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Biography of Buddha | His life and achievements.

Historical facts and fabulous traditions have always woven in the fascinating biography of the founder of Buddhism.
Over the centuries, has been represented the image of Buddha so many times that even in the West, his effigy is as familiar as any other art object. We often see him sitting on his legs in meditative pose, with a more or less outgoing lump at the top of the skull and a hairy Mole between the eyebrows, covered by a vaporous mantle priestly and haloed his face by a serenity and a sweet endearing. There is something, however, sometimes surprising: to be an ascetic who has given up the pleasures of the world and knows the human miseries, certain representations seems excessively well fed and too satisfied.

Buddha in one of his first performances
in the ancient region of Gandhara (centuries I - II).
It is common belief to consider that the Saints had been a hermit life of struggle and sacrifice in search of inner peace, and so it was, in fact, in the India he met Buddha, about five hundred years before Christ. The idea of purification through suffering was usual among men already mature or elderly, horrified and confused before the perversity of his contemporaries. Often, they left their families and took refuge in the mountains, covered in rags and with a bowl of wood as sole possession, who used to beg food. Before becoming a Buddha, "the enlightened one", meaning Siddharta Gautama also practiced body disciplines selflessly, but did not hesitate to check that they were useless.

A life of Prince

Siddharta Gautama was born probably in the year 558 BC in Kapilavastu, walled city of the Kingdom of Sakya in the southern region of the Himalayas, in the India. Also known by the name of Sakyamuni ("the Sage of the Sakya"), Siddharta was son of Suddhodana, King of Sakya, and of Queen Maya, which came from a powerful family of the Kingdom. According to tradition, Siddhartha was born in Lumbini gardens, when his mother was going to visit her own family. The Queen Maya died seven days after giving birth and the newborn was raised by his maternal aunt Mahaprajapati.

The birth of Buddha
Siddhartha grew up surrounded by luxury: had three palaces, one winter, one summer and a third for the rainy season. They enjoyed the presence of many damsels, dancers and musicians; He wore silk underwear and a servant accompanied him with a parasol. He is described as a slender Constitution boy, very delicate and careful education. His years of study, possibly led by two brahamanes, only know that he wowed his teachers by their rapid progress, both in lyrics and in mathematics. Much has been said of the sensitive character of the Buddha; but as son of a King and aspirant to the throne, should be also educated in martial arts and in all those disciplines necessary for a monarch. However, the Sakya Kingdom barely was a Principality of the Kingdom of Kosala, which depended on.
Siddharta was married to his cousin Yasodhara when I was around sixteen years, according to some sources, or nineteen, or perhaps more, according to others. In some legends it is said that you conquered it in a test of weapons fighting against several rivals. Nothing is known of this marriage, except that he had a son named Rahula, who many years later would become one of his main disciples. Having a son as the perpetuator of the dynasty would have given renouncement to their rights and their consecration to the religious life.
The life of Siddharta wore most of the time in the Royal Palace, under the protection of his father. According to tradition, during their furtive trips to the city, which was accompanied by a Coachman, occurred the so-called «four matches». On one occasion coming out by the East Gate of the Palace, he met an old man; on another occasion that came through the South door, he saw a patient; When he made it through the Western door, he saw a corpse, and another day, to cross the Northern door, was found with a religious mendicant. Old age, disease and death showed the suffering inherent in human life; the religious, the need to find you a sense. This would lead him to leave behind the walls of the Palace in which the greater part of his life had been developed.

The four meetings
At the age of twenty-nine, Siddharta abandoned his family. He did it at night, mounted on his horse Kanthaka and accompanied by his servant Chantaka. Their goal was to Magadha, flourishing state of the South, where cultural and philosophical changes were taking place. It is possible that it also elected that Kingdom, to ten days of road from Kapilavastu, to avoid the possibility that his father demanded that he be repatriated. Once travel part of the way, cut hair, stripped of his jewels and dressings and handed them over to his servant that, back home, he would return to his family, with the message that he would not return until having reached enlightenment. The rest of the way did as a mendicant, practice, on the other hand, highly regarded in the India of the time. It was also common for men already mature and philosophical inclinations will enter in the forest to search for the truth. The unique was that he did at such an early age.

In search of the sense

Once in Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, the beggar girl caught the attention of the powerful King Bimbisara. The King, accompanied by his entourage, went to visit him to mount Pandava, where he practiced meditation and asceticism. According to tradition, the monarch offered him many riches wanted in Exchange for to accept to put in command of their battalions of elephants and their elite troops. Siddharta informed the King of their noble origin and the purpose of their stay in Rajagaha. King Bimbisara not reiterated the proposal; She begged him to only be first reached truth if it came to lighting.
Siddharta followed the teachings of two masters of yoga, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputa. The first, which were still three hundred disciples, had reached the stage 'in which nothing exists'; It is believed that his Hermitage was in Vaishi. Siddharta soon reached the same stage and persuaded the inadequacy of these teachings to liberate humanity from their suffering. Uddaka Ramaputa had six hundred disciples and lived near Rajagaha. His teachings nor filled the cares of Siddharta.
Departed then for Sena, a village next to the Nairanjana River, meeting place of ascetics. These practices were perfectly regulated: they included control of the mind, the suspension of breathing, total fasting and a very severe diet, disciplines all distressing and painful. The stories know that Siddharta is not intimidated to its toughness and that, on occasion, who surrounded him believed that he had died. In those days the advanced students practiced fasting for up to two months, and it is known that nine disciples of Nigantha Nataputta, founder of Jainism, let themselves die of hunger to achieve the final release.
After years of austerities and mortifications that not procured him the lighting, Siddharta decided to leave the asceticism, receiving, for the step taken, criticisms of his five companions. For starters, he bathed in the Nairanjana River to get rid of the dirt that had accumulated in the course of the long process. Apparently, he was so weak that he could barely out of the water. He regained the forces due to the food offered by a girl named Sajata. According to various legends, this young woman was the daughter of the Chief of the village of Seine; the food given to the ascetic was a soup of rice boiled in milk. Shortly afterwards, now restored, Siddharta would reach enlightenment.

Lighting

By all indications, this would have occurred in the city of Gaya, near the Seine. It would later be called to this city of BodhGaya, and it was built a temple in honor of Buddha. Siddharta spent long hours of meditation in the shadow of a sacred fig tree which later would be named with the name of Bodhi or «Tree of enlightenment». According to legend, Gautama sat a day under the fig tree and said: "No I will move from here until you know." The evil God Mara, understanding the seriousness and the danger that contained such challenge, sent a cascade of temptations, the most important in the form of a trio of lecherous odalisques who hysterically waved their bellies before the head tilted Siddharta; When this raised his eyes towards them, the glare of his gaze turned them into clumsy elders of disgusting appearance.

The temptations of Mara
At nightfall he entered into a trance, and the light came to their support, enabling you to see with radiant clarity all the intricate chain of causes and effects that regulate life, and the way to achieve salvation and glory. The knowledge of their former existences was awarded in the so-called first watch of the night. In the second, it was fitted with the third eye or vision divine. At the turn of the alba penetrated omniscient knowledge and the whole system of ten thousand worlds was illuminated. He woke up drunk to know.
Siddharta had understood that human suffering are intimately linked to the nature of existence, to the fact of birth, and that to escape the wheel of reincarnation it was necessary to overcome ignorance and get rid of passions and desires. The charity was a form of desire the salvation of all men and of oneself.
In the early days had their doubts about whether you should preach the truth which had reached. His first sermon was held within one month in Sarnath, near Varanasi, where resided his five former companions. Apparently, they received him very coldly, and Siddharta chastised them for the ways that were heading to an enlightened. Finally, the five formed the initial core of a sect that, given the simplicity of the new message, grew rapidly. The number six disciple was Yasa, son of a wealthy merchant in Varanasi. dissatisfied with her sensual life and luxuries, his life had certain parallels with the own Siddharta. Through Yasa became his family.

Preaching of Buddha
When he saw that his disciples were conveniently prepared, he sent them to preach the new truth for all India. They had to go alone, and Siddharta returned to Uruvela. Among his most important and influential followers was King Bimbisara, who donated a parcel of land (the ' bamboo forest') to Buddha and his followers so that serve as them shelter. However, the disciples spent most of the time begging and preaching, and only returned to the farm during the rainy season.
Buddha continued preaching for forty-five years. He visited his hometown several times and toured the Valley of the Ganges, getting up every day at dawn and traveling between twenty-five and thirty kilometers per day, teaching all men generously without waiting for reward or distinction. It was not an agitator and was never annoyed by the Brahmins, who were opposed, nor by any ruling. People, attracted by his fame and persuaded of his Holiness, went out to meet him, thronged to his step and planted your flower trail.

The attack of Devadatta
One of conversions that attempted you more fame was his cousin Devadatta, ambitious man who hated him as well as to devise a plan that ended his life. Conspired with a few followers, and knowing that Buddha would span a Gorge, bet on top of it with an average detached rock; at the precise moment in which Buddha transited among below, the large stone was moved and fell with a crash; screams were heard and she feared for the life of the master, but Buddha emerged unscathed from the dust, with a beatific smile on his lips.
In the last years of his life, Siddharta suffered hard setbacks. King Bimbisara was dethroned by his own son and the throne of the sakyas was usurped by Vidudabha, son of King Pasenadi, protector of Buddhism. It seems that he was trying to return to their hometown when death befell him. He was eighty-one years old and he was very weak, but continued preaching his doctrine until the last moments. By descriptions made infectious disease she contracted, it is believed that the ultimate cause of his death, occurred in the city of Kusinagara, might be a dysentery. His body was cremated to have died seven days and his ashes spread among his followers.
The asceticism of the Buddha came from the ancient religions, but it is clear that his purpose was not to reassure their neighbors by presenting them with a new deity or renewing previous rites, but make each one aware of his radical loneliness and teach him to fight against the evils of existence. When replacing the liturgies and sacrifices for the contemplation of the world, Buddha gave a paramount importance to something very similar to individual and private prayer valuing above all meditation, extolling the gathering and placing of the man at the center of the universe.
Another reason for its success was, without doubt, his amazing grace. There is no Buddhist dogma and, therefore, no Buddhist is persecuted for heresy. When looking back between pregnant centuries of violence and bigotry, what most surprises of Buddha is the serene call making to reason and to the experience of every man: "do not believe in anything because they teach you the written testimony of a wise old man. Do not believe in anything because it comes from the authority of teachers and priests. "Anything that is in accordance with your own experiences after an arduous investigation occurs in accordance with your reason, and lead to your own good and the of all living things, accept it as the truth and lives accordingly."

Chronology of Buddha

558 BCProbable year of birth at Kapilavastu (Nepal). Son of Suddhodana, King of Sakya, his mother died a few days after birth and is raised by his maternal aunt Mahaprajapati.
542 BC.He marries his cousin Yasodhara, which will have a son, Rahula. He lives a luxurious life in Palace.
529 BCThe so-called «four meetings» reveal you the pain of existence and driving him to the ascetic life. He abandons his family, renounced its responsibilities as Prince and moved Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, where he meets King Bimbisara.
529-523 BC.It follows the teachings of Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputa yoga teachers. Dissatisfied, he moved to Seine, where surrenders unnecessarily rigorous ascetic practices.
523 BC.Leave the asceticism and resets its excesses. After long meditation at the foot of a fig tree, near the city of Gaya, reach enlightenment. In Sarnath, near Varanasi, it is pronounced against five former colleagues his first homily on the four noble truths. With the protection of King Bimbisara, itinerant preaching will spend the rest of his life.
485 BCAttempted murder of his cousin Devadatta, who has just become.
477 BCProbable year of his death at Kusinagara.

Buddha: A new philosophy

A new philosophy

The nature of the doctrines of Buddha manifested, first, an independent and extraordinary ability to speculative. From a traditional and Orthodox position, your system shows how are removing and destroying the bases of these traditional postures with the strength of reasoning, and is forging a religious system which does not contains any divinity: something abnormal and undoubtedly heretical in a setting such as the Indian, so taken over by the sense of the divine. Buddha lived a phase of Hindustani ideology during which, and because new doctrinal conceptions (the first of them the belief in transmigration), the ancient Vedic religion, with its cult of the gods and the exaltation of the sacrifice as omnipotent and meritorious act in its effects, had lost all value, since the only relentless, terrifying and terrible reality able to scare the man was the eternal death and rebirth through an endless succession stock, more or less fortunate according to the merits or demerits acquired, but always ephemeral, transient and finished all of them with the pain that accompanies death.

Buddha
Interruption of the cycle of reincarnation and definitive avoidance of the infinite ocean of mortal lives constitute the ultimate craved by every living creature, the happiness Supreme and eternal, variously designed by various speculations in the period of intense and fruitful philosophical and religious research that preceded and accompanied the emergence of Buddhism. But even in the history of the India appears Buddha as an exceptional figure, and not only by its historical reality (in contrast to the purely legendary forms under which indigenous cultural traditions had founders religious, philosophers and eminent authors of all time), but also because of the particularities that characterize (differentiating it from other contemporary spiritual movements) his path to enlightenment.
Penance, and Mortification and consequential bodily sufferings, were already then a method very used by the sages of the India. Buddha experienced it too, but without success; for this reason, it left him very soon and acknowledged with realistic intuition the indissoluble link between the force and the powers of the spirit and the intellect and the health and material strength of the corporeal body. Once achieved the perfect balance and fair correlation between intellectual energy and physical character, Buddha started walking in pursuit of the truth, which is revealed to him, finally, one night, while he was deeply meditating at the foot of a fig tree.
On the basis of all Buddhist doctrinal structure contained a desolate and pessimistic conception of existence: the joys of youth, health and life are ephemeral, as old age, disease and death loom on the first inexorably. Any existence is dominated by pain, which subsists eternally in the continuous pilgrimage from one to another life. For this reason, the annihilation of the pain can only be obtained with the desire ("nirvana"); the ignorance and the eagerness of pleasures, or attachment to existence, cause the reincarnation.

Buddha icon on Twang, India
The criterion of Buddha on the mystery surrounding the man is summarized in the memorable words that seems to have delivered the evening of the lighting: "I traveled life cycle relentlessly seeking the Builder of the House (i.e., the cause of reincarnation): Builder of the House, have been discovered;" not you already go no further building, because your beams are broken and destroyed the roof of the House. The heart, which is already free, has extinguished any desire".
The spiritual Testament understood in short and solemn recommendations addressed by Buddha, dying, his disciples, is a touching and at the same time realistic synthesis of all his teachings. The last words are a breath to quiet resignation in pursuit of indifference and a fervent activity in the way of Liberation: "I exhort you, therefore my disciples: that exists is subject to death;" pay your salvation". The person of Buddha, much loved by his followers, was not at those times but a faint shadow; living human traits to which such bonds of affection and devotion between them went extinct already forever. The Supreme traffic master explicitly attests to the faithful who, afflicted and watery, was next, to consciously ask posterity ignorance and neglect of his own person. As the only inheritance, left his doctrine of salvation.

The doctrine of Buddha

The doctrine of Buddha was first transmitted orally, and then collected in a vast literary output written in various Indian languages (Sanskrit, pali, Prakrit) and extraindias (Tibetan, Chinese, tocarico). In any case, these writings were not compiled until the 1st century BC, and include texts of different genres: sermons, dialogues, poems or Max. Among the many canonical writings, we have entirely the so-called Pali Canon or Tipitaka (three baskets or baskets). Pitaka is a pali word meaning basket; in them books or texts, were kept as it is done today in Tibetan temples. The Tipitaka comprises the Vinaya Pitaka or basket of discipline (writings that refer to the community of monks), the Sutra Pitaka or basket of sermons or speeches (teachings in the form of dialogue) and the Abhidhamma Pitaka or basket of superior doctrine (philosophical and scholastic treatises).

Reclining Buddha of the Gal Vihara Temple
in Sri Lanka (12th century)
The doctrine of Buddha boils down to calls four noble truths. The first refers to the dukkha (literally, "suffering") and says that life is suffering. This assertion doesn't mean that life dominate the headaches facing the pleasures, but that human existence is painful by nature from birth until death. In fact, suffering even extinguishes dying, since, in accordance with the teachings of Hinduism, death is simply the first step to a new reincarnation. The concept is easier to understand if, instead of "suffering", we use a term like "dissatisfaction": although it throws satisfactions, human life is essentially unsatisfactory.
According to the second noble truth, the cause of suffering is tanha. Tanha literally means "thirst" and is an obvious metaphorical designation of desire. Desire causes suffering, and this is due to that man, by ignoring the true nature of reality, feels anxiety and greed and adheres to the material things. The human being want something permanent, ignorant of the world there is no permanence.
There is, however, a chance to escape suffering. The third noble truth says simply that the existence of a nirodha ("end"). It is possible to get the annulment of desire and thus put an end to suffering; to do this, man must overcome his ignorance and go beyond the worldly ties.
The fourth noble truth, finally, establishes that there is a loam or path to end suffering. This way is known as the eightfold path or path of the eight stages, and requires a proper vision of things, good intentions, an appropriate way of expression, performing good deeds, lead a proper life, strive positively, have good thoughts and engage in convenient way to contemplation. Raised as precepts, they could list as righteousness of vision, rectitude of intention, Word righteousness, rightness of action, righteousness of life, righteousness of effort, thought righteousness and rectitude in meditation. Usually, these eight points are grouped into three categories: ethical conduct (sila), mental discipline (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna).

Buddhist monks in a temple in Laos
These four noble truths are indeed the corollary of a philosophy as part of an analysis of human existence. The human being is the integration of a set of five realities or skandhas: the material body, feelings, perceptions, the predisposition to things (i.e. karmic tendencies) and consciousness. Each person is simply an ephemeral combination of these five aspects, which in turn are subject to constant changes. None of these aspects remains identical in two successive moments.
That is why Buddhism denies that this set of five realities, taken individually or together, can be considered as a soul (atman), i.e. as a permanent entity independent of its environment. It is, therefore, wrong to conceive that there is a permanent unit which is a constituent element of the man. Buddha said that the belief in a so-called is precisely permanent I which causes that the human being is selfish, look like anxiety and, therefore, suffer. East I, from our birth, has been attached to a name, a House, a family, a religion, a culture; It has been loaded with a huge baggage of social patterns and surrounded by objects and properties that are trying to stop and freeze the reality always changing and subject to constant transformations. And in our desire to own things, we cling to the pleasures and reject the pain, when some and others are also transient. This kind of existential frustration is our dukkha. Therefore, Buddha taught the doctrine of anatman or denial of the existence of a permanent soul. In fact, the defining features of human existence are anatman (the absence of soul), the anitya (transience, constant change, which is common to all that exists) and dukkha (suffering).
The doctrine of anatman necessitated that Buddha reinterpretara samsara, the cycle of reincarnation in hindu belief. To this end, Buddha developed the idea of the conditioned origin of existence (pratityasamutpada). According to this doctrine, there is a chain of twelve causes, showing how it was ignorant in the previous life causes that person tends to develop a set of features which will determine the performance of the mind and the senses. The result of that Act will be anxiety and attachment to existence, and this will lead to a new cycle of birth, life and death. Through this chain of causes, each life is therefore linked to the next. Thus becomes to a flow of new lives rather than a permanent existence transferred a life; in fact, it is the belief in a reincarnation without transmigration.

The God Mara spins the wheel of the
reincarnations (sculpture from the 12th or 13th century)
The doctrine of karma is closely related to this particular vision of reincarnation. Karma originates in the actions of the person and the moral consequences that arise from their actions. Actions determine the subsequent reincarnation: good deeds are rewarded and the bad are punished. Buddhism maintains that there is no unearned pleasures or unjustified punishment, but everything is rather the result of a universal justice. Now, the karmic process acting through a natural moral law; It is almost as an abstract principle of causality, without any it intervention in a justice system of divine origin. The karma of each individual determines aspects such as physical appearance, their level of intelligence, their longevity, their health and their social class. According to the teachings of Buddha, and depending on the nature of your karma, the individual reencarnará in a human being, an animal, a ghost, a hellish being or even in some God of the hindu religion.
Buddhism does not deny the existence of gods, but not given any special importance. Although his life in heaven is long and gentle, the gods are subject to the same laws and principles as any other creature; they can die and reincarnate into a State of lower existence. The gods did not create the world or influence the fate of humanity, so pray or give them offerings or sacrifices lacks utility. In fact, among the various forms of reincarnation, considered that the human is the best, because the gods live so engrossed in their pleasures who forget the need to strive to achieve redemption.
The ultimate goal of the eightfold path is to achieve freedom from the suffering inherent in the phenomenal existence. This is achieved by reaching the nirvana, a State of enlightenment which extinguishes the fire of all desires and greed, hatred and ignorance are overcome. Such a State is not to be confused with an annihilation; Once it has reached nirvana, the enlightened can continue living and remove any residue of karma that may remain until the moment of his death, entering a last State of absolute nirvana, called parinirvana. Actually, nirvana is a State of consciousness that can not describe in words and that is beyond any definition. When trying to describe, are incurred denials and paradoxes. Buddha referred to him with these words (Udana 8.1): "monks, something without land, there are, nor water, nor fire, nor air, free unlimited space, without awareness, with nothing, without a State of perception; something this world or another world, without Moon or Sun; This, monks, I do not call it go or come, be, or birth or die; It has no basis, duration or condition. This is the end of suffering."

Mahathat Temple (Sukhothai, Thailand)
Without downplaying the other precepts of the eightfold path, which function as essential foundations, it is necessary to underline the last of them, meditation, as certainly difficult technique whose correct and continuous practice allows to purify the mind and ascend in successive States of consciousness to the lighting. Meditation is nothing more than the crop of the four foundations of care: the monk sits cross-legged, keep the body upright and your attention alerts and practical observation of the body, the mind, feelings and the contents of mental.
This would be a first step in meditation, but something apparently as simple means as disrupting the functioning of the mind. The meditator should be avoided that the mind focuses in the outside world or own fantasies or mental images to be fixed in the breath, feelings or other objects depending on the type of meditation that follow. It is so immersed in a world without reaction and words, remote and alien to the range everyday perceptual trapping us with its thousand facets illusory; and the first and fundamental illusion is precisely that of an immutable self. The meditator is becoming aware of the change and flow that they characterized the existence, of the constant and continuous succession of perceptions and thoughts, of the impossibility of something permanent.
Any person can achieve nirvana, although in practice it is considered that it is an objective that is accessible only to members of a monastic community, who dedicated his life to it. In Buddhism, Theravada, who reaches enlightenment having followed the eightfold path is called arhat (the one that is worth much). Those who are not able to reach the ultimate goal should be careful to get a better reincarnation through the improvement of their karma. This is normally the aspiration of lay Buddhists, whose main purpose and hope is to reach, through best reincarnations, a life in which reach the final lighting.

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