Lord Gautam Buddha
Lord Gautam Buddha was born as the son of Suddhodana and Mayadevi at Lumbini near Kapilavastu. He was named Siddhartha, that is, ‘He who has accomplished his purpose’.
Suddhodana invited a rishi to see the royal child. On seeing the child the rishi prophesied, The supernatural signs indicate that the newborn child will bring deliverance to the whole world.’ He, of course, warned the king that the boy might renounce the world any time if he should come across the diseased, the old and the dead.
The king was very much alarmed to hear this. He got Siddhartha married at an early age and almost imprisoned him in a pleasure garden providing therein all kinds of enjoyments.
The inevitable happened. As the chained elephant longs for the wilds, the prince was eager to see the world. The streets were decorated and the city bore a festive appearance. Siddhartha, in the course of his visit to the city, came across an old man, a diseased person, a dead body, and at last a sannyasin.
Being told that the first three were not rare scenes, but the inevitable fate of all living beings, Siddhartha was very much perturbed and plunged into deep thought.
When he came back to the palace, somebody brought him the news that Yasodhara, his wife, had given birth to a male child, who was named Rahula. Instead of being happy, Siddhartha thought, ‘It is bondage heaped on bondage’, and decided to renounce the world in search of truth.
The decision was translated into action when one night Siddhartha renounced everything to fulfill the object of his advent and became a recluse.
He came to Uruvilva (Bodh Gaya) and sat there beneath a Bo-tree, under a vow to attain enlightenment. After six years of hard questions the much desired enlightenment dawned upon him and he became the Bodhisattva gospel.
Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi. Fulfilling the object of his advent by preaching his great message for full forty-five years and establishing his well-organized order of bhikkhus (monks),
he passed away at Kusinara at the age of eighty on Vaishakha Purnima (full moon) day, which is known as the thrice-blessed day, as on this day he was born and also attained enlightenment. He is not only the ‘Light of Asia’ but the ‘Light of the World’.
His contribution to the spiritual and cultural advancement of humanity is great beyond measure and his life and teachings have influenced the daily lives and aspirations of millions. May his words on the following pages, collected from various sources, enrich and enlighten our lives!
Swami Vivekananda On Gautam Buddha
Swami Vivekananda told a few words about one man who actually carried this teaching of Karmayoga into practice. That man is Buddha. He is the one man who ever carried this into perfect practice.
All the prophets of the world, except Gautam Buddha, had external motives to move them to unselfish action… He is the ideal Karmayogi acting without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born, beyond compare, the greatest combination of heart and brain ever existed, the greatest soulpower that has ever been manifested…
Buddhism is historically the most important religion- historically, not philosophically because it was the most tremendous religious movement that the world ever saw, the most gigantic spiritual wave ever to burst upon human society.
Four Noble Truth
1. Existence of Sorrow
2. Cause of Sorrow
3. Cessation of Sorrow
4. Way which leads to the cessation of Sorrow
- Take the precept to Abstain from killing.
- Take the precept to abstain from stealing.
- Take the precept to abstain from adultery.
- Take the precept to abstain from lying.
- Take the precept to abstain from liquor.
- Right Understanding
(free from superstition and delusion)
- Right Thought
(high and worthy of the intelligent)
- Right Speech
(kindly, open, truthful)
- Right Actions
(peaceful, honest, pure)
- Right Livelihood
(not bringing hurt or danger to living beings).
- Right Effort
(in self-training and in self- control)
- Right Mindfulness
(the active watchful mind)
- Right Concentration
(in deep meditation on the realities of life)
- Do not kill.
- Do not steal.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not tell lies.
- Do not slander.
- Do not speak harshly.
- Do not engage in idle talks.
- Do not covet others’ property.
- Do not show hatred.
- Think righteously.
Act of Merits
- Dive charity to the deserving.
- Observe the precepts of morality.
- Cultivate and develop good thoughts.
- Render service and attend to others.
- Honour and nurse parents and elders.
- Give a share of your merits to others.
- Accept the merits that others give you.
- Hear the doctrine of righteousness.
- Preach the doctrine of righteousness.
- Rectify your faults.
- Didn’t you ever see in the world a man or a woman, eighty, ninety or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, gray and scanty hair or bald-headed, wrinkled with blotched limbs? And did the thought never come to you that you are also subject to decay that you also cannot escape it?
- Did you never see in the world a man or a woman, who being sick, afflicted and grievously ill, and wallowing in his or her own filth, was lifted up by some people, and put to bed by others? And did the thought never come to you, that you, that you also are subject to disease, that you also cannot escape it?
- Didn’t you ever see in the world the corpse of a man or a woman, one or two or three days after death, swollen up, blueblack in color, and decomposing? And did the thought never come to you that you also are subject to death, that you also cannot escape it?
First Sermon of Sarnath
Addressing the five bhikkhus, Gautam Buddha said:
Do not call Tathagata by his name, nor address him ‘friend’, for he is Buddha, the Holy One. Buddha looks equally with a kind heart on all living beings and they therefore call him ‘Father’.
To disrespect a father is wrong, to despise him is sin. The Tathagata does not seek liberation in austerities, but for that reason you must not think that he indulges in worldly pleasure, nor does he live in abundance. The Tathagata has found the Middle Path’.
Neither abstinence from fish nor flesh, nor going naked, nor shaving the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough garment, nor covering with dirt, nor sacrificing to fire, will cleanse a man who is not free from delusions.
Reading the Vedas, making offerings to priests or sacrifices to gods, self-mortification by heat or cold, and many such penances performed for the sake of immortality do not cleanse the man who is not free from delusions.
Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry, deception, envy, self-praise, disparaging others, superciliousness, and evil intentions constitute uncleanness; not verily the eating of flesh.
Let me teach you, O bhikkhus, the middle path, which keeps aloof from both extremes. By suffering, the emaciated devotee produces confusing and sickly thoughts in his mind.
Mortification is not conducive even to worldly knowledge; how much less to a triumph over the senses!
He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness, and he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail. Mortifications are painful, vain, and profitless. And how can anyone be free from self by leading a wretched life if he does not succeed in quenching the fires of lust?
All mortification is vain so long as self remains, so long as self continues to lust after worldly or heavenly pleasures. But he in whom self has become extinct, is free from lust; he will desire neither worldly nor heavenly pleasures, and the satisfaction of his natural wants will not defile him. Let him eat and drink according to the needs of the body.
Water surrounds the lotuses, but does not wet its petals. On the other hand, sensuality of all kinds is enervating. The sensual man is a slave of his passions, and pleasureseeking is degrading and vulgar.
But to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear.
This is the Middle Path’, O bhikkhus, that keeps aloof from both extremes. The Blessed One spoke so kindly to his disciples, pitying them for their errors, and pointing out the uselessness of their endeavors, and the ice of ill-will that chilled their hearts melted away under the gentle warmth of the Master’s persuasion.
There are five meditations:
- The first is meditation of love, in which you must so adjust your heart, that you long for the weal and welfare of all beings, including the happiness of your enemies
- The second is the meditation of pity, in which you think of all beings in distress, vividly representing their sorrows and anxieties in your imagination so as to arouse a deep compassion for them in your soul.
- The third is the meditation of joy, in which you think of the prosperity of others and rejoice at their rejoicings.
- The fourth is the meditation on impurity, in which you consider the evil consequences of corruption, the effects of sin and diseases. How trivial often the pleasure of the moment and how fatal its consequences
- The fifth is the meditation on serenity, in which you rise above love and hate, tyranny and oppression, wealth and want, and regard your own fate with impartial calmness and perfect tranquility.
There are four Dhyanas (beatific vision):
- The first is seclusion, in which you must free your mind from sensuality.
- The second is a tranquility of mind full of joy and gladness.
- The third is taking delight in spiritual things.
- The fourth is a state of perfect purity and peace, in which the mind is above all gladness and grief.
Be sober and abandon wrong practices which serve only to stultify your mind.
There are four means by which Riddhi (domination of spirit over matter) is acquired:
- Prevent bad qualities from arising.
- Put away bad qualities which have arisen.
- Produce goodness that does not yet come to existence.
- Search with sincerity and persevere in your search.
In the end you will find the truth.
Mind is the forerunner of all activity; mind is the highest of all sensory powers. All relative concepts have their origin in the mind.
Mind is the precursor of all perceptions. It is the most subtle of all elements in the phenomenal universe. All objectified consciousness has its origin in the mind. One who speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness abides with him as his own shadow.
‘I am being hated, mistrusted, misunderstood and deceived by others’-he who harbors such thoughts in his mind can never become free from the causes which inflict their destructiveness upon himself.
He who has attained mastery over himself is indeed a greater conqueror than one who has vanquished a thousand enemies, a thousand times more powerful than he, yet remains a slave to his sensory self.
One whose mind roams in search of outward beauty and grandeur; who is unable to keep masterly control over his senses; who eats impure food; who is lazy and lacking in moral courage; ignorance and sorrow overpower him just as the gale shatters the sapless tree.
Just as raindrops leak into the house which is not well covered with a perfect roof, so attachment, hatred and delusion enter the mind which is averse to subjective meditation.
He whose mind is not wetted by lust, he who is not affected by hatred, he who has discarded both good and evil, to such a vigilant one there is no fear.
A heart that follows the path of ignorance does infinitely greater harm to man than his most hateful and vicious enemy.
The wise man straightens the flickering, fickle mind, difficult to guard, difficult to control as a fletcher an arrow.
The mind is hard to check, extremely subtle, swift, flits wherever it lists-the control thereof is good: a controlled mind is conducive to happiness.
What neither mother, nor father, nor any other relatives could do, a well directed mind does, and thereby elevates one.
In the awakened man there is no fear.
Abstention from evil, performance of good acts, and purification of one’s mind-this is the doctrine of the Buddhas.
He who knows the nature of his self and understands how his senses act, finds no room for the ‘I’ and thus he will attain
peace unending. The world holds the thought of ‘I’ and from this arises false apprehension.
Some say that the ‘I’ endures after death, some say it perishes. Both are wrong and their error is most grievous.
For, if they say the ‘I’ is perishable, the fruits they strive for, too will perish and at some time there will be no hereafter. This liberation from sinful selfishness is without merit.
When some, on the other hand, say the ‘I’ will not perish, then in the midst of all life and death there is but one identity unborn and undying. If such is their ‘I’ then it is perfect and cannot be perfected by deeds.
The lasting imperishable ‘T’ would never be changed. The self would be lord and master, and there would be no use in perfecting the perfect; moral aims and liberation will be un- necessary.
But now we see the marks of joy and sorrow. Where is any constancy? If it is not an ‘I’ that does our deeds, then there is no ‘I’; there is no actor behind the doing, no perceiver behind the knowing, no lord behind the living.
You that are slaves of ‘I’ that toil in the service of self from morn to night, that live in constant fear of birth, old age, sickness, and death, receive the good tidings that your cruel master exists not.
Self is an error, an illusion, a dream. Open your eyes and awake. See things as they are and you will be comforted.
He who is awake will no longer be afraid of nightmares. He who has recognized the nature of the rope that seemed to be a serpent, ceases to tremble.
He who has found there is no ‘I’ will let go all the lusts and desires of egotism.
The cleaving to things, covetousness, and sensuality, inherited from former existences, are the causes of misery and of the vanity of the world.
Surrender the grasping disposition of your selfishness, and you will attain that sinless calm state of mind which conveys perfect peace, goodness and wisdom.
If one knows that self is dear, one should protect oneself well. During any of the three watches, the wise man should keep vigil.
Evil, Good And Suffering
What is the root of evil?
Desire is the root of evil; hatred is the root of evil; illusion is the root of evil. Think not lightly of evil saying, ‘It will not come near me.’ Even a jar is filled by the falling of drops. Likewise the fool, gathering little by little, fills himself with evil.
Just as a merchant, with a small escort and great wealth, avoids a perilous way, or just as one desiring to live avoids poison, even so should one shun evil.
There is no place on earth neither in the sky, nor in mid ocean, nor in a mountain cave, where abiding, you may escape from the consequences of an evil deed done by you.
All acts of living creatures become bad ten things, and by avoiding the ten things they become good. There are three evils of the body, four evils of the tongue, and three evils of the mind.
- The three evils of the body are murder, theft and adultery
- The four evils of the tongue are lying, slander, abuse and idle talk.
- The three evils of the mind are covetousness, hatred and error.
Lord Gautam Buddha Teaches you to avoid the ten evils:
1. Kill not, but have regard for life.
2. Steal not, neither do you rob; but help everybody to be master of the fruits of his labour.
3. Abstain from impurity, and lead a life of chastity.
4. Lie not, but be truthful. Speak the truth with discretion, fearlessly and with a loving heart.
5. Invent not evil reports, neither do you repeat them. Carp not, but look for the good sides of your fellow-beings, so that you may with sincerity, defend them against their enemies.
6. Swear not, but speak decently and with dignity.
7. Waste not the time in gossip, but keep to the purpose or keep silence.
8. Covet not, nor envy, but rejoice at the fortunes of others.
9. Cleanse your heart of malice and harbor no hatred, not even against your enemies; but embrace all living beings with kindness.
10. Free your mind of ignorance and be anxious to learn the truth, especially in the one thing that is needed, lest you fall prey either to skepticism or to errors.
Let a man overcome anger by love, evil by good, greed by liberality, the lie by truth. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.
To the sinful man sin appears sweet as honey. The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is a fool indeed.
What is good?
Abstaining from theft is good; abstaining from sensuality is good; abstaining from falsehood is good; abstaining from slander is good; suppression of unkindness is good; avoiding gossip is good; letting go of all envy is good; dismissing hatred is good; obedience to truth is good.
What is the path that leads to the annihilation of suffering?
It is the holy Eightfold Path that leads to the annihilation of suffering. In so far, O friends, as a noble youth thus recognizes suffering, and the origin of suffering and the path that leads to the annihilation of suffering, radically forsaking passion, subduing wrath, annihilating the conceit of the ‘I am’, leaving ignorance, and attaining enlightenment, he will make an end of all suffering in this life.
He who has abandoned both merit and demerit, he who is holy, he who lives with understanding in this world, he, indeed, is called a Bhikshu.
- Not by shaven head does an undisciplined man, who utters lies, become an ascetic.
- How will one be an ascetic who is full of desire and greed?
- He who wholly subdues evil-both small and great-is called an ascetic, because he has overcome all evil.
- The bhikshu who look at a woman as a woman or touches her as a woman has broken his vow and is no longer a disciple of the Buddha.
- If, after all, O Bhikshu, you he must speak with a woman, let it be with pure heart, and think to yourself, ‘I as a bhikshu will live in this sinful world as the spotless leaf of the lotus, unsoiled by the mud in which it grows.”
- If the woman be old, regard her as your mother, if young, your sister, if very young as your child.
- Cover your head, O bhikshu, with the helmet of right thought, and fight with fixed resolve against the five desires.
- Lust clouds a man’s heart, when it is confused with a woman’s beauty and the mind is dazed.
- Better far with red-hot irons bore out your eyes, than encourage yourselves in sensual thoughts or look upon a woman’s form with lustful desire.
- Good is restraint in body, good is restraint in speech. Good is restraint in mind, good is restraint everywhere. The monk restrained in everything is freed from all sorrow.
- He who is controlled in hand, foot, speech and in the highest (head); he who delights in meditation, and is composed; he who is solitary and contented-him they call a bhikshu.
- He who has no ‘I’ and ‘me’ whatever towards mind and body, he who grieves not for that which he has not, he, indeed is called a bhikshu.
- The bhikshu who has retired to a lonely abode, who has calmed his mind, who clearly perceives the Doctrine, experiences a joy transcending that of men.
- As the jasmine creeper sheds its withered flowers, even so, O bhikkhus, you should totally shed lust and hatred.
- The bhikshu, who, while still young, devotes himself to the Buddha’s teachings, illuminates this world as does the moon freed from a cloud.
- Just as a Kusa grass, wrongly grasped, cuts the very hand, even so the ascetic life, wrongly handled, drags one to hell;
- Those sages who are harmless,
- Ever restrained in body,
- Go to the deathless state,
- Wherever they go, they never grieve
When I have passed away and can no longer address you and edify your minds with religious discourse, select from among you men of good family and education to preach the truth in my stead.
And let those men be invested with the robes of Tathagata. Let them enter into the abode of Tathagata, and occupy the pulpit of Tathagata never abandon the disposition of charity toward all beings.
Into your hands, O you men of good family and education, who take the vow of preaching the words of the Tathagata the Blessed One transfers, intrusts and commands the good law of truth.
Receive the good law of truth, keep it, read and reread it, fathom it, promulgate it, and preach it to all beings in all quarters of the universe.
Better than a thousand useless words, is a single useful sentence, hearing which one is pacified
- The good renounce everything,
- The saintly speak not with craving or desire.
- Touched by happiness or pain,
- The wise exhibit neither elation nor depression.
Lord Buddha’s Way
As the great rivers, when falling into main, lose their names and are thenceforth reckoned as the great ocean, so all the castes, having renounced their lineage and entered the Sangha, become brethren and are reckoned as the sons of Buddha.
The ocean is the goal of all streams and of the rains from the clouds, yet it is never overflowing and never emptied; so the dharma is embraced by many millions of people yet it neither increases or decreases.
As the great ocean has only one taste, the taste of salt, so my doctrine has only one flavor, the flavor of emancipation.
Both the ocean and the dharma are full of gems and pearls and jewels, and both afford a dwelling-place for mighty beings.
My doctrine is pure, and it makes no discrimination rich and between noble and ignoble, rich and poor.
My doctrine is like water which cleanses all without any distinction.
My doctrine is like fire which consumes all things that exist between heaven and earth, great and small.
My doctrine is like the heavens, for there is ample room for the reception of all, for men and women, boys and girls, powerful and lowly.
But when I spoke, they knew me not and would say ‘Who may this be who thus speaks, a man or a god?’ Then having instructed, quickened, and gladdened them with religious discourse, I would vanish away.
But they knew me not, even when I vanished: away. The disciple of the fully Enlightened One, delights in the destruction of craving.
The robe of mine is sublime forbearance and patience. The abode of mine is charity and love of all beings. The pulpit of mine is the comprehension of the good law in its abstract meaning as well as in its particular application.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is evil?
Ans. Killing is evil; stealing is evil; yielding to sexual passion is evil; lying is evil; slandering is evil; abuse is evil; gossip is evil; envy is evil; hatred is evil; to cling to false doctrine is evil.
2. What is good?
Ans. Abstaining from theft is good; abstaining from sensuality is good; abstaining from falsehood is good; abstaining from slander is good; suppression of unkindness is good; avoidinggossip is good; letting go of all envy is good; dismissing hatred is good; obedience to truth is good.
3. What is the root of the good?
Ans. Freedom from desire, freedom from hatred, and freedom from illusion, these things, my friends, are the root of the good.
4. What is suffering?
Ans. Birth is suffering; old age is suffering; disease is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow andmisery are suffering; affliction and despair are suffering; to be united with loathsome things is suffering; the loss of that which we love and the failure in attaining that which is longed for are suffering.
5. What is the origin of suffering?
Ans. It is lust, passion, and the thirst for existence that yearns for pleasure everywhere, leading to a continual rebirth. It is sensuality, desire, selfishness; all these things, are the origin of