LORD BUDDHA LIFE

Trip Start Jan 02, 2001
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Trip End Feb 20, 2001


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Sunday, August 20, 2000

HISTORY OF BUDDHISM-->-->2.1 HISTORY OF BUDDHISM-->-->-->


HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
 


Historians, religious scholars, and various Buddhist sects debate the actual year of the Buddha's birth; it may have been as early as 644 BC or as late as 540 BC. It is however, relatively certain that he was born Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the son of Suddhodana, king of the Shakya tribe. His birthplace was the forest grove of Lumbini in the hilly regions of what is today northeastern India and Nepal. His parents gave him the name Siddhartha and there were many wonderful predicitions about his future. In his early years he lived as a prince in his royal palace but when he was 29 years old he retired to the forest where he followed a spiritual life of meditation. After six years he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India.
 


Buddha then rose from meditation and taught the first Wheel of Dharma. These teachings which include the Sutra of the Four Noble Truths and other discourses, are the principal source of the Hinayana, or Lesser Vehicle, of Buddhism. Later, Buddha taught the second and third Wheels of Dharma, which include the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and the Sutra Discriminating the Intention respectively. These teachings are the source of the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, of Buddhism. In the Hinayana teachings Buddha explains how to attain liberation from suffering for oneself alone, and in the Mahayana teachings he explains how to attain full enlightenment, or Buddhahood, for the sake of others. Both traditions flourished in Asia, at first in India and then gradually in other surrounding countries, including Tibet.
 


In all Buddha Shakyamuni gave eighty-four thousand teachings. His intention in founding Buddhism was to lead living beings to permanent liberation from suffering. He realized temporary liberation from suffering and difficulties is not enough. Motivated by love and compassion his aim was to help living beings find lasting peace or nirvana. 
 



2.2 BUDDHIST RELIGION


BUDDHIST RELIGION
 


Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to ones insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. Buddhism is not about teaching or learning but its all about experiencing.

Buddhist ideology does not advocate the practice of worshipping a creator God. Hence, quite often it is not really seen as a religion in the normal sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straight forward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable people to realise and utilise its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.

There are over 360 million buddhists followers from all parts of the world. They follow many different forms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterised by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, by the practice of meditation.
 


MEDITATION:
Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life. It is basically a method for understanding and working on our own mind. We first learn to identify our different negative mental states known as 'delusions', and learn how to develop peaceful and positive mental states or 'virtuous minds'.

Then in meditation we overcome our delusions by becoming familiar with virtuous minds. Out of meditation we try to maintain the virtuous minds we have developed and use our wisdom to solve the problems of daily life. As our mind becomes more positive our actions become more constructive, and our experience of life becomes more satisfying and beneficial to others.

Anyone can learn basic meditation techniques and experience great benefits, but to progress beyond basic meditation requires faith in the Three Jewels - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Usually people find this develops naturally as they experience the benefits of their meditation practice.
 


THE SPIRITUAL PATH:
The teachings of Buddha reveal a step by step path to lasting happiness. By following this path anyone can gradually transform his or her mind from its present confused and self-centered state into the blissful mind of a Buddha.

It is said that: "Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha, someone who has completely purified his or her mind of all faults and limitations and has brought all good qualities to perfection. Our mind is like a cloudy sky, in essence clear and pure but overcast by the clouds of delusions. "

Just as the thickest clouds eventually disperse, so too even the heaviest delusions can be removed from our mind. Delusions such as hatred, greed, and ignorance are not an intrinsic part of the mind. If we apply the appropriate methods they can be completely eliminated, and we shall experience the supreme happiness of full enlightenment.

Having attained enlightenment we shall have all the necessary qualities - universal love and compassion, omniscient wisdom and boundless spiritual power - to lead all living beings to the same exalted state. This is the ultimate aim of Mahayana Buddhism.

India being the country of birth for Gautam Buddha, figures as one of the most important place in buddhism. 
 

GAUTAM BUDDHA - THE ORIGINATOR OF BUDDHISM
 


The word 'Buddha' is a title and not a name. It means 'one who is awake' in the sense of having 'woken up to reality'. It was first given to a man who was born as Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal 2,500 years ago. He did not claim to be a God and he has never been regarded as such by Buddhists. He was a human being who became Enlightened, understanding life in the deepest way possible.

Siddharta was born into the royal family of a small kingdom on the Indian-Nepalese border. According to the traditional story he had a cloistered upbringing, but was jolted out of complacency on understanding that life includes the harsh facts of old age, sickness, and death.

He left home to follow the traditional Indian path of the wandering holy man, a seeker after Truth. He practised meditation under various teachers and then took to asceticism. Eventually he practised austerities so severe that he was on the point of death - but true understanding seemed as far away as ever. He decided to abandon this path and to look into his own heart and mind. He sat down beneath the pipal tree and vowed that 'flesh may wither, blood may dry up, but I shall not rise from this spot until Enlightenment has been won.' After forty days, the Buddha finally attained Enlightenment.

Buddhists believe that he attained a state of being that goes beyond anything else in the world. If normal experience is based on conditions - upbringing, psychology, opinions, perceptions, and so on - Enlightenment is Unconditioned. It was a state in which the Buddha gained Insight into the deepest workings of life and therefore into the cause of human suffering, the problem that had set him on his spiritual quest in the first place. 
 

2.4 THE LEGACY OF LORD BUDDHA


THE LEGACY OF LORD BUDDHA 
 



During the remaining 45 years of his life he travelled through much of northern India, spreading his teaching of the way to Enlightenment. The teaching is known in the East as the Buddha-dharma - 'the teaching of the Enlightened One'. Travelling from place to place, the Buddha taught numerous disciples, many of whom gained Enlightenment in their own right. They, in turn, taught others and in this way an unbroken chain of teaching has continued, right down to the present day.

The Buddha was not a God and he made no claim to divinity. He was a human being who, through tremendous efforts, transformed himself. Buddhists see him as an ideal and a guide who can lead one to Enlightenment oneself.

There are four principal Buddhist pilgrimage sites where most of the buddhist temples and shrines are located. The most important of these are located primarily in the Ganges Valley of India.


GAYA:
Where the Buddha preached his famous Fire Sermon

BODHGAYA:
Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha as he sat in meditation on the diamond seat under the Bodhi (Ficus Religiosa) tree.

Located in Bodhgaya in Gaya District of Bihar.

Constructed of brick, the temple is surrounded on all four sides by stone railings, about two metres high.

The railings reveal two distinct types, both in style as well as the materials used.

Is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment.

Buddhist Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya with the intention of
establishing a monastery and shrine.

As part of the temple he built, the diamond throne (called the
Vajrasana), attempting to mark the exact spot of the Buddha`s
enlightenment, was established.

It is one of the oldest brick structures to have survived in eastern India.

RAJGIR:
Rajgir is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the Buddha spent 12 years here, and the first Buddhist council after the Buddha was hosted here at the Saptaparni caves. Lord Buddha often went into retreat at the Jivkamaravana monastery in a beautiful orchard. One of his most devoted and prosperous devotees, surgeon Jivaka also lived here. The rich merchant community here soon became the Buddha's followers and built many structures of typical Buddhist architecture.

NALANDA:
Nalanda, the most renowned university in ancient India It derived its name from Na-alam-da, meaning Insatiable in Giving, one of the names by which the Lord Buddha was known. Today it is identified with modern Baragaon village and is 90kms southeast of Patna and only 11kms from Rajgir. It is 80kms from Bodh Gaya and is easily accessible by well-maintained highways.

VARANASI:
The city of Varanasi is situated along the west bank of the Ganges in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Called Benaras by the British, Varanasi is an important pilgrimage centre for the Hindus. The city finds mention in the great epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was a flourishing trade center when Buddha came to Sarnath, about 10 kilometres away, to preach his first sermon in 500 BC. The renowned American novelist Mark Twain once wrote, "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

SARNATH:
It was in the Deer Park at Sarnath that the Buddha gave his first significant sermons on the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to his five fellow seekers who became the first monks of the order.

KUSHINAGA:
The Buddha died in a Saal forest in Kushinagar and attained mahaparinirvana at the age of 80.

LUMBINI:
In the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal lies Lumbini, the SRAVASTI: Sravasti, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honour for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens.

The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. Buddha is said to have performed some miracles here.

This holy place also has the famous Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the one, said to have been planted by Buddha's main disciple gave birth to the prince under a tree.

SRAVASTI:
Sravasti, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, has the honour for sheltering Buddha for 24 rainy seasons in the Jetvana Gardens.

The city believed to be founded by the mythological king Sravast, has age-old stupas, majestic monasteries and several temples. Buddha is said to have performed some miracles here.

This holy place also has the famous Anand Bodhi tree, an offspring of the one, said to have been planted by Buddha's main disciple
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