Better than a thousand hollow words
is one word that brings peace.
Buddha was born approximately 560 B.C. in the land of Northern India. As a religion, Buddhism contains the attainment of Buddhahood or Nirvana as a central tenet of its teachings. Within the realm of Christianity, the historical Christ echoed the same teaching, though in a different form, by saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us.
In Buddhist thought the world has but a relative reality in that it is a Maya or illusion in which we go round and round the whirlpool of Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death, gain and loss, pain and pleasure until we begin to search for a way out of the maelstrom of matter. In this objective world nothing is lasting, everything contained within it is in a state of flux or constant change. But the real source of all pleasure, truth, goodness and permanence is not dependent on the objective world at all but is instead contained within us. The inner essence or core of awareness of each of us is the Atma, the real source of all bliss. We experience a small fraction of this bliss as the senses go out after objects in the world. The world is illusory and the pleasures to be had in it are but momentary and fleeting. Buddha sought the means to attain the inner bliss of Nirvana which is permanent.
The story of the life of the Buddha was popularized in the West through the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, though the author takes great liberties with the actual facts of the life of young Prince Siddhartha who later became Gautama Buddha. Within the last few decades, many movies have been made of the story.
Buddha was a pure hearted person. When he was born, a renowned astrologer had predicted that he would be either a great king or a great renunciant. On knowing this, Buddha's father, Suddhodhana arranged to keep out of his son's sight all unseemly worldly sights of happenings in this world. From his childhood, Buddha could not bear the sight of anyone in pain. He was saddened at the sight of the old ill-treating the young, of men in authority harassing the people and the big fish swallowing the little ones. He realized that it was wrong for anyone to cause harm to others. Hence he declared: "Ahimsa Paramodharma" (Non-hurting is the Supreme Dharma. No one should cause hurt to others by speech, action, or in any other way.
The name given to Buddha at the time of birth was "Sarvaartha Siddha". Suddhodhana got his son married to Yasodhara, daughter of his brother in-law, Suddhabuddha. He apprehended that his son may become a recluse and turn away from the world if he was left to himself. But Buddha did not feel that a married life was the proper thing for him. Buddha felt that man was bound by various attachments in worldly life. Friends and relations were the cause of this bondage. Various human relationships are the cause of sorrow in the world. So he declared: All is sorrow. He also declared Everything is momentary, everything is perishable.
Buddha felt that nothing was truly lasting. He felt intensely unhappy that his parents and others combined to commit him to the bondage of married life. One day, at midnight, Buddha left the palace, giving up his wife and young son, Rahul.
He abandoned everything out of the conviction: "There is no mother or father, no kinsman or friend, no home or wealth. Awaken yourself!" He resolved to find out something which transcends all worldly relationships and pleasures.
Buddha asked himself: "What is this life? Birth is misery. Old age is misery. Wife is a cause of sorrow. There is misery at the end of life. Therefore, be alert and awake."
Happiness is not to be found in any of the things of the world. Everything is fleeting. Man is wasting his life in the pursuit of petty ephemeral pleasures. Nirvana is the only truth. To turn the mind towards that which is permanent is "Nirvana"Buddha's mother Maya Devi passed away on the seventh day after his birth. Suddhodhana's second wife Gautami, brought up the child. Because he was brought up by Gautami, he was named Gautama Buddha. At the age of 28, he gave up everything and turned a renunciant. What is the significance of this step? Buddha declared "Hands in the society. Head in the forest" He renounced everything to think about promoting the welfare of society.
When Buddha was going round begging for alms as a mendicant, his father, Suddhodhana, called him and said: "Son! Why are you going about as a beggar? I am a king and you are leading the life of a beggar. This is not proper at all." Buddha gave him a fitting reply. "Sire, you are Brahmam (the One God) and I am Brahmam. You are not the father and I am not the son. Both of us are Brahmam. In the phenomenal world, you belong to the lineage of rulers. I belong to the lineage of renunciants. All those who follow my ideals are all renunciants. Your lineage is based on attachment. My lineage is based on renunciation. To those who have attachment, it becomes a disease. To the renunciants, detachment becomes the means to Nirvana (liberation from bondage)".
Buddha taught his message in this way to his father, wife and son. Buddha went about preaching his message. Buddha's message spread to many countries like Tibet, China, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, and Japan.
Adapted from: http://www.cosmicharmony.com/Av/Buddha/Buddha.htm
Quotes from the Buddha
- All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
- All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
- All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?
- An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
- An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
- Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
- Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
- Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.
- He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.
- Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
- It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.
- Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
- Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
- Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.