In general the term ‘Buddha’ means awakened one or to be free from delusions.
Many people were, are and will become Buddha’s.
Buddhism started with the Buddha. The word ‘Buddha’ is a title, which means ‘one who is awake’ — in the sense of having ‘woken up to reality’. Buddha did not claim to be a god or a prophet, he was a human who became enlightened and now his teachings (The Dharma) have inspired all of the great wisdom on the shedding of suffering.
We can learn a lot from the life story of Buddha Shakyamuni. Lets look at the man behind the legend.
He was a gifted child but he also lived a sheltered life from the outside world. Even though living a privileged life Buddha spent the first part of his life very unhappy.
One day when he was outside the palace he saw a crippled man, a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic; these sightings jolted him from his privileged life as he began to realize the suffering beyond the walls of his palace.
Why do human beings suffer? Is there any escape?
These questions plagued his mind. These sightings left deep impressions on him and led him to realize that all living beings suffer; we suffer sickness, ageing and death. And not just once, but through reincarnation we live this suffering over and over again.
We are essentially trapped in a cycle of rebirth and suffering.
In an attempt to find the secret to end of suffering, Buddha left his wife, son and the safe walls of the palace and became a wanderer.
He studied under many teachers and became adept at meditation. Because of the self reflective capacity of the mind, yoga and meditation can be used to tame the mind and therefore tame the passions. It wasn’t uncommon to see Yogi’s sitting for hours, breathing more and more slowly until they were barely breathing at all.
Buddha was an excellent student, but no matter what he did, he was still stuck with the pain. He managed to escape the pain and suffering of the planet, but those escapes were only temporary. Buddha was able to reach rare states of consciousness, but it wasn’t permanent.
He still was plagued with the same problem: Why do humans suffer; how can we escape the cycle of birth, death and rebirth?
Buddha continued on his travels, leaving behind his studies and entered an ascetic lifestyle. A belief in freeing the spirit by denying the flesh. Ascetic’s believed that by torturing themselves they can eliminate and liberate themselves from all anger and desires.
Buddha was near starvation when he realized that he still hadn’t solved the great mystery that tortured him. For 6 long years he tortured his body, trying to eliminate all that was bad within him
He was on the brink of death when he remembered a day when he was “young and sat by the river with his father and the perfection of the world as it was simply gave itself to him”
The taproot of Buddhism is compassion. A deep affection for everything because we are all in it together, humans, animals, the planet as a whole.” Everything is connected.
Buddha’s mind drifted and by instinct he crossed his legs in a yoga pose. He felt a sense of pure joy. He then realized he can’t sustain this joy if he doesn’t eat and that’s when a girl appeared and gave him some food. At that moment he abolished his ascetic lifestyle. He made a decision towards life. He called this grace, he realized that you can’t do it on your own. In Christianity it comes from the divine, in the story of the Buddha it comes from the kind heart of a girl.
Life is painful, life involves change and after all that he still had his problem of why humans suffer.
He decided to trust his own mind and he sat under a Bodhi tree and vowed to stay there until he found the answers. The supreme and final wisdom. He was challenged in many ways, the Lord of desire Mara attacked. Buddha resisted all of Mara’s attacks. Buddha remembered all his previous lives, animal and human. He gained the power to see the process of birth, death and rebirth.
He was given a cosmic vision of the workings of the entire universe. As the morning star appeared he roared like a lion, his mind was at peace.
The heavens shook and the Bodhi tree rained flowers, he had become the awakened one, The Buddha.
He found enlightenment after 40 days on the full moon in May. He attained ultimate freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He is of pure mind.
At 36 Buddha discovered enlightenment.
Through out the remaining 45 years of his life he traveled throughout India spreading understanding about The Dharma (teachings). Teaching Nirvana – the shedding of suffering.
Buddha’s are free from greed, hatred & ignorance & characterized by wisdom, compassion and freedom.
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