Buddha Purnima 2023 will be celebrated on the 5th of May this year. The day holds special significance for Buddhists ( people who follow Buddhism) as it is believed to be the day Lord Buddha was born.
Buddha Purnima is also known as Vesak Day or Buddha Jayanti.
While most of us know about Lord Buddha, nevertheless, here is a small introduction to the life of the great teacher and reformer.
THE LIFE OF BUDDHA
According to Buddhist texts, the Buddha was born as a Kshatriya, or warrior, into the powerful Shakya clan. He was born in Lumbini, which is now part of Nepal.
Being a prince, Siddhartha lived a life of life of luxury and comfort. His Father shielded him from any exposure to the miseries of the world, such as old age, illness, and death. Thus living happily, he wed Princess Yashodhara at the age of 16, and they had a son.
However, the young prince had a life-changing experience at the age of 29, when he went for a ride through the city. For the first time , he came across a diseased man, and also saw what old age and death looked like. He witnessed human suffering.
Further ahead he saw an ascetic who had renounced the world and yet seemed happy. Thus Prince Siddartha made the decision to give up his wealth and family and lead an ascetic lifestyle. He turned to extreme self deprivation but later realized that did not free him from pain and suffering.
Consecutively ,Gautama gave up his life of extreme austerity and, while meditating under a tree, attained enlightenment. From then onwards, Siddhartha became “Gautama Buddha “or the ” Enlightened one “. The name Buddha comes from the Pali word “buddhi” or the ability to discern the Truth from Falsehood.
TEACHINGS OF BUDDHA
Buddha Purnima is all the more reason to remember the teachings of Lord Buddha. These are based on the 4 principles , also called the Four Noble Truths
Dukkha – Our existence comes with sadness or misery, it is part of living.
Samudaya – Dukkha or Misery arises from having desires
Nirodhu – One can eliminate desire
Magga – One can attain happiness by following a path or Magga of rightfulness.
What is the Rightful PATH ?
The Eightfold Path provides the tools to achieve this goal, that includes
The right beliefs,
The right desires,
The right speech,
The right behaviour,
The right livelihood,
The right effort,
The right mindfulness,
and right meditational accomplishment.
How is BUDDHA Purnima relevant today ?
Coincidentally, while we celebrate Buddha Purnima in May this year ,May is also the Mental Health Awareness month. After the COVID pandemic the world is focusing on improving mental health , mindfulness is a term we often come across and that is what Buddha also teaches.
To live in the moment , to be mindful in your speech , thought , work and desires. This is the gist of his teachings if I oversimplify it.
When you are mindful , you live in the present.
When you focus on what is best today, you already take care of the future, this helps in reducing suffering and making you feel happier.
Buddha also talks about limiting your desires to escape misery. Actually this translates into living a minimalistic life, something we all need to do to take care of when we are faced with population explosion, social media pressures and the climate crisis.
Today , more than ever , we need to follow the teachings of Buddha , to make peace within and without.
Happy Buddha Purnima to all !
(This post is my contribution to BlogChatter’s Initiative #CauseAChatter where we talk about #MentalHealth )
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