Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Buddha in Stone (sutra)

Wisdom Quarterly; Wonderlane, thanks to Natalie Sandoval on Buddhist pilgrimage
The Buddha in stone (Wonderlane/flickr.com)
This is a stone carving of the Buddha seated on a lion throne with a magnificent halo aura. he is holding the lotus mudra (yogic hand gesture) while seated in full lotus meditation asana (posture). He is surrounded by students, devas (angelic light beings) and dakinis. Coins are offered at the base of the statuary, located at the Deer Park in Sarnath (Isipatana, Uttar Pradesh), just outside India's holiest ancient city of Varanasi (Benares), which is where the Enlightened One taught his first sermon, expounded to the Group of Five Ascetics who became the first to directly know-and-see the Dharma in this dispensation.

What did the Buddha teach?
The Buddha's first sermon
“Meditators, two extremes should be avoided by one who has gone forth into [spiritual] homelessness. What are they? 
“The pursuit of happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial on the one hand and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial on the other.

“Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata [the Buddha referring to himself] has awakened to the Middle Way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nirvana [complete freedom].
“And what, meditators, is that Middle Way awakened to by the Tathagata? 

“It is this Noble Eightfold Path [to Freedom], namely, right [samma, perfect, complete, harmonious, beneficial] view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. 

“This, meditators, is the Middle Way awakened to by the Tathagata, which gives rise to knowing-and-seeing, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nirvana.” More
(Incredible India 3) The Holy City of Varanasi (Benares)

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