The life of the Buddha

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Transcript The life of the Buddha

Ch. 4 Buddhism
 India- originated
 Spread throughout Asia
 Time
th Century BCE (when
 5
the Upanishads were
 Founder
 Siddhartha Guatama
Siddhartha Gautama
Siddhartha Gautama was born c. 563 BCE in
Northern India
He was born in Nepal – in the lower Himalaya
Siddhartha was born the son of a prince
warrior (kshatriya) caste
Father a regional ruler, making Gautama a
Legend says that his mother, Maya, dreamt
that a white elephant entered her side- this
was the moment of conception of the future
He was born miraculously from his mother
His mother died a week after childbirth
Siddhartha was raised by his aunt.
A sage inspected the child and saw special
marks on Siddhartha’s body and foretold that
his life could go in one of two directions:
Becoming a king, “a world ruler,” following his
father’s footsteps and inheriting his positions
He would become a great spiritual leader, “a
world teacher” if he were exposed to the sight
of suffering.
Siddhartha’s father took measure to keep him
from exposure to suffering because he wanted
him to take his place in the future.
Siddhartha grew up in a luxurious large walled
He married at a young age to a woman his
father chose and had a son with her
Siddhartha was educated and trained as a
The Four Passing Sights
One day Siddhartha disobeyed his father’s command not to leave the
royal grounds.
He encountered suffering in an episode known as the Four Passing Sights
He came across an old man, crooked and toothless
A sick man, wasted by disease
A corpse being taken for cremation
A sannyasin who had no possessions but seemed to be at peace
Siddhartha’s reality
Having seen the reality of suffering, Gautama knew that he
would never again find contentment in the luxuries of the
He did not feel safe anymore now that he knew the truths of old
age, disease, and death.
Siddhartha decided to overcome his despair
The Great Going Forth
At age 29, Siddhartha decided to renounce his life as a prince,
left his family secretly in the dark of night.
Gave his horse to his servant, cut his long black hair and put on
simple clothes, this event is called the great going forth.
He joined a group of five mendicants who practiced asceticism
to win salvation.
Gautama excelled in the practice of fasting, spending the next 7
years on the brink of starvation
The Middle Way
Starvation did not lead to salvation
Gautama accepted a simple meal of
rice and milk and quickly regained
enough strength to proceed on his
 His five companions left him,
disgusted that he had abandoned
 Gautama thus discovered the
important Buddhist doctrine of the
Middle Way:
 Neither starvation nor
• A healthy spiritual life depends
on healthy physical life
 Being content in life is good
• Spiritual happiness =
happiness in body, mind, spirit
Struggle under the Bodhi Tree
After accepting the middle way,
Siddhartha sat in the lotus
position beneath a fig tree (now
called the Bodhi Tree) and
decided not to leave the place
until he had the understanding
he needed.
Various traditions give different
details: one says he sat for a
week, another says he remained
there for forty-nine days
Every version talks of his
struggle with hunger, thirst,
doubt, and weakness
The story of Mara is a popular
Mara, the god of death sent his 3 daughters to tempt
• Discontent, Delight, Desire
But Gautama never gave up and never gave in
After overcoming Mara and his daughters, Gautama
reached Enlightenment by first entering 3 stages of
Sitting under the bodhi tree, Siddhartha
reached a state of profound understanding
called his Awakening, or Enlightenment aka
the three watches
First Watch (evening)
• Saw his previous lifetimes
 A continuous journey of suffering
Second Watch (middle night)
• Acquired Divine (3rd) Eye
 Saw deaths and rebirths of all
living beings
Third Watch (late night)
• Perceived Four Noble Truths: – a
perfect summation of human
existence…and the way to end
suffering. Became Enlightened
He received a new name: the Buddha
Buddha comes from a Sanskrit word meaning
to wake up
The Buddha is the Awakened one
After the enlightenment, the
Buddha searched his five
former companions and they
reconciled with him and
became his first followers
The Buddha attracted many
The Buddha thus formed an
order of monks and nuns
called sangha
The sangha was the first
Buddhist monastic
The sangha was divided into
monks, nuns, and laypeople
His son became Buddhist
At the age of 80, the Buddha became extremely ill after eating a spoiled food
offered by a well meaning blacksmith named Chunda
The Buddha sensed that he was going to die and called his disciples. Told
them that everything must die including him.
He then offered a final advise: “You must be your own lamps, be your own
refuges. Take refuge in nothing outside yourselves.”
The Buddha then turned on his right side and died passing forever into
The Buddha
 Not
god but human
 Avatar of Vishnu
 Many Buddhists do
not pray to him
 Buddhists follow
his example
The Buddha’s teachings play a
key role in defining the religious
life of Buddhism rather than the
Buddha himself.
It is impossible to know exactly
what the Buddha taught.
He did not write down his
teachings, nor did his early
The only written versions were
recorded several hundred years
after his death.
The core of what is generally
regarded as basic Buddhism are
the Three Jewels
The Buddha
The Dharma
The Sangha
Buddhist teachings
Practice meditation
(experiential dimension)
• He is an ideal human
being whom other
human beings should
• He is not usually
thought of as being
dead but as existing in a
timeless dimension
beyond the world
The Dharma
 Buddha’s
teachings(doctrinal dimension)about how to view the
world and how to live
 The Buddhist dharma
is not the same as the
Hindus dharmaethical duty
3 characteristics of
Buddhist Dharma (teachings)
Inner wisdom, vs. faith in
a. Buddhist truths do not
come from Divine
2. Doctrine based on
revelation outside the
observation of “what
l (e.g. 10
burning bush,
3. A psychologicallyWorld
b. Buddhist truths
centered religion
discovered by looking
Chapter 4
Buddha’s teachings
The teachings are practical
 He refused to talk about god and
 His refusal to talk about
something else besides how to
end suffering is called his
noble silence
 He speculated about
unanswerable questions like a
man who had been wounded by
an arrow but refused to pull it out
until he knew everything about the
arrow and the person who shot it.
The wounded man would die
before he could get all the
information he wanted.
The Sangha
The community of monks and nuns
 Monastic community
 Show commitment to being Buddhist
 (social dimension)