Gautama the Buddha

-- Utshab Pokhrel / प्रकाशित मिति : बुधबार, जेष्ठ १२, २०७८

Buddha was not a God. He was a human being like you and me, and he suffered just as we do. Buddhism is not a religion. Buddha means ‘one who has awakened’ or ‘enlightened’. There is a seed of Buddha in each one of us. Buddhism is a practice following the teachings of Gautama the Buddha, for us to know the Buddha within us.

Siddhartha Gautam was born as a prince to the Shakya Kingdom which belongs to the current day Lumbini, Nepal. After the few days of his birth, a great sage came to see him and declared that either he is going to be a great emperor or a great sage. His father, the King obviously wanted him to be great emperor and not the sage. So, he tried to protect him from all the sufferings of the world. He grew up, got married and has a son without knowing any reality of the outside world. One day somewhere around when he was 29 years old, he went out from his palace to see his country. He was shocked and saddened to see all the different kinds of sufferings that a human being has to go through. Since he was not immunised or knew all these things until this age of his life, it hit him very hard. Long story short, he left his family to search for a way to end his and others’ suffering. He studied meditation with many great teachers. He practiced the hardest of all the known meditation and yoga practices for six years but couldn’t find out the answers.

(Utsab Pokhrel)

Being frustrated, he was traveling here and there to find the answers. Until one day, a night of full moon (Purnima), he sat under the Bodhi Tree and vowed not to stand up until he was enlightened. He sat all night and as the morning arose, he had a profound break-through and became a Buddha. This very day is called Bouddha Purnima. He spent the next 49 days in this ecstatic realisation. After that he went to the five ascetics with whom he had practiced earlier. Since then, the teachings of Buddhism have begun.

Buddha taught many practices during his lifetimes through Dharma Talks and travelling as many places as possible. The basics and the first teachings of Buddha were the 4 noble truths.

1. Suffering or knowing the suffering (Dukkha): We all have our own suffering. The first thing is  to recognize and acknowledge the presence of suffering and touch it.

2. The origin of suffering or arising (Samudaya) of suffering: Once we know our suffering, we need to look deeply into it to see how it all started. We need to recognize and identify the spiritual and the material foods we have ingested that are causing our suffering.

3. Cessation (Nirodha): We can cease our suffering by refraining from doing the things that make us suffer. For this the Buddha has taught many meditation and mindfulness practices one can follow to attain this state.

4. Path (Marga): The fourth noble truth is the Path that leads to refraining from doing the things that cause us to suffer. This is the path if practiced all the time with the conscious mind, no human being has to suffer. Buddha has described it as 8 unfold paths which are 1. Right View, 2. Right Thinking, 3. Right Speech, 4. Right Action, 5. Right Livelihood, 6. Right Diligence, 7. Right Mindfulness, and 8. Right Concentration.

These are simple practices but not easy for every human being to follow. Which Buddha himself has also realised and he continued teaching on many practices throughout his lifetime for all the people to be able to live life in peace. The 4 noble truths and 8 unfold paths are the very first of his talks after attaining enlightenment.

Today’s generation needs to learn the Buddha’s teachings the most. This generation is the most distracted generation and the most confused generation because of the gaps and the development in between the parents, grandparents, and the information age new generation. One of the best books to Know the Buddha and his teachings is ‘The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching’ by Thich Nhat Hanh.