The Life Story of the Buddha

The passage that I chose for this weeks discussion is the Life Story of the Buddha. Coming into this weeks discussions, I knew little to nothing about the buddhist religion with the exception of it being taught a little bit in world history. I chose this particular article because I felt like it gave me a better understanding of the religion. There are so many ways the story could be told. There is no definitive story that is right. But all the stories teach the same story. What is very interesting to me is that the father wants to keep his son away from the luxury lifestyle and to stay on the right path. Siddhartha Gautama is born a wealthy prince. Later his father dying of old age and sickness causing his son to leave his family and become a monk. In the article it states, “It is indeed a pity that man, weak as he really is, and subject to sickness, with old age a certainty and death for a master, should, in his ignorance and pride, condemn the sick, the aged and the dead. If I should look with disgust upon some fellow-being who was sick or old or dead, I would be unjust, I would not be worthy of understanding the supreme law.” What was very surprising to me was the fact that his father told him not to pursue a religion because he was too young. He says, “Son, give up this idea. You’re still too young to consider a religious calling. Our thoughts in the springtime of life are wayward and changeable. Besides, it is a grave mistake to perform austere practices in our youth.

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I chose to write about The Life of Buddha reading because I have studied Buddhism in an academic setting before but the history of Siddhartha becoming Buddha was represented slightly differently than in the texts provided. I also thought the way Professor Burke referred to the origin story as a myth was interesting because it made me reflect more on my understanding on the origin of Buddha and the role he plays in the religion. The entire first part of the scripture is different than the understanding I had of the early life of Buddha. In the scripture “He left the palace, and as he strolled aimlessly through the country” before meeting a monk and then a young woman. The origin story I was familiar with was that some sort of seer or prophet type character told the King of a fate for his son that caused the King to become protective of his son and keep him locked in the castle. When Siddhartha leaves the castle he sees 3 horrors of humanity that fulfill the prophecy and cause him to leave on a quest for truth or some form of enlightenment. The three things he saw on his outing in the version I had previously heard, are the three things he asked his father to promise him protection from in order for him to stay at the castle. “Promise me that my life will not end in death, that sickness will not impair my health, that age will not follow my youth, that misfortune will not destroy my prosperity.” I remember that on his outing he witnessed death, sickness, and poverty for the first time and this is what encouraged him to leave and seek enlightenment. The oral tradition of passing this story must have led to many different versions but I find it reassuring that they all carry the same message, that human despair is what caused Buddha to seek an alternative to the pain found in the world.

For your discussion board, I would like you to choose one these passages and discuss your thoughts and reaction to it. In your response you can respond to any of the following questions:

Why did you choose this reading in particular to discuss?
What was interesting about the reading?
What do you think is the main teaching or message of this reading?
What did you find beautiful or disturbing about this reading?
What did you find surprising about the reading?
Did the reading remind you of something in your own life?
Did this scriptural passage remind you of any other scriptures?
What did you learn about this religious tradition from the readings?
What did you find confusing about the reading?
Your response must be at least 250 words and include two direct quotations from the reading. Your initial response You must also respond to at least two classmates (these responses must each be at least 100 words long).

 

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