The Buddha

In the footsteps of the Buddha.

Let’s Start with imagining the Buddha, his life, delving into his perspective, being with his mind, empathising. It will be a bit like imagining a biopic of say Leonardo Da Vinci intuiting from his art and writing the man inside.

With the Buddha we have as sources the Dhammapada, the Suttas and the Sutras to help
us develop our imagining.In our imagining effort, we will get it wrong, but that’s OK. If we keep bringing our attention back to him every so often over the course of time, we will start seeing some depth in our image.

We can fill in the details of our picture of the Buddha as we progress with our study and inquiry. The goal will be to see how his view and his volitions-desires played out over the eighty years in his life leading him from the four sights to enlightenment and his gift of Buddhist teaching to the world.

The life story of Siddhartha Gautama shows from the start that a clear inner ‘right view’ is already established creating changes in his life, from the four sights, that led inevitably to his enlightenment.

Buddhism starts with the four sights. Most of us have experienced aspects of old age
sickness and death, the first three sights, but we find it difficult extremely difficult to maintain an awareness that these are aspects of our lives and on the whole we forget about them while we live and make decisions and actions until they affect us directly or one of our loved ones. We tend to live our lives within the confines of not going there mentally.

Buddhism starts with the Siddhartha’s experience of the 4 sights because excluding these from our mind, say as a young healthy adult, leads us to false views where we do not consider our fate and look for happiness in the world rather than from within. This leads to emotions and actions that lead to unhappiness.

Siddhartha’s response to the four sights was to go forth, driven to meditation like Bethoven tothe piano and like a bat out of hell – driven. He continued , driven by his view , his immediate need, to change his mind to encompass the four sights. He traveled on a path into the depth of meditation, through asceticism and then with the vision from under the rose apple tree, an approach to awareness, a kernel of attitude.

I feel the rose apple tree is the axle in the Buddha’s life. It’s his first reported connection with being with the world with contentment. And then under the Bodhi Tree he takes this precious jewel of opening ‘spiritual receptivity’ as the ground in which to establish his meditation into the depth of sentience. A warm receptive attitude of attention as the mind progressed and changed through higher states of consciousness becoming less confined less attached in respect to ‘greed hatred and delusion’. According to the Suttas this lead to a mind established in absolute receptivity and absolute compassion.

Then after enlightenment? How was he? How was his experience now? Well four stories of his being with others tells us a lot. The skillful interaction of the Buddha with those in the world around him to see how he connected with them individually and made that important difference in their lives. Looking at these encounters can give us some understanding of how his mind worked and how Buddhism might follow.

Let’s look at four examples

Kisa Gotama

Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became …

His patience with Meghiya seeing the mental process Maghiya has to go through in order to
get to the point of Meghiya seeing how he can practice.

Then there is being with Angulimala, fearless to adversity and just concerned with
Angulimala’s wellbeing, as with meeting Mara’s blows under the Bodhitree where Mara’s arrows turned to flowers to fall on the forest floor around the Buddha

And of course being with Ananda, who just feels the compassion of Shakyamuni so
immediately and deeply on the Buddha’s death. In Ananda;s words singing down through the ages ‘He who is so kind’.

Hopefully we will see through the way the Buddha is with people, that the enlightened
mind arises from a very human mind . All the makings are here in our minds to attend to
the four sights and start following the path . We have all the makings for enlightenment.
I hope in the course of our study we will see that Buddhism is predominantly a prescription, a medicine.

So we can see the skillful interaction of the Buddha with those in the world around him and how he connected with them individually and made that important difference in their
lives. This might give us some understanding of how his mind worked and help us develop a
picture of what he was like and how for him and for us; ethics and meditation gives rise to wisdom.