Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"The Spirit of the Buddha"

Prince Siddhartha saw four powerful signs: aging, sickness, death, and renunciation.

Cynthia L. Pauwels, M.A. (Metapsychology)
The Spirit of the BuddhaThe Spirit of the Buddha by Martine Batchelor (Yale University Press, 2010): In the opening pages, author Martine Batchelor notes that her intent is to make this enlightening volume "not about Buddhism," but "about the Buddha." Much of the slim text is true to her words.

The Spirit of the Buddha, a 2010 addition to the Yale University Press Sacred Literature Series (Vol. 15, Issue 8), reveals the former Zen Buddhist nun's understanding of and devotion to the fifth century BCE prince-turned-enlightened-one, Siddhatta Gotama, the Buddha.

Batchelor moves easily through the historical and legendary tales of Gotama's early life. She recounts his dissatisfaction with palace life, his search for meaning through various traditions of the time including renunciation, first as a wandering mendicant following Alara Kalama who "claimed a direct knowledge of nothingness [the sphere of the void]," before switching allegiance to Uddaka Ramaputta [who had attained the meditative] "sphere of neither perception nor non-perception."

Siddhartha renounces the world in front of Kanthaka and Chandaka

When neither of these teachers satisfied Gotama, he turned to the [severe practices of] ascetics living, it is said, on a single grain of rice per day. None of these paths led him to his desired goal of ending suffering for himself and others.

Batchelor describes the oft-repeated story of Gotama finally taking refuge under an Assatha banyan, the Bodhi tree, to meditate until he found enlightenment. "On the seventh day, upon seeing dawn, he reached [the final stage of] awakening." He spent the remaining 45 years of life guiding others along the same journey.

A primer on the Buddha's philosophy begins with a chapter called "The Dhamma, the Teachings" (translated as the more familiar Dharma in Sanskrit) where Batchelor explains... More>>

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