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วันอาทิตย์ที่ 18 มกราคม 2015 เวลา 02:09 น.

 

 

A statue of the Buddha

Gautama Buddha, Known for Founder of Buddhism 

Religious Figure (c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE)


Born in Nepal in the 6th century B.C., Buddha was a spiritual leader and teacher whose life serves as the foundation of the Buddhist religion.

  


Synopsis

Siddhartha Gautama, who would one day become known as Buddha ("enlightened one" or "the awakened"), lived in Nepal during the 6th to 4th century B.C. While scholars agree that he did in fact live, the events of his life are still debated. According to the most widely known story of his life, after experimenting with different teachings for years, and finding none of them acceptable, Gautama spent a fateful night in deep meditation. During his meditation, all of the answers he had been seeking became clear, and achieved full awareness, thereby becoming Buddha.

  


Early Years

The Buddha, or "enlightened one," was born Siddhartha (which means "he who achieves his aim") Gautama, a prince in India in the 6th century B.C. His father was a king who ruled an Indian tribe called the Shakyas. His mother died seven days after giving birth to him, but a holy man prophesized great things for the young Siddhartha: He would either be a great king or military leader or he would be a great spiritual leader. To keep his son from witnessing the miseries and suffering of the world, Siddhartha's father raised him in opulence in a palace built just for the boy and sheltered him from knowledge of religion and human hardship. According to custom, he married at the age of 16, but his life of total seclusion continued for another 13 years.

  

  


Beyond the Palace Walls


The prince reached his late 20s with little experience of the world outside the walls of his opulent palaces, but one day he ventured out beyond the palace walls and was quickly confronted with the realities of human frailty: He saw a very old man, and Siddhartha's charioteer explained that all people grow old. Questions about all he had not experienced led him to take more journeys of exploration, and on these subsequent trips he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic. The charioteer explained that the ascetic had renounced the world to seek release from the human fear of death and suffering. Siddhartha was overcome by these sights, and the next day, at age 29, he left his kingdom, wife and son to lead an ascetic life, and determine a way to relieve the universal suffering that he now understood to be one of the defining traits of humanity.

  

  


The Ascetic Life and Enlightenment


For the next six years, Siddhartha lived an ascetic life and partook in its practices, studying and meditating using the words of various religious teachers as his guide. He practiced his new way of life with a group of five ascetics, and his dedication to his quest was so stunning that the five ascetics became Siddhartha's followers. When answers to his questions did not appear, however, he redoubled his efforts, enduring pain, fasting nearly to starvation, and refusing water.

 

Whatever he tried, Siddhartha could not reach the level of satisfaction he sought, until one day when a young girl offered him a bowl of rice. As he accepted it, he suddenly realized that corporeal austerity was not the means to achieve inner liberation, and that living under harsh physical constraints was not helping him achieve spiritual release. So he had his rice, drank water and bathed in the river. The five ascetics decided that Siddhartha had given up the ascetic life and would now follow the ways of the flesh, and they promptly left him. From then on, however, Siddhartha encouraged people to follow a path of balance instead of one characterized by extremism. He called this path the Middle Way.

 

A statue of the Buddha 

Gautama Buddha, Known for Founder of Buddhism
Place of Birth :  Lumbini, Nepal
Place of Death :  India

 

 

The Buddha Emerges

That night, Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi tree, vowing to not get up until the truths he sought came to him, and he meditated until the sun came up the next day. He remained there for several days, purifying his mind, seeing his entire life, and previous lives, in his thoughts. During this time, he had to overcome the threats of Mara, an evil demon, who challenged his right to become the Buddha. When Mara attempted to claim the enlightened state as his own, Siddhartha touched his hand to the ground and asked the Earth to bear witness to his enlightenment, which it did, banishing Mara. And soon a picture began to form in his mind of all that occurred in the universe, and Siddhartha finally saw the answer to the questions of suffering that he had been seeking for so many years. In that moment of pure enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha ("he who is awake").

 

Armed with his new knowledge, the Buddha was initially hesitant to teach, because what he now knew could not be communicated to others in words. According to legend, it was then the king of gods, Brahma, who convinced Buddha to teach, and he got up from his spot under the Bodhi tree and set out to do just that.

 

About 100 miles away, he came across the five ascetics he had practiced with for so long, who had abandoned him on the eve of his enlightenment. To them and others who had gathered, he preached his first sermon (henceforth known as Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma), in which he explained the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which became the pillars of Buddhism. The ascetics then became his first disciples and formed the foundation of the Sangha, or community of monks. Women were admitted to the Sangha, and all barriers of class, race, sex and previous background were ignored, with only the desire to reach enlightenment through the banishment of suffering and spiritual emptiness considered.

 

For the remainder of his 80 years, Buddha traveled, preaching the Dharma (the name given to the teachings of the Buddha) in an effort to lead others to and along the path of enlightenment. When he died, it is said that he told his disciples that they should follow no leader.

 

The Buddha is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in world history, and his teachings have affected everything from a variety of other faiths (as many find their origins in the words of the Buddha) to literature to philosophy, both within India and to the farthest reaches of the Western world.

 

 A statue of the Buddha

Gautama Buddha, Known for Founder of Buddhism
Place of Birth :  Lumbini, Nepal
Place of Death :  India

 

• What are Buddha’s teachings?

Buddha taught us to realize the 4 Noble Truths, which are misery, the cause of misery, the cessation of misery and the path of how to end the misery.

 

 

• What is the difference between Buddha and Jesus Christ or Mohamed?

All religions teach us to be kind and have compassion. But Buddha also taught us how to break through the circle of misery which consists of being born, being old, being sick, dying, facing the ever changing nature of life and all things.

  


• What is the core of Buddha’s teachings?


1. Refrain from all kind of sins.

2. Do good deeds.

3. Purify your mind.

 

 


• How can you purify the mind? And why is the mind considered dirty?

The mind is considered dirty or impure because human beings always react with emotions such as anger, hatred, desire, craving and aversion. These emotions only make the mind unhappy.  A purified mind looks clean and feels good.

In order to purify the mind Buddha taught us to stop reacting emotionally. It means to just acknowledge without reacting, which requires a certain knowledge. This knowledge can be reached by the “Vipasana Meditation”.

 

• Why does Buddha’s image always look so peaceful and harmonious?

Because his mind is free from anger, hatred, craving and aversion. He defined such emotions as the cause of misery. And since he is free from them he has a calm heart and is compassionate, which is reflected in his image.
 

A statue of the Buddha in Japan

Gautama Buddha, Known for Founder of Buddhism
Place of Birth :  Lumbini, Nepal
Place of Death :  India

  

• No Blind Faith


One of the outstanding principles that Buddha taught is to believe in the Law of Nature and the Rule of Cause and Effect. If you plant a seed of bad deeds you will get a bad deed. If you plant a lemon seed you cannot expect a sweet mango tree. Buddha never taught anyone to have blind faith.


 

• Quotation by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha):


"Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many."
"Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books."
"Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders."
"Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations."


"But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

 "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it."


 


 

• The importance of Buddha’s teachings is not limited to Buddhists


One can vow to follow his teachings without having to vow that one is a Buddhist.
No one has to convert to Buddhism in order to follow his teachings because what he teaches is the truth of the universe. Buddha explained the truth to lighten up the wisdom which is hidden in the human mind. No matter who you are, or what religion you believe in you will always have to face the ever changing nature of things which is the fact of life. To face the changing nature of things means to face misery. Buddha has found the way to end the suffering through his major teaching called
“the Noble Path.”

 

 

 

• Harmony from within


When one practices Buddha’s teachings, one will find peace from within. This reflects on the way of living and love of peace in the characteristics of Buddhists. You will see that they always bow their heads and always humble. You will never find a Buddhist war in history because we believe that people should have the freedom to choose their own faith. Strong faith is the freedom of believing without being forced. Faith should fly in like a bird, not enchained like a prisoner.

 

 

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. - Buddha

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. - Buddha

 

Essentially, according to Buddhist teachings, the ethical and moral principles are governed by examining whether a certain action, whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one's self or to others and thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful. In Buddhism, there is much talk of a skilled mind. A mind that is skilful avoids actions that are likely to cause suffering or remorse.

  


Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". These are not like, say, the ten commandments, which, if broken, entail punishment by God. The five precepts are training rules, which, if one were to break any of them, one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian counterpart. Buddhism places a great emphasis on 'mind' and it is mental anguish such as remorse, anxiety, guilt etc. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind. The five precepts are:

 

1) To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. This precept applies to all living beings not just humans. All beings have a right to their lives and that right should be respected.

 

2) To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given. This precept goes further than mere stealing. One should avoid taking anything unless one can be sure that is intended that it is for you.

 

3) To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature.

 

4) To undertake the training to refrain from false speech. As well as avoiding lying and deceiving, this precept covers slander as well as speech which is not beneficial to the welfare of others.

 

5) To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness. This precept is in a special category as it does not infer any intrinsic evil in, say, alcohol itself but indulgence in such a substance could be the cause of breaking the other four precepts.

 

These are the basic precepts expected as a day to day training of any lay Buddhist. On special holy days, many Buddhists, especially those following the Theravada tradition, would observe three additional precepts with a strengthening of the third precept to be observing strict celibacy. The additional precepts are:

 

6) To abstain from taking food at inappropriate times. This would mean following the tradition of Theravadin monks and not eating from noon one day until sunrise the next.

 

7) To abstain from dancing, singing, music and entertainments as well as refraining from the use of perfumes, ornaments and other items used to adorn or beautify the person. Again, this and the next rule.

 

8) To undertake the training to abstain from using high or luxurious beds are rules regularly adopted by members of the Sangha and are followed by the layperson on special occasions.

 

Laypersons following the Mahayana tradition, who have taken a Bodhisattva vow, will also follow a strictly vegetarian diet. This is not so much an additional precept but a strengthening of the first precept; To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings. The eating of meat would be considered a contribution to the taking of life, indirect though it may be.

 

The Buddha 

 

The Buddhist clergy, known as the Sangha, are governed by 227 to 253 rules depending on the school or tradition for males or Bhikkhus and between 290 and 354 rules, depending on the school or tradition for females or Bhikkhunis. These rules, contained in the Vinaya or first collection of the Buddhist scriptures,, are divided into several groups, each entailing a penalty for their breech, depending on the seriousness of that breech. The first four rules for males and the first eight for females, known as Parajika or rules of defeat, entail expulsion from the Order immediately on their breech. The four applying to both sexes are: Sexual intercourse, killing a human being, stealing to the extent that it entails a gaol sentence and claiming miraculous or supernormal powers. Bhikkhunis' additional rules relate to various physical contacts with males with one relating to concealing from the order the defeat or parajika of another. Before his passing, the Buddha instructed that permission was granted for the abandonment or adjustment of minor rules should prevailing conditions demand such a change. These rules apply to all Sangha members irrespective of their Buddhist tradition.

 

The interpretation of the rules, however differs between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. The Theravadins, especially those from Thailand, claim to observe these rules to the letter of the law, however, in many cases, the following is more in theory than in actual practice. The Mahayana Sangha interprets the rule not to take food at an inappropriate time as not meaning fasting from noon to sunrise but to refrain from eating between mealtimes. The fasting rule would be inappropriate, from a health angle, for the Sangha living in cold climates such as China, Korea and Japan. When one examines the reason that this rule was instituted initially, the conclusion may be reached that it is currently redundant. It was the practice in the Buddha's time for the monks to go to the village with their bowls to collect food. To avoid disturbing the villagers more than necessary, the Buddha ordered his monks to make this visit once a day, in the early morning. This would allow the villagers to be free to conduct their day to day affairs without being disturbed by the monks requiring food. Today, of course, people bring food to the monasteries or prepare it on the premises so the original reason no longer applies. As many of you would be aware, in some Theravadin countries, the monks still go on their early morning alms round, but this is more a matter of maintaining a tradition than out of necessity. Also, a rule prohibiting the handling of gold and silver, in other words - money, is considered by the Mahayana Sangha a handicap were it to be observed strictly in today's world. They interpret this rule as avoiding the accumulation of riches which leads to greed. Theravadin monks tend to split hairs on this rule as, although most will not touch coins, many carry credit cards and cheque books.

 


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