Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

January 26, 2013

GLOBAL FAITHS: Buddhism, a religion of enlightenment

There may not be many Buddhists in Michiana, though I’m told there is a temple in Bristol. But it is still the majority religion in South-East Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Buddhism actually began in India just over 500 years before the time of Jesus. Its founder was Siddhartha Gautama, a young prince of a small north India kingdom.

According to Buddhist legend, this prince’s father hoped his son would become a successful ruler, and so Siddhartha was pampered with the luxury of dancing girls and pleasure rides.

On one of these luxury rides in a royal chariot the prince saw an old decrepit man, on a successive ride a sick man, and on still another ride a corpse. On each of these rides the young Prince, otherwise shielded from the harsh realities of the world, asked his chariot driver about the scenes that shocked his sensibilities, asking, “And do we too grow old, get sick, and die?” to which his chariot driver answered, “Yes.”

These exposures to the realities of life set the prince brooding. And so one night after the dancing girls that were entertaining him got tired out and dropped to the floor to fall asleep right in front of him, he arose, got his stable boy to bring him his horse, rode into the forest, dismissed the stable boy and horse, and began his quest for peace of mind.

He first tried asceticism, a common Hindu practice at the time, but it did not bring him peace of mind any more than his previous indulgence had. So he sat himself down under a Bodhi tree, says Buddhist literature, determined not to move from there until he achieved enlightenment.

Enlightenment did come to

him, claims the story, the realization that it is desire, attachment, and craving that make life unsatisfactory, whether it is

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