of things such as old age, sickness or death.

The King agreed, but he had arranged for preparations before he would allow him to see the city. He ordered the people to arrange for the prince’s visit by decorating the city and welcoming him as he passes them.

As Siddhartha was passing through the town, unexpectedly, from a little old hovel adjacent to the street, out came an old man with long silver-silver hair, wearing exceptionally old, torn and messy clothes. His face had dried and wrinkled with old age. His depressed eyes were pale and he was going blind. He was teethless too. He got up trembling, grasping at his walking stick with two bowed and thin hands to enable himself to stand.

The old man dragged himself along the road, unaware of all the cheerful environment around him. He was talking weakly, asking people for food. Prince was unable to understand what he was seeing. He had seen an old man of this sort for the first time ever.

He thought that it cannot possibly be a man, he asked his driver Channa about him. He asked why was his body crooked, why he was trembling and why were his hair grey? He wondered what happened to his teeth or what was wrong with his eyes. He asked him if that’s how some people are born.

Channa answered that it was an aged man and he was certainly not born in that manner. He became like this due to his old age. The Prince was not satisfied when told to ignore that man. Channa said that everybody in the world becomes like that man if they live enough to get old.

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Four Sights in Buddha’s life which forced him to abandon royal life

The four sights are four incidents in the legend of Gautama Buddha’s life which eventually made him realise the fleetingness and extreme unsatisfying nature of existence.

According to the legend, before these experiences, Siddhārtha Gautama had been restricted to his royal residence by his father King Suddhodana, who was worried that he would incline toward becoming an ascetic if he encountered the sufferings of life according to the prophecy. Even so, on his first journey out of the royal residence with his charioteer Channa, he witnessed the four sights: an old man, a diseased man, a dead man and an ascetic.

One day, as he left the palace to see the world outside, he saw the sufferings of life. Inside the limited bounds of the palace, he just saw the good side of life, however the darker side, the frequent part of humanity, was intentionally hidden from him. What was rationally imagined by him was witnessed in reality for the first time. On his way to a park, his perceptive eyes met the peculiar sights of an aged man, a sick man, and a dead body.

The initial three sights convincingly demonstrated to him, the relentless idea of life, and the all inclusive infirmity of humankind. The fourth, the monk, suggested the way to conquer the ills of life and to achieve peace. These four surprising sights served to build the inclination in him to detest and disavow the world.

Understanding the uselessness of pleasires, and valuing renunciation, he chose to leave the world looking for Truth and Eternal Peace.

At the point when he decided this, the news of the birth of a child was passed on to him while he was going to leave the park. He was not thrilled, but rather considered his first and sole child as an obstruction. A normal father would have respected the upbeat greetings, however Prince Siddhattha shouted – “An obstacle (rāhu) has been conceived; a shackle has emerged”. The newborn child was in like manner named Rāhula by Suddhodhana.

These perceptions influenced him greatly. They made him understand the sufferings of all creatures, and forced him to start his spiritual life as a samanna. This eventually led to his enlightenment. The spiritual sentiment of direness experienced by Siddhārtha Gautama is alluded to as samvega.

First three of the Four Sights

 

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Prince Siddhartha marries princess Yasodhara

An significant event in Siddhartha’s life before becoming the Buddha is his marriage to princess Yasodhara.

After Prince Siddhartha achieved the age of 16, King Suddhodhana recalled what the wise men had foretold. He recalled that the Prince would deny lay-life and accept monkhood when he gets older. The King was concerned since he didn’t wanted his child to become a monk. He instead wished him to end up as a great king.

He had built three awesome royal residences for Siddhartha with lovely gardens. One palace for winter, one for summer and one for rainy season. Wherever one looked, there was magnificence and delight. Prince Siddhartha was living in a place of bounty and exquisiteness. It was predicted, that he would leave the palace after seeing: an old man, a sick man, a dead body and a roaming monk who had surrendered the lay life.

In this way, the King took every one of the measures to secure the youthful sovereign from such sights. He forbade wandering monks around the inward parts of the city. It is not that he did not see anyone ill inside the royal residence, even when they were ill, they didn’t look terrifying, and soon showed signs of improvement. This did not suggest that life is full of sufferings and people are powerless where illness, death, and old age are concerned.

Even so, despite his protected life the King saw the prince frequently in a pensive mood. This stressed him. He asked the wise men as to what he should do to make him cheerful and enjoy life. They suggested to marry him to a beautiful girl to distract him from his thoughts. The King considered this to be a brilliant idea.

Despite that, the Prince told the counselors that the he didn’t wanted a girl who was hedonistic. He didn’t care whether the young lady is from ranks of nobles or not, but she must have honorable qualities required to be his wife. He listed characteristics his significant other ought to have and offered it to the wise men. Many young noble girls were invited to the royal residence, the Prince could pick whoever he prefers. Among them was the most enchanting excellent Koliyan Princess named Yasodhara. When Prince Siddhartha saw her, he removed his neckband and put it round her neck. By this signal, the King realized that his child liked her the most, and was extremely cheerful to give him a chance to wed his picked bride.

However, King Suppabuddha, the bride’s father, did not like this thought. He said that Prince Siddhartha, resembles a girl, who evaded conflict and going into war. He contended that his daughter won’t be in safe hands with such a husband. As he disapproved of wars, he won’t be able to save his nation and his family from its foes.

Yasodhara was a princess by her own right as well. In that capacity, King Suppabuddha organised a competition among 500 noblemen of the nation, if they wanted to marry princess Yasodhara. He also asked Siddhartha to participate in these competitions and substantiate himself deserving of her hand. At the competition, he outperformed all his contenders in numerous troublesome feats which included jumping, swimming, running, and various other games. Siddhartha won effectively on the mental abilities too.

After the events, Prince Siddhattha, gave a performance with his stallion Kanthaka. They moved at lightning speed performing different acts, which left no doubts on his ability on the arts of warfare. This also showed that he could take care of the kingdom, despite the fact that he despised going into war. Having that sort of mental and physical quality, the people soon understood that no one could match him. He had an unprecedented identity, so far covered up because of his humility, and this made him unrivalled.

There on, King Suppabuddha acknowledged that Prince Siddhartha is a suited match for his daughter Yasodhara. He permitted the Princess to have her decision and wed Prince Siddhartha. The entire city of Kapilavasthu cheered at this marriage. The wedding festivities carried on for seven days. There was a feast at the castle grounds, with singing and dancing throughout the entire day.

The celebration of the royal marriage of Prince Siddharta and Yasodhara

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Ploughing Festival – Incident in Buddha’s life and its legacy

The Ploughing Festival originates from the times when Prince Gautama seven years old. It is also known as Royal Ploughing Ceremony. It was the premise of an ordeal which would later assist him in his search for Enlightenment.
The King  Sudhodana organized a ploughing festival to promote agriculture. It was for sure a merry event for all, as the both nobles and average citizens partook in the function.

The King went to the field on the designated day, joined by his squires. He brought along with him the young child along with the caretakers. The King took part in the furrowing celebration too. He seated young Siddhartha at a place under the cool shade of a singular rose-apple tree to be taken care of by the nurses. The attendants too wandered off from the young prince to get a look at the exhibition when the celebration was at its peak.

It was quiet and calm under the rose-apple tree, contrasting the cheerfulness of the celebration. The conditions were right for meditation, the thoughtful prince, sat with folded legs and grabbed the chance to start the extremely critical routine with regards to purpose : fixation on the breath – on exhalations and inward breaths – which picked up for him without further ado that one sharpness of mind known as Samādhi.

He, in this way, built up the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). His attendants hurried to the child when they understood their obligation, and were astounded to see him sitting leg over leg dove in profound meditation. The King, knowing about it, rushed to the spot and saw the youngster in reflective stance, saluted him, saying – “This child is my second homage”.

The Ploughing Festival in Theravada Countries

The Ploughing Festival is an ancient royal custom held in many South East Asian countries, signifying the traditional beginning of the rice growing season. The royal ploughing ceremony was also a custom in Myanmar before colonization until the monarchy was abolished in 1885.

As of now, the festival is practiced in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Royal Ploughing Festival

The Ritual

It is usually held in the month of May. Buddhist monks sit with folded legs near a Buddha statue looking down on the rice ploughing. White oxen pull decorated plough as they are followed by people playing music and bearing banners. Then the Lord of the Festival digs three short furrows rice is sown in them.

The oxen are offered food after the ploughing, including rice, green beans, sesame, corn, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.

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Naming Ceremony of the Buddha as a Young Prince

The prince was named as “Siddhartha” (Siddhattha) following the fifth day after his birth.
As per the ancient customs, many scholarly priests were invited to the royal residence for the naming ceremony. Eight recognized capable of making predictions were among them. Looking at the characteristic marks of the young prince, seven of them each raised two fingers signifying two potential outcomes. They predicted that he would either become a great King if he remains in the household or a Buddha if he resigns. However, the youngest and the wisest of them all Kondanna, raised just a single finger and convincingly announced that the prince would resign from the world and attain Buddhahood.
This Kondanna would later go on to try to join him in his struggle to enlightenment and eventually rejoin as a member of the Sangha.
The wise men then gave baptized him Siddhartha meaning “wish-fulfilled” or “he who fulfills his aim” .

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The Elephant Dream and the story of the Buddha’s Birth

Elephant Dream

Buddha’s Birth itself is preceded by an event with a lot of symbolism. The queen Mahā Māyā, Buddha’s mother, dreamt on a full moon night that she was carried by four devas (spirits) to the Anotatta Lake in the Himalayas. The devas clothed her with heavenly robes after bathing in the lake, and then perfumed her and covered her with flowers. Shortly after, a white elephant holding a white lotus flower, appeared and circled her three times, and went to her belly through her right. Eventually the elephant disappeared and the queen woke up and knew that she had received a vital message because the elephant symbolises greatness. Sages were called to interpret this dream and they considered it to be auspicious.

The elephant dream
The elephant dream foretelling Buddha’s Birth

Buddha’s Birth as a young prince

According to tradition, Buddha was born as a Shakya noble prince on a full-moon day in May in 623 BCE at Lumbini in Kapilavastu at the borders of present day Nepal and India. His parents were King Suddhodana and Queen Mahā Māyā. Queen Mahā Māyā died seven days after his birth, he was then adopted by her younger sister Mahā Pajāpati, who was married to the king, too. She gave the task of taking care of her own son Nanda to the the nurses.

People rejoiced at his birth. A ascetic, named Asita was especially satisfied to hear this cheerful news, and being a mentor of the King, went by the royal residence to see the Royal prince. The King carried the baby prince up to him, however, surprisingly, the kid’s legs turned and laid on the tangled locks of Asita. Asita instantly got up from his seat and, used his vision to foresee the child’s fate, he saluted him with caught hands. The Royal father did in like manner.

Asita smiled at first and then became unhappy. When asked about his mixed feelings, he replied that he smiled because the prince would ultimately become a buddha, an Enlightened one, and he became unhappy due to the fact he could no longer be able to witness the his achievements because of his early death.

The day of the Buddha’s birth is celebrated as Vesak in Theravada countries and as Buddha Purnima in India and Nepal.

 

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Four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are-

  1. The Truth of suffering:
    Life has inevitable suffering.
  2. The Truth of the origin of Suffering:
    Suffering is caused by attachment and desires.
  3. The Truth of the ending Suffering:
    Suffering can be ended by overcoming attachments and desires.
  4. The Truth of the Path: 
    The Noble Eightfold Path is the way of end suffering.

A Painting of the Buddha teaching The Four Noble Truths

Explaination of the Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths refer the basic concepts of Buddhism: “we want and stick to fleeting states and things, which are dukkha, unsatisfying and sorrowful.”

We are trapped in samsara due to these yearnings, the continuous cycle of resurrection, and the sorrow(dukkha) that accompanies it.

The four truths are dukkha, samudaya, nirodha, and magga, the path to cease suffering.

The way to end this cycle is the middle path. To be specific, the “end” refers to accomplishing nirvana, discontinuance of desiring, after which resurrection and related dukkha will never again emerge again.

The four truths have both symbolic and a practical applications in the Pali canon.

The four truths show up in a “System of teachings,” as a major aspect of “The whole dhamma grid,” which must be taken together.

The Eighfold Path, One of the Four Noble Truths

Importance of the four Noble Truths

The importance of the four noble truths, and their significance, evolved after some time, when prajna came to be viewed as freeing in itself, rather than the act of meditation.

The four truths became significant in the Theravada branch of Buddhism, which holds to the possibility that knowledge of the four truths is freeing in itself.

This “Liberating insight” (prajna) became importance in the sutras, and the four truths came to refer to prajna, as a component of the illumination story of the Buddha.

They are of less important in the Mahayana school in comparison with understanding of emptiness, and following the in the footsteps of the Bodhisattvas. They rendered the four truths to clarify how an enlightened being be influential in this world. They are frequently introduced in the west as one of the core teachings of Buddhism.

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