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转载--Life of the Buddha  (four)

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发表于 2010-5-13 16:18:27 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Life of the Buddha  (four)



[media=wmv,400,300,0] http://www.szchan.com/music/mp3/GuanYinPuSaRuQiuYue.mp3 [/media]                    Life of the Buddha

By Ven.Dr.C.Phangcham

  A long time ago in the country called Nepal, there was a kingdom called Sakya. Kapilavatthu was its capital.  The King's name was Suddhodana Gotama. He belonged to the Gotama clan.

  The King had a beautiful wife whose name was Queen Mahamaya. On the full moon day of June (the sixth lunar month which we call Visakha), she gave birth to a son under the Sala trees in a beautiful park called Lumbini. The King named his son Siddhatta.

  S1DDHATTHA never knew his real mother because she died seven days after his birth. "SIDDHATFHA was raised by his aunt Mahapajapati who was also his stepmother. During his early years he lived happily with his family surrounded with luxury and comforts.

  At the age of sixteen, he married beautiful Princess, Yasodhara, generally known, as Bimba, who was his own cousin. They lived a happy married life for the next thirteen years, and during that time Princess Yasodhara gave birth to a son who was named Rahula.

  One day during Siddhattha's trip to the Royal Gardens, he saw four things that made him very thoughtful about life. He saw an old man, a sick person, a dead body, and a Brahmin monk, ascetic. Only the monk gave him any comfort.

  He realized that even luxurious life could not bring him real happiness, and that he could not be really happy while other people were suffering. He then wanted to find real happiness, the happiness that all people could share.

  When he was twenty-nine years old, on a quiet night, the prince left his palace, his wealth, his wife, and his lovely son. He became a monk and spent the next six years studying with many Brahmin teachers and practicing extreme self-denial in the forest.

  Finally he found that all those other teachers did not know how to find the truth, and that extreme self-denial was useless. He then left those teachers. Having found out that world wealth did not bring him the truth and that extreme self-denial did not bring him the truth, he decided to try a path between the two, which we call the Middle Way.

  Six years after becoming a homeless monk, while sitting under the Bodhi Tree on the full moon night of May (Visakha the sixth lunar month) he meditated deeply. He reached the real happiness he sought, he attained the truth by his own efforts. This real happiness is called the Enlightenment. From that time on he was known as the Buddha which means the Enlightened One or the Awakened One. The Buddha found out the truth of life. He found that life is full of problems. He taught the people three principles of Buddhism to guide their thoughts and actions. These principles are as follows:

  Not to do any evil
  To do good deeds.
  To purify the mind.

  Two months after the Enlightenment, he began teaching the truth, which is called the Dhamma, to his followers. Many of his followers received real happiness after following his teachings. As time went on the number of his disciples increased rapidly. Since then, Buddhism has been f'n'mly established in India.

  The Buddha wandered over all of India, preaching the doctrines of real happiness to the people for forty-five years. At the age of eighty, the Buddha felt that his end was coming closer. He went to Kusinara, and there on the full moon day of Visakha month, under two Sala trees, he passed away. He left us with his most valuable and enduring teachings and the way to find real happiness.

  The Buddha's Mission

  First two lay disciples

  On the full moon of the night of May, while sitting in deep meditation under a Bodhi tree, at Gaya city, Eastern India, Siddhattha Gotama attained Enlightenment, real happiness, and became Buddha, the Awakened One. Two merchants called Tapussa and Bhallika passed by and seeing the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree, they offered him a meal of honey cakes.

  After eating the food, the Buddha talked to them about his new experience, and the two merchants became his first lay disciples, the first Buddhists. The Buddha, at the time of his enlightenment, was thirty-five years of age.

  The students may have a question in mind, "What is Enlightenment?" The answer is that enlightenment is the state of pure mind, The mind is free from ignorance, from hatred, .and from craving. The mind is in the state of being enlightened and comprehending u'uth.


  Firsl sermon and first monk disciple

  Now the Buddha was ready to begin his mission of teaching his doctrine to the people. He asked himself to whom should he first teach the Doctrine. His mind turned to his former teachers, namely, Alara Kalama and Uddhaka Rama. However, the two teachers had already died. He then recalled the five companions with whom he had lived before setting out to seek Enlightenment alone. They were still at Deer Park of Isipatana (near Benares City), about one hundred miles away. The Buddha went there. At Deer Park, he gave his First Sermon, during the Asalha month (full moon day of July). It was known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma or Truth.

  After the sermon, the five ascetics Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji realized the Eye of Dhamma, or Truth. Kondanna realized liberation first and asked for monkhood. The five ascetics became the first Noble Disciples of the Buddha.

  Missionary activity

  Early one morning, while the Buddha was sitting in Deer Park of Isipatana, a young man named Yasa, who was born into a wealthy family came nearby the Buddha and saw him. Upon hearing the Buddha's teaching, he realized that life was full of dissatisfaction, problems and troubles, and asked to become a monk to find real happiness.

  Soon after that, the Buddha converted Yasa's parents and wife to Buddhism. The Venerable Yasa had fifty-four lay friends. Having learned of Yasa's ordination, they agreed to follow him and were ordained into the Order. Within a few days, Yasa and his friends became Arahants (Enlightened monks).  The total number of Arahants was then sixty-one.

  Although he was about to pass away, when men came to him to be received into the Order, he accepted and gladdened them with a sermon on the Dhamma. Of those men, Subhadda, mendicant wanderer, a poor man, was the last one who was ordained by the Buddha. He realized Arahantship before the Buddha's death.

  On his death bed under the two Sala trees, on the full moon night of Visakha month (May), the Buddha said to his disciples:

  "O Bhikkhus, you will not be left without a Teacher, because the Doctrine and the Discipline I have taught and laid down for you shall be your Teacher when I am gone."

  He said again, "Decay is inherent in all component things! O Bhikkhus, work out your own salvation with diligence."

  These were the last words of the Enlightened One. His face shone as luminous gold. His mind ascended to the realms of ecstasy. He realized Nibbana, the Enlightenment and passed away from the eyes of human beings forever. His teachings have remained to guide us for all time. After the passing away of the Lord Buddha, his male and female disciples continued teaching the Dhamma to the people and maintain Buddhism to the present time.

  Buddhism after Buddha's Death

  The Story in Brief

  After the Buddha's death, his disciples continued to spread Buddhism far and wide. In the first century of the Buddhist Era, two Buddhist councils were held to protect and preserve the purity of Buddha's teachings.

  The First Council

  Tradition tells us that the First Council was held by 500 Arahants (saints or enlightened persons) at Rajagri (Rajagaha) city three months after the Buddha's death. The purpose of the Council was to fix the doctrine and the discipline as taught and laid down by the Buddha. The Council was headed by Venerable Maha Kassapa (Kassayapa), and with the sponsorship of King Ajatasattu of Magadh State. The events (meeting) lasted seven months.

  The Second Council

  One hundred years later, there occurred an important event which was a turning point in the history of Buddhism. At that time, a group of monks called Vajjiputta, at the town of Vesali, were lacking in discipline. The elders of the Order tried to correct their views and practices. They ignored the advice of the elders.

  As a result, 700 Arahants held the Second Council at Vesali to revise and confirm the Buddha's Dhamma. Buddhism, then, was divided into two schools of thought: Hinayana or Theravada, and Mahayana. The elders of the Council belonged to the Theravada school; meanwhile the Vajjiputta monks developed the Mahayana school.

  The third Council

  After declining for many years, Buddhism flourished again during the reign of King Ashoka of India (Third Century B.C.). To purge the undisciplined monks and preserve the pure teachings of the Buddha, the Third Council was held at Pataliputtra city. At' present, it is Pattana city, a Capital of the Bihar State of India. It was held under the leadership of Venerable Moggulliputta Tissa and under the sponsorship of King Ashoka, the Great. There were 1,000 Arahants participating in this Council.

  After the Council, nine missions of elders were sent by King Ashoka to preach the Dhamma in the different states of India and foreign countries. This was the first time that Buddhism had spread out of India. Buddhism went on to become one of the four great religions in the world along with Hinduism, ChristianitY, and Islam.

  At the present, there are two traditions of Buddhism namely:

  1. Theravada Buddhism and

  2. Mahayana Buddhism

  Theravada Buddhism was spread in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Presently this Buddhist practice is spreading in Australia, Europe, North America, and Canada. Mahayana Buddhism was spread to North India, Tibet, Mongolia, Soviet Union, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. This    Buddhist practice is also spreading in European and American countries including Canada.

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