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Who is Buddha? (Understanding The Buddha and his teachings)

Updated on December 31, 2013
Buddha statue
Buddha statue | Source

"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

Ruwanwelisaya, Sri Lanka

Massive structures, known as Stupa, built enshrining the relics of The Buddha. Worshiped by millions if deities annually.
Massive structures, known as Stupa, built enshrining the relics of The Buddha. Worshiped by millions if deities annually. | Source

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.

  1. I will not kill/harm other living beings (humans, animals etc).
  2. I will not steal/take things from others that doesn't belong to me.
  3. I will not engage in sexual misconducts.
  4. I will not lie or purposely misguide others.
  5. 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!!!

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.

Conclusion

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!!!

Comments

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    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Thank you for this beautifully true Hub, Nimesh. Peace be with you.

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      jonnycomelately Thanks for your comment.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I used to think the ideas of Buddha were great, until I heard someone claiming to be a Buddhist say that they wouldn't help a person being killed, not even to call 911, because it would interfere in her destiny.

      If you were there witnessing it, it means you were there to save that person, that would be the true destiny

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Keep searching, keep questioning.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Who Jonny, me? I have learned that I wouldn't want to be a part of a group that believes the way I have described in my reply above. I'm searching as we all are, but not there (Buddhism)

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Have you considered you might be judging without the full picture before you?

      Any "group" in the world can be misrepresented by one or a few individuals. If you mind is easily swayed by a minority, then your judgment might be suspect. Would you agree?

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I've studied a little of the Buddha doctrine (for lack of a better word) and it says the same, not to interfere in another's destiny

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      MonkeyShine75 ,

      Wow, I don't know what kind of literature you have been reading, but that's the furthest thing from Buddhism. Buddhism never says not to interfere with anyone else's destiny, and the correct term is 'Karma' not destiny. Buddhists are encouraged to help anyone--even your enemies at times of need. That's what real Buddhism teaches you.

      As for your example, if someone was getting killed, a Buddhist (any human being for that matter) has the obligation/opportunity to save them. That's very positive karma for our life too.

      I don't know what you have been reading, but I kindly request you not to 'pick up' things from here and there and spread it around as Buddhism. If you want true Buddhism, study "Theravada Buddhism". It's one branch of Buddhism, the other being "Mahayana Buddhism". "Mahayana Buddhism" isn't wrong or anything, but it's more towards materialism.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Nimesh

      I didn't get it from reading but from here on Hubpages

      http://monkeyshine75.hubpages.com/question/252302/...

      At the bottom of the page there is one hidden answer click on that and there are 24 comments, click on see all 24 comments, . It is Sri that shocked us all

      when asked if he would try to save a person being killed

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I know destiny and Karma, however he said destiny, and he didn't mean Karma. And I am not spreading around stuff about Buddhism. A true Buddhist wouldn't scold me either

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      MonkeyShine75,

      I read it, and it's kind of stupid. What makes you think that is the Buddhist perspective?

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      He said he's a Buddhist obviously you didn't read the 24 comments

      your answers to why I said this are there

      Look at Sris hubs

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      MonkeyShine75,

      Well, I just re-read all of his comments and not once he says he is a Buddhist. And he says he acts as per his 'God' and we Buddhists don't follow any gods.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Why don't you read his hubs, or at least look at them. He claims to be a Buddhist

      I didn't see one place he claimed a God

      No he didn't say anything about God

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      MonkeyShine75,

      You said read the comments and I did. And his hubs looked like he was talking about Zen Buddhism, which has nothing to do with the pure Buddhism The Buddha taught the world. So don't base your judgement of an entire religion based on one person. A lot of personal factors could affect on one's interpretation of their religion. If you seriously want to learn about Buddhism, I suggest you meet a monk.

      Well, if you didn't see him mentioning I suggest you read his comments carefully without jumping into conclusions. This is his comment:

      Sri T 46 hours ago

      Because I have to follow my God. My God tells me what is right for my wellbeing. Yours may tell you to enter into danger or risk your life for others. In that case you may also enter your door to eternity as well.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      He wasn't speaking of my God

      He was speaking of his God, himself

      You can see he separated it from our God (mine and the other's God)

      He said "I have to follow my God. My God tells me"

    • Nimesh De Silva profile image
      Author

      Nimesh De Silva 2 years ago

      I was speaking about HIS Gods as well. Read the comment carefully.

      "And he says he acts as per his 'God' and we Buddhists don't follow any gods."

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      But he didn't mean that he believed in a God. He meant himself. He is his own God.

      He had to go by what he thought, is all he meant. It's very easy to read in everything he said

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Deb, you, I, everyone, everything, are a manifestation of "God." The Infinite Devine Consciousness dwells in us, and is of us, in the same way that a wave upon the water is THE water, and is OF the water, not separate yet the wave is manifest and definable from the vast expanse of the water.

      When you try to set "God" out, away and separate from the manifest, then you distort reality. You split off and away from the Devine and set yourself up as evil, or opposite from the Devine.

      The Buddha shone a light upon the completeness, the ONE-ness of the creation. I feel that the person we refer to as Jesus also reached this level of enlightenment and beyond. You and I are no more special than the ant which we casually crush under our feet. We are all OF the Devine.

      When you are able to meditate upon this and reach a personal awareness, a full consciousness of these truths, then let us know your findings.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 2 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I know what Buddha teaches JCL, however I am speaking of what someone else said. I didn't say it, someone who claims to be a Buddhist did Thank you

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