Будда Готама

Глава 1. Жизнь и личность Будды
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Gautama, The Buddha

The Founder of Buddhism.

GAUTAMA BUDDHA, the founder of Buddhism, lived in Northern India in the 6th century B.C. His personal name was Siddhartha, and his family name was Gautama. He was called the ‘Buddha’ after He attained Enlightenment and realized the ultimate Truth. ‘Buddha’ means the ‘Awakened’ or the ‘Enlightened One’. He generally called Himself the Tathagata, while His followers called Him Bhagava, the Blessed One. Others spoke of Him as Gautama or Sakyamuni.

He was born a prince who seemed to have everything. He had a luxurious upbringing and His family was of pure descent on both sides. He was the heir to the throne, extremely handsome, inspiring trust, stately and gifted with great beauty of complexion and a fine presence. At sixteen He married His cousin named Yasodhara. She was majestic, serene and full of dignity and grace.

Despite all this, Prince Siddhartha felt trapped amidst the luxury like a bird in a golden cage. During His visits outside the palace, He saw what was known as the ‘Four Sights’, that is, an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a holy recluse. When He saw the sights, one after another, the realization came to Him that, ‘Life is subject to old age and death’. He asked, ‘Where is the realm of life in which there is neither old age nor death?’ The sight of the recluse, who was calm after having given up the craving for material life, gave Him the clue that the first step in His search for Truth was Renunciation. This means realizing that worldly possessions cannot bring the ultimate happiness people crave for.

Determined to find the way out of these universal sufferings, He decided to leave home to find the cure not for Himself only, but for all mankind. One night in His twenty-ninth year, He bade His sleeping wife and son a silent farewell, saddled His great white horse, and rode off toward the forest.

His renunciation is unprecedented in history. He left at the height of youth, from pleasures to difficulties; from certainty of material security to austerities; from a position of wealth and power to that of a wandering ascetic who took shelter in caves and forests, with His ragged robe as the only protection against the blazing sun, rain and winter winds. He renounced His position, wealth, promise of prestige and power, and a life filled with love and hope in exchange for the difficult search for Truth which no one had found although many in India had sought for thousands of years. For six long years, He laboured to find this Truth. What was the truth He sought? It was to understand truly the nature of existence and to find the ultimate, unchanging happiness. He studied under the foremost masters of the day, and learned everything these religious teachers could teach Him. When He found that they could not teach Him what He was seeking for, He decided to find the Truth through His own efforts. A band of five ascetics joined Him and together they practised severe austerities in the belief that if the body was tortured then the soul would be released from suffering. Siddhartha was a man of energy and will power and He outdid other ascetics in every austerity they practised. While fasting, He ate so little that when He took hold of the skin of His stomach, He actually touched His spine. He pushed Himself to do superhuman feats of self-torture so that He would have certainly died. But He realised the futility of self-mortification, and decided to practise moderation instead.

On the full moon night of the month of Vesakha1, He sat under the Bodhi tree at Gaya, wrapped in deep meditation. It was then that His mind burst the bubble of the material universe and realised the true nature of all life and all things. At the age of 35 years, He was transformed from an earnest truth seeker into the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

For nearly half a century following the Enlightenment, the Buddha walked on the dusty paths of India teaching the Dharma so that those who heard and practised could be ennobled and free. He founded an order of monks and nuns, challenged the caste system, raised the status of women, encouraged religious freedom and free inquiry, opened the gates of deliverance to all, in every condition of life, high or low, saint or sinner, and ennobled the lives of criminals like Angulimala and courtesans like Ambapali. He freed humanity from religious slavery, religious dogma and blind faith. He towered in wisdom and intellect. Every problem was analysed into component parts and then reassembled in logical order with the meaning made clear. None could defeat Him in dialogue. He is an unequalled teacher even until today. He still is the foremost analyst of the mind and phenomena. For the first time in history, He gave human beings the power to think for themselves, raised the worth of mankind, and showed that human beings can reach to the highest knowledge and supreme Enlightenment by their own efforts. He encouraged people to open their minds and think without bias nor preconceived notions to understand the reality of life and the universe.

Despite His peerless wisdom and royal lineage, He was never removed from the simple villagers. Surface distinctions of class and caste meant little to Him. No one was too little or low for Him to help. Often when an outcaste, or poor and dejected person came to Him, his or her self-respect was restored and turned from the ignoble life to that of a noble being.

The Buddha was full of compassion (karuna) and wisdom (panna), knowing how and what to teach individuals according to their level of understanding. He was known to have walked long distances to help one single person to show him or her the correct Path. He was affectionate and devoted to His disciples, always inquiring after their well being and progress. When staying at the monastery, He paid daily visits to the sick wards. His compassion for the sick can be seen from His advice: ‘He who attends the sick, attends on me.’ The Buddha kept order and discipline on the basis of mutual respect. King Pasenadi Kosala could not understand how the Buddha maintained such order and discipline in the community of monks when he, as a king with the power to punish, could not maintain it as well in his court. The Buddha’s method was to make people act from an inner understanding rather than make them behave by imposing laws and threatening them with punishment.

Many miraculous powers were attributed to Him, but He did not consider any kind of supernatural powers important. To Him, the greatest miracle was to explain the Truth and make a cruel person to become kind through realisation. A teacher with deep compassion, He was moved by human suffering and determined to free people from their fetters by a rational system of thought and way of life.

The Buddha did not claim to have ‘created’ worldly conditions, universal phenomena, or the Universal Law which we call the ‘Dharma’. Although described as lokavidu or ‘knower of the worlds’, He was not regarded as the sole custodian of that Universal Law. He freely acknowledged that the Dharma, together with the working of the cosmos, is timeless; it has no creator and is independent in the absolute sense. Every conditioned thing that exists in the cosmos is subject to the operation of Dharma. What the Buddha did (like all the other Buddhas before Him) was to rediscover this infallible Truth and make it known to mankind. In discovering the Truth, He also found the means whereby one could ultimately free oneself from being subjected to the endless cycle of conditioning, with its attendant evils of unsatisfactoriness.

After forty-five years of ministry, the Buddha passed away (attained Parinirvana) at the age of eighty at a place called Kusinara, leaving behind numerous followers, monks and nuns, and a vast treasure store of Dharma Teaching. The impact of His great love and dedication is still felt today.

In the Three Greatest Men in History, H.G. Wells states:

‘In the Buddha you see clearly a man, simple, devout, alone, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. He too gave a message to mankind universal in character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddhism in a different language called men to self-forgetfulness 500 years before Christ. In some ways he was nearer to us and our needs. He was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality.’

Editor's note

Editor's note 01-01-1

Глава 1. Жизнь и личность Будды
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Отрешение от мирской жизни

Редакция перевода от 01.07.2015 13:39