Happy is the arising of the Buddha!
By Bhante J
The appearance of a self-enlightened Buddha is a very rare occurrence in the universe. Becoming a human being in such an era and listening to the Dhamma from the Blessed One are indeed very rare occurrences. These rare incidents bring happiness not only to the human beings in this world but also to celestial beings and beings in unhappy existences. Although the historical Buddha does not exist today, the doctrine and the discipline he expounded during the forty five years after his enlightenment, are very much alive and have the potential to bring about same results as those achieved by the Noble ones during the Buddha’s time. If one sees and admires the extraordinary qualities of the Buddha and respects him, one should try to understand the Buddha nature through a careful investigation, as this is the foundation required for a disciple for his journey to enlightenment.
Many envisage the Buddha as a human being who rose from being a human to the highest possible spiritual advancement into Buddhahood while others see him in a more divine light. One day, the Buddha was travelling between Ukkattha and Setabya cities. Brahmin Dona, a well versed scholar on the science of identifying great beings by their physical characteristics was also heading in the same direction and saw the Buddha’s unusual footprints. Then he followed the footprints until he stopped under a tree where the Buddha was sitting down mindfully. He questioned the Buddha;
“Could you be a deity, sir? “I will not be a deity Brahman”
“Could you be a Gandabba? “I will not be a Gandabba Brahman”
“Could you be a Yakkha? “I will not be a Yakkha Brahman”
“Could you be a human being? “I will not be a human being Brahman”
(Dona Sutta – AN 4:36)
The confused Dona asked what type of being the Buddha could be. The Buddha mentioned that he has abandoned the taints from the roots, which make a deity, a Gandabba, a Yakkha and a human being. The Buddha explained further that these taints are not of the nature to arise in him. Therefore, he is compared to a lotus flower which grows under water but grows out of the muddy water and blooms and absorbs the sun’s bright rays not touching the muddy water at all. Similarly, the Buddha has overcome the world and lives untouched by the world. The Buddha then concludes by saying; “hence, remember me as ‘the Buddha’. The Buddha has also used the words ‘Tathagata’,’Sattha’,’Naga’ when referring to himself.
The Buddha is distinct from other enlightened beings due to many factors; one of them is the great and unfathomable wisdom. Many suttas in the Tripitaka witness that it is incomparable with anyone’s wisdom and it cannot be conceived by anything in the universe. The Buddha knows the nature of beings, their appearance and disappearance in and from different planes of existence and their kamma at large. This is why the Buddha is identified as “Lokavidu”, the knower about all existences of beings (Sathva loka), the sphere of space (Avakasa loka) and the sphere of formation (Sankhara Loka). However, although the Buddha’s wisdom was inconceivable to normal persons, the Buddha did not teach all he learnt and discovered but taught only the necessary elements of Dhamma to his disciples which were beneficial to attain Nibbana the ultimate goal. His teaching was delivered to help others to reach this goal. On one occasion, the Buddha took some dead Simsapa leaves with his hand and asked from the monks whether the leaves in his hand or the ones on the trees of the forest were greater. It was not a difficult answer for the monks; they said that the forest has a greater amount of leaves. In the same token, the Buddha explained, “monks the Tathagata knows many things but I tell you only what is required for your salvation” (Simsapa sutta (SN 56:31)
He mentioned that his noble quest for the truth was to end suffering that universal to all beings and showed the path to end suffering. As an excellent teacher who wishes the well-being of his disciples, he accomplished this task and helped many who were ready and willing to fulfill this objective of ending suffering altogether. Just before attaining the Mahaparibbana, the Buddha reminded his disciples “I have no ‘teacher’s fist’ with regard to the teaching. It meant he has not kept anything from his disciples and given them all that needs to be known. He said the Tathagata has explained everything and disciples should take refuge in the Dhamma and make the Dhamma their teacher.
“Be an Island unto yourselves. How does a disciple be an Island to himself? Here Ananda, a monk abides contemplating the body as body, feelings as feelings, minds as minds and mental phenomena as phenomena…. (Maha Parinibbana sutta –DN 16)”
The above statement brings a message of eternal truth; the Buddha is only a teacher who showed the noble path to the world, not a creator God who is believed to grant happiness to everyone who seeks it. The disciples in turn would tread on the path prescribed by the Buddha and revere him by being true practitioners of this wonderful teaching. On one occasion, the Buddha advised Bhikkhu Vakkali not to gaze at his body as that too is of the nature to change. Ven. Vakkali was mesmerized by the radiance and glory of the Buddha’s physical form. The Buddha went on to advise Bhikkhu Vakkali that someone wants to see the Buddha, that person needs the confidence built by seeing the Dhamma. Therefore being in front of a Buddha and looking at the physical form or looking at a statue of the Buddha and offering Puja items is insufficient. One who wants to see the Buddha, therefore, has to strive hard and practice the teaching thoroughly as explained by the Buddha. These are the Buddha’s own words of advice to all who are eager to see the Buddha (Vakkali Sutta – SN 22:87).
It is amazing to see how his Noble disciples venerated the Tathagatha. The following statement is one such moment:
- The Buddha is enlightened and he preaches the Dhamma for others to reach enlightenment.
- The Buddha is well-restrained and he preaches the Dhamma for other’s sensual restraint
- The Buddha is at perfect peace and he preaches the Dhamma for the peace of others
- The Buddha has crossed over the ocean of samsara and he preaches the Dhamma for others to cross over
- The Buddha has attained Nibbana and he preaches the Dhamma for others to attain Nibbana.
(Cula-Saccaka Sutta –MN 35)
As followers of the Buddha, we can apply many Buddha qualities to our life in order to make it better. Being a Prince, he was surrounded by sensual pleasures that would entice any person. However, he let go of the sensual pleasures he inherited, seeing their impermanence and true nature that would only bring unhappiness in the end. He grew up in a society in which poor people and women were looked down upon. They were even ridiculed by the society due to delusion and conceit of people from higher castes. So the Buddha revolutionized the society by granting freedom to many innocent people. In building his ministry of Monks and Nuns in the name of Buddhasasana, everyone is allowed to enter and seek refuge in the teaching which did not discriminate anyone for their situation at birth, wealth or gender. The Brahmins, royal princes, women, businessmen, farmers and poor scavengers became equal by entering to the order. The Sasana is compared to the ocean which flow water from different rivers and become one in the ocean. Waters that flow to the ocean may have different origins, tastes and colors when they flow as individual and distinct t rivers but the designations, taste and colors become one when water is united with salty water in the ocean (Paharada Sutta- AN 8:19).
The Buddha`s teaching encourages us to be mindful about our actions, words and thoughts. If they are imbued with unwholesome intention, it is shown that the outcomes would be negative. If the intention is wholesome, inevitable are the positive outcomes. Out of great compassion, the Buddha says to his disciples ``monks, all of us wandered in the samsara not knowing the truth of suffering, arising of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path leading to cessation of suffering``. This means that happiness is not in the external world that we all strive so hard to acquire and achieve expending all our strength, wealth but it is right there in our mind. Therefore, he advises monks and nuns that there are many forests, trees and empty houses and monasteries. They are conducive places for meditation to untie the samsaric knots. The Buddha`s Dhamma is also for lay people, who support the Buddha and disciples with four requisites.
During the Vesak festival, the Buddhists all over the world commemorate the birth of prince Siddhartha, the enlightenment and the passing away of the Buddha. Everyone should make extra effort to enrich the excellent qualities such as loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity to pay the genuine respect to the Buddha. One who abides in these for Brahma Viharas would surely venerate the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha in accordance with the Dhamma (Imaya dhammanudhamma patipattiya Buddham, dhammam, sangham pujemi).
In conclusion, keep in mind that happy is the arising of the Buddha who is fully enlightened. Due to the light of wisdom and compassion bestowed towards the world, The Buddha is the incomparable teacher to all. He taught the Dhamma that is excellent in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. Let’s drink that medicine like Dhamma to cure the chronicle disease of suffering sooner than later.
May you all be well and happy!