Friday, June 3, 2016

When the Buddha was a famous fighter

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson (OPINION), Ashley Wells (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly;
Heroes of traditional Indian wrestling, known as kushti (
That's making my back worse, Bodhisattva! You win! (
Traditional India (kushtiwrestling)
The Buddha was in some ways still Siddhartha Gautama. That is to say, although he was changed irreversibly by the purification of knowing-and-seeing things as they truly are, on the outside the Buddha was still Siddhartha.

The profound change is called a "change of lineage" (gotrabhu). The enlightened -- from stream enterers to arhats -- are no longer like ordinary worldlings caught in endless wandering in samsara, the Wheel of Life and Death. They are either liberated or destined for complete liberation in no more than seven lives.

How was the Buddha still Siddhartha? So long as the Buddha carried on rather than relinquishing all for final nirvana, karma was still operating producing its exponential results of past actions of thoughts, words, and deeds.

In a past life, the Buddha explained, he had been a fighter, boxer, or wrestler demonstrating his strength and skill. Unfortunately, on one occasion, he (the Bodhisatta, the Buddha-to-be, the being striving for enlightenment over countless lives) lifted his opponent and threw him down on the mat in the ring. This act broke the opponent's back.
Ah, you're breaking my back! Your wrestling is too rough! (
  • Kushti, or traditional Indian wrestling, is not just a sport but an ancient subculture. Wrestlers live and train together under strict rules. They may not drink, smoke, or have sex. Their life must be pure. Kushti wrestlers live in gyms called akhara with strict diets (
That deed would long haunt the Bodhisatta, so much so that in his final birth, now as the Buddha teaching monastics late into the night, bringing them to realization of the path then handing monks and novices over to Ven. Sariputra who brought them to stream entry. Ven. Sariputra, the chief male disciple foremost in wisdom, then handed monks and novices over to Ven. Maha Moggallana, chief male disciple foremost in psychic powers, who brought them to full enlightenment (arhatship).
  • Wisdom Quarterly Editors: One suspects that the Buddha took the same care in teaching the nuns because he designated two counterpart "chief female disciples," Ven. Khema (foremost in wisdom) and Ven. Uppalavana (foremost in psychic powers). In this way females could receive effect8ve training to achieve the heights of liberating-insight the same as male monastics.
India's kushi wrestlers still compete in age old-contests (Reuters/
In a pit on bare dirt, traditional Indian wrestling gets brutal (
This arduous work of speaking and teaching late into the night was made almost impossible by back pains, which forced the Buddha to lay down to rest it. He would hand over the job of teaching to a disciple such as Ven. Sariputra.

It was that karma, possibly detailed in a Jataka Tale or merely alluded to when explaining the necessity of attending to his back, that ripened and created a burden many would think the Buddha had risen above. It was, indeed, possible for the Buddha to use meditative absorptions (jhanas) to tolerate all manner of physical pain and even to extend life. Nevertheless, fighting had very terrible consequences.

Soldiers, butchers, actors, comedians, and others should beware of the danger of karma bearing results in the future for occupations we think innocent and admirable. Most of us would like to be famous, revered, esteemed, and long remembered for some trivial fame in this life.
Did the Buddha still suffer?
So the question may come up, Could the Buddha (not Prince Siddhartha but the Awakened One who had undergone the life-changing experience of enlightenment) suffer and feel pain? Wasn't that all done away with at enlightenment when he glimpsed (directly experienced) nirvana?

The short answer is that seeing, touching, directly experiencing nirvana, while it leads to stream entry and the first stage of enlightenment, it does not end suffering. Reaching the various stages, which can go quite quickly with practice, and even getting to the final stage of full enlightenment (arhatship) still does not end pain. There is pain so long as there is a body. Psychological suffering is optional, so suffering has been done away with. But one definition of dukkha is "pain" (dukkhata).

That still exists until final nirvana -- or parinirvana -- which is not death but often gets called passing away. It is not death because what being was there ever to die? Only suffering (dukkha) came into being, only it passes away. It is not a person because those things by which we conceived or measured a person (the Five Aggregates) are no longer incessantly arising and passing away. One is free of rebirth and all disappointment.

But to say anymore of nirvana necessarily leads to wrong views or the holding of views about it. It is incomprehensible by words and concepts. It is not like our present experience, and it is not the opposite of it. The Buddha described it with similes, but by using negative terms (such as not this and not that), people frequently misconstrue it as nothingness or either of the twin wrong views called eternalism and annihilationism, which logics dictates, "If it's not one, it has to be the other" when, in fact, they are both wrong. Here the matter is explained in more detail:

No comments: