Tag: death

Struggle for Enlightenment in Uruvela

Prince Siddhartha came to be known as the Ascetic Gautama after taking leave from his second teacher. He wandered from place to place in Magadha and decided to live and practice in the forest of Uruvela. He found the place to be beautiful and worthy to live and meditate in as the forest was calm and pleasant. He thus began his struggle to seek truth by the means of enduring suffering.

5 young men, who too had become ascetics, sought him and eventually met him at his new abode. They were Kondanna, the one who had predicted his Buddhahood, and four sons of other sages: Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji. They joined his company and decided to struggle together and practice various forms of ritual tortures with him. They looked after him and encouraged him to strive to endure more pains. They were convinced that doing so would eventually lead to his enlightenment.

It was believed that one cannot gain enlightenment unless one is fully detached from pleasures of this world. Interpreting it as instead making one’s body suffer and torment. Thus, the company of these 6 monks did the same and endured various forms of pains.

Gautama practiced fasting, he used to live on a grain of rice a day, and then, nothing at all. This affected his body and he became frail and weak. Among other methods he would practice was the practice of holding one’s breath for a long time until it started to hurt violently. He would later describe his efforts in great details in the Sutras.

For six years, he would endure such practices. He eventually realised that such struggle was futile and he is not getting any wiser or getting close to his goal. He then began to beg for food to build his body back. Upon seeing this, his five companions left him in disappointment.

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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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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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