Buddha, The Light Of Asia. Earnest O. Haucer Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.
Monks fighting invaders, attackers, aggressors, robbers, daylight thieves and foreign legions is not a new thing. It has been done innumerable times in the past ages and monks in monasteries, temples, pagodas, pavilions and caves were specially trained to defend and protect the places of their worship which also served as seats of learning and centres and stores of knowledge. Remember the Cultural Revolution and cleansing which gained nothing but was a waste of human lives. It is happening again.
Dedicated to the monks undergoing international persecution in Tibet and Nepal.
What do China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka have in common? It is Buddhism. Started from the awakening and enlightenment of North Indian prince Siddhardha Gauthama, fighting the evils and killer attacks from Hinduism, Monarchism, Autocracy, Democracy and Communism, it is continuing its journey through centuries, guiding human souls in Continents, to the right path of living. This article which was originally written by Earnest O. Haucer is reintroduced here in the light of new developments and is dedicated to the monks undergoing international persecution in Tibet.
The Golden Age of Philosophy in which three great teachers lived in three corners of the world at the same time.
Buddha in India, Confucius in China and Socrates in Greece lived during the same age, i.e. during the Sixth century B.C. Because the world was blessed with the presence of three great philosophers in the three corners of the world during this period, it is called the Golden Age of Philosophy. There are about 270 million Buddhists in the world. This article illustrates how Prince Siddhardha Gauthama became the Light of Asia. Kingdoms were offered as alms at his feet but he wandered through North Indian States with his begging bowl, teaching the world the philosophy of Right Living.
A prince wandering, begging and searching for the meaning of life.
Siddhardha was a prince in the Himalayan kingdom Kapilavasthu. He was married and had a child. In the midst of princely happiness and pleasures, he remained thoughtful. Old helpless men, dead men and holy men troubled his thoughts. During days and nights, the picture of the sufferings and pain of his people haunted him. Gradually he decided to give up all earthly pleasures and material wealth which his kingdom and the world offered and search for the true meaning of existence. One day in the dead of night he slipped away from the castle.
There have been so many Buddhas in the past, and Gauthama has not been the last.
The runaway wandered through the Northern and the Eastern Indian kingdoms as a homeless beggar with a begging bowl, seeking the true meaning of existence. He studied with famous Hindu teachers and fell among ascetic monks. After this long wanderings and learning, he meditated for seven days and nights under a Bo tree in Bodh Gaya in Bihar at the end of which he began to see things in a different way, with a new outlook. He had become a Buddha or ‘The Enlightened One.’ It is believed that there have been so many Buddhas, so Siddhardha was the Gauthama Buddha.
When we die, our soul enters another body, human or animal, moving the Wheel of Life a little.
Buddha became a moral teacher. He found material life the source of all pain and evil. Therefore he trained his followers in spiritual life. It is believed that our soul, upon our death, enters another body-human or animal. This repetition is known as the Wheel of Life. One can escape this prison of rebirth through Nirvana. For this, Buddha set forth Four Noble Truths. They are: Life is painful. Pain is caused by the craving for pleasure. Pain will cease when a person becomes free of desire. There is a way leading to the stopping of pain. This way is the Noble Eight-Fold Path, namely, right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right thinking and right concentration.
Pain from an evil act follows us like a wheel follows the hoof of the beast that is drawing the cart.
We are the result of our thoughts. If we speak or act with evil on our minds, pain follows us just like a wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the cart. For about 45 years, Buddha wandered through North and East Indian regions teaching these philosophies to people. The spiritual life, especially under so lovable a teacher appealed to many and as a result, there were so many mass conversions into his religion. His followers were not allowed to have too many possessions. Most often they were satisfied with a long single robe and a begging bowl.
A friend of monkeys, snakes, elephants, human beings and the birds.
Buddha was notably friendly with monkeys, snakes and elephants, a result of long rest and life in the forests. He did not like noise. He spent his time either inside the monasteries or out in the forests. He would often withdraw for periods to some lonely spot, allowing just one monk among his followers to bring him some food. His meditation added to this. Buddha passed away at the age of 80. “Strive earnestly,” was his last message to the world.
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:
Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.
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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.
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Excellent article – awesome photographs. Thank you PSRemishChandra.
What fabulous pictures you’ve found for this! Always wonderful to read about Buddha. Blessings, rd
Dear Steve Kinsman,
I am troubled by the harassment and persecution the Buddhist monks face during the present times, especially after the United States consenting to China claiming Tibet for them. China has a great economy and trade with the Sino is very lucrative. Therefore assuring support to China in whatever they do is the present fashion and trend even among countries with proven democratic and socialist commitments. U.S. and France once were synonyms of protest against international violation of human rights. Signing export and import pacts with China and embracing Dalai Lama at the same time is the present diplomacy. The world nations do not feel any shame in it. For decades, India has been publicly supporting the cause of Tibetan monks and for the same reason, China has been making united moves with Pakistan to weaken India’s position in this matter. As the land of origin of Buddhism and also as a land of fearless opinions and political stand, India has been doing good and right in defending the Buddhist monks’ cause, whatever be the world opinion in this regard. India’s firm stand with the Buddhists’ cause is exactly similar to America’s firm stand with and support to the existence, endurance, integrity and sovereignty of the Jewish nation of Israel. Thank you dear Steve Kinsman for your going through the article and adding your views.
Dear Rama Devi Nina,
I wrote this article years earlier, after teaching Earnest O. Haucer’s essay to a band of graduate students. It rested with me all through these years. In the light of the present international political developments and special circumstances, I thought publishing it would be relevant and good. No one is nowadays going to read Haucer’s writing, especially this one. But it is a must that people should go through this article again. That is why I published it. Buddha taught his disciples to endure and suffer. They are now suffering silently everywhere. They deserve international sympathy and the world’s support. Not only in Tibet, but in China itself they are mercilessly hunted and tortured, the details of which someday will surely come out, just as atrocities in Russia came out and their nation crumbled. All know that world communism limited and shrunken to just one nation in this world cannot stand against the loftier ideals of Buddhism. It is so because the present day communist leaders are steeped up to their necks in splendour, opulence and luxury. See the serenity in the face of Buddha and in everything that is associated with him. Feel the tranquillity in the pictures. It is this serenity and tranquillity that is now disturbed by petty puny little-minded mean politicians. Why can’t they stand aside, appreciate and tolerate?