Rabu, 04 Agustus 2010

Ringkasan Biografi Buddha

What is Buddhism?
The name Buddhism comes from the word ‘budhi’ which means ‘to wake up’ and thus Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. This philosophy has its origins in the experience of the man Siddhata Gotama, known as the Buddha, who was himself awakened at the age of 35. Buddhism is now more than 2,500 years old and has about 300 million followers worldwide. Until a hundred years ago, Buddhism was mainly an Asian philosophy but increasingly it is gaining adherents in Europe and America.

So Buddhism is just philosophy?

The word philosophy comes from two words: ‘philo’ which means ‘love’ and ‘sophia’ which means ‘wisdom’. Therefore, philosophy is the love of wisdom or love and wisdom, both meanings perfectly describe Buddhism.

Buddhism teaches that we should try to develop our intellectual capacity to the fullest so that we can understand clearly. It also teaches us to develop love and kindness so that we can be like a true friend to all beings. So Buddhism is a philosophy but not just a philosophy. It is the supreme philosophy.

Who was the Buddha?

In the year 563 B.C. a baby was born into a royal family in northern India. He grew up in wealth and luxury but eventually found that worldly comfort and security do not guarantee happiness. He was deeply moved by the suffering he saw all around – and resolved to find the key to human happiness. When he was 29 he left his wife and child and set off to sit at the feet of the great religious teachers to learn from them. They taught him much but none really knew the cause of human sufferings and how it could be overcome. Eventually, after six years study and meditation he had an experience in which all ignorance fell away and he suddenly understood. From that day onwards, he was called Buddha, the awakened One. He lived for another 45 years in which time he traveled all over northern India teaching others what he had discovered. His compassion and patience were legendary and he gained thousands of followers. In his eightieth year, old and sick, but still happy and at peace, he finally died.

Queen Mahamaya, a wife of King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu gave birth to Prince Siddhattha, the Buddha-to-be, at Lumbini Park, on the Vishahka's Full Noon Day (the sixth lunar month), 80 years before the Buddhist Era (623 B.C.).

Prince Siddhattha (the Buddha-to-be) came across the Four Sights on his trips outside the palace: (1) an old man, (2) a sick man, (3) a dead man, and (4) a wandering monk, which made him weary of conditioned things.  Upon seeing these four sights, he was inspired to go forth in the Great Renunciation.
Returning from the last visit and learning that Yasodhara, his wife had given birth to a son named Rahula, the Prince, the 29 years old Prince cut off his hair with a sword and began an ascetic life in search of spiritual freedom from suffering.
Wasn’t it irresponsible for the Buddha to walk out on his wife and child?
It couldn’t have been an easy thing for the Buddha to leave his family. But he had a choice, dedicating himself to his family or dedicating himself to the whole world. In the end, his great compassion made him devote himself to the world, and the whole world still benefits from his sacrifice. This was not irresponsible, but perhaps, it was the most significant sacrifice ever made.
The Bodhisatta, first approached some ascetics to learn their theories and practices, but was dissatisfied with them.  He, then, tried by himself to discover the best way to liberation by practicing several austerities such as fasting and self-mortification by with the group of Five Companions in attendace nearby.

The Bodhisatta, having undergone for six years these austerities, realized that self-mortification is not the right way to enlightenment.  He, then, gave it up and started the practice of Mental Development known as "The Noble Eight fold Path" or the Middle Way.

The Bodhisatta at the age of 35 through the Middle Way attained Enlightenment under the Dodhi Tree in Bodhagaya, India, at the dawn of the Visakha's Full Moon Day.  Thereafter, he became known as the Buddha, the Enlightened One or the Awakened One.
Was the Buddha a god?
No, he was not.  He did not claim that he was a god, the child of god, or even the messenger from a god.  He was a man who perfected himself and taught that if we followed his example, we could perfect ourselves too.

Photo: Photo of painting of Gautama Buddha's first sermon at the Deer Park,
depicted at Wat Chedi Liam in Thailand.  Source: wikipedia.org
After two months, the First Sermon was delivered to the group of Five Ascetics at Isipatana, The Deer Park Varanasi.  The principles of the Sermon were based on the Four Noble Truths: Suffering, its Causes, its Cessation and the Path leading to Cassation of Suffering.  This is known as "The Turning of the Wheel of Truth".

At Uruvela, there were three renowned religious teachers, known as "Matted Hair Ascetics".  The elder was called Kassapa having a following of 1,000 ascetics.  After hearing the Buddha's teachings, they all joined the Order.  When the Buddha met King Bimbisara of Rajagaha, the King and his royal retinue doubted his teachings.  To eliminate their doubts, Ven. Uruvela Kassapa declared himself "the follower of the Buddha."  

On the Magha's Full Moon Day, nine months after his Enlightenment, the Buddha gave his most significant teachings known as "Ovadapatimokkha", (the Principle Teachings) to 1,250 Holy Noble Monks who assembled themselves without a prior appointment at Veluvanaram, Rajagaha.

Sariputta and Moggallana, the two beloved friends of Rajagaha, along with their 250 followers approached the Buddha and asked for ordination.  Later on, they both became the most well known chief disciples of the Buddha in propagating his teachings.  

The Buddha allowed and accepted Queen Maha Pajapati, his aunt and step-mother into the Order of Bukkhuni (Buddhist nuns) along with her 500 Royal women the opportunity to experience the highest wisdom in life.

On his death bed at Kusinara, the Buddha, as his last gift, ordained Subhadda, the Wanderer, who came seeking spiritual guidance.  He was the last monk who was ordained by the Buddha.

Having preached to his last disciple, Subhadda, the Buddha passed away into Parinirvana (Perfect Extinction) on the Visakha's Full Moon Night at Salavanodayana, The Malla's Garden one year before the Buddhist Era (543 B.C.) at the age of 80.  Parinirvana (Parinibbana) means 'Utter or Final Nirvana'; the 'Total Letting Go' at the moment of death of a Fully Enlightened Being (a Buddha or Arahant).
Is Buddhism scientific?
The word ‘science’ according to the dictionary, is ‘a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws’ or ‘systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.’

There are aspects of Buddhism that would not fit into this definition but the central teachings of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, most certainly would. Suffering, the First Noble Truth is an experience that can be defined, experienced, and measured. The Second Noble Truth states that suffering has a natural cause, which is craving or desire, and this likewise can be defined, experienced, and measured. No attempt is made to explain suffering in terms of a metaphysical concept or myths. Suffering is ended, according to the Third Nobel Truth, not by relying upon a supreme being, by faith or by prayers but simply by removing its cause. The Fourth Nobel Truth, the way to end suffering, has nothing to do with metaphysics but depends on behaving in specific ways. And once again, behavior is open to testing. Buddhism dispenses with the concept of a supreme being, so does science, and explains the origins and workings of the universe in terms of natural laws. All of this certainly exhibits a scientific spirit. Once again, the Buddha’s constant advice that we should not blindly believe but rather question, examine, inquire, and rely on our own experience, has a definite scientific ring to it.
The Four Nobel Truths

According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists sorrow or suffering which is caused by desire and it can be cured (ceased) by following the Noble Eightfold Path. This teaching is called the “Four Noble Truths”.
1. Suffering: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasuring is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering. Understand that suffering is caused by desire.
2. The cause of suffering: The desire which leads to renewed existence (rebirth). The three-fold craving are: sensual craving, craving for existence, and craving for wealth and power. There are also further six-fold cravings: the eye craves forms, the ear craves sounds, the nose craves smells, the tongue craves tastes, the body craves tangible objects, and the mind craves dreams and/or mental objects. Understand that these cravings and ignorance of the law of nature are the conditions of the origin of individual sufferings.
3. The cessation of suffering: The cessation of desire. The condition of the cessation of suffering is the complete fading away and extinction of these three-fold cravings. Forsaking them, giving them up, and the liberation and detachment from them. Please note that when the mind has given up all these three-fold and further six-fold cravings, the realization of the Extinction of Craving or Nibbana (or Nirvana in Sanskrit), is then possible. This is the ultimate desire of desires, meaning therefore, the end of all suffering.
4. The way leading to the cessation of suffering: The Noble Eightfold Path.

According to the scriptures, the Four Noble Truths were among the topics of the first sermon given by the Buddha after his enlightenment, which was given to the five ascetics with whom he had practiced austerities, and were originally spoken by the Buddha, not in the form of a religious or philosophical text, but in the form of a common medical prescription of the time.
The Noble Eightfold Path
In the teachings of the Buddha, the Noble Eightfold Path is declared to be the way that leads to the end of dukkha, or suffering. Essentially a practical guide of bringing about ethical and meditative discipline, the Noble Eightfold Path forms the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths, which have formed and driven much of the Buddhist tradition.

As the name indicates, there are eight elements in the Noble Eightfold Path, and these are divied into three basic categories as follows:
Photo: The eight-spoked Dharmacakra represents the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajna, Pali: panna)
1. Right View: intellectual grasps of the Teachings of Buddhism (called Dhamma), the Four Noble Truths and the Law of Karma.
2. Right Intention: elimination of all ambitions, revenge, hatred, greed, lust and violence.

Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: sila, Pali: sila)
3. Right Speech: stamping out all lies and controlling words. Being courteous, truthful, letting no evil words escape from the lips, and being compassionate and full of sympathy, with a heart full of loving kindness and free from secret malice.
4. Right Action: meaning the avoidance of destruction of any living being, of taking what has not been given, indulging in sensuality, slander, intoxicating liquor or harmful drugs.
5. Right Livelihood: that is, pursuing a trade or occupation compatible with The Precepts.

Mental discipline (Sanskrit and Pali: samadhi)
6. Right Effort: preventing new evil from entering one’s mind, removing all evil already there. To develop such good in one’s mind and maintaining all of the goodness that is there.
7. Right Mindfulness: this is the continual recollection of all phenomena about bodily structure, all parts of the human body, all states of health, all impurity and purity of mind, contemplation of various states of mind and all kinds of temperaments.
8. Right Concentration: which is the threshold of Nibbana and consists of the Four Great Efforts, namely, to avoid and to overcome evil states of mind, to develop and to maintain a good state of mind. The purpose of attaining Right Concentration is to develop the eyes of wisdom.

There are three levels covering each Noble Truth. These include:
- First level is Saccanana, insights into what the Four Noble Truths are.
- Second level is Kiccanana, knowing what is to be done regarding each of the Four Noble Truths.
- Third level is Katanana, which is insight into what has been perfectly done regarding the Four Noble Truths.
The Precepts
To further assist the average person to walk the Middle Path, one is expected to take ‘The 5 Precepts’, as a guideline for one’s daily life and moral principles. Each person is very serious about making the commitment to The Precepts. At important ceremonies the laity people recite The 5 Precepts in Pali and also in Thai. It is paramount that they understand and live up to these Precepts.

Please understand that these Precepts are considered rules of training and breaking one in not a ‘sin’. It is a rule that makes Buddhists aware of their short comings and once broken; they know that they will have to try harder in the future. These Precepts help training to become the best possible human being.
Buddhists recognize the importance of attending retreats, a time to draw apart and contemplate, meditate and lead a quiet simple life, often not speaking during the entire retreat. At that time they take 8 Precepts, which include the original 5 only in much deeper meaning, plus an additional3.

At a retreat one usually rises about four o’clock in the morning and meditates for 2 hours before breakfast. Retreatants are expected to help with various simple chores around the temple, in a peaceful mindful way. They do not eat any solid food after midday, until after dawn of the following day and spend the majority of their time in quiet meditation.

The Precepts are given during a Thai Buddhist ceremony which is started when the lay person requests of the monk, three times, their desire to receive The Precepts. This is said both in Pali and in Thai languages. Pali is a beautiful rhythmic language which lends itself easily to the sounds of chanting (it is definitely not singing).

After the original request for receiving The Precepts, the lay person led by the monk repeats The Precepts:
1. I undertake the training rule to refrain from taking life.
2. I undertake the training rule to refrain from stealing.
3. I undertake the training rule to refrain from sexual misconduct.
4. I undertake the training rule to refrain from false speech or telling lies.
5. I undertake the training rule to refrain from intoxicating liquors and harmful drugs that lead to carelessness.

The additional Precepts are for the retreatants and the truly devoted.
6. I undertake the training rule to refrain from eating afternoon and before dawn.
7. I undertake the training rule to refrain from dancing, singing, music, watching shows, wearing garlands, beautifying myself with perfumes and cosmetics.
8. I undertake the training rule to refrain from luxurious and high seats and beds.

These rules are a very sensible, thought provoking set of guidelines. They are intended to assist a person to become detached from material objects, become peaceful, and to work on the ego, which can cause so much dukka (suffering) in our lives.