Mediation and mindfulness are thought to have originated thousands of years BCE (before common era) and is prevalent across Hinduism and Buddhism traditions. This article highlights the virtue of enlightenment by the founder of Buddhism himself.
The founder of Buddhism Siddhattha Gotama or Gautama Buddha as he is now more known was thought to have been raised across the border of Nepal and India in a non-Vedic community in around 5th century BCE. After embarking on an adventurous journey he was shocked to have seen the things that he did; traumatised, he reached out to the people of the world and sparked Buddhism.
This is an ancient story that has been spread across many cultures around the globe. It can be imposed on to people by the likes of psychologists, educators, communal leaders or motivational speakers. It is a story of 4 components, blissful blindness, forbidden curiosity, finding oneself through the consequences of gaining independence and sharing the visions of your own thoughts. Many people experience the first three of these components through one’s lifetimes but no so many reach out and feel the need to enter the fourth. When we are born and go through childhood we are blissfully blind to all of the malevolence and suffering of the world; as we reach adolescence and approach the end of our educational life we become curious about what awaits us in our development when we are still too young to stray from our home. The third – finding oneself through the consequences of gaining independence is all about manifesting our understanding of how to deal with how the world turns and what it throws at us. Most people stop here. Some go on to the fourth, becoming visionaries, revolutionaries, great thinkers, philosophers or public intellectuals. They will find the ultimate goal of existence by making the world a slightly less sufferable place. Buddha states that life is suffering, and is at the very most of his core fundamental teachings, although it sounds explicitly nihilistic at first this was a very credible statement for his virtues. As Buddha put it, we are living a life that contains unavoidable dread, everyone you know and love will sadly part, you will too. There will be more low points in your life than there will be highs, that’s truth. How we should conduct ourselves and the stance of morality in which we stand is paramount to our conditioned mental strength because making the world a better place for other people is the true source of your own happiness. Buddhist teachings emphasise the opposed morals of greediness and extravagant materialism.
The Story of the Buddha
His father, Suddhodana who was a chieftain of the community that Buddha was born in removed all signs of suffering inside the tall walls of the city as his moral obligation as a father to see no kinds of distress that will encounter his children. Suddhodana claimed to have been visited by an angel who told him that his son Buddha would grow to be a profound secular leader following a path of enlightenment. Suddhodana despised this idea, he wanted his son to remain attached to his domain hence why he eliminated all signs of frustration, pain, disappointment, ugliness and suffering from his surroundings and allows people of only in perfect mental and physical health to remain inside the walls, evicting citizens that were not paragons of virtue and those who did not appear physically attractive.
The motif that runs in the story of the Buddha is that he is shielded from what is beyond the ‘garden of paradise’ as his consciousness is expanded by the causality of utopia. However, as Buddha grows, he becomes more curious to explore the outside world. Then comes the archetypal approach that humans are constructed to look beyond what is ‘safe’. This is seen in the story of the Garden of Eden and the forbidden fruit. Buddha’s forbidden fruit was to escape the city and explore the unknown as he dwells under a frenzy of curiosity. It is thought that humans are naturally compelled by the unknown, it may seem like a ridiculous idea that he went out to explore the jungles of uncertainty as he has everything one could possibly want in this perfect world so to speak, it’s also as no surprise either that the forbiddances of his ventures entice him to step out.
Once he escaped with his servant his father not only went out to look for him but he also lined the streets with beautiful women holding flowers and tried to diminish any sings of distress Buddha may encounter, it was not long until Buddha came across something that was for him different and unpleasant. An elderly sick man holding on to his walking stick; after Buddha demanded that his retainer explain the nature of this absurdity Buddha is explained that this man was subject to arbitrary degeneration that all humans go through and since you are a human too you will also be affected by this. A traumatised Buddha runs back to his castle and develops great anxiety, a few months go by, the anxiety can only be defeated if he yet again goes to escape for a second time where he again becomes shocked and traumatised by further numerous distresses including witnessing death. He eventually becomes so shocked he never returns home.
Buddha goes against his fathers wishes to return home because there is nothing inside the kingdom and that of what his father establishes for him is no longer sufficient. He goes out to attain a larger scope of life whatever the consequences may be. His father organised a party in the woods near the castle with nude women willing to flaunt for him, Buddha is so catastrophically shocked he finds no pleasure at all with living and remains missing. He ventures out in to the wilderness alone. This archetypal approach is seen across society because our parents cannot precisely articulate their children’s perspective characteristics of life to thrive beyond their own nurtured self, not only our parents but also the broader formal structures of society, it is only when we manifest our own understanding of what life throws at us is when we become independent. Eating the forbidden fruit comes with the consequence of knowing that a limited life is ahead of you, the Garden of Eden then dissolves in to nothing and suddenly you are trapped in the walls of only your own potential. Buddha went on to a path of understanding, to find an ultimate truth of his existence. He travelled afar, starving himself by not asking for food, penniless, he only ate if he was offered food. He became weak and on the brink of death came a time when he achieved enlightenment and shared his visionaries with the world. Buddhism was born and has over 500 million devotees today.
The common presentation of the teachings that Buddha received is known as the four noble truths. Buddhists believe in reincarnation, to live a good prosperous life in the next one must attain ‘nirvana’. The first noble truth is ‘Dukkha’ which loosely translates in English as suffering. Caused by aversion, greed and delusion the absolute ceasing of Dukkha follows a path to Nirvana. Fundamentally speaking, Buddha was not so much of a righteous preacher but a leader whose own suffering led him to voice his visionaries and his writings in early texts. Nirvana can not be accomplished by individual means but rather as a collective society because it is impossible to reach nirvana when you see the suffering of another person, the second noble truth underlines this and is known as ‘Samudaya’ which means coming together, attachment, collaboration and arising from existence. In collaborative ‘truths’ may the whole world become radically enhanced from the industriousness of human interaction and the mechanisms of our vocality. ‘Nirodha’ is the third noble truth and means cessation, suppression and prevention. The individual psyche has been truly developed so as to lead to such a state. When entering Nirodha, verbal Sankhara of constructions and formations cease first, then physical, then mental. A practitioner who is emerging from such an attainment does not think: ‘I will emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling’ or ‘I have emerged from the cessation of perception and feeling.’ Rather, their mind has been previously developed so as to lead to such a state. When emerging from Nirodha mental Sankhara arise first, then physical, then verbal. While emerging they experience three kinds of contact: emptiness, singleness and undirected contacts. After emerging their mind slants, slopes and inclines to seclusion. Nirodha is the final disappearance of all bad experiences and their causes in such a way that they can no longer occur again. The final noble truth is ‘Marga’ meaning path, which consists of three dimensions which lead to insight and wisdom by prioritizing moral virtues and meditation. These three dimensions are split in to eight factors, right speech, right action, right livelihood (Moral virtue), right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration (meditation), and right view and right resolve (insight and wisdom).