Buddhist or judgement to them, however, because like



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Buddhist morality is guided by principles of non-violence and moderation.

Buddhists frequently use formal sitting meditation and also often chanting and walking meditation- Buddhists use such techniques to try to gain insight into the fundamental operations of human psychology, the causal processes of the world or both. While Buddhism does not deny the existence of mystical beings, it does not ascribe power for creation, salvation or judgement to them, however, because like humans they are regarded as having the power to affect worldly events, some Buddhist schools associate with them via ritual. The word ‘Buddha’ denotes not just a single religious teacher who lived in a particular epoch, but a type of person, of which there have been many instances in the course of cosmic time. The Buddha Gautama, then, is simply one member in the spiritual lineage of Buddhas, which stretches back into the dim recesses of die past and forward into the distant horizons of the future. Gautama did not claim any divine status for himself, nor did he asserts that he was inspired by a God or Gods. He claimed to be not a personal saviour, but a teacher to guide those who choose to listen.

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A Buddha is any human being who has fully awakened to the true nature of existence, whose insight has totally transformed him or her beyond birth and death and subsequent rebirth and who is enabled tohelp others achieve the same enlightenment. The principles by which a person can be led to enlightenment known as the Buddha dharma or simply the Dharma in this sense of the rather complex term means, ‘Law, doctrine or truth’. Anyone can attain what the Buddha attained regardless of age, gender or caste. Indeed, Buddhists believe there have been many solitary Buddhas who achieved enlightenment on their own but did not go on to teach others.

According to one of the stories in the Sutta Nipata, the Buddha, too, was afraid to teach humans because he despaired of their limited capacity for understanding. The Vedic (early Hindu) God Indra, however, interceded and requested that he should teach despite this. That the historical Buddha did so is thus a mark of special compassion. The legends say that a seer predicted that Siddhartha would become either a great King or a great holy man, because of this, the King tried to make sure that Siddhartha never j had any cause for dissatisfaction with his life, as that might I drive him toward a spiritual path. However, at the age of j 29, while being escorted by his attendant Channa, he came across what has become known as the Four Passing Sights: an old crippled man, a sick man, a decaying corpse and finally a wandering holy man.

These four sights, as they are called, led him to the realization that birth, old- age, sickness and death came to everyone, not only once but repeated for life after life in succession for uncounted aeons. He decided to abandon his worldly life, leaving behind his wife and child,- his privilege, rank, cast and totake up the life of a wandering holy man in search of I answer to the problem of birth, old age, sickness and death. I It is said that he stole out of the house in the dead of night, pausing for one last look at his family and did not return there for a very long time.

Indian holy men (sadhus), in those days just as today, engaged in a variety of ascetic practices designed to ‘mortify’ the flesh. This belief was taken to an extreme in the faith of Jainism. It was thought that by enduring pain and suffering, the atman, ‘soul’ became free from the round of rebirth into pain and sorrow. Siddhartha proved adept at these practices and was able to surpass his teachers. However, he found no answer to his problem and, leaving behind his teachers, he and a small group of companions set out to take their austerities even further. He became a skeleton covered with skin, surviving on a single grain of rice per day and practiced holding his breath. After nearly starving himself to death with no success, Siddhartha began to reconsider his path. Taking a little buttermilk from a passing goatherd, he found a large tree (now called the Bodhi tree) under which he would be shaded from the heat of the mid-summer sun and set to meditating.

This new way of practicing began to bear fruit. His mind became concentrated and pure and then, six years after he began his quest, he attained Enlightenment and became a Buddha.

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