Buddha Essay, Research Paper
My rendition of Buddha’s life would be in the form of a parable. It would begin with a mother’s yearning for a child. For the good woman had been married to a good man for a long time and even though both were happy, they longed for God’s blessing of a child. One day, a spirit in the form of a white elephant, visited the woman and entered her womb. Buddha had been born many times before, because of the suffering of human beings. Legend had foretold the birth of a son whose greatness would lead him to either becoming King or the greatest being of the entire world.
He was born into his wealthy family. His earthly father gave him everything. He did not wish his son to leave the life he had prepared for him because he feared for his life. The son’s name was Siddhartha “wish filler”, or “He who has reached his goal” (Fisher, 129). His heavenly father reminded his son of a vision of his true path. The son left his wealthy, earthly family and proceeded on a search for truth.
Renouncing all earthly comforts, he let his mind deal with the truths of living and dying. His inner search for a higher state of liberation from suffering lead to meditation. Buddha entered the light of reunion with his heavenly father. Others who had known Buddha repeated his lessons of simple living and striving for a state of perfection in this life without reward. One gains insight into the paths of existence and the path to freedom. He who follows the path will be saved into eternal bliss with the heavenly father. The parable is of the path taken versus the path of wealth not taken. It is better at times to do the nobler thing instead of the easy thing.
The teachings of Buddha I find most interesting are that life inevitably involves suffering, is imperfect and unsatisfactory. Life is always about choice and the path not taken. One has a choice and this choice sets in motion other events. Secondly, suffering originates in our desires. Western culture because of the stress on individual freedom suffers. The part of the Constitution of one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and freedom for all is forgotten many times in the search for wealth. Thirdly, there is a state of no suffering from all types of pain and lastly there is a way to reach this pain-free state. Mankind survives on hope. Prayers, like meditation, achieve a higher state of comfort.
I love the Buddha teaching of the Karma as an act of will. This act sets another one into motion. When we die, the acts just continue on another plane not seen. A person is caught in aging, suffering, death and rebirth unless we reach nirvana. This state is perfection.
Theravada is the path of mindfulness. One gives up earthly comforts. One is seeking a life neither of self-indulgence nor self-denial. One strives for clarity of mind. Records of Buddha teachings, known as the three baskets (Pali Canon) of the law were rules for monks and nuns. There are folktales that govern the conduct of the religious. Monasteries are the center of village life. Men today are only allowed to stay in these structures as monks. Women in the Theravada belief are forever subservient to the monks.
Mahayana Buddhist practices and teachings are open-ended and emphasize the importance of individual religious experience. Lotus teachings were geared to the audience and readiness to hear the truth. One is called to become like Budda to save others. Members of these communities took vows dedicated to enlightenment.
In Theravada, Buddha is a figure who no longer exists but who left his Dharma as a guide. Mahayana portrays Buddha as many ones appearing in different places simultaneously.
The perfection of wisdom celebrates the experience of emptiness for most of Mahayana. This application of emptiness is even including the teachings of Buddha. With this perfection of wisdom, there are no objects to fear. One attains nirvana of emptiness. As the Dalai Lama says, “If we really want to find that Tibetan being called Dalai Lama, we cannot find it. There is something if we pinch our skin but we cannot find it” (Fisher, 147).
Fisher, M.P., (1997). Living religions. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Inc.