8 April: The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama Birthday (563–483 BC)
8 Apr 2019 – Today is the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth—born Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, the fourth largest religion in the world.
Visitors to shrines on his birthday take an offering of fresh spring cherry blossom flowers. As a prince in northeastern India, he lived a life of luxury until, at the age of 29, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a family mourning their dead. Like all Hindus, the prince believed in reincarnation. The thought troubled him that people had to return to this world to suffer again, so he left his wife, child, luxurious lifestyle, and future role as a leader of his people, to search for an end to suffering.
For years he chose a life of extreme poverty. The story goes that he eventually collapsed from starvation after fasting for six years. Next, he turned away from the idea that poverty is the path to enlightenment and he decided that it is best to pursue a “Middle Way” between luxury and poverty, largely defined by moderation and meditation. At 35 he attained enlightenment (Nirvana) and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened).
He defined 3 practices for gaining enlightenment, which may define the “Religion” of Buddhism:
- Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles: The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal and the principle of reciprocity: This is the “Golden Rule” in Christianity — to do onto others as you would wish them do onto you.
- Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development, which leads to personal freedom and helps us maintain good conduct.
- Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.
Albert Einstein said:
“Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”
Celebrations in Japan, Taiwan and Korea include children pouring sweet tea (hydrangea leaf amacha) over the head of the statue of an infant Buddha because some believe it rained tea on the day he was born.
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Homeland or Death! Che Guevara’s Historic Speech at the UN on 11 Dec 1964
- Illusions of Empire: Amartya Sen on What British Rule Really Did to India
- Russia: The Doukhobor 1895 Arms Burning Is Relevant Today
- Meet the Real-Life Devil’s Advocate Battling Australian Courts on Behalf of Satan after Religious Education ‘Got His Goat’
- Hinduism and Peace Education
- The Last of the Zoroastrians