To find an end to the suffering, for him and the rest of the world was not an easy task. For a person, who had everything in life, renunciation is not a consideration at all. But, Prince Siddhartha took that step because he saw the impermanence in everything including his joyful affluent life.
Though Prince Siddhartha had no clue what so ever about how to achieve his goal; his will was strong. His intense determination took him through two best spiritual teachers at the time; Alara Kalama and Uddakarama Puththa, and six years of self starvation. These experiences gave him the glimpse of the Middle Path, which he discovered was the precise direction to take in his endeavor.
He had to switch from self starvation to the Middle Path at the cost of losing his aides, the five ascetics Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Wappa, Mahanama & Assaji, who were looking after him all those six years. But he did it since he was ready to take any step that was necessary to find the ultimate solution to the suffering. He was firm in his belief and his strength of mind was so powerful that he did not worry when all deserted him and once again he was left alone to find the ultimate truth.
By following his discovery, Ascetic Siddhartha slowly gained his physical and mental strength back. His mental faculty improved and he knew that he had found the right and the only path to salvation; which he followed and asked others to follow too.
He not only had to struggle against his own defilements amassed through the Samsara, but with the evil one and his team as well.
But, in the end, On a Wesak Full Moon day (Full Moon in May) Ascetic Siddhartha attained Buddha Hood and became ‘Gautama Buddha’.
This shows us the clear & positive vision, determination and perseverance, Ascetic Siddhartha had in reaching his goal.
Except the four rainy months, Gautama Buddha spent his time travelling from place to place preaching Dhamma. There had been two types of travels; quick (Thuritha) & lente (Athuritha).
Gautama Buddha’s visits to preach for a particular person or persons were called quick (Thuritha) travels.
Gautama Buddha’s visits from village to village, city to city, preaching for the mass during the non raining months were called lente (Athuritha) travels.
Regardless of his travels, our Gautama Buddha had his day divided into two phases and the night into three phases.
Our Gautama Buddha had only one meal a day; that too before noon. Therefore, the things he did in the phase before the meal was called “Pera Bath Kisa” and the things he carried out in the phase after the meal was called “Pasu bath Kisa”.
Similarly, the things he did in the first watch of the night was called “Perayam Kisa”, the things he did in the midnight was called “Madiyam Kisa” and the things he did in the later phase of the night was called the “Pasuluyam Kisa”.
“Pera Bath Kisa”
Our Gautama Buddha woke up at four in the morning every day. After easing and washing himself, he used to look at the world with his divine eye to find out and decide who needed his help that day and attended to it. Since he ate before noon, went for alms if there was not a request for an alms giving that day. Meanwhile he preached to those who needed or asked for it.
“Pasu Bath Kisa”
Just after the meal, our Gautama Buddha rested for a while. Then he advised his disciples on meditation practices and preached to his devotees who came in masses to see him.
This phase of the day too he spent in sermonizing to his devotees who had assembled.
This was the time Gods and Brahmas from other planes of existence visited him. Buddha answered their questions and sermonized to them.
This too had been divided into three phases. Buddha spent pacing in the first phase. During the second phase, he slept with awareness. During the third phase, he spent in a meditative trance.
This shows how our Gautama Buddha spent his life. He slept only for an hour and spent the rest of the time helping the world with his knowledge to end suffering.
Our Gautama Buddha followed this timetable all his life. This enabled him to utilize his time properly for the welfare of the masses.
Our Gautama Buddha was in his deathbed and was spending the last minutes of his life when an old Brahmin named Subhadra came to see him for advice. Ven. Ananda prevented him from bothering the Buddha. But our great Gautama Buddha hearing the voice of Subhadra asked Ven. Ananda to send him. At that last moment, he preached to Subhadra and ordained him. Ven. Subadhra attained Enlightenment becoming the last person to be ordained by our Gautama Buddha and passed away before our Buddha.
His thought of welfare of the others could be shown by this single incident.
The most important characteristic of our Buddha was that his behavior and preaching went hand in hand. He behaved accordingly to his preachings. There was no conflict whatsoever between his sermons and his behavior. He did what he said; and said what he did. He asked his disciples to see him through his sermons.
Our Gautama Buddha’s life is the exact example of his advice.
Gautama Buddha had been admired and commended by the Royals, Barons and other religious leaders; but, he had been condemned and humiliated too.
Once, he was verbally scolded and humiliated by a Brahmin named ‘Akkosa Bhardwaja’, to whom Buddha explained calmly;
“Brahmin, if a guest who visits your house does not acknowledge the treat you prepared for them, it would be left to you; similarly, since I would not accept what you just said, you will have to bear all the scolding and humiliation you just blurted out by yourself.”
Once Buddha explained to another Brahmin named ‘Aggika Bhardwaja’, who called Buddha an Outcaste, that a person does not become an outcaste by his birth, but by his action. (Wasala Sutta)
In another instance, the people where Buddha was residing at the time, started to insult and be rude to the Buddha and his disciples because of a baseless accusation. Ven. Ananda could not bear the affront anymore and pleaded with our Buddha to leave the place. But what our great Buddha said was that if they left every city that showed animosity there wouldn’t be a place in entire ‘Dambadiva’ (ancient India) for them to reside. Therefore, they should resolve the problem instead of moving.
Our Gautama Buddha and his disciples led a very peaceful coexistence without any conflict in a society which was full of different beliefs.
When an influential Baron named Upali, who had been a devotee of Jainism, resolved to take refuge in the Triple Gem, our Buddha asked him to reconsider his decision; requesting him to take care of the Jains as before, even if he becomes a Buddhist devotee.
Our Buddha listened to others’ opinions patiently and sometimes revised his stances respecting their requests. There had been several changes in the disciplinary rules he had laid for the Bhikkus and Bhikkunis after listening to logical and just explanations by the others.
Our great Buddha’s compassion was equal for everybody.
He showed no difference in his consideration to his former son Ven. Rahula or brutes like elephant ‘Nalagiri’& serpant ‘Nandopananda’; murderers like ‘Angulimala’, devils like ‘Alawaka’ and conceits like ‘Sachchaka’ & ‘Baka’; and ‘Devadatta’ thero who tried to kill him.
Our Buddha had very courteous manners.
He never entered a room of his disciples or even the audience hall if there were monks gathered, without making them aware of his presence and getting their permission to enter.
Our Buddha carried the responsibility of his disciples till the end.
He not only made them see and attain Enlightenment, but attended to their spiritual needs individually most of the time. Even at his death bed, he asked those who were gathered there if they had any questions to be clarified by him regarding his teachings.
If we can at least follow one of the above Qualities of our Great Buddha, we would be winners in this conflicting society.
May The Triple Gem Bless You!