Buddha teachings and quotes

buddha teachings on forgiveness an buddha teachings on letting go
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S ' T B E O N O K A The Buddha and The Buddha and His Teachings His Teachings Venerable Narada Mahathera e E-mail: bdeabuddhanet.net Web site: www.buddhanet.net Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc. L H I B D R A D R U Y BThe Buddha and His Teachings Venerable Nārada Mahāthera Reprinted for free distribution by The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation Taipei, Taiwan. July 1998 Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā-Sambuddhassa Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened OneContents Introduction ................................................................................... vii The Buddha Chapter 1 From Birth to Renunciation ........................................................... 1 Chapter 2 His Struggle for Enlightenment ................................................. 13 Chapter 3 The Buddhahood ........................................................................... 25 Chapter 4 After the Enlightenment .............................................................. 33 Chapter 5 The Invitation to Expound the Dhamma .................................. 41 Chapter 6 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ................................................ 54 Chapter 7 The Teaching of the Dhamma ..................................................... 75 Chapter 8 The Buddha and His Relatives ................................................... 88 Chapter 9 The Buddha and His Relatives ................................................. 103 iiiChapter 10 The Buddha’s Chief Opponents and Supporters .................. 118 Chapter 11 The Buddha’s Royal Patrons ...................................................... 141 Chapter 12 The Buddha’s Ministry ............................................................... 152 Chapter 13 The Buddha’s Daily Routine ..................................................... 168 Chapter 14 The Buddha’s Parinibbāna (Death) .......................................... 173 The Dhamma Chapter 15 The Teachings of The Buddha .................................................. 201 Chapter 16 Some Salient Characteristics of Buddhism ............................ 223 Chapter 17 The Four Noble Truths ............................................................... 241 Chapter 18 Kamma .......................................................................................... 252 Chapter 19 What is Kamma? .......................................................................... 265 Chapter 20 The Working of Kamma ............................................................ 275 ivChapter 21 Nature of Kamma ........................................................................ 293 Chapter 22 What is the Origin of Life? ........................................................ 302 Chapter 23 The Buddha on the so-called Creator-God ............................. 312 Chapter 24 Reasons to Believe in Rebirth ................................................... 317 Chapter 25 The Wheel of Life – Paticca-Samuppāda ................................. 326 Chapter 26 Modes of Birth and Death ......................................................... 338 Chapter 27 Planes of Existence ...................................................................... 341 Chapter 28 How Rebirth takes place ............................................................ 349 Chapter 29 What is it that is Reborn? (No-soul) ........................................ 356 Chapter 30 Moral Responsibility .................................................................. 368 Chapter 31 Kammic Descent and Kammic Ascent .................................... 371 Chapter 32 A Note on the Doctrine of Kamma & Rebirth in the West .. 377 vChapter 33 Nibbāna ......................................................................................... 385 Chapter 34 Characteristics of Nibbāna ........................................................ 393 Chapter 35 The Way to Nibbāna (I) .............................................................. 404 Chapter 36 The Way to Nibbāna (II) Meditation ....................................... 410 Chapter 37 Nīvarana or Hindrances ............................................................. 427 Chapter 38 The Way to Nibbāna (III) ........................................................... 431 Chapter 39 The State of an Arahant ............................................................. 442 Chapter 40 The Bodhisatta Ideal ................................................................... 450 Chapter 41 Pāramī – Perfections ................................................................... 459 Chapter 42 Brahmavihāra – The Sublime States ....................................... 489 Chapter 43 Eight Worldly Conditions .......................................................... 513 Chapter 44 The Problems of Life .................................................................. 530 viIntroduction Many valuable books have been written by Eastern and West- ern scholars, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, to present the life and teachings of the Buddha to those who are interested in Buddhism. Amongst them one of the most popular works is still The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold. Many Western truth-seekers were attracted to Buddhism by this world-famous poem. Congratulations of Eastern and Western Buddhists are due to the learned writers on their laudable efforts to enlighten the readers on the Buddha-Dhamma. This new treatise is another humble attempt made by a member of the Order of the Sangha, based on the Pāli Texts, commentaries, and traditions prevailing in Buddhist countries, especially in Ceylon. The first part of the book deals with the Life of the Buddha, thc second with the Dhamma, the Pāli term for His Doctrine. The Buddha-Dhamma is a moral and philosophical system which expounds a unique path of Enlightenment, and is not a subject to be studied from a mere academic standpoint. The Doctrine is certainly to be studied, more to be practised, and above all to be realized by oneself. Mere learning is of no avail without actual practice. The learned man who does not practise the Dhamma, the Buddha says, is like a colourful flower without scent. He who does not study the Dhamma is like a blind man. But, he who does not practise the Dhamma is comparable to a library. There are some hasty critics who denounce Buddhism as a passive and inactive religion. This unwarranted criticism is far viifrom the truth. The Buddha was the first most active missionary in the world. He wandered from place to place for forty-v fi e years preaching His doctrine to the masses and the intelligentsia. Till His last moment, He served humanity both by example and by precept. His distinguished disciples followed suit, penniless, they even travelled to distant lands to propagate the Dhamma, expecting nothing in return. “Strive on with diligence” were the last words of the Buddha. No emancipation or puric fi ation can be gained without per - sonal striving. As such petitional or intercessory prayers are de- nounced in Buddhism and in their stead is meditation which leads to self-control, puric fi ation, and enlightenment. Both medi - tation and service form salient characteristics of Buddhism. In fact, all Buddhist nations grew up in the cradle of Buddhism. “Do no evil”, that is, be not a curse to oneself and others, was the Buddha’s first advice. This was followed by His second ad - monition – “Do good”, that is, be a blessing to oneself and others. His final exhortation was – “Purify one’s mind” – which was the most important and the most essential. Can such a religion be termed inactive and passive? It may be mentioned that, amongst the thirty-seven factors that lead to enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiya-Dhamma), viriya or energy occurs nine times. Clarifying His relationship with His followers, the Buddha states: “You yourselves should make the exertion. The Tathāgatas are mere teachers.” The Buddhas indicate the path and it is left for us to follow that path to obtain our puric fi ation. Self-exertion plays an important part in Buddhism. viii“By oneself is one purified; by oneself is one del fi ed.” Bound by rules and regulations, Bhikkhus can be active in their own e fi lds without trespassing their limits, while lay follow - ers can serve their religion, country and the world in their own way, guided by their Buddhist principles. Buddhism offers one way of life to Bhikkhus and another to lay followers. In one sense all Buddhists are courageous warriors. They do g fi ht, but not with weapons and bombs. They do kill, but not innocent men, women and children. With whom and with what do they g fi ht? Whom do they mercilessly kill? They g fi ht with themselves, for man is the worst enemy of man. Mind is his worst foe and best friend. Ruthlessly they kill the passions of lust, hatred and ignorance that reside in this mind by morality, concentration and wisdom. Those who prefer to battle with passions alone in solitude are perfectly free to do so. Bhikkhus who live in seclusion are noteworthy examples. To those contended ones, solitude is happiness. Those who seek delight in battling with life’s prob- lems living in the world and thus make a happy world where men can live as ideal citizens in perfect peace and harmony, can adopt that responsibility and that arduous course. Man is not meant for Buddhism. But Buddhism is meant for man. According to Buddhism, it should be stated that neither wealth nor poverty, if rightly viewed, can be an obstacle towards being an ideal Buddhist. Anāthapindika, the Buddha’s best supporter, was a millionaire. Ghatikāra, who was regarded even better ixthan a king, was a penniless potter. As Buddhism appeals to both the rich and the poor it appeals equally to the masses and the intelligentsia. The common folk are attracted by the devotional side of Buddhism and its simpler ethics while the intellectuals are fas- cinated by the deeper teachings and mental culture. A casual visitor to a Buddhist country, who enters a Bud- dhist temple for the first time, might get the wrong impression that Buddhism is confined to rites and ceremonies and is a su - perstitious religion which countenances worship of images and trees. Buddhism, being tolerant, does not totally denounce such external forms of reverence as they are necessary for the masses. One can see with what devotion they perform such religious cere- monies. Their faith is increased thereby. Buddhists kneel before the image and pay their respects to what that image represents. Understanding Buddhists ree fl ct on the virtues of the Buddha. They seek not worldly or spiritual favours from the image. The Bodhi-tree, on the other hand, is the symbol of enlightenment. What the Buddha expects from His adherents are not these forms of obeisance but the actual observance of His Teachings. “He who practises my teaching best, reveres me most”, is the advice of the Buddha. An understanding Buddhist can practise the Dhamma with- out external forms of homage. To follow the Noble Eightfold Path neither temples nor images are absolutely necessary. Is it correct to say that Buddhism is absolutely otherworldly although Buddhism posits a series of past and future lives and an indefinite number of habitable planes? The object of the Buddha’s mission was to deliver beings from xsuffering by eradicating its cause and to teach a way to put an end to both birth and death if one wishes to do so. Inciden- tally, however, the Buddha has expounded discourses which tend to worldly progress. Both material and spiritual progress are essential for the development of a nation. One should not be separated from the other, nor should material progress be achieved by sacric fi ing spiritual progress as is to be witnessed today amongst materialistic-minded nations in the world. It is the duty of respective Governments and philanthropic bodies to cater for the material development of the people and provide congenial conditions, while religions like Buddhism, in par- ticular, cater for the moral advancement to make people ideal citizens. Buddhism goes counter to most religions in striking the Middle Way and in making its Teaching homocentric in contra- distinction to theocentric creeds. As such Buddhism is introvert and is concerned with individual emancipation. The Dhamma has to be realized by oneself (sanditthiko). As a rule, the expected ultimate goal of the majority of mankind is either nihilism or eternalism. Materialists believe in complete annihilation after death. According to some religions the goal is to be achieved in an after-life, in eternal union either with an Almighty Being or an inexplicable force which, in other words, is one form of eternalism. Buddhism advocates the middle path. Its goal is neither nihil- ism, for there is nothing permanent to annihilate nor eternal- ism, for there is no permanent soul to eternalize. The Buddhist goal can be achieved in this life itself. xiWhat happens to the Arahant after death? This is a subtle and difficult question to be answered as Nibbāna is a supramun - dane state that cannot be expressed by words and is beyond space and time. Strictly speaking, there exists a Nibbāna but no person to attain Nibbāna. The Buddha says it is not right to state that an Arahant exists nor does not exist after death. If, for in- stance, a fire burns and is extinguished, one cannot say that it went to any of the four directions. When no more fuel is added, it ceases to burn. The Buddha cites this illustration of fire and adds that the question is wrongly put. One may be confused. But, it is not surprising. Here is an appropriate illustration by a modern scientist. Robert Oppenheimer writes: “If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the elec- tron remains the same, we must say ‘no’; if we ask whether the electron’s position changes with time, we must say ‘no’; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say ‘no’; if we ask whether it is in action, we must say ‘no’. “The Buddha had given such answers when interrogated as to the condition of man’s self after death, but they are not familiar th th answers from the tradition of the 17 and 18 century science.” Evidently the learned writer is referring to the state of an Arahant after death. What is the use of attaining such a state? Why should we negate existence? Should we not affirm existence for life is full of joy? These are not unexpected questions. They are the typical questions of persons who either desire to enjoy life or to work for humanity, facing responsibilities and undergoing suffering. To the former, a Buddhist would say:— you may if you like, but be not slaves to worldly pleasures which are e fl eting and il - xiilusory; whether you like it or not, you will have to reap what you sow. To the latter a Buddhist might say:— by all means work for the weal of humanity and seek pleasure in altruistic service. Buddhism offers the goal of Nibbāna to those who need it, and is not forced on any. “Come and see”, advises the Buddha. Till the ultimate goal is achieved a Buddhist is expected to lead a noble and useful life. Buddhism possesses an excellent code of morals suitable to both advanced and unadvanced types of individuals. They are: (a) The five Precepts – not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie, and not to take intoxicating liquor. (b) The four Sublime States (Brahma-Vihāra): Loving- kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. (c) The ten Transcendental virtues (Pāramitā):— generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, resolution, loving-kindness, and equanimity. (d) The Noble Eightfold Path: Right understanding, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Those who aspire to attain Arahantship at the earliest possible opportunity may contemplate on the exhortation given to Vener- able Rāhula by the Buddha namely, “This body is not mine; this am I not; this is not my soul” (N’etam mama, n’eso’ hamasmi, na me so attā). xiiiIt should be humbly stated that this book is not intended for scholars but students who wish to understand the life of the Buddha and His fundamental teachings. The original edition of this book first appeared in 1942. The second one, a revised and enlarged edition with many addi- tions and modic fi ations, was published in Saigon in 1964 with voluntary contributions from my devout Vietnamese support- ers. In the present one, I have added two more chapters and an appendix with some important Suttas. It gives me pleasure to state that a Vietnamese translation of this book by Mr. Pham Kim Khanh (Sunanda) was also pub- lished in Saigon. In preparing this volume I have made use of the transla- tions of the Pāli Text Society and several works written by Bud- dhists and non-Buddhists. At times I may have merely echoed their authentic views and even used their appropriate wording. Wherever possible I have acknowledged the source. I am extremely grateful to the late Mr. V. F. Gunaratna who, amidst his multifarious duties as Public Trustee of Ceylon, very carefully revised and edited the whole manuscript with ut- most precision and great faith. Though an onerous task, it was a labour of love to him since he was an ideal practising Buddhist, well versed in the Buddha-Dhamma. My thanks are due to generous devotees for their voluntary contributions, to Mrs. Coralie La Brooy and Miss Ranjani Goone- tilleke for correcting the proofs and also to the Associated News- papers of Ceylon Ltd. for printing the book with great care. Nārada. 14th July, 2522–1980. Vajirārāma, Colombo 5. Sri Lanka. xivVenerable Nārada Mahāthera The Buddha Chapter 1 From Birth to Renunciation “A unique Being, an extraordinary Man arises in this world for the benet fi of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benet fi , and happiness of gods and men. Who is this Unique Being? It is the Tathāgata, the Exalted, Fully En- lightened One.” – Anguttara Nikāya. Pt. I, XIII P. 22. Birth 1 2 On the full moon day of May, in the year 623 b.c. there was 3 4 born in the Lumbini Park at Kapilavatthu, on the Indian bor- ders of present Nepal, a noble prince who was destined to be the greatest religious teacher of the world. 5 6 His father was King Suddhodana of the aristocratic Sākya 1. Corresponding to Pāli Vesākha, Samskrit – Vaisākha, and Simhala Vesak. 2. Unlike the Christian Era the Buddha Era is reckoned from the death of the th Buddha, which occurred in 543 b.c. (in His 80 year), and not from His birth. . A pillar, erected at this sacred spot by King Asoka, still stands to this day to commemorate the event. 4. The site of Kapilavatthu has been identie fi d with Bhuila (Bhulya) in the Basti district, three miles from the Bengal and N. W. Railway station of Babuan. . See the genealogical table. 6. Gotama is the family name, and Sākya is the name of the race to which the Buddha belonged. Tradition holds that the sons of King Okkāka of the Mahāsammata line, were exiled through the plotting of their step-mother. These princes, in the course of their wanderings, arrived at the foothills of the Himalayas. Here they met the sage Kapila, on whose advice, and after whom, they founded the city of Kapi- lavatthu, the site of Kapila. 1clan and his mother was Queen Mahā Māyā. As the beloved mother died seven days after his birth, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami, her younger sister, who was also married to the King, adopted the child, entrusting her own son, Nanda, to the care of the nurses. Great were the rejoicings of the people over the birth of this illustrious prince. An ascetic of high spiritual attain- ments, named Asita, also known as Kāladevala, was particu- larly pleased to hear this happy news, and being a tutor of the King, visited the palace to see the Royal babe. The King, who felt honoured by his unexpected visit, carried the child up to him in order to make the child pay him due reverence, but, to the surprise of all, the child’s legs turned and rested on the matted locks of the ascetic. Instantly, the ascetic rose from his seat and, foreseeing with his supernormal vision the child’s 7 future greatness, saluted him with clasped hands. The Royal father did likewise. The great ascetic smiled at first and then was sad. Ques - tioned regarding his mingled feelings, he answered that he smiled because the prince would eventually become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and he was sad because he would not be able to benet fi by the superior wisdom of the Enlightened One owing to his prior death and rebirth in a Formless Plane 8 (Arūpaloka). King Okkāka, hearing of the enterprise of the princes, exclaimed – “Sakyā­ vata bho rājakumārā – Capable, indeed, are the noble princes.” Hence the race and the kingdom they originated were known by the name Sākya. The Sākya kingdom was situated in South Nepal and extended over much of modern Oudh. See E. J. Thomas, Life of Buddha, p. 6. 7. See Warren, Buddhism in Translations, p. 49 and Jātaka Commentary. On Asita’s advice his nephew Nālaka renounced the world and when the prince, as expected, attained Buddhahood, he heard His teaching and became an Arahant. See Nālaka Sutta, Sutta Nipata, p. 11. 8. Arūpalokas are immaterial planes where those who have developed the Arūpa 2Naming Ceremony On the fifth day after the prince’s birth he was named Sid- dhattha which means “wish fulfilled”. His family name was 9 Gotama. In accordance with the ancient Indian custom many learned brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony. Amongst them there were eight distinguished men. Examin- ing the characteristic marks of the child, seven of them raised two fingers each, indicative of two alternative possibilities, and said that he would either become a Universal Monarch or 10 a Buddha. But the youngest, Kondañña, who excelled others in wisdom, noticing the hair on the forehead turned to the right, raised only one finger and convincingly declared that the prince would definitely retire from the world and become a Buddha. Ploughing Festival A very remarkable incident took place in his childhood. It was an unprecedented spiritual experience which, later, during 11 his search after truth, served as a key to his Enlightenment. To promote agriculture, the King arranged for a plough- ing festival. It was indeed a festive occasion for all, as both no- bles and commoners decked in their best attire, participated in the ceremony. On the appointed day, the King, accompa- nied by his courtiers, went to the e fi ld, taking with him the young prince together with the nurses. Placing the child on a Jhānas (Absorptions or Ecstasies) are born. 9. Samskrit – Siddhārtha Gautama. 10. Hearing that Prince Siddhattha renounced the world, this Kondañña and four sons of the other seven brahmins retired from the world and joined him as his followers. These were the first v fi e Chief Disciples of the Buddha. See Ch. VI. 11. See Majjhima Nikāya, Mahā Saccaka Sutta-No. 36. 3screened and canopied couch under the cool shade of a soli- tary rose-apple tree to be watched by the nurses, the King par- ticipated in the ploughing festival. When the festival was at its height of gaiety the nurses too stole away from the prince’s presence to catch a glimpse of the wonderful spectacle. In striking contrast to the mirth and merriment of the festi- val it was all calm and quiet under the rose-apple tree. All the conditions conducive to quiet meditation being there, the pen- sive child, young in years but old in wisdom, sat cross-legged and seized the opportunity to commence that all-important practice of intent concentration on the breath – on exhalations and inhalations – which gained for him then and there that one pointedness of mind known as Samādhi and he thus de- 12 veloped the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). The child’s nurses, who had abandoned their precious charge to enjoy themselves at the festival, suddenly realizing their duty, hastened to the child and were amazed to see him sitting cross-legged plunged in deep meditation. The King hearing of it, hurried to the spot and, seeing the child in meditative posture, saluted him, say- ing – “This, dear child, is my second obeisance”. Education As a Royal child, Prince Siddhattha must have received an edu- cation that became a prince although no details are given about it. As a scion of the warrior race he received special training in the art of warfare. Married Life At the early age of sixteen, he married his beautiful cousin 1 Princess Yasodharā who was of equal age. For nearly thirteen 12. Jhāna – a developed state of consciousness gained by concentration. 1. Also known as Bhaddakaccānā, Bimbā, Rāhulamātā. 4years, after his happy marriage, he led a luxurious life, bliss- fully ignorant of the vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates. Of his luxurious life as prince, he states: “I was delicate, excessively delicate. In my father’s dwelling three lotus­ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed in one, red in another, and white in another. I used no sandal­wood 14 that was not of Kāsi. My turban, tunic, dress and cloak, were all from Kāsi. “Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not be touched by heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew. “There were three palaces built for me – one for the cold season, one for the hot season, and one for the rainy season. During the four rainy months, I lived in the palace for the rainy season without ever coming down from it, entertained all the while by female mu- sicians. Just as, in the houses of others, food from the husks of rice together with sour gruel is given to the slaves and workmen, even so, in my father’s dwelling, food with rice and meat was given to 1 the slaves and workmen.” With the march of time, truth gradually dawned upon him. His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not per- mit him to spend his time in the mere enjoyment of the e fl et - ing pleasures of the Royal palace. He knew no personal grief but he felt a deep pity for suffering humanity. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he realized the universality of sorrow. Renunciation Prince Siddhattha ree fl cted thus: “Why do I, being subject to birth, decay, disease, death, sorrow and impurities, thus search after things of like nature. How, if I, 14. A province in Central India noted for silk. Modern Benares was its capital. 1. Anguttara Nikāya, part I, p. 14; Gradual Sayings, part I p. 128. 5who am subject to things of such nature, realize their disadvantages and seek after the unattained, unsurpassed, perfect security which 16 is Nibbāna” “Cramped and confined is household life, a den of dust, but the life of the homeless one is as the open air of heaven Hard is it for him who bides at home to live out as it should be lived 17 the Holy Life in all its perfection, in all its purity.” One glorious day as he went out of the palace to the pleas- ure park to see the world outside, he came in direct contact with the stark realities of life. Within the narrow confines of the palace he saw only the rosy side of life, but the dark side, the common lot of mankind, was purposely veiled from him. What was mentally conceived, he, for the first time, vividly saw in reality. On his way to the park his observant eyes met the strange sights of a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a 18 corpse and a dignie fi d hermit. The first three sights convinc - ingly proved to him, the inexorable nature of life, and the uni- versal ailment of humanity. The fourth signie fi d the means to overcome the ills of life and to attain calm and peace. These four unexpected sights served to increase the urge in him to loathe and renounce the world. Realizing the worthlessness of sensual pleasures, so highly prized by the worldling, and appreciating the value of renun- ciation in which the wise seek delight, he decided to leave the world in search of Truth and Eternal Peace. When this final decision was taken after much delibera - tion, the news of the birth of a son was conveyed to him while he was about to leave the park. Contrary to expectations, he was not overjoyed, but regarded his first and only offspring as 16. Majjhima Nikāya. Part 1, Ariyapariyesana Sutta No.26, p. 16. 17. Majjhima Nikāya, Part 1, Mahā Saccaka Sutta, No. 36 18. “Seeing the four signs, I set out on horse-back…” Buddhavamsa, XXVI, p. 65. 6