Life of BuddhaA Look at the Path to Seeking EnlightenmentApril ReyesChamberlain College of Nursing Life of BuddhaSiddhartha was born in a country, in whatis now southern Nepal. This country ruled by a clan called the Shakyas. The king and head of this clan, was named Shuddodana Gautama and he had a swife, Mahamaya. These were Siddhartha’s parents. Siddhartha was born in a smalltown named Lumbini. He was born into wealth and privilege (Asia Society, 2018).
Somearticles state he won the hand of his bride while others state his father chosehis bride named Yashodhara. They marriedwhen both were 16 years old and they had a son (Molloy, 2013, p. 125). With privilegecame the responsibility and Siddhartha was kept in palace walls and asprevented from experiencing much outside of those walls(Molloy, 2013, p. 125). Hewas not allowed to see the elderly, the sickly, the dead, or anyone who had devotedthemselves to spiritual practices. As Siddhartha grew up he increasingly grew restlessand curious about the world beyond the palace walls. Finally, one day he demanded that he be allowedto see his people and his lands.
The king cautiously arranged thatSiddhartha be able to see outside the palace walls but not see suffering thathe feared would lead him to a religious life. It was only a matter oftime until he saw old people, sick people, and eventually even death. Itwas after seeing this, that Siddartha asked his friend and squire named Chandakathe meaning of all these things. It was then that Chandaka shared the simpletruths that Siddhartha should have already known. Siddartha would come face toface with the fact that we all get sick, age and eventually all will die (“Ancient HistiryEncyclopedia,” 2018). After coming to these understandings Siddharthasought out an ascetic, a monk who had renounced all the pleasures of theflesh. This was the time Siddhartha opened his mind and world to religionand seeking peace. Siddhartha was twenty-nine when he came torealize that he could not be happy living the way he was (Molloy, 2013, p.
125). He beganto want more. He sought to learn how to overcome suffering. After kissinghis sleeping wife and newborn son named Rahula, he cut his hair and snuck outof the palace and escaped into the forests of northern India (Asia Society, 2018).
He thenbegan to practice the severities and self-mortifications practiced by a groupof five ascetic monks. He practiced thisfor 6 years and the monks noticed his sincerity and intensity of his practice (“Ancient HistiryEncyclopedia,” 2018). They were so astounded that, before long, thefive they became followers of Siddhartha. Unfortunately, the answers tohis questions were not found so he redoubled his efforts. He refused food and water, until he was neardeath (Molloy, 2013, p. 127). During his practices of the ascetic life, heate only what he found on the ground, and drinking only rain water.
He onlywore, only a loin cloth. Still the answers he was in search of wouldn’tcome (Asia Society, 2018). Thismade Siddhartha try harder. It was during his hardest efforts that Siddhartha cameto the realization that these extreme practices were not getting him any closerto answers. Siddharthacame to the realization, that there might be a better way to find some middle groundbetween the extremes of the life of luxury and the life of self-mortification.One day while outside of the town of Bodh Gaya, Siddhartha decided that hewould sit under a fig tree for as long as it would take for him to find theanswers to the problem of suffering. It was during this time ofmeditation that he began opening himself up to the truth. During the full moon of May, and with therising of the morning star, Siddhartha finally began to understand the answerto the question of suffering (AsiaSociety, 2018).
This is when he became the Buddha. Buddha means “he who isawake.” Those who follow the tenants of Buddhism seek spiritual awakening as itsfounder and leader Buddha. The ultimate awakening is called Bodhi. Bodhi isdefined as “awakening (ReligionFacts, 2017).” The fig tree in which Siddhartha sat is now called the Bodhitree. It is often a site of pilgrimage for practicing Buddhists. Those seekingto see where Buddha found his awakening (Religion Facts, 2017).
Those who practice Buddhism seek to find theirway to enlightenment much like Buddha. Buddhagave up his life of privilege and luxury to seek an end to suffering. His pathwas found through extreme but those who choose to follow Buddhism seekenlightenment through stages and by following paths. Buddhism is based on theseeking of Bodhi and ultimately Nirvana. This is often reached through cyclicreincarnation or re-births.
An ordinary person, or puthujjana is consideredtrapped in the endless changes of samsara. Samsara means doing good or evil asinfluenced by his desires and aversions. The ordinary person is born or re-birthed in higher or lower states ofbeing (Dissanayake, 2017). Theseare traditionally thought of as heavens or hells.
They face these statesaccording to their actions. As ordinary persons they have little control overtheir minds and behaviors. Without awakenings, their destinies are chaotic andhaphazard and are thereby subject to great suffering.
In Buddhism the ordinaryperson has never seen and experienced the ultimate truth of Dharma, andtherefore has no way of finding an end to his predicament. Darhma is a termthat describes “cosmic law and order.”(Dissanayake, 2017) Thosewho begin sincere training on the Buddhist path and experiences the truth tothe extent of cutting of a number of the ten mental fetters, becomes a”noble person.
” Fetters are defined as obstacles to awakening. Noble persons are to become an Arahant in thenear future (usually within seven lives). Their specific path is governed bythe degree of attainment reached.
This means each individual has their owncycle to face based on experiences in life (Dissanayake, 2017). Awakening issought through four stages of enlightenment. The four stages of enlightenmentin Buddhism are: Sotapanna, Sakadagami,Anagami and Arahant. The first stage Sot?panna, which means “one whoenters the stream.” The stream is the Noble Eightfold Path regarded as thehighest Dharma. In the first stage”stream-enterer” is said to have “opened the eye of the Dharma.
” (Dissanayake, 2017) Stream-entereris guaranteed enlightenment after no more than seven successive rebirths orless Once into this stage a follower can also be sure that he will not bereborn in any of the unhappy states or rebirths including an animal, a preta,or in hell. Once entering this stage,the follower can only be reborn as a human being, or in a heaven (Nirvana). Thestream-enterer has attained an intuitive grasp of Buddhist doctrine hascomplete Saddha (confidence) in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha,and has good Sila, which is moral behavior. (Dissanayake, 2017) The second stage is that of theSakad?g?m?, which means “one who once comes.” The once-returner willreturn to the human world only one more time and will attain Nirvana in thatlife. (Dissanayake, 2017)Thethird stage is that of the An?g?m?, which means “one who does notcome”. The non-returner does not come back into human existence, or anylower world, after death.
The nobleman on this stage is reborn in one of theworlds of the R?padh?tu called the “Pure Abodes.” (Dissanayake,2017) This is where he will reach Nirv??a. Some are reborn a second time in a higher world of the Pure Abodes, butin no case, are born into a lower state. The fourth stageand final stage of enlightenment is that of Arahant(Religion Facts, 2017). This is afully enlightened human being who has abandoned all fetters, and who upondecease will not be reborn in any world, having wholly abandoned sams?ra.
Sams?ra is the cycle of reincarnation or re-birth (Dissanayake, 2017). Each person’spath is individual. Each seeker must pursue Bodhi on their own and no two pathsare the alike. Each person’s life has its own obstacles and or sufferings.
Any follower of Buddha maychoose to assist others in any number of ways. For example, some may assist inending suffering by providing meals to hungry or finding ways to end other’ssuffering. Each person’s fetters are their own.
Some spend hours meditating orseeking truth in order to let go of fetters. Those that choose to become monkschoose to preserve the teaching of Buddha and assist in spreading his teachingsaround the world (such as missionaries). Wanderers are those that go onpilgrimages. They seek out opportunities to open up to seeking enlightenmentand ending suffering. They spread Dharma in order to even out the cosmic energyand seek out truth. Often many wanderers may travel the world to let go offetters and move forward on their path of enlightenment. In conclusion, many seek the path toenlightenment together. Each must learn the stages together and take the pathstogether; however, each path is an individual.
Though we are all human, we eachface our own suffering. Personal experience is paramount in Buddhism as in mostreligions. Reflection in life through meditation and seeking truth is principalto most religions. Buddha left his easy life of privilege and luxury to seek away to end suffering and seek truth. Manyin all religions move forth and leave their homes in order to spread and seektheir own truths. Many practice together or as individuals.
Although each personhas their experience many share the common goal of ending suffering andspreading truth to seek enlightenment