Monday, April 9, 2012

The Buddha’s Mission



First two lay disciples
On the full moon of the night of May, while sitting in deep meditation under a Bodhi tree, at Gaya city, Eastern India, Siddhattha Gotama attained Enlightenment, real happiness, and became Buddha, the Awakened One. Two merchants called Tapussa and Bhallika passed by and seeing the Buddha sitting under the Budhi tree, they offered him a meal of honey cakes.

After eating the food, the Buddha talked to them about his new experience, and the two merchants became his first lay disciples, the first Buddhists. The Buddha, at the time of his enlightenment, was thirty-five years of age.
The students may have a question in mind,  


“What is Enlightenment?” 

The answer is that enlightenment is the state of pure mind, The mind is free from ignorance, from hatred, and from craving. The mind is in the state of being enlightened and comprehending truth.

{ Not long after his attainment of Supreme Buddhahood, the Blessed One sat cross legged at the foot of the Rajayatana tree (Buchanania latifolia). At that time two brothers Tapussa and Bhallika, from a village called Ukkala went for trade to (the middle Districts of) India where the Buddha was dwelling. A deity who was related to them in a past existence informed the two brothers that the Blessed One had recently attained the Supreme Buddhahood, and directed to the place where the Blessed One was then dwelling. The deity also instructed them to offer to the Buddha the cakes which they had brought with them.

As directed by the deity, the two brothers approached the Buddha and offered the cakes which they had brought. They then addressed the Buddha with the words "We take our refuge, Lord, in the Blessed One and the Dhamma; may the Blessed One receive us as disciples, who from this day forth, while our life lasts, have taken their refuge in Him". They then asked the Blessed one, "What shall we receive as an object of worship from today. Lord?" the Blessed One rubbed his head with his hand and gave to the two brothers whatever hairs came off and stuck to his hand. }


First sermon and first monk disciple
Now the Buddha was ready to begin his mission of teaching his doctrine to the people. He asked himself to whom should he first teach the Doctrine. His mind turned to his former teachers, namely, Alara Kalama and Uddhaka Rama. However, the two teachers had already died. He then recalled the five companions with whom he had lived before setting out to seek Elightenment alone. They were still at Deer Park of Isipatana(near Benares City),about one hundred miles away. The Buddha went there. At deer Park, he gave his First Sermon, during the Asalha month (full moon day of july). It was known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma or Truth.

After the sermon, the five ascetics Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, Assaji realized the Eye of Dhamma, or Truth. Kondanna realized liberation first and asked for monkhood. The five ascetics became the first Noble Disciples of the Buddha.



 
Missionary activity
Early one morning, while the Buddha was sitting in Deer Park of Isipatana, a young man named Yasa, who was born into a wealthy family came near by the Buddha and saw him. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teaching, he realized that life was full of dissatisfaction, problems and troubles, and asked to become a monk to find real happiness.

Soon after that, the Buddha converted Yasa’s parents and wife to Buddhism. The Venerable Yasa had fifty-four lay
friends. Having learned of Yasa’s ordinaton, they agreed to follow him and were ordained into the order. Within a few days, Yasa and his friends became Arahants (Enlightened monks). The total number of Arahants was then sixty-one. 

{ Yasa was the first born son of Sujata who offered milk-porridge to the Great Being on the very day he was to become the Enlightened Buddha. He had been brought up in the greatest luxury as in the case of the Future Buddha, three separate mansions being provided for three different seasons, namely, the wet, cold and dry seasons. Waking up one night, he found his palace attendants, female musicians, asleep in unseemly conditions, and deeming the scene to be a cemetery, went out from his house and the city to the Deer Park of Isipatana that every night.

Yasa came into the presence of the Buddha and, after hearing the sermon from the Blessed One, was established in the first noble stage of the Aryan Path. Yasa's father went in search of his son and came to the Buddha. The Buddha made Yasa invisible with his supernatural power and assuring him with these words. "You will find your son" preached a sermon to him. Yasa's father was also established in the first holy stage of the Aryan Path, while Yasa was established in the fourth holy stage of the Aryan Path. The Blessed One then discontinued the use of the supernatural power with the result that the father met the son, and ordained Yasa as a monk at his request. }

 
Preaching Movement
Seeing that there were now enough disciples to begin sharing the Truth, the Buddha told his disciples to separate and wander from place to place to teach the truth to the people. He himself set out on a long journey for the same purpose.
Through out the forty-five years of his mission and his limitless kindness to all human beings, the Buddha selflessly devoted his life to teaching the Dhamma, the Path leading to real happiness. He traveled widely in northen and eastern India, stopping only during the rainy season, when he and his disciples, both monks and nuns, would go into the Rains Retreat. Through the efforts of the Buddha his followers, Buddhism was firmly established in india about 588 years before the Christian Era. The Buddha (Siddhattha) was born about 623 years before Christ.

 
Last instruction of the Buddha
At the age of eighty, while on his way to Kusinara City, the capital of Malla State, the Buddha became ill because he ate a meal of tainted food offered by Cunda, a poor tool smith. The Buddha told Venerable Ananda, his faithful attendant, to console Cunda, and to tell him that his food-offering, which was the Buddha’s last meal, was of great fruit and merit and that he should not blame himself for the Buddha’s illness.
The Buddha traveled to the Sala Grove of Mala State, where the Buddha told the Venerable Ananda to prepare a couch between two Sala trees. Then he laid down on his right side, still mindful and self-possessed. The monks assembled about him.
Although he was about to pass away, when men came to him to be received into the Order, he accepted and gladdened them with a sermon on the Dhamma. Of those men, Subhadda, mendicant wanderer, a poor man, was the last one who was ordained by the Buddha. He realized Arahantship before the Buddha’s death.
On his death bed under the two Sala trees, on the full moon night of Visakha month (may), the Buddha said to his disciples;

“O Bhikkhus, you will not be left without a Teacher, because the Docteine and the Discipline. I have taught and down for you shall be your Teacher when Iam gone.”

He said again, “ decay is inherent in all component things! O bhikkhus, work out your own salvation with diligence.”

These were the last words of the Enlightened One. His face shone as luminous gold. His mind ascended to the realms of ecstasy. He realized Nibbana, theEnlightenment and passed away form the eyes of human beings forever. His teachings have remained to guide us for all time. After the passing away of the Lord Buddha, his maleand female disciples continuedteaching the Dhamma to the people and maintain Buddhism to the present time.
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