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Akeyla
October 23rd, 2005, 12:16 AM
The story of Gautama Siddhartha

There were three reasons why Gautama renounced the secular life. The first was an inner voice that urged him to do this. The second reason was his search for an answer to the questions of the Four Pains; the pains of birth, aging, illness, and death. The third reason was his strong desire to be alone and to remain absorbed in contemplation.

In the palace of Kapilavastu, Guatama was born and raised in the Imperial Families Royal Palace in ancient India. He had four wives; Yashodara, Gopa, Manodhara, and Murgaja. (The reason for polygamy during that time was to increase the chances of securing an heir, to provide a choice of more than one palace as a domicile, each with a wife, to lessen the risk of enemy attack on the king (prince), to reduce the risk of the overbearing influence of one particular wife on the government of state and to demonstrate royal dignity.) Gautama had a son by Yashodara (his first wife) who became a nun, following the path of their son Rahula, who had become a monk. AS well as the four wives Gautama was also surrounded by court attendants and every single decision he made had to be acknowledged and he was never alone. He wanted to escape this sort of life. He had provided an heir and according to social customs of the day in India, there was sufficient wealth to support the wives and children and he was free to renounce his secular life and go into the forests and mountains as an ascetic.

After leaving the palace at the age of 29, Guatama began to look for a teacher. Through this he had the opportunity to observe the life of seekers and what they were seeking. What he discovered can be summarized under two main points. First, the worship of superhuman abilities was common in India and people had a strong yearning to escape the afflictions of this world and become superhuman. Second, People were pursuing the principles of happiness so many teachers were competing in the art of explaining how human beings could achieve happiness.

One teacher taught that torturing the body was the shortest way to enlightenment and that the less physical one became, the closer one came to enlightenment. Another teacher concentrated on stopping thought. He reasoned that the source of life’s difficulties was the thoughts that pass through the human mind. Yet another teacher pursued what would now be called debating skills, without clearly defining what enlightenment was.

Guatama began to feel that there was something wrong with the attitude of those seekers. Everything they were teaching seemed pointless. He found that no matter how hard he tried to look for answers, no one could give him a clear description of what the purpose of life was, or the truth about the spirituality of human beings. He then took his own heart and his own mind as his teacher, he began seeking a way to find Buddha in himself and discovering the laws of Truth became the purpose of his self-discipline.

He entered the forest by himself and he tried every possible way of training that he could think of until he finally discovered his own method. He traveled all over the wilds of India, meditating and constantly looking for a way of attaining enlightenment. He concluded through his one year under the training of two teachers, Alara-Kalama, who taught meditation in the state of nothingness, and Udraka-Ramaputra, who taught meditation in a state where concentration was important above all else. Guatama had mastered the ways of attaining peace of mind through meditation but he could not find a Truth that could be explained logically. He left those two teachers because he wanted to attain wisdom, rather then meditating for the sake of meditating.

He chose to live in the remotes places away from villages and tried to eliminate his worldly desires. The first difficulty he experienced was food; he discovered that when one particular desire grew disproportionately large, the others became less distinct. His physical strength naturally declined until he had only enough strength to sit in meditation in his cave.

Several years passed this way and he contemplated deeply on the following questions; for what reason were human beings born? Why do they come into this world that is afflicted by incessant war? Would the path to becoming an ‘awakened one’ that so many people talked of really lead to happiness? Although many people abandoned their secular lives, and avoided facing the difficulties of a life spent in constant struggle, what became of them? Did they attain enlightenment? Did they enter a world of true tranquility after leaving this world, detached from the world of pain? Were they simply deluding themselves, unable to confirm they were on the right track?

He also began to wonder about his family, his father, King Shuddhodana, his step mother Mahaprajapati, his wife Yashodara and his son Rahula, and how they were doing. He began to question whether or not he could ever attain enlightenment and that he had misunderstood his purpose in life. No matter how hard he tried to abandon his worldly desires, his attachment to them only intensified. Reduced to skin and bone he could not help reflecting deeply on whether the path he was following was really the right path for enlightenment.

One day he noticed a village girl singing on the other side of the river, close to his cave. Her voice reminded him of the human world close to his heart, while at the same time, it sounded like music from heaven. The song went ‘… the strings of the lute snap when they are tightened too far. When they are too loose, the sound becomes dull. They sound good when they are moderately tight. Dance and Dance to the sound of the strings. Let’s dance and dance to the sound of strings…” it was a traditional Indian folksong.

Guatama was struck with how different he must look in comparison with the girl. She looked like an angel, her eyes shining brilliantly, her body filled with vitality, and her whole presence radiating a lovely fragrance. In contrast, Guatama’s body was reduced to skin and bone and he looked like a skeleton, his eyes were sunken and his ribs were protruding. It looked like his life was over at the age of 35.

When the girl saw him, she came running over and introduced herself as Sujata, and offered him a bowl of milk porridge. The moment he tasted the porridge, warm tears trickled down his cheeks. It could be said that he shed tears of shame as his own state, feeling the emptiness of being completely immersed in ascetic discipline, and having abandoned joy in life. He said to himself, “If, through this sort of self-discipline, I am only reduced to skin and bone, and ultimately risk cutting my life short, how much beauty does that hold? How much value could there be in that? This girl has never even thought about enlightenment. She may never have studied any religious doctrine, or undergone any spiritual discipline, but why is she shinning so brilliantly, As if she were from heaven?” This encounter with the village girl gave Guatama a clue about the next step.

He became aware that the denial of food did not necessarily lead to the Truth. He thought that, from the perspective of the food itself, it may be a joy to be eaten by people and be used for a higher plane of human activity, because in this way it was not wasted. He thought, “Everything in this world must exist as material to serve something more exalted. Judging material things to be meaningless because they are this-worldly is probably merely arrogance on the part of the seeker of the Truth. Of course, if materials are left as they are, they may not produce any results. But it may be a good idea to think of worldly matter as ingredients for cooking. If the Divine is watching us, He would be pleased to see us making these ingredients into splendid dishes.”

In this way, Guatama firmly resolved to change his life; it was as if he had been born again. On top of this Sujata’s song had powerfully inspired him. He thought that he was probably like the string that has been tightened to its absolute maximum that the slightest touch would snap. This state can never produce truly good music.” “I would like to restore my body and find the true meaning of life in this world, not just a negative understanding but also the positive meaning.”

The very moment when this enthusiasm to live welled up within may have marked Guatama’s first step on the path to enlightenment in a truest sense.

At that point, Guatama decided to accept offerings of food, and soon after he found peace and harmony were developing within him. He wished to observe the world and be in touch with the minds of as many people as possible, to deepen his thought. With this intention, he set out on a journey. He arrived in a town called Gaya.

He made it a rule to start meditating at sunset, under a big papal tree not far from the river. HE concentrated mainly on reflective meditation and tried to focus his mind on a single thought but this tended to invite the intervention of evil spirits. So he focused on what he had thought and what he had done since he was a small child. If he found situations where he had gone against his conscience, he tried to put them right.

As he reached his late twenties, Guatama found it impossible to escape a thought that overwhelmed him, no matter how hard he tried to clear it. It was the thought of his wife Yashodhara and his son Rahula. Their faces haunted him and made him wonder how big his son was and if his wife missed him.

By that time, a window in his mind had begun to open and he could hear the voices of beings from the spirit world. A voice began speaking to him,

“Guatama, I am Brahma, and I am speaking to you. You have spent six years in austerities, in search of enlightenment, but look at what you have achieved as a result of your hard work. It seems that you have simply proved you are an ordinary person. You have neglected the basic requirements of being human, which are to get married, raise a family and live happily with your wife and children. But look at yourself. You have abandoned your family and the happiness you could have derived from it for the sole purpose of sitting in meditation under a papal tree. Your life is completely meaningless. You are wrong. Return to the palace of Lapilavastu at once and make your wife and child happy. Living happily with them will pave the path to a great enlightenment for you.

A human being can never experience happiness in the next life without having enjoyed this one to the full. Take as much pleasure as you like in this world. Enjoy this world as fully as you wish. The greater your joy, the more happiness you will experience in your next life. Are you really enjoying life enough? Enjoy your family life to a greater extent. Feast on a more affluent and elegant lifestyle. That is how you should carry out your self-discipline in this life.”

Guatama found some truth in what the person said. It even touched a soft spot. His mind was swayed and he wondered whether he really should return home and succeed his father to the throne. However the last remark caught his attention “The more you enjoy this world, the more pleasure you will have in your next life.” It sounded plausible but he felt that something was slightly wrong with the logic. It occurred to him that his attachment to this world might have brought out a being calling himself Brahma but was really a devil. He cried out “You must be a devil. You call yourself Brahma, but you are most definitely not. Admit that you are really a devil, who deludes many seekers. You are Mara Papiyas the devil; you cannot deceive my eyes.” The moment Guatama said this, the voice changed to high pitched laughter, “Well done, Guatama, you’ve found out. How advanced you are in your training! Good luck with your asceticism, and live a futile life!

This incident reminded Guatama that the devil was actually within his own mind, but this did not bother him as much as the truth that the weakness or obsession that existed within him had attracted an evil spirit. Unless he rid himself of those attachments there was no way he could attain a calm state of mind.

That experience gave him a clue and led him to think deeply about getting rid of attachments in the world of the mind, which was different from giving up the desire to eat or being satisfied with humble food and clothing.

As a result of his confrontation Mara Papiyas, Guatama understood that any worldly desire could be an invitation to devils. In the innermost core of a person’s mind, in recesses of the subconscious, are guardian spirits and guiding spirits, but evil also lurks there. The evil is attracted to the dark thoughts that lie hidden in a person’s mind and it feeds on them.

Guatama continued to reach more and more refined states, He understood, “The mind should always be free of attachment, like a mountain stream that flows freely, without restriction. If the mind concentrates on any one thought, whether it be good or bad, the freedom of the mind is lost. AS a result, the stagnant spot becomes an easy target for evil, but this situation should not be left as it is. I had better abandon any sense of obligation and instead enter a state of mind that is freer, more open, richer and more peaceful.”

When Guatama completed his reflection on his whole life of nearly 36 years, discarding any negative thoughts that obsessed his mind, and became free of attachment, a great sense of peace enveloped him. He felt the warmth of heavenly light flowing into his chest, and it was at that moment Guatama heard the voice of Brahma.

“Guatama, we are glad that you have at last attained enlightenment. We have been watching over you, and for a long time we have been waiting for you to reach this first level of enlightenment. Without this enlightenment, you could not fulfill your mission in this lifetime. We were so concerned when you became immersed in a life of luxury and worldly pleasure. We were also worried right after you started your austerities that you might die from malnutrition or commit suicide. However you have overcome the difficulties and reached this stage. Where you are able to hear our voices. We are truly delighted.”

The voice was actually that of Guatama’s brother souls who had incarnated on Earth in the past, Rient Arl Croud, Hermes, and others. They appeared under the name of Brahma, conforming to the beliefs of India at that time.

With the ability to see through past, present and future, Guatama penetrated the secrets of the origin of the universe, the birth and history of the planet Earth, the rise and fall of civilizations, his own incarnations, and the future history of humanity. When his mind became still and free from attachment, he experienced his spiritual body expanding to become as big as the whole universe, leaving his physical body behind beneath the papal tree. This experience distinguishes one who has unlocked the door to the kingdom of the mind, and it is proof of one who has fully grasped the feeling of the perfect freedom of the soul through the spiritual senses. Guatamas realization that the soul and the physical body are different marked the very first step for his great enlightenment.

Having experienced the highest level of enlightenment, it is natural to want to remain at the level that has been attained, but people tend to become lost in ordinary, everyday life. Guatama was no exception.

He could not wait to convey what he had understood to as many people as he could, as quickly as possible. He felt that if he kept the experience to himself, his life would have been meaningless, so when he went begging, he did not simply receive alms but tried to take every opportunity to tell people he met that he had become enlightened, and to share his experiences with them. People said that he must have gone crazy and that he was conceited.

He set out to look for the five ascetics he knew from before and talk to them. They were studying under the hermit Udraka-Ramaputra, and when they witnessed that Guatama had reached the same level of enlightenment as their teacher in such a short time, they decided to leave their teacher and go through ascetic training with Guatama.

That was how his teaching of the Law started, but first came his desire to convey what he had become aware of through his enlightenment. He thought to himself “This should be the very beginning of conveying Truth; this should be the initial turning of the Wheel of the Dharma”. Between the desire to convey the Truth to others and another desire to reach a deeper level of enlightenment, he felt he could not sit still, for even a day.

When he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he had already had the concept that would later develop into the Noble Eightfold Path but he had not reached the stage of creating a methodology from it.

For a year, the Buddha deepened his thought through conversations with close disciples and other people he met. He began to feel that in order to convey the enlightenment he attained; he needed to develop an expedient method that would appeal to the hearts of people. He also became aware of the need to teach the Truth in a way that was different from that of many religious teachers of those times.

Buddha reached the conclusion that his teachings should center on an objective of attaining a ‘right’ state of mind. To attune our mind to a right state, we need to examine our state of mind to a right state; we need to examine our state of mind as compared with a more placid state, closer to that of Buddha (God). Shakyamuni called this state Buddha-nature of the True Self.

AS we live our everyday lives and come into constant contact with others, we tend to be swayed by an incessant flow of thoughts, and it is difficult to know the True Self that lies deep within us. When people are around, we may try to put on an act, maybe out of vanity or to offset our feeling of inferiority, but when we sit alone in meditation, the part of us that is true and honest will emerge. This is the purest part of our soul, connected to Buddha. The very beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path is to examine our own thoughts and deeds from the perspective of this True Self.

Shakyamuni Buddha usually practiced self-reflection in the evenings or at the break of day. As he continued to examine his thoughts and deeds, spending about twenty minutes on each of the eight checkpoints, he experienced his mind gradually becoming lighter and being purified.

BenSt
April 16th, 2006, 02:48 AM
Just bumping this up...its a good post :)

LadyCelt
April 17th, 2006, 02:48 PM
Didi he also give a sermon at a tree or park, maybe Deer Park is the name? I'm finding more and more ismilarities with Jesus lately. Thanks.

BenSt
April 17th, 2006, 07:38 PM
mhm! That was his first famous sermon just outside the city of Varanasi, the holiest city in India...under neath a Bodhi tree (the Bodhi treesignifies enlightenment, thus it makes upo the word Bodhi-Sattva, the enlightened beings.) There are supposed to be descendants and cutings growing there of the original Bodhi tree...you can find it on Buddhanet.net somewhere.

Namaste

Tobias

LadyCelt
April 18th, 2006, 12:42 PM
Thanks for the help. I find many similarities with him and Jesus.

Paracelsus
April 19th, 2006, 04:10 AM
With respect Galadraal, the bodhi tree you refer to is the one in Bodhgaya under which Siddartha Gautama acheived enlightenment - that is the one that you will find cuttings of. The deer Park at Sarnath had another tree, but that is long gone, replaced by an impressive brick stupa (and an aura of peace and contemplation so alien to the hustle and bustle of Varanasi).
As for finding comparisons between the Buddha Shakyamuni and Jesus - be careful, there may be some comparisons; but there are radical differences in the teachings! If you want an eastern Jesus, then check out Krishna instead.

BenSt
April 19th, 2006, 11:27 AM
Ahhhh, thanks for the clarification...I wasnt sure if they were the same or not. You visited Varanasi last year didnt you, did you go to deer park?

Paracelsus
April 19th, 2006, 12:48 PM
Indeed, let me see if I can work out how to attach some photos for you...

Kentaaoki
December 4th, 2006, 09:21 PM
I've totally read this!

Ryuho Okawa's - The Essence of Buddha. Great book. Have you read any of his other works?

~kenta~