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Buddhism

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Autor:   •  September 27, 2010  •  1,237 Words (5 Pages)  •  541 Views

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The origin, traditional Buddhism began in the 6th century BC with the historical personage born Siddhartha Gautama, but better known by a variety of titles including Shakyammi, Tathagata, or most commonly Buddha, the enlightened one. The legend of the Buddha's life has acquired plenty of variations and embellishments over the years, but the basic facts are accepted as traditional, including the dates of his birth and death (563-489 BC by Western reckoning, 624-544 according to Sri Lankan tradition). The story of Buddha's birth is encrusted with myth and fable as that of any God-figure in human history. For instance, he is said to have issued from his mother's womb stating that his cycle of rebirths was about to end. Again, some Buddhists devoutly accept the fables as we in the west accept Christmas narratives, while others choose to focus on the truths beneath the myths.

We do know with some certainty that the Buddha was born to a royal family in northern India, in the foothills of what is now Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama led a sheltered existence in the court of his father, Shuddhodana, the king of the Shakya clan, who shielded him from any knowledge of human suffering or religions of the time. Soon after his birth a soothsayer named Asita predicted that he would become either the emperor of all India or if the "Four Passing Sights" should come to pass he would renounced the world and would become the greatest spiritual leader the world has ever known. Shuddhodana, Gautama, a member of the warrior-ruler caste, preferred the royal vocation and provided his son with three palaces located so that his son would not experience the dramatic seasonal changes. He placed at his son disposal anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 dancing girls to keep his mind firmly rooted in the "real" world. He also gave orders that his son should never see the sick, the aged, dead bodies, and nor should a monk be allowed near his son. But, as so often happens when manipulative fathers groom their sons to take over the family business, Siddhartha rebelled. At 16 he married a beautiful young princess named Yasodhara, by whom he fathered a son, Rahula.

Over the ensuing years Gautama, was shielded from the facts of the real world. But legend states the gods intervened with what is now called the "Four Passing Sights." In essence, the many variants of this story run something like this. Gautama is either riding or being driven along the roads of his fathered lands when on successive days he first catches site of an ancient man frail with age, representing the miserable close of every man's life. The next day he encounters a man covered with repulsive sores and shaking with illness, so he may know how physical illness and misery may attend man all the days of his life. On the third day he sees the body of a dead man, which teaches him the dreadful fact of death and his limited time in this world. These three sights robbed him of all peace of mind. (It is a fact, and perhaps the legend is based upon it, that in one of the oldest passages in the Buddhist writings he is reported as saying: "I also am subject to decay and am not free from the power of old age, sickness and death. Is it right that I should feel horror, repulsion and disgust when I see another in such plight? And when I reflected thus to my disciples, all the joy of life which there is in life died within me.")

The prince remained distraught throughout the remainder of that day pondering these revelations. On the fourth day he befriended a calm ascetic walking toward him as he traveled the road. From this person, who had gained true peace of soul, he learned how freedom from the miseries of old age, disease, and death may be won. His father sensing his son's troubled thoughts over the past few days decided to hold a great feast in Gautama honor, something to sway his son back to the path chosen for him at birth, but Gautama surveying the scene of debauchery was revolted by its apparent meaninglessness. After the feast when he was awake, alone, and sober he decided it was time to renounce his present life and to seek his own way in the world. So later that night, he bided his wife and son goodbye and set out on a six year quest, searching for an end to life suffering, its true meaning. At the beginning Gautama was anxious not to reject the prevalent Brahmin philosophy until he had tested it for himself.

So, for awhile,

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