Saturday, October 31, 2009

Self-mortification Experience of Bodhisatta Gotama (Dukkaracariya)

Bodhisatta Gotama left his palace and his beloved ones in search of true happiness. At first, he chose the wrong path: self-mortification practice which only caused pain and suffering. Nevertheless, this self-mortification (Dukkaracariya) experience of Bodhisatta Gotama highlighted the right way to attain enlightenment.

What made Bodhisatta Gotama to practise self-mortification
  1. His strong will to gain enlightenment.
  2. Presence of extreme beliefs at pre-Buddhist period
    These include: eternalism (believed that all things were permanent); nihilism (believed in the non-existing of the beings after death); self-indulgence (completely enjoying sensual pleasures) and self-mortification (totally torturing oneself).
  3. Recognizing that his achievement up to the eighth jhanic stage (nevasannanasanna yatana jhana) was unsatisfactory to reach his goal.
  4. His consideration: Three comparisons appear to his mind.
    • Rubbing two soaked sappy logs of wood cannot produce fire. Likewise,those who is still attached to the objects of sensual desires and delighting in passionate pleasures, he will be unable to obtain enlightenment however hard he tried.
    • Freshly cut green sappy logs of wood not soaked in water also cannot produce fire. Similarly, even one has abandoned the objects of sensual  desires but if he still delights in thoughts of passionate pleasures, he will be unable to obtain enlightenment.
    • Unsoaked dry sapless logs of wood will start fire by friction. Just so,having abandoned the objects of sensual desires and gave up the lustful thoughts and cravings as well, he will be able to attain enlightenment.
Referring to the third comparison, he decided to practise self-mortification.

How Bodhisatta Gotama performed self-mortification

Restraining respiration: He withheld the in-breathing and out-breathing of the nose, mouth and ears. The air which could not pass through his nostrils went upwards into his crown causing extreme pain. To find the way, the air then moved downwards and reached the belly, making intense pain. As a result, he was fainted.

Abstaining from food: He gradually reduced eating food. His daily meal was just a handful of bean soup or a small plum. Because of this malnutrition, he was exceedingly emaciated. His clear, bright, golden coloured skin changed into dark brown. His belly and his back nearly stuck to each other. Only skin and bones were the remnants of his body. He almost lost all his thirty-two marks of a Grand-Being together with the eighty minor signs.

Self-mortification experience of Bodhisatta Gotama lasts six years. Then he realized that it was futile. Wisely, he changed over to a new path: the middle way (Mijjhima Patipada) which led him to Nirvana.

Posted by Aye Sat

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Bodhisatta

The Bodhisatta, Siddhattha Gotama was born in 68 Maha Era (623 BC) on Friday, the full moon day of Kason (Visakha, May) in Lumbini, Nepal. He grew up in royal family as a Cakya prince to father King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu and mother Maha Maya of Devadhatha.

He married princess Yasodhara, daughter of Suppabuddha and Pamita at the age of sixteen. They were enjoying royal pleasures happily together. At the young adult, his experiences with the external world urged him in quest of life. At 29, his seeking met by chance with the vision of four persons: the aged, the sick, the dead, and the recluse.

Then the Bodhisatta had been filled with remorse over seeing the Four Sights (Nimitta). So, he at once decided to renounce the life of royalty, wealth, power and newly born son, Rahula. He left the palace at midnight on Monday, the full moon day of Waso (Ashadha, July) in search of a correct answer to the problem of universal suffering.

In a lonely forest, he wandered for the sake of highest peace and greatest happiness. He became an ascetic. He ordained as a monk with bowl and robe which were offered by Ghatikara Maha Brahma. He was living simply by virtue of being self-reliant person. And also he dedicated to morality (sila), concentration (samadhi) and insight (panna).

In Uruvela forest, he practised the severest austerities i.e. the path of self-torture, to reach enlightenment and liberation. For six continuous years he strove to do self-mortification. This effort is known as Great Hard Practices (Dukkaracariya). Six years later the Bodhisatta got rid of it. He realized and made the middle way (Majjhima Patipada), the right path.

While sitting under the Ajapala banyan tree, Sujata came and offered a gruel food in golden bowl to the Bodhisatta. The Bodhisatta had 49 morsels of this good meal near the river bank of Naranjara. Then he set adrift of the golden bowl in the stream and vowed to let it go upstream if he'll be real Buddha hood today. The golden bowl took upstream. This special food recovered his lost health and strength. In the evening he went from the Sal grove to the Maha Bodhi tree, at the foot of which he scattered eight small bundles of grass that is Sotthiyas's charity. The Aprajita Plinka, seat for the Bodhisatta arose wonderfully from the grass due to his perfections (parami). He sat across-legged on it with his back to the Bodhi tree, and facing to the east. He vowed again that he'd never lose the gesture if not enlightenment. Then he practised anapana meditation.

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Ten Perfections (Dasa Parami)

Parami means perfection. It refers to the culmination of certain virtues. Those virtues are cultivated as a way of purifying kamma and helping the aspiration on the way for enlightenment.

Someone can look after all mankind in the world to have peace of mind getting rid of suffering. People will call this miraculous person as a Buddha. They refuge upon him. When the life was in danger, they bear him in mind as one to rely on.

Buddha made a lot of the acquired virtues in the samsara of his life. At the end he had got the worldly characteristics, sympathy, loving kindness, intellect, power etc. As a result those abilities which do better than human beings, devas and brahmas the Buddha is real and unique.

The pious and noble-minded persons act selflessly. They would devote their lives to the welfare of others. They used to take aim at the liberation from the cycle of rebirths (samsara). So the acquired virtue is the only work of the noble-minded persons.

Every Bodhisatta might conduct such acquired virtue. In other word, he practised the ten perfections (dasa parami). It was also a prerequisite for Buddhahood. The parami had ten summaries and thirty elaborations of virtues. The ten summaries of perfections (Pali and English) are:

[1] Dana parami: generosity,
[2] Sila parami: virtue or morality,
[3] Nekkhamma parami: renunciation,
[4] Panna parami: transcendental wisdom,
[5] Viriya parami: energy,
[6] Khanti parami: patience,
[7] Sacca parami: truthfulness,
[8] Adhitthana parami: determination or resolution,
[9] Metta parami: loving-kindness,
[10] Upekkha parami: equanimity.

With multiplication of those ten perfections by the three i.e. Parami, Upaparami and Paramattha parami the result become 30 in number.

Parami is known as the good deeds such as the charity of any property, an observance of Buddhist precepts. Upaparami is called when the good deeds include the charity of one's organ, making sacrifice to observe the precepts, etc. Paramattha parami has the name because of saving other's life and observing the precepts at the risk of his life.

Gotama Bodhisattha strived to gain certain criteria of various paramis. It took times till four asankheyyas and one hundred thousand kappas had gone.

How long does one kappa take place? A warehouse of one yojana i.e. 12.72 miles is made full with the seed of mustard. After that one seed is thrown away once a hundred years. It's possible to run out of all seeds. However, the period of one kappa is not finished yet. This long period is about one kappa.

So long as the countless number the period between the enlightenments of the two Buddhas came to know as asankheyya”. Thus, a period of four asankheyyas and one hundred thousand kappas was the shortest way to parami for the arising of one Buddha.

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sumedha and Sumitta

During the time of paying homage to the Dipankara Buddha, in the audience there was a lady known as Sumitta (Yasodhaya-to-be). As soon as that lady saw the hermit Sumedha she became highly pleased because of predestination determined by their past deeds. She also thought that she had been contented to get her life for meeting the hermit.

So, she left 3 bouquets out of 8 bouquets of lotus she had. It is for herself for her own aspiration. She offered the hermit 5 bouquets, praying in her mind. From laying prone, the hermit paid homage to the Buddha, with the lotus that Sumitta gave.

At that moment of laying prone, the hermit firmly vowed,

“I can accomplish arahantship by listening to the teachings of Dipankara Buddha. But, I will become an Enlightened One and I am able to make all beings liberated from samsara, and it's not suitable alone to get away from responsibility. Like the Dipankara Buddha I aspire to becoming a Buddha.”

Thus, Ascetic Sumedha gave up his resolution for a great compassion. Meanwhile, Dipankara the Buddha standing near the head of ascetic Sumedha, said preordainment of event to him,

“This hermit who lies here as a bridge at the risk of life, will make his aspiration to become Gotama the Buddha like me in future. His aspiration will come true.”

The crowd jostled and acclaimed the Buddha's preordainment. All beings at the scene rejoiced at this auspicious phenomena by crying out “Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!” (Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!).

After that, Dipankara the Buddha started to move on with deviation from the hermit. The Bodhisatta Sumedha also joyfully got up from his laying prone and was sitting across-legged. He then considered the Dhamma on the Buddha-to-be and comprehended the ten perfections in serial order. Sumedha thus set out on the development of the “Ten Perfections” (Dasa Paramis). In consideration of the power of wisdom again the violent earth-quake had happened.

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sumedha: His Wealth in Charity

The Buddha Gotama was the lineage of Cakya King. Sumedha the hermit, Bodhisatta of Gotama endowed with the ten perfections (paramis) from that time onwards. Four asankheyyas and one hundred thousand kappas ago, there lived a young boy named Sumedha, the Buddha-to-be in the city of Amaravati.

His ancestors were wealthy families. His mother was very virtuous and a virgin lady without relation with other caste. At the age of 16, he completed a course of study. While he was still young the two parents died. Sumedha inherited his parents' colossal assets. The family treasurer kept the legacy for him. When the time was right, the treasurer made over the financial properties to him.

On account of this, Sumedha considered, “My forbears amass only wealth in succession. Upon death nothing could be taken along.” He was deeply affected by this truth, and made a decision that I might act as to take it along with me. Therefore he thought that he would give away his wealth in charity and made himself a hermit. Then he said, “Take it as you need it!” and renounced every things, and left for the Himalaya. At that place, he saw a monastery and robes which were created by Vissukama, registrar-cum-carpenter of Sakka, the deva-king, and then he was ordained as a hermit.

The hermit Sumedha had practised meditation more and more. Within seven days he attained jhana (intense concentration of mind) and abhinana (transcendental knowledge). If one got Jhana and died, he reached the realm of Brahma. With also abhinana in the very life, he could bear through the earth and the air. Sumedha the hermit thus was wandering in the sky by the power of abhinana.

Sumedha was taking delight in jhana and abhinana. At that time Dipankara the Buddha had arose in the world. One day, Dipankara the Buddha, while on his wandering together with his disciples of Arahants, had reached the city of Rammaka which is neighbouring to Amaravati. People in Rammaka also requested Dipankara the Buddha and 400,000 arahants to accept food offerings from there. On the other hand, the people busied themselves preparing the road which will be used by the Buddha and his disciples. Some of them are putting up decoration, strewing the road-surface with white sand and adorning the roadsides. As a result of that, Sumedha the hermit roaming in the air saw the people rebuilt the road and flied down on land to make inquiry about the event. He knew that Dipankara the Buddha would arrived, so they're preparing the old road.

The hermit was elated at the news and he took responsibility for one part of the worst damaged road. He was filling up the muddy road with the earthling. Before finish, the Buddha arrived at this place. Not to let the Buddha walk on the mud he covered the mud with his robe and tanned leather on which he laid prone himself as a bridge, doing obeisance to the Buddha with his hands put together in anjali.

Posted by Nyan U.