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Relating to Buddha Jayanti

People have adhered to the Buddha’s teachings on the road to liberation for more than 2,500 years. The Buddha’s life narrative has inspired and motivated numerous people for an equal amount of time.

The Buddha’s life is a tribute to the nearly superhuman effort he put out to reach nirvana, the nearly limitless amount of patience it required, and the profound love and compassion that inspired him to share this road with others.

Because his life story is ultimately a human story, the word “almost” is stressed. The Buddha was neither a god or other supernatural entity who existed from birth. No, the Buddha was in essence a person, just like you and I.

More than anything else, the Buddha’s narrative demonstrates

Thankfully, unlike the Buddha, we do not need to figure out the road to the required deep insight into reality on our own. As long as we are prepared to put in the required effort, we can walk in the Buddha’s footsteps. According to the Buddha (Dhp 276):

“You must work hard; the Buddhas are merely guides.”

Who was the Buddha, though? How did his life go? And just what is a “Buddha” exactly? We intend to address all of these queries in this text.

For this, we shall narrate the tale, starting with his initial purpose while still living as Sumedha, moving through his journey as Siddhartha Gautama, and concluding with his ultimate release and his initial lecture.

We’ll convey this tale as fully as possibleusing the Buddha’s own words as they are preserved in the earliest Buddhist writings.

The Buddhahood occurs in Siddhartha Gautama.
Siddharta Gautama was born in the kingdom of Kapilavastu in Kosala, in what is now northern India, some 2500 years ago. His parents were Queen Maya and King Suddhodana, the head of the Sakya clan.

He was raised by his sister Pajapati when his mother, Queen Maya, passed away seven days after his birth.

At the king’s court, the seer Asita makes the following prophecy:

The Sakya king’s son will control the world or, if he chooses to abandon the polite life, a fully attained individual, a Buddha.

Siddharta’s mother, Queen Maya, passed away seven days after he was born. To keep him from abandoning the royal life, he was nurtured under protective custody and married to Princess Yasodhara at the age of sixteen. Rahula was the son they had together.

Siddharta, however, comes to the realization that everyone is susceptible to old age, illness, and death, as well as to all the misery that comes with life, despite his father’s desperate attempts to protect him in luxury and pleasure. Later, according to him

Bhikkhus, I received the gentlest, most gentle, and most delicate of nurturings. My father built three lotus ponds at his house: one with blue lotuses blooming, one with red lotuses, and one with white lotuses. I only ever utilized sandalwood from Ksi if it was also used to make my headdress, jacket, lower garment, and upper garment. I had a white canopy held over me day and night to keep the wind, dust, grass, and dew off of me.

“I had three mansions: a winter mansion, a summer mansion, and a rainy season mansion. I stayed inside the rainy-season palace for the whole four-month period, being entertained by musicians—all of whom were female—and not venturing outside. In contrast to other people’s homes where slaves, employees, and servants are fed broken rice and sour gruel for dinner, my father’s home served them choice hill rice, beef, and boiled rice.

‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself prone to old age, is not exempt from old age, feels repulsed, humiliated, and disgust when he sees somebody who is old, forgetting his own predicament,’ it occurred to me in the midst of such magnificence and a sensitive life. I am now, tooIt would not be appropriate for me to feel repulsed, ashamed, and disgusted when I saw another elderly person. When I thought about it in this way, I completely let go of my youth intoxication.

Once more, it occurred to me: “An ignorant worldling feels repulsed, ashamed, and disgusted when he sees somebody who has died, neglecting his own situation, even though he is subject to death and not exempt from death. Now, I am neither immune from death nor exempt from it. Given this, it would not be appropriate for me if I felt repulsed, ashamed, or disgusted when I saw someone who had passed away. I entirely abandoned my life-intoxication when I thought about it in this way.

At the age of 29, Siddharta made the decision to give up the luxurious life of a prince in order to become a wandering ascetic and seek out a cure for the suffering of the world as a result of this realization (MN 26, 36, 85, 100):

Later, while still young, a black-haired young guy in his prime, blessed with youth, approached my mother and father even though he was still young.

I shaved off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and left the comforts of home to become homeless, as I wished differently and sobbed with tearful faces.

He initially sought out the great meditation masters of his time, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. However, despite quickly mastering the highest level of meditation they taught and being asked by both of them to continue guiding their students as the highest teacher, he only found a temporary cessation of suffering rather than the permanent end to birth, old age, illness, and death he was seeking.

Siddharta made the decision to carry on his search and relocated to the bush, where he spent years practicing rigorous asceticism.

In effort to exert control over his body and mind, he engages in aggressive behaviors such as barely eating, tolerating severe discomfort, breathing as little as possible, and more.

Five ascetics—Kondanna, Bhadduya, Wappa, Mahanama, and Assaji—who also abandoned wealth and a comfortable life to seek escape from suffering were greatly moved by Siddharta’s efforts and kept close track of him.

Siddharta’s body was severely emaciated and his death was imminent after six years of arduous asceticism; nonetheless, he had not yet attained release from pain.e was looking for a temporary end to suffering, not the end of birth, old age, illness, and death.

Siddharta made the decision to carry on his search and relocated to the bush, where he spent years practicing rigorous asceticism.

In an effort to exert control over his body and mind, he engages in aggressive behaviors such as barely eating, tolerating severe discomfort, breathing as little as possible, and more.

Five ascetics—Kondanna, Bhadduya, Wappa, Mahanama, and Assaji—who also abandoned wealth and a comfortable life to seek escape from suffering were greatly moved by Siddharta’s efforts and kept close track of him.

Siddharta’s body was severely emaciated, and his death was imminent after six years of arduous asceticism; nonetheless, he had not yet attained release from pain. I was looking for a temporary end to suffering, not the end of birth, old age, illness, and death.

“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’ Then, following on that memory, came the realisation: ‘That is indeed the path to enlightenment.’”

“I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’ I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’”

“I considered: ‘It is not easy to attain that pleasure with a body so excessively emaciated. Suppose I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and porridge.’ And I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and porridge. Now at that time five bhikkhus were waiting upon me, thinking: ‘If our recluse Gotama achieves some higher state, he will inform us.’ But when I ate the boiled rice and porridge, the five bhikkhus were disgusted and left me, thinking: ‘The recluse Gotama now lives luxuriously; he has given up his striving and reverted to luxury.’”

This is how Siddharta traveld on the middle road, rediscovered by him.

At that moment the five ascetics leave him, they know nothing of Siddharta’s new insight and think that Siddharta has given up the search for liberation and turned back to the worldly life. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Siddharta strenghtens his body and, free from sensory desire and self-flagellation, sits under a Bodhi tree (MN 36):

“Now when I had eaten solid food and regained my strength, then quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain. With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, I entered upon and abided in the second jhāna, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, I abided in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, I entered upon and abided in the third jhāna, on account of which noble ones announce: ‘He has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.”

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives. This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute.”

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate. I understood how beings pass on according to their actions thus: ‘These worthy beings who were ill conducted in body, speech, and mind, revilers of noble ones, wrong in their views, giving effect to wrong view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, after death, have reappeared in a state of deprivation, in a bad destination, in perdition, even in hell; but these worthy beings who were well conducted in body, speech, and mind, not revilers of noble ones, right in their views, giving effect to right view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, after death, have reappeared in a good destination, even in the heavenly world.’ Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings pass on according to their actions. This was the second true knowledge attained by me in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute.”

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘These are the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of the taints’; I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’ When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’ This was the third true knowledge attained by me in the last watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.”

According to legend, Mara, the evil one, the seducer, the personification of death, challenges Siddharta during this last night.

First he sends his army to Siddharta to frighten him. Mara’s horrible and terrifying forces scream and roar and fire arrows at Siddharta, but Siddharta’s infinite loving kindness turns the arrows into flowers upon reaching him.

Then Mara sends his three beautiful daughters (desire, aversion and attachment) to Siddharta to seduce him and bind him to the world. They dance and sing with their voluptuous bodies and beautiful voices, but Siddharta remains completely untouched due to his concentration, separated from sensory desires and unwholesome mental qualities.

Finally, Mara, despairing that Siddharta will escape from his chains, asks why Siddharta thinks he has the right to free herself from all suffering.

Siddharta touches the earth with the fingertips of his right hand and calls upon the universe as a witness to the effort he has made in all his countless livetimes, during all those endless eons, with the sole goal of attaining liberation.

The universe trembles in achknowledgement and Mara is defeated.

Thus Siddharta Gautama, meditating under the Bodhi Tree, attains the complete, universal enlightenment of a Buddha.

Relating to Buddha Jayanti 1

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