The Buddha: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1851686266

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From his many births to his deathbed deeds, this authoritative biography unites the Buddha of history with the Buddha of legend in a bid to reveal the lasting spiritual relevance at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. Acclaimed scholar John Strong examines not only the historical texts, but also the supernatural accounts that surround this great religious figure, uncovering the roots of many Buddhist beliefs and practices. John Strong is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Bates College in Maine, USA.

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the future Gautama’s life as the brahmin, Sumedha, who meets a past Buddha named Dipamkara. Seeing the Buddha approach a muddy section of a road, Sumedha is inspired to throw himself down on the ground and spread his matted hair out so that Dipamkara can walk over it (and him) rather than in the mire. At the same time, Sumedha makes a firm resolve to become, himself, some day, a fully enlightened buddha like Dipamkara, so that he can cause others to cross over the sea of suffering, and he later

(sic). Even prior to that, however, was a period of the “great cause” (mahanidana) of his buddhahood, which lasted seven incalculable ages, during which he met 125,000 past buddhas. During this first period of the “great cause”, the bodhisattva made only a “mental resolve” (manopranidhana) for buddhahood, whenever he met a past buddha. During the next period of the “very distant cause,” however, he also expressed that mental determination orally and so this is sometimes called the period of the

example of the perfection of truth-telling may be found in the story of the bodhisattva’s life as Prince Sutasoma who fulfills his promises to various persons, despite obvious dangers to himself; for him, keeping his word is more important than keeping his life. An example of the perfection of wisdom is the Maha-Ummagga Jataka – a veritable saga featuring the adventures of Mahosadha, the very smart son of a king who resolves problem after problem. The most popular of all these jatakas

will be surrounded by a great retinue of bodyguards, ministers, courtiers, and others, so too a buddha will be surrounded by a great community (samgha) of monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen. Just as a cakravartin, with his long fingers and toes and projecting heels, will be longlived, so too will a buddha be. Just as a cakravartin, with his sheath-encased penis, will have a thousand sons, so too a buddha will have a thousand disciples. Just as a cakravartin, with his banyan-like body, will

relics, and he is accorded that. He resolves to build a stupa over it. Finally, to close the episode, a young brahmin of Pippalayana arrives belatedly; finding that all the relics have already been distributed, he asks for and is given the embers of the cremation fire, which he takes away to enshrine in a stupa as well. Later traditions were to suggest that other relics (such as four teeth of the Buddha) were acquired by other persons including various divinities on this occasion, or that Drona

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