Painting By Jeff William ~ “Makara Buddha”
Shakyamuni Buddha and His Teachings
Shakyamuni Buddha , the Founder of Buddhism, lived 2500 years ago in India. There are also many extraordinary individuals, like Shakyamuni Buddha, who have attained enlightenment and become Buddha’s.
Buddha can not erase our karma, but he can manifest in a variety of forms to guide and inspire us. Just as the sun shines everywhere without discrimination or restriction, Buddha helps everyone equally. Buddha can not make us to act in certain ways. It is up to us to control our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Buddha’s first teaching is the Four Noble Truth. These truth are (1) The truth of suffering – All life is suffering; (2) The truth of the origin of suffering – Suffering is caused by selfish desire; (3) The truth of the cessation of suffering – The desire can be overcome, which ends suffering; and (4) The truth of the path leading to cessation of suffering – Entering the Eightfold Path throughout life to gain liberation from suffering. The Eightfold Path is composed of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The last three elements are concerned with the practice of meditation.
The five fingers of Buddha’s hand represent the five perfections: Generosity, morality, patience, effort, and meditative concentration. His hands, with the thumb and index fingers in a circle, symbolizes the dharma wheel set in motion, and the hands held to the chest means he is speaking straight from the heart.
Shakyamuni Buddha’ teachings are a diversity of beliefs that are about the truth of the human world and beyond. He says that each being has the possibility to become a Buddha because each being has the Buddha Nature within. He talks about our lives and our minds and how to use our Buddha Nature within to deal with the challenges of everyday life. His teachings empower us to improve our lives and at the same time to do what we can to help others.
When facing crisis, tragedy or turning point of life, there is no reason for us to ever feel hopeless or helpless. If we can develop our inherent Buddha Nature and become assured that “Buddha is me; I am Buddha,” we will be self-confident and have the courage and strength to take the responsibility for any misfortunes.
Buddha’s teachings are about “open heart” and “clear mind.” “Open heart” is to show our sincere compassion, not to be angry but to be understanding towards others, and be patient towards ourselves. “Clear mind” is through the wisdom of our Buddha Nature within to overcome the pain and suffering in life and grow to find peace and serenity. Together with “open heart” and “clear mind,” we are able to deal with the challenges, difficulties and struggles in our lives.
So, through the learning of Buddha’s teachings we have the courage and strength to accept the pain and suffering, to subdue anger and attachment, and to let go of a painful heart. And, we also attain the confidence and ability to transform the crisis or tragedy into an opportunity to grow, and to find the fulfillment and happiness again.
The Buddha Nature within is similar to the essence of the lotus. The lotus is an auspicious symbol and represents the potential purity of heart and opportunity to grow despite of its situation and environment.
In spite of the weeds and the dirt surrounding it, the lotus flower still blossoms outshining everything around it. The lotus flower has taken a long path through the mud and the murky water seeking the sunrise to open its heart to the world and express its essence.
The lotus teaches us to accept ourselves for who we are as well as the world around us. It also teachs us to remember that when we go though difficulties and struggles in life we should remind ourselves of our inherent beauty and the Buddha Nature within. We have the power and are capable to overcome the imperfection of life and achieve the perfection of our own.
When the Buddha was about to pass away, he said to his followers: “This worldly life is transitory; separation is inevitable; and nothing is permanent. The time to go has come, and I must be on my way…” The Great Buddha’s teachings and his virtuous actions help us remove the sufferings, conquer the illusions, attain the liberation, and we are on the path to enlightenment.