19 January 2010

Buddha, His Stories, His Teachings

Buddhism, the faith of about 400 million Buddhist around the world was founded by Sidharta Gaotama Buddha about 4500 years ago. He was the son of King Shuddhodana and Queen Mahamaya of Kapilvastu near Nepal. When he was a baby, a soothsayer predicted that he would be either a great king or a great sage to save humanity. After hearing so, his father shielded him from anything that might make him choose the religious life.

At sixteen, he married a beautiful princess from the neighbouring kingdom, Yashodhara and soon had a son, Rahula. His curiosity to see the outside world made him demanded his father to allow him to see his people and land. On his way out, he met old people, sickly person and funeral near the riverbank. He later learnt form his servant that all mankind will get old, sick and finally die. After sensing what suffering means, he decided to look for ways to overcome it. At the age of twenty-nine, he left the palace in search of the truth without telling his wife.

He joined a group of five ascetics who were practising self-mortifications. After six years, all five ascetics became his followers because of the sincerity and intensity of his practise. However, he still did not found the answer of his question in order to overcome suffering.

Sidharta doubles his effort by keep meditating and refusing to eat and drink until he nearly dies of hunger. Fortunately, a girl saved him by offering him milk-rice. Later then, he decided to lead a middle way of life which is neither extreme luxurious nor excessive self-mortification. When the other five ascetics saw that he was eating, they thought that he had given up from the ascetic life and left him.

After that, he continued his journey looking for the solution to human suffering until he found a fig tree. He sat under it for few days with full concentration which then lead him to the truth and received what Buddhist believe as the enlightenment. Finally, he fully understood the meaning of suffering and become Buddha (he who is awake). He then travelled to teach others so that more people would be enlightened.

According to Buddha, live is nothing except dukka (suffering). He considered everything that faced or will be faced by human from they were born until they die as suffering. He stated that all the suffering is caused by tanha (human desire). Also, he believed that all suffering could be ended by following the middle path which is the Noble Eightfold Path. These four teaching is called Four Noble Truths which is apart of Dhamma, one of the Triple Gems of Buddha:

  1. Buddha (the Sidharta Gaotama Buddha himself),

  2. Dhamma ( the truth teachings of Buddha) and

  3. Sangha (the Monastic community, monks).
The Noble Eightfold Path which is believed by Buddha as the solution of dukka (suffering) by overcome the tanha (desire) are:

  1. Right Understanding (of the Four Noble Truth),

  2. Right Intension (to free from attachment, ignorant and hatred),

  3. Right Speech (abstaining from lying, gossiping and hurtful talk),

  4. Right Action (abstaining form hurtful act such as killing, stealing and sexual misconduct),

  5. Right Livelihood (making a living through an honest mean without hurting anyone),

  6. Right Effort (abandoning bad while nurturing good qualities) ,

  7. Right Mindfulness (meditating to overcome craving, hatred and ignorance) and

  8. Right Concentration (meditating to realize a true a true meaning of in perfection).
Based on Sangha (Buddha’s teaching), a layperson has five precepts to keep. They have to avoid: killing, stealing, un-chastity or adultery, lying and drinking. For a monk, they have to observe those five precepts plus another five which is: eating after midday, entertainment, ornament, comfortable bed and money.

The ultimate aim of Buddhist which was first achieved by Buddha himself is the end of all suffering, Nirvana which means ‘to blow up’ or ‘to extinguish’. Those who want to attain this level, Nirvana must have no place for greed, hatred and ignorance in their live and full of the ultimate security.

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