LESSONS FROM THE BUDDHA: The Key To Happiness Is Simplicity!

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By Zile Singh

 

Buddha Purnima will be celebrated tomorrow, April 29 throughout the world.

Siddhartha Gautam was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 B.C.  At 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings, religions and philosophies available at that time to find the key to human happiness.  After six years of study and meditation, he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened  (One Who is Awake).   After Enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism – called the Dhamma, or Truth – until his Prinirvana, in 483 BC, at the age of 80.

Buddha was asked,  What have you gained from meditation? He replied “NOTHING”.  However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”

Buddha is  the apostle of logic, reason, equality, liberty, fraternity, love and compassion.  He, to start with,   preached in  the northern parts of  India  almost 500 years before the Christ, and   over the time, he became the “Light of Asia” and finally his Dhamma  spread like a wildfire in the western hemisphere. In the West, his teachings are like the ‘ New Testament’.  Today, there is a clear and consistent demand for the life and teachings of the Buddha all over the world. His Dhamma is  not in search of God but  is in search of human Happiness.

After attaining Enlightenment on the Vaishak Purnima in 588 B.C. the Buddha taught the Dhamma for 45 years by the discourse on the truth of suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the true path leading to the cessation of sufferings.   His Dhamma differed fundamentally from what was called ‘Religion’ at that time. It is  based on a doctrine which is rationally possible.  In no other religion, the values of knowledge and evil of ignorance are so much insisted upon as they are in Buddhism.  Buddhism has the glory of judging rightly the capability of man to work out his salvation without any outside aid or assistance. According to the Buddha,   ( The Blessed One),   the human misery is caused by the stupidity of blind faith without any stress on knowledge.  The Dhamma exalted the human consciousness to the highest pinnacle of wisdom,  love, compassion and liberty.

Long before Pythagoras, the rationalist ( 570 BC –  490 BC ) and after that for centuries, men have sought to know what Buddha called “equanimity”, what Epicurus called “tranquility” and what the poet Whittier called “the harvest song of inward peace.”  Pythagoras, besides being a mathematician, was a philosopher of non-violence and logic. He talked about the more insidious form of violence called the structural violence, which kills people slowly by depriving them of basic needs.  He was the father of western rational philosophy like the Buddha in the east.   The verdict of the Buddha is that “nothing can bring you peace but yourself.  No one can give you the gift of a serene mind, a calm and tranquil way of life but yourself.   It is something you must develop for yourself with the help of yourself.”  Buddha’s Dhamma, for the first time, placed the man and his actions above everything. The God, the Priest, the dogmas, rites, rituals and all blind  faiths were pushed away  in the background.  The   Buddhist philosophy, in brief is: –  the Four Noble Truths- the  suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of sufferings and the true path leading to the cessation of sufferings;  The  Eightfold Path – right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right Samadhi, and  the Five Precepts –  no killing, no stealing, no lying, no intoxication and no undue sex.

Buddhism is becoming popular in the western countries for a number of reasons.  The first good reason is that Buddhism has answers to many problems in the modern materialistic societies.  It also includes a deep understanding of the human mind.  It is tolerant of all other beliefs and religions.  Buddhism goes further by providing a long- term purpose of our existence, through wisdom and true understanding.  Buddhism has never tried to convert people.  It only preaches and leaves the decision to the individual.  It depends more on understanding than on faith.  The Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teachings rather than accept his words as true.

Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha by completely purifying his mind of all faults and delusions such as hatred, greed and ignorance.  By applying the appropriate methods these vices can be completely eliminated and one can experience the supreme happiness and enlightenment.

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”- The Buddha.

The three jewels of Buddhism are: Buddham Sharnam Gachhami. Dhammam Sharnam Gachhami and Shangham Sharnam Gacchami.

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at [email protected] .