To begin this report, I will relate the story of the Buddha. Once a king had a son, his wife dying during labor. The child’s name was Siddartha (meaning all wishes fulfilled) Gautama. As the boy grew up, there was a hermit who lived near the castle who saw a shimmering about the castle grounds. Taking this as an omen, the hermit went to the castle.
When he saw Siddartha, he foretold that if Siddartha stayed in the palace until he was an adult, he would be a great ruler. But if Siddartha were to leave the palace and go into the world before he was mature, he would become the Buddha and save us all. At first the king was delighted to hear this news. But gradually, he began to worry that his son might become a homeless recluse instead of a mighty ruler.Order now
When Siddartha was about twelve, he was let out of the castle, and saw a bird eat a worm. This image stayed with him when he went back to the castle, and he asked himself ?Is everything naturally this savage??. The king saw his son sad and in deep contemplation, and the thought he needed a distraction. Siddartha was married.
After the wedding, there were many parties and other such events to help to cheer him up. Throughout this, Siddartha contemplated his question, and eventually left the castle to pursue enlightenment. As soon as he had left the palace, he shaved his head and got a beggar’s bowl, realizing that material goods would not help him on his quest for enlightenment. To help in his quest, for 15 years, Siddartha lived in a hut on only half a grain of rice a day. Afterwards, he realized that this didn’t help his state of mind at all, because he was always hungry and in pain. He realized that suffering is necessary, but can be avoided in the long run.
One common misconception of the Buddha is that he is a god according to the general belief that many of the Buddhist schools share. The Buddha is three things : First a teacher, second a great man, and third a universal ruler. There was a small Buddha cult right after Siddartha became Buddha, and that is where the last interpretation came from. In reality, there are three main things you must learn about and advance in these are: Buddha, his teachings called the Dharma, and the group of other people who study Buddhism with you. Buddha means ?Enlightened One? the first of the three gems, as they are called is act as the Buddha would, this includes following the eightfold path, with an emphasis on three virtues.
The first virtue is wisdom this includes from the eightfold path right understanding and right thought . The second of these virtues is morality this includes right speech, right action, and right livelihood. The third of these virtues is concentration right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The second of the three gems is the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. This includes the majority of Buddhism, because this is where you find all the main ideas.
I’ll start with Siddartha’s first discourse as the Buddha, the four truths. The first truth is that there is suffering in the world, and that suffering fits into three categories : the first type of suffering is the suffering that no one can avoid: birth, sickness, old age, and death. The second type is the suffering produced by change, an example is losing a job, and the insecurity that comes with it. This second type cannot be escaped from either, for nothing can last forever. The third is the only one you can prevent to some extent, it is attachments to material things or experiences, specifically these five aggregates: matter, sensations, perceptions mental formations, and consciousness. The second truth is that suffering has a cause, there are two causes of suffering: not having the realization that everything is temporal, and not knowing that there is no ego.
Both of these seem absurd at first, but that is because, according to most eastern thought, the world is much less than we make it out to be in western culture. According to Buddhism, the self is empty, and only through meditation can you purge yourself of this idea of ego. The idea that everything is temporal types in with the three types of suffering, all of them are brought about with the passing of time and the changes that it makes with relation to the human desire for permanence. The third great truth is that suffering is an end. The way that I interpret this is that we exist to suffer , and the idea is that eventually we learn from our suffering. This brings in the concept of reincarnation, which in Buddhism is a bit more complex than the common theory.
In Buddhism, there are six worlds that you can live in the world of gods, the world of demigods, the world of humans, the world of animals, the world of hungry ghosts, and the hells. The first two are realms of complete happiness, and the last three are realms of pain and despair. The easiest one to reach Nirvana in is the human world, because toe upper worlds have so much happiness that one cannot stop to think without great difficulty. The lower ones are so full of strife that one doesn’t have the time to worry about Nirvana.
Which world you end up in is all based on your Karma. Karma is a term used to describe a running tally of good and bad deeds throughout each life. It is also used to describe a sort of moral physics in that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, so whatever it is you do, eventually comes back to you. The fourth great truth is that there is a path that leads to an end to all suffering. This is called Nirvana, a state so detached from the world that only happiness and the complete lack of vices exists. When one reaches this state, one earns the title of Buddha.
People who are close to this state of Buddha-hood are told by a Buddha or given a certificate from the Buddha declaring them a Boddhisattva, or potential Buddha. There are only ten Buddhas as of yet, and only four Boddhisattvas. The third gem is the ?sanga? or order of the Buddha, this refers to the temple or monastery that one meditates, performs rituals in, and in the case of monasteries, lives in. The life of a monk is a hard one. Almost every facet of a monk’s life is set so he may get the most meaning out of it spiritually.
When a boy begins his studies as a monk, he has already had some experience with Buddhism, and wanders to a monastery in search of entry. All monestaries refuse at first, citing some excuse such as the monastery is already full. If the boy gives up after that, he will never become a monk. After being refused, the boy must sit outside the gates with his head rested face down on his traveling bag, as a demonstration and lesson in humility.
The initiate does this usually for one or two days until he is allowed in. But it doesn’t end there, now for a period of three days, the initiate lives in the guest room set aside for traveling monks, staring at the wall. When that is over, he becomes a monk and is presented to the rest of the monastery, and after that, is presented to the Roshi or master, who asks him some questions regarding his earlier education and other origins. The life that followes is as hard, the main income for monasteries is begging, each monk goes into the street with a bowl and a large hat that obstructs his vision. This is worn so that he cannot see who he is recieving money from, and so the donor cannot see the monk. This is to insure that there is no playing of favorites when the begging is done.
All surplus matereals are eithor donated (usually in the form of rice that must be collected by monks ) or gathered or grown. So there is little to no recreation time between work and meditations. Meditating is intense thought usually with a focus such as the body, an item, or an act, like breathing. People have been recorded as seeing past lives during deep meditation, and it is a staple in a monk’s life.