At Lumbini Siddharthas mother was named Mahamaya. A woman of great virtue, her love extended to all beingspeople, animals, and plants. It was the custom in those days for a woman to return to her parents home to give birth there. Mahamaya was from the country of Koliya, so she set out for Ramagama, the capital of Koliya. Along the way, she stopped to rest in the garden of Lumbini.
Ashok Tree The forest there (at Lumbini) was filled with flowers and singing birds. Peacocks fanned their splendid tails in the morning light. Admiring an ashok tree in full bloom, the queen walked towards it, when suddenly, feeling unsteady, she grabbed a branch of the ashok tree to support her. Just a moment later, still holding the branch, Queen Mahamaya gave birth to a radiant son.
Mahamaya died After having attained sublime joy giving birth to Siddhartha, Queen Mahamaya died eight days later, and all the kingdom mourned her. King Suddhodana summoned her sister Mahapajapati and asked her to become the new queen. Mahapajapati, also known as Gotami, agreed, and she cared for Siddhartha as if he were her own son. As the boy grew older and asked about his real mother, he understood how much Gotami had loved her sister and how she more than anyone else in the world could love him as much as his own mother. Under Gotamis care, Siddhartha grew strong and healthy.
Carriage Ride at 29 Years of Age Old Person Sick Person Dead Person Yogi
The Gate of Renunciation Good bye to Kapilavatthu Yasodhara, Rahula
If I do not find the Way, I will not return to Kapilavatthu. [When twenty nine years old] He [Siddhartha] mounted Kanthaka, and Channa [Siddharthas long time friend and assistant] mounted his horse. They walked them to avoid making any loud noise. The guards were fast asleep, and they passed through the city gates easily. Once well beyond the city gates, Siddhartha turned for a last look at the capital [Kapilavatthu], now lying quietly beneath the moonlight. It was there that Siddhartha had been born and raised, the city where he had experienced so many joys and sorrows, so many anxieties and aspirations. In the same city now slept everyone close to himhis father, Gotami, Yasodhara [his wife], Rahula [his son], and all the others. He whispered to himself, If I do not find the Way, I will not return to Kapilavatthu. He turned his horse toward the south and Kanathaka broke into a full gallop.
Mindfulness Through mindfulness, Siddharthas mind, body, and breath were perfectly one. His practice of mindfulness had enabled him to build great powers of concentration which he could now use to shine awareness on his mind and body. After deeply entering meditation, he began to discern the presence of countless other beings in his own body right in the present moment. Organic and inorganic beings, minerals, mosses and grasses, insects, animals, and people were all within him. He saw that other beings were himself right in the present moment. He saw his own past lives, all his births and deaths. He saw the creation and destruction of thousands of worlds and thousands of stars. He felt all the joys and sorrows of every living beingthose born of mothers, those born of eggs, and those born of fission, who divided themselves into new creatures. He saw every cell in his body contained all of Heaven and Earth, and spanned the three timespast, present, and future
Anicca everything that exists is in relation to everything else and is constantly in process of change
Suffering He saw that living beings suffer because they do not understand that they share one common ground with all beings. Ignorance gives rise to a multitude of sorrows, confusions, and troubles. Greed, anger, arrogance, doubt, jealousy, and fear all have their roots in ignorance. When we learn to calm our minds in order to look deeply at the true nature of things, we can arrive at full understanding which dissolves every sorrow and anxiety and gives rise to acceptance and love.
Anatta humans are noselves, nonindividuals: we can only understand ourselves in relationship
Love and Understanding Gautama now saw that understanding and love are one. Without understanding there can be no love.... Understanding gives rise to compassion and love, which in turn give rise to correct action. In order to love, it is first necessary to understand, so understanding is the key to liberation. In order to attain clear understanding, it is necessary to live mindfully, making direct contact with life in the present moment, truly seeing what is taking place within and outside of oneself. Practicing mindfulness strengthens the ability to look deeply, and when we look deeply into the heart of anything, it will reveal itself. This is the secret treasure of mindfulnessit leads to the realization of liberation and enlightenment.
Beneath the Pippala (Bodhi) Tree Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, India
Enlightenment Looking up, Siddhartha saw the morning star appear on the horizon, twinkling like a huge diamond. He had seen this star so many times before while sitting beneath the pippala tree, but this morning it was like seeing it for the first time. It was as dazzling as the jubilant smile of Enlightenment. Siddhartha gazed at the star and exclaimed out of deep compassion, All being contain within themselves the seeds of Enlightenment, and yet we drown in the ocean of birth and death for so many thousands of lifetimes! Siddhartha knew he had found the Great Way.... Just then, [the young buffalo boy] Svasti appeared... Teacher, you look so different today.
Sermon of Benares Preached Four Noble Truths: 1. Existence is unhappiness 2. Unhappiness is caused by selfish craving 3. Selfish craving can be destroyed...
4. Following Aryamarga: Eight-fold Noble Path Life is illuminated by 1. right understanding, 2. right thought, 3. right speech, 4. right action, 5. right livelihood, 6. right effort, 7. right mindfulness, and 8. right concentration.
Monastery of Followers After Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, attained Enlightenment, he returned to the city of his youth, Kapilavatthu, with a grand homecoming. At the site where he met his Father (the King), his Father erected a monastery for Siddhartha and for his many followers, or monks. His Mother gave him a new robe to wear. And his son, Rahula, joined the monks.
Visited by King Pasenadi King Pasenadi [of Kosala] came all alone to visit the Buddha, unaccompanied by even a guard. He left his carriage and driver at the monastery gate. He was greeted by the Buddha in front of the Buddhas thatched hut.... The Buddha looked at the king. The prosperity and security of one nation should not depend on the poverty and insecurity of other nations. Majesty, lasting peace and prosperity are only possible when nations join together in a common commitment to seek the welfare of all. If you truly want Kosala to enjoy peace and to prevent the young men of your kingdom from losing their lives on the battlefield, you must help other kingdoms find peace. Foreign and economic policies must follow the way of compassion for true peace to be possible. At the same time as you love and care for your own kingdom, you can love and care for other kingdoms such as Magadha, Kasi, Videha, Sakya, and Koliya. Majesty, last year I visited my family in the kingdom of Sakya. I rested several days in Arannakutila at the foot of the Himalayas. There I spent much time reflecting on a politics based on nonviolence. I saw that nations can indeed enjoy peace and security without having to resort to violent measures such as imprisonment and execution. I spoke of these things with my father, King Suddhodana. Now I take this opportunity to share these same ideas with you. A ruler who nourishes his compassion does not need to depend on violent means.... We need to look at the nature of our love. Our love should bring peace and happiness to the ones we love. If our love is based on a selfish desire to posses others, we will not be able to bring them peace and happiness. On the contrary, our love will make them feel trapped.... According to the Way of Enlightenment, love cannot exist without understanding. Love is Understanding. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. Husbands and wives who do not understand each other cannot love each other. Brothers and sisters who do not understand each other cannot love each other. Parents and children who do not understand each other cannot love each other. If you want your loved ones to be happy, you must learn to understand their sufferings and their aspirations. That is true love.
Love and Understand Yourself From the time of his Enlightenment, which occurred when he was 36, to the time of his death at 80, the Buddha continuously preached that external peace must begin with internal peace. In other words, we must come to love those closest to ourselves, including our very own self, before we can begin to hope to love others and thus spread peace. And this love and peace is rooted in understanding.
Death of His Father One morning in the early autumn just after the retreat came to a close, the Buddha received news that King Suddhodana was on his deathbed in Kapilavatthu. The king had sent Prince Mahanama, his nephew, as a messenger to summon the Buddha in hopes of seeing his son one last time. At Mahanamas special request, the Buddha agreed to travel in the carriage in order to save time. Annuruddha, Nanda, Ananda, and Rahula accompanied him.... The royal family met the Buddha at the palace gates. Mahapajapati led him at once into the kings chambers. The kings face, pale and wan, brightened when he saw the Buddha. The Buddha sat down by the bed and took the kings hand in his own. The king, now eighty-two years old, was thin and frail. The Buddha said, Father, please breathe gently and slowly. Smile. Nothing is more important than your breath at this moment. Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Anuruddha, and I will breathe together with you. The king looked at each one of them. He smiled and began to follow his breath. No one dared cry. After a moment, the king looked at the Buddha and said, I have seen clearly the impermanence of life and how if a person wants happiness he should not lose himself in a life of desires. Happiness is obtained by living a life of simplicity and freedom. Queen Gotami told the Buddha, These past months, the king had lived very simply. He has truly followed your teaching. Your teaching has transformed the lives of every one of us here. Still holding the kings hand, the Buddha said, Father, take a deep look at me, at Nanda and Rahula. Look at the green leaves on the branches outside your window. Life continues. As life continues, so do you. You will continue to live in me and in Nanda and Rahula, and in other beings. The temporal body arises from the four elements which dissolve only to endlessly recombine again. Father, dont think that because the body passes away, life and death can bind us. Rahulas body is also your body. The Buddha motioned to Rahula to come and hold the kings other hand. A lovely smile arose on the face of the dying king. He understood the Buddhas words and he no longer feared death.
King Ashoka (d. 236 BCE) converted to Buddhism and spread Dharma
Lumbini Monasteries Theravada and Mahayana (c. 0CE) including Vajrayana (8 th c.) Buddhism
Major Forms of Buddhism today Theravada (monastic) thriving in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) Mahayana (reform movement) China and Japan and in US, Zen Vajrayana (type of Mahayana) in Tibet, Nepal (Dali Lama)
Sources: Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (NewDelhi,1991).