The Buddha Shines Throughout This World By Bhante Saddhajeewa (Vice President Bhavana Society)
Prince Siddhartha was born to this world with the help of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. He had a wonderful childhood. He excelled at schooling and finished all his studies at age 16. Prince Siddhartha married Yasodara (Badda Kachchayana) and at that time, King Suddhodana decided to step aside and assign his son as king. When he was 29 years old, King Siddhartha relinquished his title and left the palace. This remarkable move was known by very few: his wife, Yasodara, his closest supporters, ministers and his father. His parents watched their son’s departure with tear-stained faces (Ariyapariyesana Sutta). He was away for 6 years never straying from his goal to attain enlightenment. Enlightenment means to see the truth, the reality. It is the result of spiritual wisdom. The former King Siddhartha strove to develop his mind through mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. As a result of achieving wisdom, he realized suffering, its causes, cessation, and the way to accomplish the end of suffering.
Ascetic Siddhartha achieved enlightenment at age 35. Enlightenment was not a result of rituals or any other religious practice. He attained enlightenment through gaining wisdom. After his enlightenment he spent 45 years teaching until the moment of his Parinibbana. We can say that he continues to teach since his Dispensation lives on through numerous ordained, learned, and devoted monastics. His main teaching is the Four Noble Truths. To realize the Four Noble Truths, there is the Noble Eightfold Path. To explain these two things, The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddhabefore you call him the Buddha for the first time, do you want to explain how his name went from Siddhartha to the Buddha? You could put that right after the first sentence of this paragraph, something like: “At that moment, he was no longer Siddhartha. He became the Buddha.” delivered 84,000 sermons. He tailored these sermons to each audience, large or small, rich or poor, educated or uneducated since humans are at all different levels of understanding. In his Dhamma sermons we can see similes, direct core of Dhamma, stories, arguments, logic, real life, idioms, poems, and expressions.
Some people may consider the teachings of the Buddha as religious views. Others take them as a philosophy. For me it is a way of life. It is very clear to me that the Buddha did not introduce a religion. He refused all beliefs and encouraged people to develop confidence in the natural law of Dhamma through research and more research and still more research.
There are four steps to enlightenment: Sotapanna, getting to the stream; Sakadagami, once returner; Anagami, never-returner; and Arahat. When someone attains stream entry, Sotapanna, that person will be free from wrong views, doubt, and rituals and beliefs. If someone is free from rituals, that person is not a religious person but a spiritual person. This person has already established compassion, loving-friendliness, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. This person is not fully liberated from defilements but is on the way to eradicating all the defilements. The Buddha stated in the Discourse on the Nature of Dhamma:
“Bhikkhus, whether Tathagathas appear or do not appear there is this established element of Dhamma, this fixed law of Dhamma: All that is conditioned is impermanent. A Tathagata fully awakens to this, and fully understands it. So awakened and thus understanding, he announces, points out, declares, establishes, expounds, explains, and clarifies it: All that is conditioned is impermanent.”
Once Mahapajapati Gotami, stepmother of the Buddha, went to see the Buddha and asked for an explanation of the Dhamma in brief. The Buddha then described to her eight qualities that a person can develop that are Dhamma, truth, and living according to the Teacher’s instruction. These are dispassion, being unfettered, not being attention- seeking, modesty, contentment, enjoying seclusion and quietude, being energetic, and being unburdensome. He told Mahapajapati that Dhamma should be applied to counter Adhamma, or everything that is not Dhamma (Gotami Sutta).
The Achchara Gatha, The Nymphs’ Verse, is a short verse that describes a very special trip.
“The path is called ‘straight’;
“Without fear” is the destination;
The carriage is called “silent,”
Accompanied by the Wheel of Dhamma.
“Conscience is the brake,
And mindfulness the upholstery;
I call Dhamma, “driver,”
And right view runs ahead of it.
“And whether it be a woman,
Or whether it be a man,
Whoever travels by this carriage
Shall draw close to Nibbana.”
Through the Noble Eightfold Path, we can develop awareness, mindfulness, concentration, and then wisdom. The person who gains wisdom through practice is established in wholesomeness. Gradually, that person transforms, and the personality is open to insight. There are the “Dhammas to be Reflected Upon Always” to help keep our thoughts and energy on this path called “straight.”
“I am of the nature to decay; I have not gone beyond decay.”
“I am of the nature to be diseased; I have not gone beyond disease.”
“I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond death.”
“All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish.”
“I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma. Whatever kamma I shall do, whether good or evil, of that I shall be the heir.”
When someone lives with these views, that person will live happily in society. That person will share their own inner peace and help others to develop inner peace.
The Buddha was born on the Vesak full moon day. Today we are ready to celebrate our own good fortune and ability to know the Dispensation and to apply the teachings to everyday life. The Buddha advised us to be a lamp unto ourselves. The Buddha does not take us to salvation, each of us individually must work on that. The path is clear for our liberation, so let’s do it.