Coming Soon

Buddha Dhamma Sangha

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life of the Buddha - The First Five Monks (19)

Now the Buddha wanted to tell other people how to become wise, good and do service for others. He thought, "Now Asita, Alara and Uddaka are dead but my friends Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Bappa, Mahanama and Assaji are in Benares. I must go there and talk to them."

Then he set out for Benares, till at last he came to a grove where his five friends were. This grove at Sarnath was called the Deer Park. They saw him coming towards them and one said to another, "Look Yonder! There is Gotama, the luxury-loving fellow who gave up fasting and fell back into a life of ease and comfort. Don't speak to him or show him any respect. Let no body go and offer to take his bowl or his robe. We'll just leave a mat there for him to sit on if he wants to and if he does not, he can stand. Who is going to attend on a good-for-nothing ascetic like him."

However, as the Buddha came nearer and nearer, they began to notice that he had changed. There was something about him, something noble and majestic such as they had never seen before. And in spite of themselves, before they knew what they were doing, they forget all they had agreed on. One hastened forward to meet him, and respectfully took his bowl and robe, another busily prepared a seat for him while a third hurried off and brought him water to wash his feet.

After he had taken a seat the Buddha spoke to them and said, "Listen, ascetics, I have the way to deathless ness. Let me tell you, let me teach you. And if you listen and learn and practice as I tell you, very soon you will know for yourselves, not in some future life but here and now in this present lifetime, what I say is true. You will realize for yourself the state that is beyond all life and death."

Naturally the five ascetics were very astonished to hear their old companion talking like this. They had seen him give up the hard life of fasting and consequently believed that he had given up all efforts to find the truth. So initially they simply did not believe him, and they told him so.

But the Buddha replied, "You are mistaken, Ascetics. I have not given up all effort. I am not living a life of self-indulgence, idle comfort and ease. Listen to me, I really have attained supreme knowledge and inside. And I can teach it to you so you may attain it for yourselves."

Finally the five were willing to listen to him and he delivered his first teachings. He advised his followers to follow the middle way, avoiding the to extremes of self-indulgence and self-torture. For the fist time he taught the Four Noble Truths and how to practice the Eightfold Path, the Noble way that would lead to freedom from suffering and to the way of Enlightenment. With the conversion of the five ascetics at the Deer Park at Sarnath, the order of monks was established.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Buddha Nature

The Buddha cannot be Fathomed

     Whose conquest (of passion) is not turned into defeat, no conquered (passion) of his in this world follows him - that trackless Buddha of infinite range, by which way will you lead him?

Buddhas are dear to all

     The wise ones who are intent on meditation, who delight in the peace of renunciation (i.e. Nibbana), such mindful perfect Buddhas even the gods hold (most) dear.

The good are rare

     Rare is birth as a human being. Hard is the life of mortals. Hard is the hearing of the Sublime Truth. Rare is the appearance of the Buddhas.

Do good and be good

     Not to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purity one's mind, - this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

Non-Violence is the characteristic of an ascetic

     Forbearing patience is the highest austerity. Nibbana is supreme, say the Buddhas. He, verily, is not a recluse who harms another. Nor is he an ascetic who oppresses others.

Lead a pure and noble life

     Not insulting, not harming, restraint according to the Fundamental Moral Code, moderation i food, secluded abode, intent on higher thoughts, - this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

Insatiate are sensual pleasures

     Not by a shower of gold coins does contentment arise in sensual pleasures. Of little sweetness, and painful, are sensual pleasures. Knowing thus, the wise man finds no delight even in heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the Fully Enlightened One delights in the destruction of craving.

Release from suffering is gained by seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha

     To many a refuge fear-stricken men betake themselves - to hills, wood, groves, trees, and shrines.

     Nay, no such refuge is safe,  no such refuge is supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one freed from all ill.

     He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, sees with right knowledge the four Noble Truths - Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow, the Transcending of Sorrow and the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the Cessation of Sorrow.

     This, indeed, is refuge secure. This, indeed, is refuge supreme. By seeking such refuge one is released from all sorrow.

The Noble are rare

     Hard to find is a man of great wisdom: such a man is not born everywhere. Where such a wise man is born, that family thrives happily.

Things that tend to happiness

     Happy is the birth of  Buddhas. Happy is the teaching of the sublime Dhamma. Happy is the unity of the Sangha. Happy is the discipline of the united ones.

Honour to whom honour is due

     He who reverences those worthy of reverence, whether Buddhas or their disciples; those who have overcome the impediments and have got rid of grief  and lamentation, - the merit of  him who reverences such peaceful and fearless Ones cannot be measured by anyone as such and such.

                                                                                                                              (Buddha Vagga)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Was the Buddha a Human Being?

The Buddha was born as a human being. As a young prince, he was given the training required of a noble youth from the warrior clan. At the age of sixteen, he married his cousin, Yasodhara, who gave birth to his son, Rahula. After realizing  the universal suffering of sickness, old age and death which afflicted all beings, he decided to renounce at the age of 29 and went in search of the Truth for 6 years. At the age of 35, he was Enlightened while meditating under the Bodhi Tree. He lived as a human being up to the time he was Enlightened. But can he be considered as a human being after enlightenment?

The answer was given by the Buddha to Drona, a brahmin, who noticed his footprints and realized at once that he could be no ordinary being. He approached the Buddha and asked if he was a god (deva), a heavenly musician (gandhabba), a demon (yakkha). The Buddha answered, 'No' to all these question. When he was asked whether he was a human being (manussa), the Buddha again answered that he was not. When asked who he was, the Buddha replied that he had destroyed defilement's which condition rebirth as a deva, gandhabba, yakkha or a human being. He added :

'As a lotus, fair and lovely,
By the water is not soiled,
By the world I am not soiled ;
Therefore, brahmin, I am Buddha.'

When the Buddha attained Enlightened, he could no longer be considered as a human being in the normal sense of the world. He had attained the absolute state of the Unconditioned, the Eternal, unlike a normal human being who is bound to this planet by time and space. In addition, his mental state was at the supramundane level, not at the mundane level of unenlightened being. He did not belong to any category of being who were still bound in Samsara, He was not even a deva or brahma to whom many people pay homage. There is only one way to describe him - the Buddha, the Enlightened One who is completely liberated from a conditioned and relative existence and who has transcended time and space. Buddhas are enlightened beings who belong to a special lineage or species of beings known as Buddha wangsa.

It is important for us to keep this in mind because many non-Buddhist writers have described the Buddha as a wise teacher with a very good teaching. But alas, they say he was only human being, and his teaching is, therefore, limited to what a wise man is capable of, and no higher. These authors then offer some alternate teachings which they claim are divinely inspired.

Buddhists should not be taken in by these arguments, especially if they remember that although the Buddha was born as a human being, he could no longer be considered to be a limited human being after his Enlightenment. He lived and taught as a supremely enlightened being. He was the embodiment of Truth, and he once said, 'He who sees the Dhamma, sees me.' This means that he had actually become an embodiment of the truth (Dhamma) itself. Conditioned by his human birth, he maintained his corporeal form during the forty five years after his enlightenment. When he died at the age of eighty, he attained Mahaparinibbana - which means that although he passed away in human form, he did not die as a human being, to be reborn again in some other form. Maha Parinibbana, is the unconditioned state of ultimate release. This unconditioned state is beyond our understanding of existence or non-existence as applied to human life or phenomena. Therefore, to ask questions about the existence of beings in the state of Maha Parinibbana, is absolutely pointless.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Who is the Buddha?

There are many misinterpretations regarding the appearance of the Buddha in this world. Many people cannot understand who the Buddha actually is because of his appearance, serenity, and towering wisdom and understanding. When they compare his rational views and his personality with other religious teachers, they find that he is unique in many ways and his teachings are different from what anyone had thought of before.Therefore, they cannot believe he was an ordinary human being. That is why people have often asked whether he is an extraordinary super-nature being, a prophet or a messenger of a god. Some believe that the Buddha,with his supreme intellect, had learnt everything he knew from the existing Indian religious systems and philosophy, refined them and presented these old thoughts as a new doctrine.

All these views are not true. The Buddha had never claimed that he was sent as a messenger of any god. Nor did he say that he had heard any divine voice which whispered into his ears to reveal certain commandments to be introduced as a religion. Furthermore, while the Buddha  had studied all the existing systems of philosophical thought under the best teachers of his days, in none of these teachings could he find the life that he was seeking for.

He declared that he did not have any teacher who could teach him how to gain Enlightenment. He endeavored to find someone who could enlighten him, but he could not find such a person. So he used his own effort, knowledge and understanding to gain this supreme wisdom. Buddhahood was the result of his own effort. Not only did he fully understand the Truth, he also taught the doctrine to enlighten others. He is, therefore, called a Samma Sambuddha or the Fully Enlightened One.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Life of the Buddha - Seven Weeks After The Enlightenment (18)

Under the Bodhi Tree

During the first week after enlightenment, the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree experiencing the happiness of freedom and peace. He was free from disturbing thoughts, calm and blissful.

Gazing at the Tree

During the second week, in thanks and gratitude to the tree that had sheltered him during his struggle for Buddhahood, the Buddha stood without moving his eyes as he meditated on the bodhi tree.

Following this example, it is the custom of Buddhists to pay respect to not only the original bodhi tree, but also to the descendants of the bodhi tree that still thrive today.

The Golden Bridge 
In the third week, the Buddha saw through his mind’s eye that the devas in the heavens were not sure whether he had attained enlightenment or not. To prove his enlightenment the Buddha created a golden bridge in the air and walked up and down it for a whole week.

The Jewelled Chamber 
In the fourth week, he created a beautiful jewelled chamber and sitting inside it meditated on what was later known as the “Detailed Teaching” (Abhidhamma). His mind and body were so purified that six coloured rays came out of his body—blue, yellow, red, white, orange and a mixture of these five. Today these six colours make up the Buddhist flag. Each colour represented one noble quality of the Buddha: yellow for holiness, white for purity, blue for confidence, red for wisdom and orange for desirelessness. The mixed colour represented all these noble qualities.

Three Girls 
During the fifth week, while meditating under a banyan tree, three most charming girls called Tanha, Rati and Raga came to disturb his meditation. They danced in a most seductive and charming manner and did everything to tempt the Buddha to watch their dance. Yet he continued to meditate unperturbed, and soon they tired and left him alone.

The Mucalinda Tree 
The Buddha then went and meditated at the foot of a mucalinda tree. It began to rain heavily and a huge king cobra came out and coiled his body seven times around the Buddha to keep him warm and placed his hood over the Buddha’s head to protect him from the rain. After seven days the rain stopped and the snake changed into a young man who paid his respects to the Buddha. The Buddha then said:

“Happy are they who are contented. Happiness is for those who hear and know the truth. Happy are they who have good will in this world towards all sentient beings. Happy are they who have no attachments and have passed beyond sense-desires. The disappearance of the word “I AM “ is indeed the highest happiness.”

The Rajayatana Tree 
During the seventh week, the Buddha meditated under the rajayatana tree. On the fiftieth morning, after seven weeks of fasting, two merchants came into his presence. They were called Tapussa and Bhallika. They offered the Buddha rice cakes and honey to break his fast and the Buddha told them some of what he had found in his enlightenment.

These two merchants, by taking refuge in the Buddha and his Dharma (translated as “teachings of the Buddha”), became the first lay followers. There was no Sangha (order of monks and nuns) then. They asked the Buddha for something sacred to keep with them. The Buddha wiped his head with his right hand and pulled out some hair to give to them. These hair relics, called Kesa Datu, were later reputed to be enshrined by the merchants on their return home to what is now known as Burma, in the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon.
Coming Soon