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RELG 1681 (13)
Lecture

Quest for Enlightenment 7.docx

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Department
Religious Studies
Course
RELG 1681
Professor
Sam Borsman
Semester
Fall

Description
Life of the Buddha (563-468 BCE)  first biographies were recorded centuries after the Buddha's death  born in present day southern Nepal  known by various names: Siddhartha, Gautama, Shakyamuni (sage of the Shakya clan), Buddha (Awakened One)  before his last birth, spent many lives as a bodhisattva (a being striving for enlightenment) perfecting his spiritual practice o previous life stories of the Buddha known as Jatakas o like Aesop's fables, moralistic tales involving the Buddha-to-be's life, ie. animals  the Buddha's mother, Queen Maya, dreamed of a white elephant and conceived the Buddha  the Buddha-to-be descended from Tushita heaven to Earth  the Buddha was born from his mother's right side  after his birth, the baby Siddhartha took seven steps and declared "I am chief in the world, supreme in the world, eldest in the world. This is my last birth. There will be for me no more re-becoming."  his father consulted an astrologer about his son's future o astrologer said Buddha would be either a king or a world-renouncing ascetic o 32 major marks of a great man (mahapurusha) found on child's body  Prince Gautama surrounded by pleasures in his father's palace, his father wanted him to become a king instead of an ascetic  Prince Gautama married at age 16, and excelled in all the pastimes of his class (kshatriya)  Prince Gautama secretly left the palace with his charioteer o Saw the three (or four) sights:  An old man  A sick man  A dead man  An ascetic whose face is beaming with joy o Gautama is shocked that death, age, and illness are universal and is determined to become like the ascetic  Guatama's father forbade him to leave, but he did anyway o left "harem" of women, his wife, and child (Rahula, meaning "obstruction") behind to undertake spiritual practice  Gautama cut off his hair and renounced his worldly life  He practiced extreme asceticism with five other ascetics in the forest o historical roots in wandering ascetic movements (shramana) of the time o questioning spirit in times of social and political change (recall Upanishads), and some reject central Hindu beliefs and practices o Gautama practiced breath control until he passed out o he fasted until he could feel his spine through his stomach, almost died  Buddha rejected the extremes of self-indulgence and asceticism o realized the Middle Way (Madhyama-Pratipad)  story of music teacher and student- lute string not too tight, not too loose  accepted food from Sujata, which sustained him for the next 49 days  sat under the Bodhi tree in present day Bodh-Gaya, India to meditate o Mara tried to tempt and frighten the prince o Buddha defeated Mara and saw:  all of his past lives  the nature of karma and the karmic histories of all beings cycling through samsara  that the self and samsara are illusory o he awakens and becomes the Buddha, the awakened one  Nirvana (extinguishing) cycle of birth and death  Buddha doubts that anyone will understand his teaching, but the god Brahma requests him to teach  teaches 4 Noble Truths at deer park at Sarnath o First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma  wanders Northern India, teaching for next 45 years  establishes monastic communities of followers (Sangha)  at first, doesn't allow women to join Sangha  wander northern India, teaching for next 45 years  establishes monastic communities of followers (Sangha)  at first, doesn't allow women to join sangha  eat rotten pork (?) at age of 80 and contracts dysentry o if meat is given to you as a donation, it is permissible, as long as you do not specifically call for the death of an animal  dies between two trees, telling his followers, "Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation." o trees miraculously bloom o Do It Yourself mentality- you yourself are responsible for whether you awaken to the truth, or continue in the cycle of reincarnation o called Parinirvana- final nirvana at death, no more births in samsara o disciples ask what is nirvana, Buddha refuses to answer o issues with Parinirvana in modern Buddhism- if Buddha is gone, why worship/venerate relics, depictions... later suggestion that Buddha is NOT gone, but still active in the world  The 4 Noble Truths o Buddha's first sermon at deer park in Sarnath "First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma" 1. Duhkha- life is unsatisfactory, flawed, full of suffering 2. Trishna- suffering arises because of craving- includes grasping for sense of self (soul) 3. Cessation- suffering can have an end if the cause of suffering is eradicated- primarily a psychological analysis of suffering, does not acknowledge suffering caused by society or institutions  in other words, nirvana... the complete "extinguishing" or greed, hatred, ignorance 4. The Path- to end suffering... the Noble Eightfold Path o Buddha's first sermon, from a 19th C. Burmese painting- humans, as well as gods, listening to Buddha o Buddha preaching the 4 Noble Truths, Sarnath, India- mudra o Medical analogy- Buddha as the Great Physician, healing the suffering in samsara  Duhka is the disease, arising and trishna are the cause of the disease, cessation is the cure of the disease, and the Noble Eightfold Path is the medicine  The Noble Eightfold Path  Wisdom (prajna)  o right view o right resolve- to practice Buddha's path o right speech- speech that is not harmful, not telling lies o right action- not killing o right livelihood- correct form of a job (no jobs involving intoxicants ie. bartender), (no jobs involving slaughter of animals- butcher) 0. criticism- marginalization of people whose work involves incorrect livelihoods o right effort o r
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