Traditional Thangka of Shakyamuni Buddha is handpainted on cotton canvas in Nepal. Shakyamuni Buddha is also known as Siddartha Gautam.
The ancient Sanskrit word ‘Buddha’ means ‘having become awoken ‘ in the sense of having attained ‘supreme awareness’.
It is closely related to the term ‘Bodhi’ which refers to awareness. The serene & sublime image of Gautama embodies a condition of compassionate understanding, of an awoken illuminated mind.
This is a stark contrast to many Western ideas of outward pride, muscular vigor & displays of material wealth. Gautama Shakyamuni was born c.563 BCE in Lumbini which is today in Nepal.
He concentrated on the cardinal Rule of Desire & its relationship to hate. This Principle pre-existed his lifetime & is a theme common to Hinduism, Jainism & similar faiths.
Desire is taken in the sense of greed, selfishness, possessiveness which combine to obscure higher awareness & understanding, especially in context with the world around us.
He was certain that the suffering sick people, hungry people, old people & poor desperate people was caused by & had arisen through a misunderstanding & that misplaced-desire & had generated this suffering.
The mantra of Shakyamuni Buddha
Om Muni Muni Maha Muniye Soha
- Om – Some believe that Om does not have an actual conceptual meaning. However, it can typically be reflective of an awareness of the surrounding universe. It is used at the start of many mantras and can be thought of as opening yourself up to the truth of what is coming next with the recital of the mantra.
- Muni – This term is often translated to mean sage or wise one.
- Maha – This term is typically translated to mean great or supreme.
- Soha – This term is often translated to mean hail or greetings.
What this means is that the Shakyamuni Buddha mantra can be loosely translated into English to mean the following.
Om Wise One, Wise One, Great (or Supreme) One, Wise One of the Shakyans, Hail!
The Shakyamuni Buddha mantra can be recited or inscribed upon a stone, jewelry, or wall hanging. This mantra is often repeated not just as a sign of respect and acknowledgment of the Buddha but also as a means of entreating the Buddha to help you find the inspiration that you need to follow in order to attain full enlightenment.
Gesture and Posture of Shakyamuni Buddha
The idea of freeing the self (ourselves) from the material world & the realization of the supreme self is a theme common to Indian Philosophy.
This is why words associated with the liberation such as Moksha, Samsara ( cycles of suffering), Karma & Nirvana are common to Hinduism, Jainism & Sikhism.
The difference between these three schools of thought is twofold,
- How this freeing of the self is attained
- What the nature of this freedom ‘is’.
That is what the state of being freed or partly freed actually feels like or how it can be described.
Life of Shakyamuni Buddha
- That Gautama is recognized for his enlightened reasoning who according to Theravada Buddhism was the 28th Buddha.
- That he is the Supreme Buddha [Skt. Sammasambuddha] of our age & that he is the be-all & end-all of Buddhist Doctrine, & closely follow his progress or ‘life story’ & to how he in how became full awoken.
In Hinduism, he is considered to be the ninth avatar of God Vishnu.
At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace in order to meet his people. Despite his father’s effort to remove the sick, aged & impoverished, Siddhartha encountered an old man.
They, together with the Buddha, formed the first sangha, the company of Buddhist monks. For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar & southern Nepal, teaching to an extremely diverse range of people, from nobles to outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers such as Angulimala & cannibals such as Alavaka. The sangha traveled from place to place in India, expounding the dharma.
Gautama’s entire Teachings revolve around. The Principle of the Three marks of existence
4 Noble Truths
To live means to suffer, because human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort, and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.
The origin of suffering is attachment. The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardor, the pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a “self” which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call “self” is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.
The cessation of suffering is attainable. The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications, and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.
The path to the cessation of suffering. There is a path to the end of suffering – a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely “wandering on the wheel of becoming” because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the Noble Eightfold Path will lead to the cessation of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.