Who is Buddha? (Understanding The Buddha and his teachings)
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world"
- The Buddha
Who is The Buddha?
As Buddhists we refer to one great leader by the term 'The Buddha'. This refers to Gautama Buddha, or also known as Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama or simply, The Buddha.
There have been 27 Buddhas before Gautama Buddha, so The Buddha specifically refers to the last Buddha, who is Gautama Buddha.
Approximately Gautama Buddha was born between a period of 563 BC to 483 BC (as per Wikipedia). Exact dates cannot be measured. He was born in Lumbini, Nepal to a family of Kings. His father was King Suddhodana and mother, Queen Maha Maya. King Suddhodana was on Shakya clan.
Queen Maha Maya dies after seven days after the childbirth because the womb of such a great birth is not deemed worthy enough for another birth. So prince Siddhartha was raised by his mother's sister Maha Prajapathi Gothami.
At the age of 16 Prince Siddhartha entered into matrimony with a princess named Yashodara and had one son named Rahula.
His father, the King, had taken steps to keep him within the palace walls to refrain him from seeing the sufferings of the outside world. At the age of 29 Price Siddhartha got a chance to roam outside the luxurious walls of the palace. He witnessed an old man, a sick person, a dead body and a monk. This got him thinking. If this life is common for everybody what is the use of all the luxuries. If this pain is the birth right of every person what is the salvation? Is there no end to this pain? Bothered by these questions Prince Siddhartha leaves his wife, newborn son, his parents and all the luxuries of the palace in search of the true meaning of life.
After seven years of extreme torture to human body and mind Siddhartha realized that the truth in life does not lie with either extreme suffering or extreme pleasures. Hence he adopted a middle path-a balanced life. On a Vesak Full Moon Poya day Siddhartha achieved the holy enlightenment.
Then began his massive social service of teaching what he learned and helping others get through this river of misery that we call 'life'.
Life of Buddha
Buddhism explained in simple terms
Ruwanwelisaya, Sri Lanka
Buddhism is not a religion!
One of the biggest misconceptions about Buddhism is that it is a religion like Christianity, Islam or Hinduism. But Buddhism is not a religion. It is merely a way of life.
What is a way of life? It means a certain style or conducts that are used to life your life. Hence there are not hard and fast rules governing Buddhists. Everything, as The Buddha preached, must be evaluated logically by us and then arrive at a sensible choice of conduct. Buddhism is probably the most lenient out of the existing philosophies. As Buddhists we have the freedom to use our best judgement to live our lives. But there are certain commandments in Buddhism as well.
The Five Commandments for life
The Buddha has taught very simple five rules to live our lives by. Abiding these guidelines will minimize conflicts and sins done by human beings.
- I will not kill/harm other living beings (humans, animals etc).
- I will not steal/take things from others that doesn't belong to me.
- I will not engage in sexual misconducts.
- I will not lie or purposely misguide others.
- I will not consume alcoholic products or any product that reduces our sense of good judgement.
If you take a closer look at each of these, they cover almost all of the 'wrong doings' of our society today. And The Buddha preached this 2500 years ago. And that is why Buddhism is considered an eternal philosophy.
The middle path of life
Another simple yet effective philosophy put forward by The Buddha is the middle path/approach to life. This simply means that there should not be extreme pleasure or suffering in our lives. There should be a balanced approach to everything.
Take food for an example. How many times have we literally stuffed ourselves with tasty food and suffered unable to breathe or move properly? Those should be avoided. That is not good both physically and mentally. Poverty may not be something totally in our control, but we should do whatever it takes to minimize sufferings.
Clothes should be what you can wear comfortably. Should be decent, appropriate and affordable. Else you will suffer both mentally, physically and financially.
Likewise the concept of middle approach can be applied to anything in our lives. Think about it.
Change is a Buddhist perspective
The Ultimate Truth
The Buddha searched and found the ultimate truth about life and universe. It's no rocket science. It just has been hiding in plane sight-or even so simple that we overlook it every time.
Change is the ultimate truth about life. There is change everywhere and it never stops. Take a moment to consider it. Nothing ever stays without changing, NOTHING! Why is this important? Well, read on.
Change is what causes pain and suffering. Yes. Assume we are born perfectly healthy babies. Then we get sick. That is a change and it is a suffering. Assume we hit our foot in a door, that is a change in the state of our foot and is a suffering. Assume we win a lottery, that is a change, and a happy one. Assume someone we love passes away, that is a change, and a very bad one. Winter comes, that is a change and for some it is a pain and for others it is a pleasure. Likewise everything we undergo in life is credited to constant changes in life. But can we stop these? Not really.
Change is the only constant in the universe. More like the fact that everything changes is the only thing that doesn't change in this world.
It is easy doing good deeds. Hence it is easy being a Buddhist. You don't have to be a Buddhist to do good. The basics of all religions are based on doing good deeds and compassion towards others. Basically "Live and let live".
So do good and live your life to the fullest. May you attain the bliss of nibbana!!!