Sunday, April 18, 2010

the buddha

I finally got around to watching the PBS documentary on The Buddha. It was simply the story of the historical Buddha and I felt so refreshed by it.

Most of the readers of this blog are Christian and don't know the story, so, for you I'm going to stumble through the telling of the life of the Buddha. I'm going to do the best I can.

Siddhartha was born a prince. He lived a sheltered life with great pleasure and riches until he was 29. On a trip outside his palace he saw suffering and death. He was so disturbed by the suffering he saw. A question formed in his mind, How can we live with so much suffering and change? In order to answer this question, he left his palace, wife, and baby to become an ascetic.

During his six years of asceticism he tried to reach enlightenment by torturing the human desire out of his body and mind. He was trying to answer the question of suffering and gain enlightenment. During this time, he ate one grain of rice a day, he ceaselessly meditated. He became a living skeleton, but he got no closer to the answer.

After six years, he stopped. He thought of the happiest he had ever been. His mind went to the quiet repose of a childhood memory. He decided that fasting was killing him and that he needed to live as a human. A young girl offered him rice pudding that he ate. He was then so nourished by the rice that he sat under the Bodhi tree and began his meditation. It was then that he became the awakened one. He achieved enlightenment on his own, he found the answers he needed from within. He saw the world as it was. His desire did not go away, but he lived in the balance of equanimity. The good and bad, the right and left, it all fell away. He then left the Bodhi tree and began his teachings. He lived into his 80s teaching the Dharma.


Simple. No magic. Just an ordinary man, waking up.

I am so moved by the thought of Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree, seeing the world as it really is. It fills me with joy to know that this is our work. To pay attention without judgment. To see each moment as it really is. That's all it is. This is not an easy thing, but it's not complicated either.

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