A Belief in the Oneness of Man
"A unique being, an extraordinary man arises in this
world, for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many out of compassion
for the world, for the benefit, the good and happiness of Gods and men. Who is
this unique being? It is the Exalted fully Enlightened One." ( Thathagatha
Who is a Buddha?
He is known as the highest perfection of man. Before
attaining Enlightenment to be a Buddha, one has to fulfil ten Perfections (Paramita).
These perfections are dhana (Charity) or the love of giving for others' welfare,
virtuous discipline (Seela), renunciation of lay life, panna or wisdom, patience,
trustfulness, determination and courage, compassion and equanimity. A Buddha is
one who has released Himself from all attachment and pleasures of the senses and
is free of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. He is pure and one who by His own
effort attained Enlightenment.
The Buddha left us no written word, and lived
in a land steeped in spirituality and vedic religious tradition. His charismatic
personality, collected around Him a band of devoted disciples who were in search
of the Truth. As a Teacher of morality He left His footprint on Indian soil. Sakyamuni
Gautama Buddha was, according to scholars of the Anglo-Buddhist school (i.e.,
Mrs. Rhys Davids, Edward Conze and Marshall) an extraordinary man. He was a social
reformer who lived at a time when Vedic traditions and ceremonialism were strong.
He did not approve of animal sacrifices which would be at the price of others
suffering. He decried the caste system. Several of His disciples were considered
to be of low castes. Suneetha was a scavenger, Radha was a beggar, and Upali of
the barber caste. They all entered the Maha Sangha (priest-hood) Order. The Buddha's
humanism crossed many a racial and national barrier. He believed in the oneness
of man although we are born with Karmic inheritances (of Samsara) which are highlighted
indicating degrees of intellect, degrees of human dynamism, varying riches, poverty
and even human handicaps at birth.
What is Buddhism?
All major religions
excepting Buddhism bind one to believe in a supreme Creator God, immortal soul,
revelations, eternal heavens and hells. The Theravada Buddha Dharma is free from
such belief, dogmas and theories. Hence it cannot strictly be called a religion,
but today due to Hindu influence and certain Hindu practices such as poojas (offerings,
vows) have crept into the practice or observance of Buddhism. Buddhist dharma
is essentially a teaching of cause and effect (Hetupala Dharma).
of Dhana (charity), Seela (righteousness) and Bhavana (meditation) promote the
individual to follow 'The Correct Path' on his Samsaric journey (Karmic journey)
towards the goal of Nibbana. This dharma (philosophy) is based on the Four Noble
Truths, the Noble Eight-fold Path, the Law of Dependent Origination, Karma and
rebirth. In homage to the Buddha during Vesak, millions flock to temples wearing
white, to observe Ata-sil (a day of absolute devotion to the observance of Dhmma)
in a religious atmosphere. They will all partake in a vegetarian diet, a frugal
meal, listen to discourses on the dharma and meditate on the law of Anicca (impermanence
of life). Prof. Lakshmi Narasu, an Indian Buddhist scholar who lived 100 years
ago had said, "Of Buddhism alone it can be said that it has discarded all
animism, all dogmatism, all sensuality, all ascetism, all ritual, ceremonialism
and consists of universal compassion or maitri, charity, self-denial and love
for all life."
"All mankind is His shrine
Seek Him hence forward
in the good and wise
In happy thoughts and blissful emotions,
words and sublime serenity.
And in the rapture of the living deed,
seek Him if you would not seek in vain,
There is the struggle for justice
In the sacrifice of self for all
In the joy and calm repose
of the heart,
Yes, and for ever in the human mind ;
Made better, and more
beauteuns by this work."
Vesak is a full moon day of great significance
when the thoughts of about three million people all over the world, are focused
on the noble figure of Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha and His teachings (Dharma), as
recorded by His disciples in Suttas.
It was on a full moon day in May 623 BC
that, a noble Sakyan Prince named Siddhartha Gautama, who was blessed at birth
with 32 special marks such as the lotus and conchshells on His palms and a further
108 marks on His two feet, was born at the Lumbini Gardens (now located in Nepal)
amidst a grove of Sal trees, all in bloom. He preached His first sermon at the
Deer Park in Saranath in the open air, and about 45 years later, at the age of
eighty years passed away (Maha Parinibbana) again in the open air amidst tall
trees at Kasi, now known as Kasi-Nagar (Kushinare) in India. It was also on a
Vesak day in Sri Lanka, centuries later, that King Dutugemunu began constructing
the Ruwanveli Maha Seya (largest stupa in Sri Lanka) at Anuradhapura.