I have been observing that my social media feed is stuffed with quotes by Gautam Buddha lately. Yesterday, I read a beautifully concise Jataka Tale on my LinkedIn feed; I was bowled over having found an enlightening content on a platform where everyone seems to be talking about their achievements, failures, and experiences in the sacred yet sacrilegious corporate ecosystem.
Buddha was passing a village. A few people, who were against him, gathered and they insulted him very deeply. He listened silently, very patiently. They started looking at each other. Then one person asked Buddha: ‘What is the matter? Don’t you understand what we are saying?’
Buddha said: ‘Because I can understand, that’s why I am so silent. For your foolishness, I cannot punish myself. It is for you to decide to insult or not, but it is my freedom to take it or not. You cannot force your insults on me. I simply refuse them; they are not worth it. You can take them back home; I refuse to take them.’
The people were puzzled and asked: ‘Please explain to us.’ He said ‘Sit down and listen to me. In the last village I just passed, people had come with sweets and garlands, but my stomach was full, so I told them: “I won’t be able to eat anything. Please take your gifts back.” What do you think they did?’
Somebody said ‘They would have either given to loved ones or consumed themselves.’ Buddha said ‘Now you come with insults and I say that my stomach is full and I am not going to take these. My sorrow is that now these insults will become poison for your souls.’
Subsequently, with the intent to uncover the philosophies of Buddha, I did a quick scan of the skeleton of Buddhism. Buddhism grew rapidly both during the lifetime of Buddha and after his death, as it appealed to many people dissatisfied with existing religious practices and confused by the rapid social changes taking place around them. The significance attached to conduct and values rather than claims of superiority based on birth, the emphasis placed on metta (mellow feeling), and Karuna (compassion) especially for those who were younger and weaker than oneself, were ideas that drew men and women to Buddhist teachings.
The Buddha taught orally — through discussion and debate, people attended these discourses and discussed what they heard. Surprisingly, none of the Buddha’s teachings and speeches were recorded or compiled by his disciples. After his death (c. fifth-fourth century BCE), his teachings were compiled by his disciples at a council of “elders” or senior monks at Vesali ( Pali for Veshali in present-day Bihar). These compilations were known as Tipitaka — literally, three baskets to hold different types of texts.
Vinaya Pitaka: Rules and regulations for those who joined the Sangha or monastic order.
Sutta Pitaka: Buddha’s teachings were included in the Sutta Pitaka.
Abhidhamma Pitaka: This basket of Tipitaka dealt with philosophical matters.
In this composition, I would take you through a few of the fascinating excerpts from the Buddha’s treasure of infinite wisdom and awakening teachings.
Do not believe in anything (simply)
Because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they
have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is
Spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything (simply) because
It is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority
From your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis
When you find that anything agrees with reason
And is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all
Then accept it and live up to it.
Living in human society, we are often bound to follow a certain set of guidelines and practices; many times, we don’t slice and dice the theories in practice and settle with the beliefs, stereotypes without outstretching the logic and reasoning.
While residing at the Jevatana Monastery in Savitthi, the Buddha spoke this verse, with reference to a blind monk Chkkhupala.
On one occasion, Monk Chkkhupala came to pay homage to the Buddha at the Jetavana Monastery. One night, while pacing up and down in meditation, the monk accidentally stepped on some insects. In the morning, some monks visiting the monk found the dead insects. They thought ill of the monk and reported the matter to the Buddha asked them whether they had seen the monk killing the insects. When they answered in the negative, the Buddha said, “Just as you had not seen him killing, so also he had not seen those living insects.
Besides, as the monk had already attained arahatship he could have no intention of killing so he was innocent. On being asked why Cakkhupāla was blind although he was an arahat, the Buddha told the following story:
Cakkupila was a physician in one of his past existences.
Once, he had deliberately made a woman patient blind That woman had promised to become his slave, together with her children, if her eyes were completely cured Fearing that she and her children would have to become slaves, she lied to the physician. She told him that her eyes were getting worse when in fact, they were perfectly cured. The physician knew she was deceiving him, so in revenge, he gave her another ointment which made her totally blind As a result of this evil deed the physician lost his eyesight many times in his later existence.
This story illustrates If a man speaks or acts evil of mind, suffering follows him, close as the wheel the hoof of the beast that draws the cart. As they say, you reap what you sow!
Siddhartha explored several paths including bodily mortification which led him to a situation of near death. Abandoning these extremes methods, he meditated for several days and finally attained enlightenment. After this, he came to be known as the Buddha or the Enlightened One.
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” Buddha
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