Articles about Buddha

Buddha – The greatest Person of all times

Update: 04/05/2007
From this world, he did attain highest wisdom and enlightenment, skillfully turning dharma wheel for the benefit of mankind. Buddha himself discovered and offered treatments for human mental illness that people have been facing: "O bhikkhus, all human beings have two kinds of illness. What are the two? They are physical and mental one. There are some people can enjoy life without physical disease in one year, two years ... or even one hundred years or more. Nevertheless O monks, it’s extremely rare in this world for someone living without mental illnesses, even in just a moment except those whose taint of impurity has been wiped out" (Arhats).
 

Buddha – The greatest Person of all times

 

For almost 25 centuries, Buddha, a real and historical person, a founder of Buddhism – left his humanity imprints on human beings with his statement: "It’s only human that can carry out his/her aspiration to attain Buddhahood." We can call Buddha the person of the greatest humanity, and only Buddha, the unique the ruler of the saha world can confirm that human can free himself for liberty:

“Make yourself your refuge and make an island of yourself because you can find refuge nowhere else". He always advocates the individuals of self-help spirit for their own deliverance. This has been the key point of Buddha’s teachings for more than 40 years during his life for beings’ benefit.

Today we contemplate Buddha's teachings in the context of new millennium when everyone in this world, regardless of their geographical position, color or race… desires a fair, civilized and progressive society without sufferings, illness and poverty. That’s what the whole of humanity on this planet is aiming at. In that mainstream, it is human being, the owner of his karma, that decides his fate. Once again, It emphasizes the importanceof Buddha's teaching with advanced mindset that helps rise up as the solution for us to build up an ideal image of a ideal society.

Before renouncing his household life, Buddha Sakyamuni named Sidhartha Gotama, born in the VI century BC, more than 2,500 years ago, in north India. His father was king Suddhodana, the ruler of ethnic Kakyas (Nepal now). His mother was queen Maya. According to the custom of that time, prince Sidhartha was supposed to get married with beautiful princess Yasodhara. He was a prince enjoying a regal lifein a palace full of luxury and pleasures. Nevertheless, when coping with reality of normal life, he realized the existence of suffering in human life. Then he decided to leave behind royal power and status to find solutions for saving himself and human beings.

During six years as an ascetic, the Buddha was travelling Ganges valley to study with famous masters but only to frustratedly discover that they could not guide him the Path of Truth. Finally, Sidhartha gave up all the methods he had learned to create his own way and practice it. One day, under the banyan tree on the riverbank Neranjara, right at Bodhgaya (Bihar today) he had his great vow: "Until I find the Path to end suffering, I will not leave this seat regardless of whether or not my flesh and blood were to dry up, leaving only skin and bones ."

From that bodhi tree, with his determination and efforts, he actually achieved the ultimate wisdom, enlightenment, skillfully turning

 the dharma wheel for the benefits of human being. Then, he offered effective remedies to inborn illnessthat humans are facing: "O bhikkhus, all human beings have two kinds of illness. What are the two? They are physical and mental illness. There are some people who can enjoy life without physical sickness in one year, two years or even 100 years or more. Nevertheless, it will be quite rare in this world for those who can enjoy life without mental illnesses, even for just a moment, unless they wipe out taint of impurity "(Arhats). His dharma and noble personality are the eternal message to human beings. Besides, Buddha’s teachings have been considered to be the greatest musical works that stands beyond time and space to heal spiritual wounds, focusing on the deliverance from bondage and suffering, guiding people to the Path of liberation.

Some people reckon that Buddha’s teaching, with its precepts, “must and must not” regulations, is at such a high level that they find it difficult to practice in daily modern life which take them lots of time and efforts while they have to earn for living. This is a misconception and a hasty and subjective conclusion about Buddhism. In fact, after referring to one sutra or a Buddhist book, some may understand a small partbut they may not properly understand Buddha’s core teachings.

Now and then, in Viet Nam and other places in the world, there has been appearance of some misleading Buddhist books due to intentional manipulation or lack of professional knowledge. Here we do not try to find reasons for Buddhism arguments but define Buddha’s teaching as practical guidelines for people in the past, present and future instead.As a matter of fact, Buddha’s teaching is the helpful truth beyond the notion of time and space. Buddhism is not only for home-leaving Buddhists or lay Buddhist practitioners but also for all who wish to apply it to their spiritual life without any discrimination.

The fact is that not everyone can renounce household life to live in a pagoda, monastery or a reclusive place. In such situation, no matter how high and pure the Buddhism is, it would become helpless to everyone if it could not be applied and practiced in the real life. In converse, when everyone can approach and understand Buddha’s teaching properly and apply it, then it is a true and helpful religion. Buddhism do not impose any compulsion on human beings or require its followers to do something beyond their abilities but give advice of proper practicing into varied circumstances instead.

In Buddhism sutra, there is a story of lay Buddhist Vacchagotta who raised the question:

"O Blessed One, has any of your male and female disciples, in their secular lives, effectively practised your teachings and attained the high spiritual status yet?" Buddha confirmed the number was not only limited at 100 or 500 but much more than that. Via this story, we can understand the spirit of Buddha and his teachings.

In this era when the market economy is considered as an essence of the time and a development needs of human society, the question is: Are Buddha’s teachings and our practising conformable to thecurrent situation? Please refer to a of Buddha’s teaching about economy: "One day, the Buddha told Anathapindika - a wellnown merchant:" Anathapindika, there are 4 kinds of happiness in life:

1 / Happiness from enjoying wealthy acquired by righteous means.

2 / Happiness from generous consumption of such assets for the owners themselves, for family, relatives, friends and good deeds.

3 / Happiness from non-debt situation.

4 / Happiness of faultlessness: To live a pure life without involving in evil deeds.

Via the above teachings, we can see Buddha had an insight to guild lay people a pure and happy life engaging in business to earn for living. He does not favor a life with just spiritual factors but a middle path balancing materiality and spirit factors. On the one hand Buddhism encourages people to make progress in material development, but on the other hand it emphasizes the ethical and spiritual development for a peaceful society.

Today people live in hatred, fear, anxiety and crisis, doubt and extreme envy more than ever even though scientific technology has developed dramatically. We are still burdened with the self-generated fears, disasters and catastrophes which need to be solved in the new millennium. Buddha's message from more than 25 centuries agois a timely helpful guideline in building a happy community life nowadays.

People can draw a lesson of human conduct from Buddha’s teaching thereby returning to themselves, mastering their destiny and making the better future with love, tolerance, generosity, empathy, respect for all beings, letting go of selfishness, hatred and violence ... Humanity in the edge of a new millennium desires to live in a well and peaceful world without misery and hostility: "peaceful minds lead to a peaceful life ".

Before his Parinirvana, Buddha made careful recommendations to his disciples: " Diligently practice and spread out whatever truth I taught skillfullyto promote your spiritual life for the sake of compassion to beings, the good and happiness of mankind... ". These words are eternal compassionate message to mankind who is applying Buddha’s words, creating the happiness oftheir own and others’.

Translated by Dieu Lien Hoa

TT. Thich Thien Bao

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