Monday, February 13, 2012

101 Questions on Buddhism Answered (Part 2) adapted from Ven. Narada Thera with help from Kol Pheng, PhD, Pannasastra University of Cambodia and Ven. Savath Saloeurm edited by Wisdom Quarterly

Striving for Enlightenment
The Bodhisatta (Buddha-to-be), 29, went on a quest for enlightenment. Having just abandoned the household life, renouncing his royal trappings, he cut his hair, donned a simple robe, and spent a week fasting in Anupiya Mango Grove, enjoying the bliss of solitude for the first time in his life.
101. What did he do after those seven days?
With robe and bowl, eyes cast down, he went about receiving alms from willing donors -- an ancient custom in India -- eventually ending up in the capital of Magadha, Rajagaha (modern Rajgir).
102. Was this a strange sight for the people?
The people of Rajagaha and King Bimbisara were used to seeing wandering ascetics. But they were amazed at the sight of so handsome, regal, and distinctly noble a figure seeking alms.
103. What did the king do?
The king ordered the people to go and see who he was.
104. What did the Bodhisatta do after securing alms?
After gathering enough food for the day, he went to Pandava Rock to meditate.
105. What did Bodhisatta feel eating common food after a lifetime of delighting exclusively on royal fare?
It seemed to him as if his bowels gushed out of his mouth see such mixed food as he had never seen.

106. Did he eat it?
He advised himself make do and ate the food.
107. What happened when the messengers reported this matter to the king?
The king hurried to the scene and offered him his kingdom.
108. Did he take it?
No, he refused. What use had he for another kingdom? He said he was intent on supreme enlightenment (buddhahood).
109. What did the king think?
The king was pleased to hear about his lofty objective.
110. What did the king say?
He invited him to come to his kingdom after reaching his goal.

Seeking the Truth
111. How did he seek truth and peace?
He went at first to a well known yogi named Alara Kalama and studied his doctrine (dharma) and discipline.
112. Was he pleased with this system?
He was at first but it seemed ultimately futile, having reached the height of this system, which only led to a lofty immaterial meditative attainment.
113. What did he do?
Intuiting that there was more to realize and attain to find a solution to the problem of suffering, he went to another famous yogi named Uddaka Ramaputta.
114. Was he satisfied with this meditative doctrine and discipline?
Again he reached the height of this system and found that it did not offer final liberation from ALL suffering. It was no means to ultimate happiness, peace, and freedom. Instead, it offered an even loftier immaterial attainment.

115. Why was he dissatisfied with these systems?
He was seeking nirvana (Pali, nibbana), the end of all suffering, not another means of being reborn in exalted heavenly worlds, none of which are actually everlasting.
116. Was he discouraged?
No, despite this disappointment, he made up his mind to find the ultimate truth for himself.
117. Where did he choose to go for his meditation?
He chose Uruvela, a beautiful and quiet spot.

The first five disciples (

118. Did he set off alone?
No, for he had inspired five other seekers in their search: Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji.
119. Who was Kondanna?
He was the youngest brahmin who foretold the Bodhisatta's future on his naming day.
120. Who were the others?
They were the sons of the four other brahmins present on that occasion.

121. How long did the Bodhisatta strive for enlightenment?
Altogether he struggled for six years. It is not clear how much of that time was studying with his teachers and how much on his own accompanied by these five ascetics.
122. How did he strive?
He followed the ancient Indian custom, popular all over the world, of doing penance. He underwent a great deal of unnecessary and ultimately futile suffering (expiation) -- missing the point of what was needed and what was superfluous. He practiced many forms of severe austerity, tormenting his body so much so that it was reduced to an emaciated skeleton wrapped in skin.
123. What happened to it?
His golden skin turned pale. His blood dried up. His eyes sunk. He was on the verge of death.

124. Did anyone disturb him?
Mara "the Evil One" approached him.
125. What did Mara say?
Mara said, "Lean you are. Near is death. Live, O good sir! Life is better. Living [back in the world] you could perform many acts of [mundane] merit!"
126. What did the Bodhisatta say?
He replied, "O Evil One, you have come for your own sake. I need no [mundane] merit. I care not for life. I am intent on supreme enlightenment."
127. Did the Bodhisatta rebuke Mara and his forces?
Yes, he pointed out that Mara's "army" consisted of 10 kinds of passions.
128. Did he succeed in tempting the Bodhisatta from his quest in any way?
No, he did not. Instead, Mara went away disappointed. CONTINUED

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