The Buddha • Siddhartha Guatama is the one we have come to know as the supreme buddha, “enlightened” or “awakened” one. • Siddhartha is born and lived somewhere between the 6th and 5th centuries BCE • Siddhartha means “one who achieves”
Siddhartha’s Birth • The future Buddha, enters his mother’s womb through her side while she slept. The entering future buddha is often pictured in art as a white elephant which symbolizes purity and power • Maya gave birth to Siddhartha in a garden of Lumbini in present-day Nepal • He was born prince of the Sakya clan, a warrior class
The Princely Life of Siddhartha Guatama • At his birth, a sage predicted that Siddhartha was a Bodhisattva, or one destined to reach enlightenment and become a buddha. His father however wanted Siddhartha to be an earthly ruler, so he shelters him • Siddhartha’s father wanted to shelter him from the pain and suffering of the world, so he wouldn’t try to take the spiritual path. He gave him every worldly possession, surrounding him with women and wealth
4 Signs • Siddhartha, while traveling outside the kingdom was accompanied by 4 heavenly messengers who jolted him out of his illusion in the form of 4 signs or appearances. • 1. Old Man • 2. Sick Man • 3. Corpse • 4. Holy Man
Renunciation • Siddhartha, after beholding the signs from the celestial beings, the illusions that led him to a deeper truth, knows he must leave. That very night, Sid decides to leave everything behind, including his wife and newborn son. At this point everything about that palace life repulses him. • He rides his horse out of the palace grounds and looks back saying that he will not enter the city again until he has seen “the further shore of life and death.” • With this, he rides into the forest and then gives his horse and his jewelry to his groomsman. Mara, the god of desire, tempts him out of fear that Siddhartha will in fact achieve enlightenment. • He cuts off his hair as a sign of his renunciation and tells his servant to inform the King of his decision to enter into ascetic practice in order to destroy old age and death (he wants to destroy suffering). • He sets out to seek different masters or gurus in search of the truth
The Journey • 3 major events lead to his enlightenment: • First, he tries to free himself from the pain and suffering of the world by progressing through the highest levels of meditation. But even at the highest state he was not beyond birth and death. • Second, for 6 years Siddhartha practices various asceticisms and austerities in the hopes of subduing the ego by disciplining the body. • After becoming extremely emaciated and weakened, he realized that this was not going to freedom. Near the Indian town of Bodhgaya, a young maiden offers him some rice pudding which, counter to his ascetic practice, and to the dismay of his fellow ascetics, he accepted. This nourishment leads him to the 3rd stage in his journey in which he goes and sits beneath the Bodhi tree and vows not to get up until he reaches enlightenment.
Siddhartha’s Awakening • Siddhartha begins his path towards enlightenment by contemplating compassion. • As he contemplates compassion, the god of desire, Mara, is risen to anger and fear at the prospect of Siddhartha leading others to enlightenment. • Siddhartha continues his contemplation through a night filled with Mara’s tricks and attacks Buddha meditating under the bodhi tree, 900AD
The Long Night4 Watches:Despite Mara’s temptations, Siddhartha continues contemplating • 1st watch of the night: Siddhartha remembers his past lives and sees the truth that the cycle of existence is without substance. • 2nd watch: Siddhartha is filled with compassion for all beings because he sees the ways in which they suffer without escape. Even those born in heaven are disturbed by sensual passion and fall from heaven; therefore, no state of existence is free from illusion and death • 3rd watch: Siddhartha understands the real nature of the world in the cycle of causation. One factor leads to another and causes the endless cycle of birth and death in suffering. Ignorance of this cycle is what traps us in repetition. • 4th watch: He reaches “the stage which knows no alteration…the state of omniscience” The earth sways, lotuses and water lilies fall from the sky and the world becomes peaceful. At this point the Buddha understands the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-fold path
Through contemplation, Siddhartha, whom the sage once proclaimed a bodhisattva, recognizes that there is great suffering in the world. • He recognizes, or becomes aware that craving/desire/attachment, are the causes of this suffering for both the mind and the body. When he realizes this, he overcomes the ignorance that keeps people from becoming enlightened. In this wisdom he breaks the chains of suffering that bind us to the samsara, and realizes nirvana.Nirvana is the ultimate experience of the nothingness or emptiness that lies beyond the realm of illusions that are the source of our suffering. • For 7 weeks after attaining enlightenment, he remains under the Bodhi tree and contemplates the truths of his awakening and considers whether or not he could share his dharma, or teachings that led him to enlightenment, with others. • A Brahma god convinces him to share his path, to teach the dharma to others for the benefit of all beings. Out of compassion for the suffering of others, the Buddha begins to teach.
Buddha’s Teachings • Setting the Wheel of the Dharma in motion
The Dharma: Buddha’s teachings Buddha begins teaching at Sarnath, a deer park just outside of Benares, India. Buddha’s first audience is comprised of the 5 ascetics with whom he had been on his spiritual journey. • These 5 form the first sangha, or community of people practicing the dharma.
In the first sermon, the Buddha presented the 4 Noble Truths and the Middle Way. The first 2 noble truths are diagnose the problem of exsistence and the 2nd two suggest a cure. • He elaborates on the “three marks” which are suffering (duhka), impermanence (anitya) and ‘no-self’ (anātman)
4 Noble Truths • 1: Life is suffering (duhkha). this means that there is unhappiness or unsatisfactoriness • 2: This “suffering” is caused by attachments and craving. We will always be disappointed by our attachment to impermanent things. • 3: You can overcome suffering by understanding that the cause of suffering is desire; therefore it is possible to end suffering • 4: There is a way or path for overcoming desire’s hold on you by following the middle way, given in the eightfold path. This path focuses on moral discipline, mindfulness and wisdom. Mindfulness and awareness of desires allow us to overcome them and hence allow us to overcome suffering.
The 3 Marks • 1. Suffering (duhka) is an inherent part of human existence • 2. Impermanence (anitya): Nothing escapes the change of the wheel of time of the samsara. Human nature cannot provide a permanent foundation for happiness because the individual is made up of constantly shifting feelings, perceptions, mental formations, consciousness, and material forms • 3. No-self (anatman): The above notions of suffering and impermanence are based on a notion of the human as without a self. Because everything changes, we have no permanent soul or self.
No-Self • In Buddhism, the human subject is both spiritual and material. However, this subject is impermanent. Therefore, rather than having a static or permanent self, the human subject is constantly changing and developing. This is why we must not be attached to those things that comprise our sense of self (atman). The Buddha makes no mention of a soul or a self in the sense of an eternal and unchangeable spiritual essence. This stood in stark contrast to orthodox indigenous Indian traditions like Brahmanism as well as the teachings of many of Buddha’s spiritual contemporaries.
What is a No-Self? • The doctrine of ‘no-self’ does not deny the particularities of the individual (remember the dharma is constantly invoking both ascent and descent). • No-self is simply an emphasis on the fact that the human condition can be described without appealing to a concept of an immutable, eternal soul. Humans can be understood entirely in terms of the 5 aggregates called skandhas (material form, feeling/emotions, cognition/perception, mental formations/will, and consciousness/state(s) of mind)
The Skandhas • The skandhas don’t suggest that we are nothing but that we are nothing permanent. There is nothing about us that does not change and therefore no unchanging cosmic self or soul that moves from one body to another in reincarnation. On the middle path, we are, by our elements between nothingness and eternity without being either. Once we realize that we are a mutable bunch of elements or attributes, we accept that we are without self, and this makes it easier to act selflessly and follow the 8-fold path.
The Middle Way Eightfold Path: 1 - Right Understanding 2 - Right Thought 3 - Right Speech 4 - Right Action 5 - Right Livelihood 6 - Right Effort 7 - Right Mindfulness 8 - Right Concentration) which leads to the Cessation of Suffering. • -The Middle way is the path between extremes. It is neither extreme self-austerity/mortification of the flesh nor is it total self-indulgence. • -After 60 of his followers, or disciples, become enlightened, the Buddha sends them out to share the path with others, working for others’ well-being.
45 Years of the Buddha’s teachings • Buddha teaches for 45 years, and sangha spreads Buddha’s teachings.
Buddha’s death • In Kusinigara, Buddha eats spoiled food and becomes ill. But he reminds his followers that his death is another opportunity for them to think about their task of becoming awakened. • “With the light of perfect wisdom, illuminate the darkness of ignorance. Subject to decay are all conditioned things. Strive on with diligence.”
Buddha’s death • At around 80 years old, the Buddha’s health is failing. Some say the Buddha eats spoiled food and becomes ill. • At Kusinara (Kushnigara), the Buddha lies down between two sala trees his body gives up its life, the trees bloom and the earth shakes, and a funeral pyre bursts into flames
3 Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma • 1) 4 Noble Truths set in motion in Sarnath • 2) Emptiness: Set in motion in Bihar and given in the Wisdom sutras • 3) Buddha nature:Practical differentiation of how things exist
Enlightenment and Dharma • The Dharma is meant to assist us on our path to enlightenment, like a guide. • Enlightenment is neither existence nor non- existence. It is an awakening to something entirely beyond our typical consciousness
What is Enlightenment? • We reach enlightenment when we are rid of all desires and attachments and therefore awakened to the ignorance that is our suffering. Specifically we overcome the “5 fetters”: craving for life in the physical realm, craving for life in a nonphysical realm, pride, restlessness, and ignorance. Once someone reaches enlightenment, they will no longer be reincarnated when they die. Buddhists have long speculated on questions about nirvana.
Nirvana • Nirvana literally means a “blowing out.” It is the notion of a blowing out of the suffering of being attached to the things in the world. • Nirvana, however, is not a goal. If it were a goal, that would imply desire and the ego. • You must turn to the self in order to see that the self is not there. The self does not exist.
Sutras • Sutra: a preaching of the Buddha that has been recorded either in oral memory or in written documents. • Prajnaparamita are the earliest Mahayana scriptures. These were written in Sanskrit around 100 B.C.E. Sutras are believed to be the Buddha’s own words and teachings.
Themes in the dharma • Wisdom and Compassion • Ascent and Descent: movement towards wisdom and negation of existence but also affirm the reality of everyday life and the particularity of ourselves and other beings.
The early sangha • The early sangha was already a time in which there were various and sometimes competing understandings of the Dharma Individual sanghas have autonomy; and could promote their particular understanding of the Dharma. This combination of autonomy and lack of consensus among the entirety of the sangha gave rise to pluralism in Buddhism from the early stages of its development--a diversity of tradition that continues today.
Becoming a World Religion • Flourishing under the ruler Ashokain the 3rd century BCE -supports efforts to establish monasteries throughout his empire -suggests that everyone can live a life in accordance with the Dharma, even if not to the extent of the monastics -supports missionary activity
The Great Schism • Mahayana Buddhism splits from Theravada • Mahayana expand the sangha to all Buddhist practitioners, not just the monastics. Everyone has the potential to become enlightened. • Theravada (dubbed Hinayana or “lesser vehicle” by the Mahayana “greater vehicle”) becomes known as the way of the elders. • The notion of “vehicles” refers to “vehicles” for enlightenment.
Theravada • Theravada is the way of the elders, meaning it is the more traditional Buddhist school of thought • It tends to adhere to the teachings of Buddha more literally and strictly • The path to enlightenment is that of the arhat.
Mahayana • The arhat achieves a limited nirvana. • The greater vehicle or path to enlightenment is that of the bodhisattva (“future Buddha”). The intention to achieve buddhahood is called bodhicitta.
Mahayana • Prajñāpāramitā: Wisdom sutras of Nagarjuna, who also founds Madhyamika, involves a philosophy on the perfection of insight and wisdom by focusing on the emptiness or no-thing-ness of all categories. These are the earliest sutras specific to Mahayana schools of Buddhism. The Wisdom sutras and this teaching on emptiness is associated with the second turning of the wheel of the Dharma.
Mahayana continued • Several schools of thought develop out of Mahayana’s doctrinal differences that lead to the split from Theravada. • Madhyamaka:founded by Nagarjuna and based on his Wisdom Sutras which focus on emptiness/nothingness, even emptiness of Buddhist categories • Consciousness-Only (Cittamatra): spiritual transformation occurs within human consciousness. This school is the 3rd turning of the wheel of the Dharma and based on practical description of how the religious path works which leads to a focus on meditation or yoga practice (Yogacara) • Buddha-Nature: Nir.vana is inseparable from samsara • Pure Land: celestial paradises created by bodhisattvas to provide the conditions for enlightenment; associated with the Amida/Amitahba Buddha • Meditation School (Ch’an in China, or Zen in Japan): recitation of koans (“cases”) or seemingly paradoxical statements that could lead to awakenings and wisdom, and even to nirvana. • Thunderbolt Vehicle (Vajrayana)/Tantric Buddhism: commune with a celestial Buddha through human body and mind.
The Lotus Sutra • Many ideas the bodhisattva are in the Lotus Sutra (100CE): Lotus sutra suggests that the Shakyamuni Buddha is merely the embodiment of a universal Buddha who remains to serve humanity in the cosmos until all are enlightened. • This understanding of the Buddha is that Buddha is a celestial being that can manifest in multiple forms at any time in order to aid others in their spiritual journey.