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  • The story of the Buddha’s life, like all of Buddhism, is a story about confronting suffering.

  • He was born between the sixth and fourth century B.C., the son of a wealthy king in the Himalayan

  • foothills of Nepal.

  • It was prophesied that the young Buddhathen called Siddhartha Gautamawould either

  • become the emperor of India or a very holy man.

  • Since Siddhartha’s father desperately wanted him to become the former, he kept the child

  • isolated in a palace.

  • Young Gautama had every imaginable luxury: jewels, servants, lotus ponds,

  • even beautiful dancing women.

  • For 29 years, Gautama lived in bliss, protected from the smallest misfortunes of the outside world

  • But then, he left the palace for short excursions.

  • What he saw amazed him: first he met a sick man, then an aging man, and then a dying man.

  • show these kind of people in Indiaadd them to the same image one by one

  • He was astounded to discover that these unfortunate people represented normalindeed, inevitableparts

  • of the human condition that would one day touch him, too.

  • Horrified and fascinated, Gautama made a fourth trip outside the palace wallsand encountered

  • a holy man, who had learned to seek spiritual life in the midst of the vastness of human suffering.

  • Inspired by the holy man, Gautama left the palace for good.

  • He tried to learn from other holy men.

  • He almost starved himself to death by avoiding all physical comforts and pleasures, as they did.

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, it did not bring him solace from suffering.

  • Then he thought of a moment when he was a small boy: sitting by the river, he’d noticed

  • that when the grass was cut, the insects and their eggs were

  • trampled and destroyed.

  • As a child, he’d felt a deep compassion for the tiny insects.

  • Reflecting on his childhood compassion,

  • Gautama felt a profound sense of peace. He ate, meditated, and finally reached

  • the highest state of enlightenment:

  • Nirvana

  • It refers to theblowing outof the flames of desire.

  • With this, Gautama had become the Buddha, “the awakened one”.

  • The Buddha awoke by recognising that all of creation, from distraught ants to dying human beings,

  • is unified by suffering.

  • Recognising this, the Buddha discovered how to best approach suffering.

  • First, one shouldn’t bathe in luxury,

  • nor abstain from food and comforts altogether.

  • Instead, one ought to live in moderation .

  • The Buddha called this

  • the middle way

  • This allows for maximal concentration on cultivating compassion for others and seeking enlightenment

  • Next, the Buddha described a path to transcending suffering called

  • The four noble truths

  • The first noble truth is the realisation that first prompted the Buddha’s journey:

  • that there is suffering and constant dissatisfaction in the world.

  • The second is that this suffering is caused by our desires.

  • As the Buddha said,

  • attachment is the root of all suffering.”

  • The third truth is that we can transcend suffering by removing or managing these desires.

  • The Buddha thus made the remarkable claim that we must change our outlook, not our circumstances.

  • We are unhappy not because we don’t have enough money, love or status but because we

  • are greedy, vain, and insecure. By re-orienting our mind we can grow to be content.

  • The people become happiersuperimpose smiles or use a second image of their face

  • With the correct behaviour and what we now term a mindful attitude, we can also become

  • better people. We can invert negative emotions and states of mind, turning ignorance into

  • wisdom, anger into compassion, and greed into generosity.

  • The fourth and final noble truth the Buddha uncovered

  • is that we can learn to move beyond suffering through what he termed

  • the noble eightfold path.

  • The eightfold path involves a series of aspects of behavingrightand wisely:

  • right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness,

  • and right concentration.

  • What strikes the western observer is the notion that wisdom is a habit, not merely an intellectual

  • realisation. One must exercise one’s nobler impulses on a regular basis, as one would

  • train a limb. The moment of understanding is only one part of becoming a better person.

  • After his death, The Buddha’s followers collected hissutras” (sermons or sayings)

  • into scripture, and developed texts to guide followers in meditation, ethics,

  • and mindful living.

  • The monasteries that had developed during the Buddha’s lifetime grew and multiplied,

  • throughout China and East Asia.

  • For a time, Buddhism was particularly uncommon in India itself, and only a few quiet groups

  • of yellow-clad monks and nuns roamed the countryside, meditating quietly in nature.

  • But then, in the 3rd century B.C., an Indian king named Ashoka grew troubled by the wars

  • he had fought and converted to Buddhism.

  • He sent monks and nuns far and wide to spread the practice.

  • Buddhist spiritual tradition spread across Asia and eventually throughout the world.

  • Buddha’s followers divided into two main schools:

  • Theravada Buddhism which colonised Southeast Asia, and

  • Mahayana Buddhism which took hold in China and Northeast Asia.

  • Today, there are between a half and one and a half billion Buddhists in both East and West

  • following the Buddha’s teachings and seeking a more enlightened and compassionate

  • state of mind.

  • Intriguingly, the Buddha’s teachings are important regardless of our spiritual identification.

  • Like the Buddha, we are all born into the world not realising how much suffering it

  • contains, and unable to fully comprehend that misfortune, sickness, and death

  • will come to us too.

  • As we grow older, this reality often feels overwhelming,

  • and we may seek to avoid it altogether.

  • But the Buddha’s teachings remind us of the importance of facing suffering directly.

  • We must do our best to liberate ourselves from the grip of our own desires,

  • and recognise that suffering can be viewed as part of our common connection with others,

  • spurring us to compassion and gentleness.

The story of the Buddha’s life, like all of Buddhism, is a story about confronting suffering.

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B2 UK buddha suffering buddhism compassion noble palace

EASTERN PHILOSOPHY - The Buddha

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    Kat posted on 2014/12/22
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