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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So Simple yet So Difficult to Practice!

Buddha, unlike Hindu seers and Greek philosophers, wasted no time in speculating over the riddle of creation. For him it never mattered “whence it all came, and how creation happened? / …Whence all creation had its origin, / he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, / he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, / he knows—or maybe even he does not know.”  He simply refused to answer unanswerable questions by asking his disciples: “Have I ever said to you come, be my disciple and I will reveal to you the beginning of things? Or, have you ever said to me ‘I will become your pupil for you will reveal to me the beginning of things?’” 

He maintained a stoic silence on everything related to the riddle of creation. Rather, his only objective was: to drive away the ill from mankind. And from that premise, he wondered how “revealing of things related to the beginning of things” would matter. His whole concern thus remained focused on salvation.
Prince Siddhartha was born around 561BC in Kapilavastu in northeastern India bordering Nepal. He was raised in fabled oriental luxury.  For, the King’s priests predicted that if the boy stays back in the palace, he would become a universal monarch, but if he left the palace he would become a Buddha. And not to get tempted to leave the palace, his father did provide all the princely luxuries to him.

It is during one of his pleasure visits that he had been awakened to human suffering. Seeing the images of old age, disease and a corpse his heart dismayed. It exclaimed: “This is the end which has been fixed for all, and yet the world forgets its fears and takes no heed!” Overawed by those thoughts, Prince Siddhartha orders his charioteer to turn back, for “How could an intelligent person pay no heed at a time of disaster, when he knows of his impending destruction.”  

At the age of twenty-nine, Prince Siddhartha, one night, taking a parting look at his beautiful wife and infant son asleep in their bedchamber, setout on his search for truth— truth that can show the mankind a way out from their sufferings. In the beginning of this journey, he sat at the feet of sages learning their systems of escape from the selfhood by entering “the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception” through mystic trances. This didn’t, however, help him attain enlightenment. 

He then turned to a monkish life of self-denial. But the resulting emaciation did not help him anyway to reach the truth. It, of course, helped him realize: “Inward calm cannot be maintained unless physical strength is constantly and intelligently replenished.” 

He then turning to his normal diet, walked toward the roots of a fig tree and sitting under it cross-legged, meditated for enlightenment. Seeing the real nature of world and realizing how greed, delusion, and ignorance are producing evil and preventing one from getting off the wheel of rebirth, Gautama, finally, at the age of thirty-five, had become a Buddha (past participle of Sanskrit word, buddh – to awaken or to know). He becomes a messiah—preaching the middle way of Enlightenment to his five ascetic monks, that ultimately became the very doctrine of Buddhism. It consists of the Holy Eightfold path and the Four Holy Truths.

Holy Eightfold Path
  • Right views
  • Right intention
  • Right speech
  • Right conduct
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right concentration

The Four Holy truths

  • First, that all existence—birth,  decay, sickness and death— is suffering
  • Second, that all suffering and rebirth are caused by man’s selfish craving
  • Third, that Nirvana, freedom from suffering, comes from the cessation of all craving
  • Fourth, that the stopping of all ill and craving comes only from following the Holy Eightfold Path.   
These truisms seem so simple to read but too difficult to practice—the only path for their practice is, perhaps, to read the doctrine of Buddhism by night and meditate on its practice during awake. 


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