Sunday, 19 May 2013

Trice Blessed Day

||Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

||Aum Namo Narayanaya||

Lord Buddha(Google Images)
The dominance of Winter is quite prevalent in the way our activities seem to take an indoor approach. Gathering cosily under the blanket in front of the television or reading a book over a hot cup of coffee seems more comforting and satisfying than strolling the arcades of shopping malls or even meeting friends or family for a meal outing.  But, nothing can claim first prize away from a snug afternoon nap. However, we will show utter dissent at these in a few months when Summer shows resolute intent to govern us. Our lives are so easily influenced and shaped by the external that we rarely find the opportunity to project our inner being or self.

I found much resonance in this idea when I read the life of the Buddha. Born a Prince, nestled in the lap of luxury, he enjoyed every conceivable pleasure that wealth could bring until when on a few occasions after leaving the confines of his palace -which he never did for 30 years of his life- came face to face with the realities of life: such as death, disease and old age... which instantly shifted his balance and warranted an enquiry about the suffering of life. It dawned on him that all he had enjoyed had a definite life span and even his body shall degrade and perish. How then can all the pleasure and joy that entertained him be sustained?

Being plagued by this question to such an extent, he decided to abandon his family and undertake a life in the opposite extreme of his opulence... in search of the truth. At the juncture of this quest, he was tempted by Mara (a metaphor for worldliness and desire) to remain in the palace and enjoy the life of royalty and power that was destined for him. Overwhelmed with determination and the quest to resolve his quandary, he shaved his head, adorned the ochre robe of a renunciate and strode through the forests as a beggar.

In the forest, he came under the tutelage of many a Guru who taught him the science of Yoga, and under their guidance underwent severe austerities almost to the point of death... upon which he realised that all these external and physical techniques had not even attempted to resolve his primary question for which he had abandoned his princely life. Immediately, he accepted food from a well wisher and nursed his body to health, proclaiming that the body and the world were essential components to attain his answer. He then sat under a bodhi tree with determination never to arise until he had attained supreme knowledge. Siddarta Gautama was successful in his quest and emerged out of this meditation as the Buddha.

In the life of Buddha we learn that the two key components to realise the truth are sacrifice and suffering. In order to gain one thing one has to lose something. It was after six years of severe struggle that he eventually attained enlightenment.

What we need to understand is that within each and every one of us is a seed of the Buddha. Every person has potential to become the Buddha. What is the Buddha? It is a state of being where one realises that we are not separate from the world, that the welfare of the world is the welfare of the self. It is the ability to experience the highest peace of mind when confronted by any situation.

He gave the four noble truths of life:

1. Life is suffering: we will never be satisfied with anything, hence we shall always suffer.

2. There a definite way to end this suffering, and that is to remove the cause.

3. The cause of the suffering is the mind. Bring the mind to peace and all suffering will end.

4.  Find the path: extreme opulence or extreme austerities shall not bring peace. Find the middle way. Live a life of divinity.

Once a Brahmin was walking past and saw Buddha seated in meditation nearby. His curiosity made him approach and enquire who He was. Buddha, with a smile on his face announced: “Know that I am the awakened one”. The life of Buddha is nothing but Vedanta. 

Swami Vivekananda said:

Bud­dha was a great Vedan­tist and Shankara is often called a hid­den Bud­dhist. Bud­dha made the analy­sis and Shankara made the synthe­sis out of it. Bud­dha never bowed down to anything - neither Veda, nor caste, nor Priest, nor cus­tom. He fear­lessly rea­soned so far as rea­son could take Him. Such a fear­less search for truth and such love for every liv­ing thing the world has ever seen. Bud­dha was the ‘Wash­ing­ton of the reli­gious world’… He con­quered a throne only to give it to the world… as Wash­ing­ton did to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. He sought noth­ing for himself.

Look at Buddha’s heart! Ever-ready to give His own life to save the life of even a kid—what to speak of “bahu­jana hitāya bhahu­jana sukhāya—for the wel­fare of the many, for the hap­pi­ness of the many”! See, what a large-heartedness—what a com­pas­sion! … What was there in this coun­try before Buddha’s advent? Only a num­ber of reli­gious prin­ci­ples recorded on bun­dles of palm leaves—and those too known only to a few. It was Lord Bud­dha who brought them down to the prac­ti­cal field and showed how to apply them in the every­day life of the peo­ple. In a sense, He was the liv­ing embod­i­ment of true Vedanta.

On the 25th of May, devotes all over the world will celebrate Buddha Purnima. It is referred to as the Thrice Blessed Day because it is said that Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and gained Maha Samadhi on this day. This very symbolic occurrence tells us that we to in this very life have the potential to enjoy the world, attain nirvana and remove ourselves from the cycle of suffering.

May the grace and blessings of Lord Buddha be our inspiration to strive towards enlightenment, is my sincere prayer.


With love and prayers always


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