In detachment lies the answer to suffering
Detachment is the only word that describes the central point of the Buddha’s teaching. This was told to me by the tall and agile Buddhist monk from Thailand under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya on a summer morning. The place was revered and serene and the monk was busy collecting Bodhi leaves from the ground, helping the ground staff of the Mahabodhi Temple. It is the place from where the wave of Buddhist philosophy has spread across the world in all directions – East, West, North, South – for thousands of years. The vibrations are still felt there in Bodhgaya in the air, on the ground, in the trees and in the stupas surrounding the temple.
The Buddha is not seen as a God but as a human being, a man who found the answers to the deepest dilemmas of human life and made them available to others. Buddhism around the world conveys a sense of sacredness, self-confidence and calm. Millions of men for thousands of years have taken refuge in Buddhism to find severity in the world of suffering. Suffering is the only common phenomenon attributable to any human being.
Buddhism as a religious tradition began with the attainment of Nirvana – enlightenment – by Prince Siddhartha Gautama 2,500 years ago. According to Thathagata, Buddha’s middle path is the desired path to attain knowledge, wisdom, and superior insight. And the Middle Path is the Noble Eightfold Path: “Right Views”, “Right Thoughts”, “Right Speech”, “Right Action”, “Right Livelihood”, “Right Effort”, “Mindfulness” and “Concentration”. correct “.
Right after the attainment, Lord Buddha thought, “This is the only way for living beings to become pure, to overcome sorrow and pain, to end suffering and sadness.” Nirvana or enlightenment is meant to be the feeling, the experience of emptiness, the understanding of “no-self”. The Buddha preached that every ordinary man could attain Nirvana if he pursued it correctly and earnestly. It was the positive approach of the Buddha who always tried to instill confidence and self-confidence in the common man. He did not pose as God, but rather as a teacher, a monk. The Buddha teaches that a monk should be energetic, mindful, and watchful. He was very assertive and always full of life. He wandered the streets, the jungle, traversed kingdom after kingdom on foot for most of his life, and never stayed in his intended palace after leaving his “golden prison” at the age of 29. Prince Siddhartha sought the Truth. He said, “I should leave this golden prison, where my heart lives in a cage, to find the Truth; that henceforth I will seek, for the love of all, until the truth is found. And he found the Truth. Truth would blossom and blossom like a lotus.
The Buddha propagates four Noble Truths: “The Truth of Sufferings”, “The Truth of the Origin of Sufferings”, “The Truth of the Cessation of Sufferings” and “The Truth of the Path”. He perceived that the origin of suffering lies in desire; desire comes from the nature of the self. Human beings want to get rid of suffering. Siddhartha was able to end suffering in the experience Buddhists called Nirvana. Ignorance and desire are the fuels of “samsara” and the source of suffering. Desire calls forth suffering. Detachment alienates desire. Thus detachment heals suffering. This was the point the monk from Thailand wanted me to understand this summer morning. Keep an equal distance between joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, that is, remain insensitive to joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness. This state of mind when attained would make a man strong and robust, and he would attain wisdom.
The Buddha was an excellent teacher instilling a spark of new ideas and new thoughts into the minds of the disciples on life lessons. Society in India was dominated by priests, by their verdicts and sermons. The life of the common man was guided by the directives of the priests. But the Buddha never yielded to the priests, never yielded to superstition, casteism or other old ideas detrimental to human well-being. He didn’t even like the idea of God’s existence. The Buddha was not afraid to defend his ideas and thoughts. He changed the thought process of mankind and was therefore a revolutionary, a social reformer. The Buddha wanted to bring people out of darkness into light, peace and hope. He had an immense love for humans and animals.
Institutionalism or various social organizations create rules, a unified code of conduct that helps people manage group work and live in community. People living in society behave in harmony with others, share the same ideas and preach the same customs and rituals. The Buddhist philosophy has also spread across the world through the religious institution called “Samgha”. Royal patronage was also there to enhance the dissemination of the Buddha’s teachings. “The Right Livelihood” is the fifth “Noble Eightfold Path” which implies that earning a living to survive is essential. There is no conflict between spiritual elevation and material well-being. But the excessive enjoyment of material wealth is not part of the right livelihood and stands in the way of the liberation of humanity. Human life is not just about consuming food and enjoying comfort. Life has its own creative presence, a meaningful existence and in this way an individual is unique and different from other individuals despite living in the same society. Buddhist philosophy is always synonymous with human well-being. A maximum of well-being can be obtained with a minimum of material consumption. This philosophy helps to achieve happiness.
The exponential growth of the population on earth and the tremendous growth of technology and inventions have made people’s lives confusing, contradictory, compromising and complicated, and Buddhist philosophy has declined to some extent. But it is still palpable in some corners of the world. We are increasingly unable to look within in this polluted and overcrowded world. Overwhelming technology, concepts of growth and economy have engulfed our lives like monsters. Our lives are guided by external material forces rather than internal forces.
The Buddha focused on the mind, but the modern world focuses on the material. Plastics and pesticides are the basic materials that drive our lives. We are submerged in the pond of greed, lust and desire. We are guided in every decision by science, technology and economics, not by philosophy. “But inner strength, inner peace are essential and useful to effectively solve any problem outside the world and to live a meaningful life. Compassion is the strength to gain inner strength. A peaceful inner spirit also creates a peaceful atmosphere which others can also benefit from. It creates a happier society. These are the words of the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Lord Buddha urged his disciples to lead meaningful lives. At the time he was preaching his sermons, there were, according to a historical assumption, living in India about one million people and the world had about ten million. Since then we have come a long way and many millions of people have lived their lives on earth – “ate, drank, laughed, loved and lived, and enjoyed life well” and then died. India now has over 1.3 billion people. “Since there is no hope for man but in man,” let us pray that Lord Buddha will live with us now; we desperately need a thousand splendid Buddhas on earth.
(The author is a cost accountant who works for an electric utility.)