Gautama Buddha is one of the greatest Yogis the world has ever seen. Also known as The Light of Asia, Buddha gave new definition and height to Yoga especially Meditation. He presented a new sect of religion in which his followers are called Buddhists. The Buddha Story is a very good source of inspiration and motivation for the World.
Gautama is considered the highest Deity in Buddhism. His path to enlightenment is called The Noble Eightfold Path. He followed all the 8 Limbs of Yoga to relinquish his quest for Knowledge and Immortality.
It would not be an exaggeration if one says that Buddha is the most popular ambassador of Meditation. People around the Globe whenever asked about Meditation, get the picture of Buddha meditating under the Peepal Tree.
The Buddha Story at a Glance
He was born as Prince Siddhartha and was gifted with all the luxuries in the world. Prince soon realized that true happiness doesn’t lie in luxury and worldly pleasures. Thus, leaving everything he started his journey in the pursuance of True Happiness.
In his journey to Moksha, Gautama discovered his own path to success. Gautama himself took the most extreme path in the search of his goal. But after attaining the knowledge he prepared a practical and much easier blueprint for his followers.
As Vedas teach – for human beings, the destination is the same i.e. Knowledge but there are several ways to reach there. Gautama’s way is one of the difficult ways and it is not practical for common hence he showed the eightfold path. It is much easier and practical for this modern era.
Buddha : The Story of Journey to Enlightenment
Buddha was born in 563 BC as a Prince in Lumbinivana (Lumbini) on Vaisakha Purnima Day. Buddha’s childhood name was Siddhartha. He was very kind in nature. He could not see anyone in grief. If he sees, he would himself become very sad and distracted. This was the reason that there was such a system in the kingdom on behalf of his father, King Shuddhodhana, that no sorrowful incident should come before him.
This indifference of Siddhartha left the parents empty. To trick Gautama back to Worldly Pleasures they got him married with a very beautiful girl named Yashodhara. He also got a son named Rahul. But the apathy did not decrease and kept on increasing as time passed.
In spite of all the arrangements made by the King, one day with the Devayoga (Destiny) suddenly seeing a sick man, a few days later a very old man, and after that a deceased man, his spirit shone and from the same day, he became depressed from the world. This was the beginning of the Buddha story as Gautama Siddhartha from here started his journey to becoming Buddha.
The Journey Began
As a result, Gautama left his beloved wife Yashodhara, newborn son Rahul, Loving father King Shuddhodhana, and luxurious-rich kingdom. He rejected all the Pleasures and left home in his youth.
Buddha went to Philosophers in the pursuance of knowledge. Only rational intellectual knowledge was not able to satisfy his quest. He had to overcome disease, old age, and death. He wanted eternal life, immortality. So, he went to eminent scholarly scholars. But he didn’t get satisfaction with this knowledge only. Frustrated with the ashramas, scholars came to the forest near Gaya and started doing penance.
Even in winter, summer, and rain, Gautama remained seated in his sadhana under the tree. Due to prolonged austerity, the flesh and bones of his body dried up. Gautama’s patience was unstoppable. He rejected to experience all these problems and remained fixed firmly on his Dharma.
But he was not getting his desired goal. Siddhis came to him, but he knew Siddhi is a hindrance to a true seeker and a true Mumukshu, so Gautama did not pay any attention to them.
The Major event in the Buddha Story
One day, some women came out singing along the path near the place where Gautama was doing penance. When they reached Gautama’s tapobhoomi, they sang some lines that triggered Buddha’s soul. These lines mean ‘Do not leave the stars loose or else they will be lost, also do not pull them so much that they break’.
His wisdom suddenly came to light – ‘Hard penance is not the only suitable spiritual practice, moderate food and regular sleepless behavior are also necessary for attaining the Ultimate Spiritual Goal.
Listening to the song, Gautama decided to give up the pursuance of food. The only food that came to him, he took. In this journey, he became too weak. He lost all his flesh and was left only with bones and skin. Once when walking he found a river in his way. He had become too weak to cross it. He stood on the bank until even standing there became difficult due to weakness. This is one of the most decisive events of the Buddha story.
Gautama Siddhartha to Buddha
Then he decided to sit under a Peepal tree on the bank of the river and started meditating there. On a perfect Full Moon night, Gautama Siddhartha at the age of 35 sitting under that Peepal tree (also called Bodhi Tree in Buddhism) in Bodh Gaya attained Enlightenment.
Thus, after attaining the Perfect Sense or Enlightenment, Siddhartha got the name ‘Gautama Buddha’ i.e. the one whose wisdom has awakened. After getting the eternal knowledge, Lord Buddha came to Varanasi and gave his first sermon at Sarnath.
At the age of 80 Buddha took Mahasamadhi in Kushinagara, a town in Northern India. This is termed as Paranirvana in Buddhism.
Purnima or Full Moon has the most important significance in Buddhism. All the three main events of Buddha’s life took place on this day namely Janma (Birth), Nirvana or Sambodhi (Enlightenment) and Mahaparinirvana (Death).
The morale of the Buddha story is that nothing is unachievable in the World. If someone has strong determination and dedication then no goal is impossible.
Buddha said about Samsara that “Sabbam Dukkham” i.e. This World is full of Sorrow. The Eightfold Path helps one to liberate from this sorrow and attain Nirvana or Kaivalya or Moksha. This Path of Yoga is based on Buddha’s four Noble Truths.
The Four Noble Truths
Dukkha: The Truth of Grief or Suffering
Buddha said that This World is full of suffering. Whenever somebody takes birth until he dies, he has to feel all this Grief. Thus, this repeated cycle of birth and death is Dukkha. As in the Buddha story, we saw when Gautama saw a diseased man, an old man, and a dead body. He realized these suffering. Every man has to go through these sufferings. Wherever you go you will find this dukkha or grief. There is no escape to this suffering unless you find a path to liberate yourself.
Samudaya: The Truth of Cause of Dukkha
The cycle of birth to death is the main cause of the Dukkha and Journey between the two keeps you in the shadow of Grief. About the Causes He also said that Attachments and Bondages make you feel this dukkha. He also that Desire is the root cause of Evil. Knowing the Cause of this Suffering is Samudaya.
Nirodha: The Truth of the End of Dukkha
With the Goal of freeing yourself from Dukkha you must know and believe that somewhere there is an end to grief. Also there exist a path to lead you to the Eternal Happiness. Thus, before showing the Eightfold Path Buddha first wants us to believe that Dukkha can be ended by some means. The Belief in existence of this path is Nirodha.
Magga: The Truth of the Path that leads to the End of Dukkha
The Path that someone chooses to free from Dukkha is Magga. Freeing oneself from these Attachments and Bondages brings eternal peace to Life. This Inner Peace helps the Yogi to liberate himself from chakra (cycle) of Birth and Death.
The Ultimate Goal of Human Life is to earn the knowledge of self. This is also called Atma Sakshatkar or Atma Gyana. It is well known that knowledge comes from within. Practicing Meditation unleashes the knowledge from within.Buddha also gave The Noble Eightfold Path that will lead to Moksha and free you from Dukkha.
The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddha
It is also known as Right Understanding. This is the most important part of the Eightfold as it determines our attitude towards everything. Right View helps one to control his behavior towards cultivating the sets of actions which help him to direct towards peace, enlightenment and liberation.
It is also termed as Right Intension. Right Resolve mainly teaches one to do Selfless work. If your Karma is free from selfishness then you neither will be hurt if someone insults you nor you will get ego for doing good. In general, it means renouncing our greed, anger, jealousy, ego and other harmful emotions.
Right Speech means not lying, not engaging in malicious or divisive speech, avoiding abusive or bitter speech and refraining from meaningless gossiping of others. We must have a harmony in speech, thoughts and action to succeed.
Thus, Buddha wants our speech to be true, humble, beneficial to others and filled with love and compassion.
It also called as Right Action. It means that we should avoid any behavior that may harm others, and we should perform virtuous karma that are followed by feelings of compassion, kindness and generosity. Not stealing, Violence and Aparigrah are major parts of this Right Conduct. In the words of Buddha. “He who has renounced violence towards all living beings, weak or strong, who neither kills nor causes others to kill – him do I call a holy man.”
Morality is the foundation stone for all the spiritual goals. If you live a virtuous life, you won’t have any regrets or guilt or worry in your mind. Hence the means of livelihood should also be virtuous. Buddha says “Monks, a lay follower should not engage in these five types of business-Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.”
There are four parts of Right Effort. The effort to prevent negative mental states or thoughts from arising in your mind like preventing anger or jealousy. It also demands the effort to treat any negative states of mind that have already arisen. The effort to cultivate positive mental states not yet arisen, such as cultivating compassion and love in your mind. And the effort to maintain these states of mind that now have arisen.
Moksha mainly means to attain Thoughtlessness. Before attaining this one must have Right Mindfulness. It simply means having a better awareness of thoughts and Action. Right Awareness is basically an important tool Meditation and the final path Right Samadhi. Because awareness is the element that is the core difference between Sushupti and Samadhi.
Right Samadhi means we train our minds to be one-pointed and focused when we meditate in order to achieve an ultimate concentrated state called Samadhi. Samadhi is the purest state of consciousness and awareness. In this state, the soul of Yogi integrates or unites with the Ultimate Soul. This is the state of Nirvana or Moksha.
Main Teachings of Buddha
Truth, Ahimsa Astey (Non Stealing), Aparigraha (The withdrawal of senses), Brahmacharya (Chastity), Dance – Ganadi renunciation, Sugandha – Mala renunciation, Untimely – Food renunciation, Gentle recluse, Kamini – Kanchana renunciation.
These ten sutras are the most useful things in alleviating grief and attaining Nirvana.