Comparative religion for all human: By TM Kamal Pasha

 Comparative Religion For all Human: 

 

By TM Kamal Pasha   

Buddhism: Introduction:

The religion Buddhism has been established based on Siddhartha Gautama's teaching. Soon after Buddha's death or parinirvana, five hundred monks met at the first council at Rajagrha, under the leadership of Kashyapa. Upali recited the monastic code (Vinaya) as he remembered it. Ananda, Buddha's cousin, friend, and favorite disciple and a man of prodigious memory recited Buddha's lessons (the Sutras). The monks debated details and voted on final versions. These were then committed to memory by other monks, to be translated into the many languages of the Indian plains. It should be noted that Buddhism remained an oral tradition for over 200 years. Living life according to Buddha's teaching is Buddhism and the follower is Buddhist.

Life journey of Siddhartha Gautama:

Birth:

Siddhartha Gautama is born in Lumbini (563 BC), near the Nepalese-Indian border to his father, King Suddhodana, ruler of the Sakya tribe, and his mother, Queen Mayadevi. The father gives his son the name of Siddhartha (the one who obtains success and prosperity), his second name is Gautama (name of the clan).

Seers predict that Siddhartha will either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. Asita, the wisest of the seers, is sure that he will become a Buddha (one who has supreme knowledge). His mother dies seven days after the birth.

Siddhartha spends his childhood in the palace of his father at Kapilavastu, Southern Nepal, where he is raised by his aunt Mahaprajapati until the age of seven. In his early childhood, during a ploughing ceremony, Siddhartha makes his first unprecedented spiritual experience, where in the course of meditation he develops the first jhana (meditative absorption) through concentration.

As a young boy he learns the skills of a warrior, including the technical and athletic skills of man-to-man fight. Siddhartha is trained in spiritual disciplines and becomes proficient in the art of archery.

Marriage:

At the early age of sixteen, he marries his beautiful cousin Princess Yasodhara, who is of equal age.

The young prince spends thirteen more years together with his wife in the royal court of his father. Three palaces are built for him, one for the cold season, one for the hot season, and one for the rainy season. Siddhartha enjoys the lavish court life while his father is trying to screen him from all troubles and worries. A son is born while Siddhartha is in his late twenties.

The Four Sights:

Despite of the amenities of life, Siddhartha is not satisfied with the mere enjoyment of fleeting pleasures due to his inquiring and contemplative nature. One day, he leaves the palace for an excursion and there he encounters what so far has been purposely veiled from him:

He sees a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a corpse being cremated, and a sadhu (=holy man, hermit). Siddhartha realises that there is old age, sickness, and death, and that people ultimately have little control over their lives. The fourth sight provides the inspiration that leads to a dramatic change in his life.

The Renunciation:

In the night of his 29th birthday, Siddhartha gives up his life as a prince and secretly leaves the court while everyone is asleep. He travels far and crosses the river Anoma, where he shaves his hair and hands over his princely garments to his groom Channa, with instructions to return them to the palace.

The Bodhisattva (future Buddha), who once lived in luxury, becomes a penniless and homeless wanderer. He leads a life of self-mortification and spiritual study, becomes first a disciple of several then famous Brahman teachers, and later attracts his own disciples.

After a long and exhausting period of searching and self-mortification, he finally becomes disillusioned with the Indian caste system, Hindu asceticism, and the religious doctrines of his time. He gives up the ascetic life and loses all of his disciples as a result. Nevertheless, he continues his search for truth through the practice of meditation.

Enlightenment:

While meditating under a Bodhi tree in Bodh-Gaya, south of Gaya in the state of Bihar, India, the Bodhisattva experiences the Great Enlightenment, which reveals to him the way of salvation from suffering. He spends seven weeks meditating in the vicinity of the site of the Bodhi tree and attains the status of a fully realised Buddha at the age of 35.

First Sermon:

Buddha finds his former five disciples in Benares. In his first sermon he teaches them what will become the gist of Buddhism. Upon hearing it, one of the disciples instantly attains the status of an arhat (one with enlightened wisdom). This event marks the beginning of the Buddhist teaching and his disciples become the first five members of the sangha (Buddhist order).

During a short period of time, Buddha establishes a great reputation in western Hindustan by converting thousands of people to the dhamma (the Buddhist teaching). People hear the dhamma delivered either by himself, or by the monks of his order. During this time he delivers the fire sermon.

The Buddha briefly returns to the palace of his father to convert the royal family and ordains many of the Sakya tribe.

Four years later Siddhartha's father, King Suddhodana, dies. Buddha returns to the palace and Mahaprajapati, where Buddha's aunt -upon meeting Buddha- becomes the first woman to ordain, despite of the protest of some contemporaries. From this moment on women were admitted to the sangha. According to Indian tradition, however, they were separated and under the authority of male monks.

In the 45 years following his enlightenment, Buddha travels around Northern India to teach the tenets of Buddhism. He is extremely successful and attracts first thousands, then ten thousands, and later hundred thousands of people from all walks of life, who voluntarily decide to follow his teachings, the dhamma. During the monsoon, when travelling becomes difficult due to the weather, Buddha and his close followers interrupt their journey. During these month, monks, as well as laypeople, receive the teachings at a site selected for retreat. One such site is Sravasti in Nepal, which has become very famous since then.

Buddha's success does not only attract admirers, but also provokes envy and ill will. Several attempts are made on his life, but all of them fail. Although he is being criticised and defamed, this does not affect the popularity of his teaching.

Death and Pari-Nirvana:

Having achieved the goal of spreading the teaching to the greatest number of people, Buddha dies (483 BC) at the age of eighty years, as a result of food poisoning. He dies in a forest near Kusinagara, Nepal, in the company of his followers reclining on a bed where he speaks his last words: "All compounded things are ephemeral; work diligently on your salvation." With these words on his lips, he passes into the state of Pari-Nirvana.

Teachings of Buddha:

A. The Four Noble Truths

1. Life means suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

1. Life means suffering:

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to

impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment:

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable:

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering:

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.

B. The Noble Eightfold Path:

Wisdom

1. Right View

2. Right Intention

Ethical Conduct

3. Right Speech

4. Right Action

5. Right Livelihood

Mental Development

6. Right Effort

7. Right Mindfulness

8. Right Concentration

 

The Sacred Texts of Buddhism:

In the monotheistic religions, the Bible, Koran and other sacred books are considered the revealed truth of God. Buddhist sacred texts, on the other hand, are thought of as guides on the path to truth, not truth itself. That said, there are many sacred texts in Buddhism, but not all texts are accepted by all schools.

Tripitaka (Pali Canon)

The Tripitaka (Tipitaka in Pali) is the earliest collection of Buddhist teachings and the only text recognized as canonical by Theravada Buddhists. Many commentaries have been added over the centuries, however. Tripitaka means "three baskets," from the way in which it was originally recorded: the text was written on long, narrow leaves, which were sewn at the edges then grouped into bunches and stored in baskets. The collection is also referred to as the Pali Canon, after the language in which it was first written.

The Vinaya Pitaka

The Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket) was recalled by a monk named Upali. It deals with rules and regulations for the monastic community (the sangha), including 227 rules for monks, further regulations for nuns, and guidelines for the interaction between the sangha and the laity. Most of these rules derive from the Buddha's responses to specific situations in the community.

The Sutta Pitaka

The Sutta Pitaka is the largest of the three divisions. It contains all the doctrinal and ethical discourses and sermons9 attributed to the Buddha, and includes a smaller number of teachings from his disciples.

The Abhidhamma Pitaka

The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains schematics concerning doctrinal material found in the suttas. These works are centered on topics related to Theravada scholastic thought. However, this basket of the Tipitaka

was only accepted by two of the early Buddhist schools (the Theravada and the Sarvastivada11); each school's version of its contents survives in very different forms.

His last words are said to be:

Impermanent are all created things;

Strive on with awareness.

Comparative Religion