After Siddhartha Buddha’s message reached many people in India, they asked him: Are you a god? - No Are you an angel? – No Are you a saint? – No What are you then? …
I AM AWAKE. Buddha means “enlightened” or “awakened one.”
Siddhartha was born in 563 BC in Nepal. When Siddhartha was in his 20s, he became despondent and restless. His father was worried about him and so he consulted fortunetellers who said that his future was uncertain. He will either be a king and unify India or he will be a redeemer (the Chosen One).
The father was determined that he would be king. He locked the palace and made every pleasure available to his son. Siddhartha, however, was determined to leave the palace to see the world, and so his father established “runners” who would hide all those who were sick and dying. All pain should be hidden from his son.
But the runners were not successful. Siddhartha was able to see human suffering. He was moved with pity. Siddhartha had a love of truth. He loved truth more than himself and wanted to find a way to help others escape from suffering. He left his palace of comfort. This is called the Great Going Forth.
He met Hindu hermits and practiced religious austerity with them for six years. He almost starved himself to death. His companions challenged him and gave him a bowl of rice. He eventually discovered the middle way: between renunciation and self-indulgence.
He sat under a tree, what was later to be known as Bo Tree (Bodhi = enlightened or awakened). He engaged in Yoga. He underwent temptation from Mara, the evil one. • He was subject to visions of voluptuous women. • Visions of flaming rocks thrown at him (but turned to petals when they entered the field of his yogic meditation).
Mara then challenged his right to do anything. Siddhartha touched the earth and then Mara fled. His meditation deepened and he became BUDDHA.
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF BUDDHA Mara gave him one last temptation: he suggested that apprehending the truth was too profound so he should leave the world and enter nirvana (suicide). Siddhartha replied: “THERE WILL BE SOME WHO UNDERSTAND.”
Buddha then founded and trained an order of monks. He challenged the deadness of Brahmin society. He followed a tight schedule of public preaching and private counseling. He spend three months in retreat, and nine months teaching. Three times a day he would meditate. He was 80 years old when he died in 483 BC. He died as a result of eating poisoned mushrooms that go into his dish.
WHAT IS BUDDHISM? A complex system of beliefs developed around the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who lived 2,500 years ago in India. There is no single sacred text of Buddhism but all Buddhists share some basic beliefs. The religion is both a discipline and a body of beliefs. Buddha means “the Awakened or Enlightend One.”
Life’s Goal The wheel of rebirth, known as samsara, condemns the individual to the suffering of being alive and striving. Life’s goal is to escape from this cycle of the rebirth. This release is called nirvana, the highest bliss, the end of the self. The way to achieve nirvana is to follow the path of the Middle Way.
Two Vehicles The older tradition and more conservative is called Hinayana or the Lesser Vehicle. Theravada Buddhists see him as a man, a saint, who chose to give up all his wealth and comfort to achieve Nirvana. The more liberal tradition is called the Mahayana or the Greater Vehicle. Mahayana Buddhists stress the Buddha as a saviour who devoted his live to serving and teaching others..
Four Noble Truths • All life is suffering, pain, and misery or dukkha. • This suffering has a cause tanhaor selfish craving and personal desire. • This selfish craving can be overcome. • The way to overcome this misery is through the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path • Right Knowledge • Right Aspiration • Right Speech • Right Behaviour • Right Livelihood • Right Effort • Right Mindfulness • Right Concentrations
The Three Jewels • Buddha the teacher • Dharma the teachings or laws • Sangha the community of believers. Buddhists believe that these three elements of their religion shelter and protect them in the world. These form the centre of their daily life.
HOLIDAYS The Theravada traditions celebrates four days every month as uposatha days. Theravada Buddhists continue the practive of vassa, a three month retreat. Three major points in the life of the Buddha are celebrated in all Buddhist countries: 1) Buddha’s birth, 2) his Enlightenment, and 3) his death or final Nirvana.