The Enlightenment Of The Buddha Essay, Research Paper
The Enlightenment Of The Buddha In history, it has often been a single year, a single month, a single day, or even a singlenight, that has changed and shaped the lives of millions of people. The night when SiddarthaGautama was enlightened and became The Buddha was one of these history-changing times. Itwas a night of struggle, a night of perseverance, and finally a night of triumph and enlightenment.It was a night that changed the world, and it s story is definitely worth telling. Before Siddartha Gautama had reached enlightenment, many things had already happenedfor him, and he had discovered much about life. He was born a prince of the Sakya clansomewhere around 560 BC, and lived an extravagant and sheltered life until the age of 29, whenhe, for the first time in his life, saw the suffering and death that went on outside the palace. Hewas greatly disturbed, and left the palace in search for enlightenment, in search for the answer tosuffering. After much searching he joined a group of wandering ascetics, men who practicedsevere self-denial in the hope of being released from the cycles of causality and pain. Siddarthahad hoped to find enlightenment in living in this way, but after 6 years he had become a walkingcorpse, and realized that this was not the way to enlightenment. Now he had lived a life ofextreme indulgence, and one of extreme denial, and he realized that the way to enlightenment is tolead a life of moderation, The Middle Path. After a dream he had, he realized that he must alsomeditate to achieve enlightenment, and so, after abandoning his fellow ascetics and receivingnourishment, Siddartha sat down underneath a Bodhi Tree in a meditation position and vowed notto move until he had attained enlightenment.1 Now, underneath this Bodhi tree, began Siddartha s fight with the evil demon Mara (theBuddhist equivalent of Satan). Mara realized that if Siddartha obtained enlightenment, he wouldbe forever beyond his power. By any means necessary he had to shatter Siddartha s resolve toachieve enlightenment. First, Mara tried to intimidate him, but Siddartha stayed composed andpaid no attention to Mara. Mara then summoned his sons and daughters and told them to shootSiddartha with arrows of desire, but the arrows hung in the air and fell harmlessly aside. NowMara gathered his entire demon army and charged at Siddartha with every foul weaponimaginable, but the weapons, when met with Siddartha s sweet peacefulness, were transformedinto lotus petals which floated to his feet. Following this, Mara began challenging Siddartha, andat his most desperate moment, Siddartha touched the earth for security. The earth shook withpower and blew Mara and all his demons away. The fight was over, and Siddartha hadtriumphed.2 Now that he had driven away Mara, Siddartha began his meditation. Slowly he masteredeach level of meditation until he reached the fourth and final. His concentration was now full andclear. In the first watch of the night, his inner vision became completely unobstructed, and thissummoned the opening of the divine eye. Siddartha turned his focus to the past, and he could nowsee his and other s past and future lives stretching out before him. He saw what and who he hadbeen in his past lives, and he saw the circumstances that led to him becoming who he was. He alsosaw that this must be his last rebirth, but to achieve this, he must understand more. He must
continue in his meditation. In the second watch of the night, Siddartha saw the world in accordance with karma, thelaws of cause and effect. He realized that each action taken causes another one to occur. He sawhow one s actions contribute to the course of life, and our inability to influence that course. Healso saw how green and hatred destroy both the person who is feeling these emotions andwhatever they are feeling them towards. The cyclic nature of life , of birth, old age, sickness, anddeath, became clear, and he saw how everything occurred in accordance with this chain ofcausality.3 In the third and final watch of the night, Siddartha applied himself to the task ofdiminishing suffering once and for all. He clearly understood the cycle of cause and effect of theuniverse, and now he wanted to apply that deep understanding to the problem of suffering. Andthat was when Siddartha put all of his knowledge and understanding together and attained theFour Noble Truths, and understood how to finally end suffering. The first noble truth is this: Alllife is filled with suffering. To live is to suffer. This may seem rather pessimistic, but it is true;suffering must accompany life. The second noble truth is this: Suffering is caused by craving orattachment. The third noble truth is: The cure for suffering is non-attachment, or the ceasing ofcravings. The fourth and final noble truth is this: The way to non-attachment and the end ofcravings is the Noble Eightfold Path, otherwise known as the Middle Way, which Siddartha haddiscovered already. Now it was dawn, and Siddartha had come to the end of his search for thecause and cure of suffering. He finally saw through the very last trace of ignorance, and becameenlightened. Siddartha Gautama was know known as The Buddha. The first words that came tohim were these:4 Seeking but not finding the House Builder, I traveled through the round of countless births: O painful is birth ever and again. House Builder, you have now been seen; You shall not build the house again. Your rafters have been broken down; Your ridge pole is demolished too. My mind has now attained the unformed nirvana And reached the end of every kind of craving.5This was The Buddha s last birth. He was free. He was enlightened. After the Buddha attained enlightenment, he went on to teach and spread his ideasto all who would listen. By the time he died, The Buddha had thousands of followers, who spreadhis teaching and ideas wherever they went.6During the centuries after the Buddha s death,Buddhism was spread throughout all of Asia and became a vitally important part of the lives andcultures of many people. Today there are well over 500 million Buddhists in what are known asthe Mahayana countries of Tibet, Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Theravadin countriesof Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Buddhism has become one of the threelargest faiths in the world, and it continues growing. This faith is all because of one man, onenight, and one goal.7 It is indeed often a single man or a single night that can change the fate of millions ofpeople. The Buddha and his enlightenment certainly did, and had an everlasting impact on theworld. The Buddha s enlightenment is triumph, perseverance, and courage, and has been aninspiration to many. And forever it will.