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【转】The Buddha

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发表于 2010-12-25 16:41:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
John M. Koller

Who is the Buddha? This is thefirst question to be raised as we begin our examination of the “three jewels.” [sup]1[/sup]

The Three Buddas

To understand the place of the Buddha in Buddhism, we must make some initial distinctions, for the Buddha is simultaneously three beings. First, he is the historical person Siddhartha Gautama[sup]2[/sup]. Second,he is the ultimate spiritual reality that residesin all beings as their hidden perfection. Third, he is both the historical person and the ultimate spiritual realityincarnate,for Siddhartha embodied the ultimate spiritualreality of existence awakened through innumerable lifetimes of spiritual effort.[sup]3[/sup]Thus, although only a particular embodiment of the ultimate spiritual reality, the Buddha (Enlightened One) is not simply the historical son of King Suddhodana andQueen Maya[sup]4[/sup] .
While the historical Siddhartha is shown to be awise and compassionate person, the legends of the Buddha attempt to reveal the enlightened realityincarnate in this person. But history and legend cannot be neatly separated, for Siddhartha Gautama is both the historicalperson and the enlightenment reality.
As the enlightenment reality, the ultimatespiritual reality residing within all beings as their hid­den perfection, the Buddha is capable of being manifestedinnumerable times in innumerable forms.[sup]5 [/sup]Mahayana stresses this in its recognition that weare all Buddhas already and that the “achievement” of Buddhahood is simply theawakening to the fullness of our existence, which for most of us is dormant and hidden. Theravada stresses the same thing in its insistencethat we can achieve enlightenment through our own effortsthat we are our own best refuge.[sup]6[/sup]
Thus, it is not the historical Siddhartha, limited to a certain physical body and mind, thatis of primary interest to the Buddhist, but this historical person as glorified by the indwelling enlightenmentreality as emphasized in Mahayana, or this historical person as embodying the enlightenment reality asemphasized within Theravada.[sup]7[/sup] Consequently, in ourefforts to see the historical Siddhartha Gautama, born in about 560 B.C. in northeastern India, we must bear in mind that for Buddhists he isalso the enlightenment reality.
The Historical Buddha. The strictly historical information about Siddhartha is distressinglyscant. His father, Suddhodna, was the ruler of the small Sakya republic in northern India, and hismother was Maya, from Devadaha. At about age sixteen he was married to the princess Yasodhara, with whomhe shared his life of luxury in his father's palace. Their only child, Rahula, was born about twelve years later, shortlybefore Siddhartha, distressed byand filled with compassion for the suffering beings he encountered, took up an ascetic's life in search of a way to eliminate suffering.[sup]8[/sup]
After six years of severe asceticism and studying with the most renownedreligious teachers of his day, Siddhartharejected the ascetic way, just as earlierhe had rejected the way of pleasure. Resolved toavoid these extremes, he forged hisown way of conduct and contemplation, achieving, at agethirty-five, the illumination that was to mark him as the Buddha (TheEnlightened) from that dayforth.[sup]9 [/sup]Shortly after his enlightenment, he preached his first sermon at the deer park near Banaras. For the nextforty-five years he taught all who would listen, sharing his insights and wisdom equally with men and women, outcasts and brahmana, rich and poor. He died at age eightyof foodpoisoning, accord­ing tomany accountsat Kusinara[sup]10[/sup].
Even this brief account goes slightly beyond the strictly historicalknowledge we have, drawing upon universally accepted legends. But these legends are more important to a Buddhist than is the strictlyhistorical information, for in legend itis possible to represent features of the universal reality of enlightenmentthat the Buddha embodied. The legendary Buddha is more than simply a wise historical person; he isa person who embodies the very essence of enlightenment and whose teaching iscapable of awakening in all of us the same enlightenment that made him the Buddha. Although this feature of Buddhism becomes more pronounced in the later, Mahayana, forms ofBuddhism, it is clearlypresent from the beginning, and is an important part of Theravada Buddhism aswell.[sup]11[/sup]
It is important to notethat, although the Buddhists regard the Buddha as enlightenment incar­nate, they do not think of him asa God, and of course, he never claimedto be anything more than a human being. But in his humannessas in oursthere is a deep and wonderful fullness, which can become the basis for a new life when we are awakened to it.[sup]12[/sup] It is this overcoming of the shallowness of ego existencean existence that reveals itself in the grasping for new being and theclinging to old being that lies at the heart of human anxiety and sufferingthat the Buddha taught as the path to en­lightenment .[sup]13[/sup] Since the basis of this enlightenment is not something apart from ordifferent from our own being, Buddhists holdthat each one of us can achieve it if we will but follow the way of wisdom, pure conduct, and meditationtaught by the Buddha .[sup]1[/sup]

The Four Signs


The awakening of Siddhartha to the pervasiveness of suffering in theworld and the arousal of a deep compassion for the suffering of all beings aretouchingly depicted in the legend of the four signs recorded in theDigha Nikaya[sup]15[/sup].
According to this legend, at Siddharthas birth a wise old man had predicted that, when the child grew up and witnessed the breadth and depth of sufferingin the world, he wouldrenounce his father's kingdom, take up life as a recluse, and become enlightened. King Suddhodana, not wanting to lose his son in this way, arranged everything so that Siddhartha would never witness suffering inthe world. Every possibledelight was provided for the growing boy, and he was protected from the sights of evil, sickness, old age, anddeath. But one day the young prince persuaded the charioteer to take him for aride outside the palace grounds. There he saw an old man, “gnarled and bowed as a rafter, decrepit andsorely afflicted, long past hisprime, leaning on a staff, tottering as he walked.”[sup]16[/sup]
Shocked at this sight, Siddhartha askedhis driver what was wrong with this man:Why is he so different from the other men?” Upon being told that thiswas an old man and that this is what happens to people when they get old,Gautama could not understand, for he had no experience with old age. But when the driver explainedthat being old meant suffering, being nearly finished, and about to die, the young lord began to understand and becameincreasingly troubled.”Tell me, my good driver, am I too subject to old age?Have I not gotten past old age?”[sup]17[/sup] he asked.
“You, my lord, and wetoo, we are all of a kind to grow old. We have not gotten past old age,” replied the driver.
Shocked and horrified at the prospect of all people having to endurelife in the miserable condition of this decrepit old man, Siddhartha returnedto his palace. There he foundno relief or comfort in all the gaiety and delights surrounding him, for he now knew how temporary all this was, old age lay ahead for everyone.
Later, on a second ride outside the palace grounds, Siddhartha encountered “a sick man, suffer­ing and extremely ill. Having fallen down he was weltering in his own urine, being lifted up by some and being dressed by others.” Turning to his driver for an explanation of this distressing sight, he was informed that this man was ill, that illness comes to everyone, and that the suffering of illness is un­avoidable: “You, my lord, and we too, we are all subject to illness. We have not gotten past the reach of illness. “
Returning to his palace, Siddhartha reflected on this encounter with sickness, wondering how people could find pleasure in life when constantlythreatened with illness. Deeply troubled by these en­counters with old age and sickness, he got his first sight of death a few days later while driving to thepark. Observing alarge group of people constructing a funeral pyre, he asked his driver what they were doing. Upon being told that they were preparing to cremate a dead man, the young prince demanded to see the corpse. Shocked by the sight, he wanted toknow if this thing called death came to only some people or to everyone. His driver's answer was to the point: “You, my lord, and we too, we areall subject to death. We have notgotten past the reaches of death. When you die neither the king nor the queen, nor any of your relatives will ever see you again, nor will you see them.”
Going back to his palacethe Buddha-to-be again reflected on what he had witnessed. “Shame on this thingcalled birth, “ he thought tohimself, ‘‘for to one whois born comes decrepitness, disease and
death. “[sup]18[/sup]
Aware of his son's encounters with old age, disease, and death, King Suddhodana attempted to surround him with even more pleasures anddelights. But to no avail, for Siddhartha could not forget what he had witnessed, and the implications of suffering for life loomed larger and larger inhis reflec­tions.
Finally, many days later, he again persuaded his charioteer to take himfor a drive outside the palace grounds. Now he encountered a yellow-robedrecluse, with shaved headand a contented look. “What has this man done,he asked the driver, “that his headis unlike other men's heads and his clothes unlike those of others?”
Upon being told that the man shaved his head and wore the yellow robebecause he had become a recluse, having gone forth from his home into a homeless condition, Siddhartha asked to be driven up to the recluse so he could question him. “What does it mean to have 'gone forth' to have become arecluse?” he asked the recluse.
“It means, my lord, being thorough in the religious life, being thoroughin the peaceful life, be­ing thorough in worthy conduct, being thorough in nonhurting, being thorough in kindness to all be­ings ,” came the reply.[sup]19[/sup]
So delighted was the young prince with the way of life of the reclusethat he too decided to take up this alternative life-style, directing hischarioteer to return to the palace without him, announcing that he would shavehis head and put on the yellow robe right then and there.
After this decision, most accounts agree that Siddhartha underwent intensive training in Yogaand took up a life of extreme asceticism. Seeking out the best teachers he could find, Siddhartha studied withboth Arada Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra, but discovered when he had achieved a level of yogic attainmentequivalent to theirs that he had not achieved the calm and peaceful conditionof nirvana wherein the passions of desire and aversion were extinguished.
To awaken the enlightenment being deep within human existence requiresconstant vigilance and untiring effort. The legends emphasize this by depicting the Buddha-to-be, who had spent untold pre­vious lifetimes in spiritual preparation forthis final enlightenment, as now undertaking the most ex­treme forms of asceticism. Finally, almost dead, he realized that extreme asceticism does not by itself lead toenlightenment and reflected that, even as the extreme of indulgence in pursuingthe world of desire should be avoided, so should the extreme of ascetic denial be avoided.[sup]20[/sup]
But the Buddha-to-be was not discouraged by the failure of his teachersor ascetic practice to re­veal a more profound level of existence free fromduhkha. Instead, he increased his resolve to continue his efforts. But in his recognition of asceticism as an extreme to be avoided he hadgained two very im­portant insights. First, the spirit cannot be liberated by torturing the body; for aperson is not two things, a soul or spirit trapped in a body, but a singleorganic whole of many dimensions. Second, happiness is notthe enemy of liberation or enlightenment.[sup]21[/sup] Contrary to the accepted opinion of the as­cetic community, there was nothing wrong with happiness. Indeed, happiness freefrom desire and tur­moil, free fromgrasping and clinging, is good andconducive to enlightenment. These insightsunderlie
his resolve to practice a middle way, avoiding the extremes of indulgence inpleasures and the denial of hapiness.

Temptatians and Enlightenment

The great resolve and effort required to rise above the conditionednessof an ego-centered existence is dramatically presented in the legends ofSiddhartha's temptations by Marathe personification of death and chief of demons. Knowing that fear of death and annihilation underlies the clinging toself that sustains ego-centered existence, Mara attempts to frighten Siddhartha, threatening him with the most dreadful forces and weapons imaginable.[sup]22[/sup] But having overcome all ego attachment, fear found no foothold in the Buddha-to-be, so Mara turned to desire to topple the Buddha's resolve. Knowing thatdesire, the grasping for ego through pleasures, nourishes the illusion of self, Mara presented Siddhartha with the mostdelightful and tempting of pleasures, attempting toseduce him with the attrac­tions of the world personified as beautiful nymphs.[sup]23[/sup] But again, having overcomeall attachments to ego, Siddhartha was untouched by lust and desire, and Mara was forced to withdraw in defeat.
Now, the legend continues, free from temptation, strong in resolve, and calm, the Buddha-to-be entered deeper and deeper into meditation. During the evening of the May full moon (525 B.C. ), he achievedinsight into all his former existences, seeing how they were conditioned by previous exist­ence and how theyconditioned succeeding existence.[sup]24[/sup] As the night wore on, this insightdeepened and he was able to penetrate the mysteries of the birth-death process. He became aware of the conditioned­ness of all existence and realizedthat wholesome conduct leads to happiness and unwholesome conduct to suffering.[sup]25[/sup] During the early hours of the morning his meditation deepened and hisinsight increased even further. Now he saw how the terrible suffering that wastes human life is causedand how it can be eliminated, recognizing thefourfold noble truth that was to become the basis of his teaching. This four­fold truth declares (1) that suffering exists, (2) that it depends on certain conditions, (3) that these conditions can be removed, and (4) that the way toremove these conditions is to practice the eightfold way.But this illumination left Siddhartha Gautamanow the Buddhawith a dilemma: witnessing the suffering of all existence awakened a great compassionthat moved him to reach out and help his fellow beings. But this awakening had been so difficult to achieve, and the truths it revealed were so pro­found ,that he did not see how it could be put into words and made intelligibleto anyone not having the experience.
Legend says that initially he felt that what he had realized could notbe taught, and that he re­solvedto say nothing, lest he bemisunderstood. But eventuallyhis compassion overcame this initial re­luctance and after forty-nine days heset in motion the “wheel of teaching' by preaching his first ser­mon.
For the next forty-five years his compassion and wisdom were expressedin his teaching and exam­ple and the organization of the Buddhist community. This deep sense of compassionof wanting tohelp all living beings progress toward enlightenment and to eliminate sufferingis the single most im­portant factor in the development and spread ofBuddhism from a small band of followers of the Sakyamuni to a world religion oftremendous cultural, spiritual, and philosophical importance.[sup]27[/sup]
This ideal of compassion is embodied in the ideal of the Bodhisattva. Literally, a Bodhisattva isa being whose essence is shining enlightenment. The Bodhisattva ideal embodies the Buddha' s compas­sion and encompasses the resolve not to cease, even for a moment, ones effort to help all beings to nirvana. This ideal came to dominate Mahayana Buddhism, even as the ideal of individual liberation dominated the Theravadatradition. The ideal ofindividual salvation is found in the Buddhas teach­ings accepted by bothMahayanists and Theravadinswhile the basisfor the Bodhisattva ideal is found in the example of the Buddha, to which Mahayana has given great emphasis.
But both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions embrace the Buddha as theperfect human be­ing, the embodiment of the teaching, of liberation and theincarnation of the enlightenment reality that constitutes the basis of allexistence. The refusal formany centuries to portray the Buddha in art or sculpture testifies to theacknowledged inexpressible grandeur of his enlightenment being and to theinexpressibility of the content of his enlightenment in ordinary formand also to the great reverence and respect held for the Buddha as theembodiment of the enlightenment reality.[sup]28[/sup] When artists did begin to render images of the Buddha, every effort was made to subordinate the human characteristics to thetranscendent reality of enlightenment being, thereby illuminating the teachings of the Buddha rather than hispsychophysical being.[sup]29[/sup]


转自【宗教学专业英语教程】Unit 3
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 楼主| 发表于 2010-12-25 16:48:35 | 显示全部楼层

【转】The Four Noble Truths

L. S. Cousins
The Four Noble Truths. The four truths are often referred to as the ariya or noble truths, because they bring one to true nobility—attained not by birth but by inner purification. They are traditionally explained by the simile of the physician. A doctor recognizes illness, diagnoses its cause, removes the cause and prescribes treatment to bring about health. The four truths apply the same method to the general human condition. But the matter is not quite as simple as that. In a famous passage the Bud¬dha reproves his attendant Ananda1 for suggesting that the Four Noble Truths are clear and easy to un¬derstand. Knowledge of the idea is not enough. Only a full and existential comprehension can bring about the hoped-for transformation. Hence the need for the right prior state. The four truths are not so much descriptive as prescriptive truth. The important thing is not that the universe is this way. Rather when the mind is suitably at peace, one should see things in this way in order permanently to change the mind for the better.2
1. The first truth is usually given as dukkha, or suffering, but other terms are sometimes substi¬tuted. For example, the first truth can be given as ‘the world’,the second as ‘the arising of the world’ and so on. In fact the first truth is meant to include most of ordinary human life. So the word ‘suffering’ must be interpreted with care.3 Even the most pleasurable experiences are dukkha . When life is described as suffering, it does not mean that pleasurable experiences are not pleasurable. It is simply that they remain subject to change and loss. By comparison with spiritual pleasures they are not satisfying. Indeed the human condition is unsatisfactory so long as it lacks the lasting harmony and bal¬ance of the mind which contacts the transcendent.4
Suffering is taught to arouse samvega. This is a kind of inner stirring and stimulation which moti¬vates the individual to spiritual effort and, if prevented by cheerfulness from turning to depression, leads to mental awakening.5 So the first truth is usually explained by the great shocks of life, birth, sickness, old age and death. In normal life it is these which arouse samvega, but it can be the result of a vision of the unending process of birth and death or of the transitoriness of things.
2. The second truth is the arising of suffering. The cause of suffering is ‘thirst' explained as craving for sense pleasure, for being and for nonbeing. Dukkha arises because we desire to have or control things, to experience in one way rather than another. We are dissatisfied with the way things are because we seek something different.6 This is a rather simplified explanation, albeit far-reaching. The full account of the second truth is given by the formula known as 'conditioned origination'7.
The history and interpretation of conditioned origination is a matter of much debate, but as far as later Buddhism is concerned, the basic principles are quite clear. Our present life and circumstances are largely due to past acts (kamma). These acts arose from ignorance of dhamma. They must then be distorted in some way and create distorted results.8 Even now we continue to try to force experience into a false mould, by our craving. So our likes and dislikes generate attachment and rejection, form¬ing a more or less fixed pattern made rigid by habitual desires and prejudices. These form the prison of our future. Yet understanding the nature of the process makes possible and escape from that prison.9
3.     The escape is nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana)10 for the Buddhist the supreme bliss and the final liberation. This is the ceasing of suffering, the third truth. Craving and ignorance are ended. Just as when the cause of disease is removed, the state of health returns, so when the cause of suffering is re¬moved nibbana ensues. The individual who reaches this final goal experiences great joy and happiness. All doubts and burdens are gone. His mind is free from prejudice and complication. He has a firm knowledge of freedom and liberation.
Many Western observers have seen something negative in nibbana as a goal. This seems perverse to the Buddhist, for whom nibbana is above all supreme happiness. The main schools of Indian Bud¬dhism agree that nibbana is not a mere negation. Rather it is the unconditioned dhamma, not express¬ible in spatial or temporal terms: knowledge of it dissolves ignorance and ends craving.11 The question of the subsequent fate of the individual who achieves the goal is often raised. This is an unanswered question. Such matters as the temporal and spatial extent of the universe and the precise relationship between living being and body are placed in the same category. The reason given for the Buddha’s si¬lence is practical: such matters are time-wasting and distracting; they do not conduce to the aim.12
It might seem that this could not apply to the spiritual goal itself, but in fact it is even more im¬portant here. Buddhism is a middle way between eternalism (belief in personal immortality) and annihilationism (belief that death is the final end) .13 If eternalism is a rigid view, motivated by craving and obstructing the path to liberation, it is counter-productive to describe the goal as if it were some permanent state of being. If annihilationism is another such view brought about by a different form of craving, then the opposite description is equally unhelpful. Buddhist teaching is primarily prescrip¬tive. There is no point in including in the prescription anything which will diminish the chances of health.14
4.    The fourth truth is the truth of the path leading to the ceasing of suffering: the eightfold ariya path (see Table on the next page)15. It is easy to see that the fourth truth includes a much wider range of Buddhist teachings about the spiritual path than just the eight factors. All these teachings should be seen as forming an intricate and harmonious whole which naturally tends and inclines towards the goal—‘just as whatever great rivers there be, all tend and incline towards the ocean’ .


Table The fourth  
  
The way can be divided into an ordinary and a transcendent path. The Buddhist path is not so much a series of stages or steps as a particular grouping of states of mind with the property of flowing naturally towards the goal.16 In the ordinary path they have not yet reached a full and harmonious bal¬ance. When they do, the mind transcends ordinary understanding and acquires direct knowledge of the unconditioned truth. It is this knowledge which brings permanent change and leads to freedom of heart and understanding.17
Buddhist meditation. Each of the four truths requires some activity. The first truth is to be fully comprehended. The second is to be abandoned. The third is to be made visible, while the fourth is to be brought into being.18 The four are symbolized (in three aspects) by a twelve-spoked wheel: the wheel of dhamma. No doubt this is intended to emphasize the interrelatedness of the truths.19 The ac¬tivity of the fourth truth is then bhavana, 'bringing into being', often rendered as ‘ meditation'. What is meant is the bringing into being of the path and the training necessary for this. Two types of bha¬vana exist, based upon calm and insight respectively.
The normative method is to take calm or samatha as one's vehicle ( yana) and seek first to de¬velop the higher states of consciousness which lead to the Brahma realms. The samatha meditator tries to purify his mind from distractions and hindrances in order to reach mental absorption of a very subtle kind in one of the four meditations or jhanas .20 This could then be developed to the fourth jhana which is the basis for even subtler states or for various psychic abilities. Eventually he must turn to the devel¬opment of insight in order to achieve the balance necessary for the transcendent path.
The alternative is to take insight or vipassana as one's vehicle. This was at one time unusual, but recent years have seen a strong revival of insight meditation, especially in Burma. This needs a special type of self-observation which remains slightly detached in order to avoid interfering with the natural flow of mental and physical phenomena,1 With clarity and alertness, greater awareness of men¬tal and physical events and processes will arise. This leads to experiential knowledge of the four truths. Ultimately a poised and equable state of great understanding will be constantly present. Now the mind will naturally tend towards stillness and great inner peace, bringing about the necessary balance of samatha and vipassana.
Such a balance completes the ordinary path and the transcendent path will arise when conditions are appropriate. At the moment of its arising there is contact with the truth which is not a product of causes or conditions: the ariya dhamma. The meditator attains the stage known as ‘stream-entry'. He is freed from doubt and superstitious religious practice, as well as from identification with the body.22 He has joined the family of the Buddha and won through to the ariya lineage. He cannot be reborn in the four descents nor break his observance of the precepts. A permanent change has occurred and henceforth he will always tend towards the final goal. The stream-enterer may train his mind to experi¬ence at will the transcendent attainment and can seek to unite it with his every action. He is now an ariya, noble by purification and within seven lives will attain the final and highest state of the ara- hat.23 In Southern Buddhism the arahat is a rare and lofty ideal man, who has attained the goal of ending every kind of mental defilement. He has done all that is to be done. He is the full embodiment of the ariya path—his actions accord fully with the needs of the situation.

转自【宗教学专业英语教程】Unit 4
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