And Along came Buddha

 

Without intent, have been hearing, reading and viewing about Buddha quite often over past few days. An animation movie on Buddha was being shown on the television. News paper carried an article about Deepak Chopra’s biopic on Buddha. A friend talked about Buddha and his way of Nirvana. He talked about how he feels about life and the day-to-day occurrences related to it. He said he doesn’t enjoy them. He feels they are way too ordinary and common place to feel elated about. They do not in any way provide a meaning to life. And what doesn’t provide a meaning could not be an emotion worth living. Right? Well, I definitely couldn’t refute his point of view. But I couldn’t agree with him as well. Does an individual not perform the day to day activities once he has found meaning of life? What does he do all day? Are these seemingly little moments really so little and worthless? But then I want to live all of them for they are all there seem to be in life. Anyway, this is not about me, this is about Buddha.

Why did Buddha talk about what he did talk about? Why did Buddha say that life is a cycle of birth and death and is full of sorrows? Why did he say that to get out of it is Nirvana? What made him suggest the eight-fold way to lead life which can save us from sorrow. Why was he so horrified of sorrow, if I may say so? And why is it that we, the ordinary folk are so very comfortable with a world full of sorrow that we want to live in it and face each day with an optimism of a perfect tomorrow. Though each one of us knows that there is never going to be a perfect tomorrow. That such a day has never come for anyone, ever. And if it has ever come, it has never stayed for long.
So why? Why is Buddha so concerned about something which even a common individual feels so comfortable with?

Answer may lie in Buddha’s life. The man that he was and the experiences he went through. A man of riches, a man who knew no sorrow. All he witnessed was pleasure. All he savored was life. Sun rose to give him light and dusk happened to let him play in the moon-light. All this continued till one day. The one very day when he stepped out of his palace and saw the other side of the coin. The sun rose because it has to. It went down because it had to. For each drop of pleasure he had, there was a coinciding side of sorrow. For each fruit he savored, someone had labored. For each man that was born, someone had died. And suddenly he just saw two sides of life, . Life and death. Pleasure and sorrow. Dusk and dawn. Unlike others who see it in unison, he saw it in two distinct pieces. And it tormented him. How can I savor something which will not last? How can I live in a moment of happiness if I know the source of it will soon fade and eventually die? He had always lived believing in eternity of the life and all the pleasures it brought with it. Now that he could see the futility of it, the fragility of it, the transience of it, he couldn’t enjoy anything anymore. He probably traveled from place to place, people to people, hoping to find one such place, where the moment stays. Trying to find one such piece of life, which would not change. Looking for that truth which can not be questioned. Which can be his companion for life and beyond and which will never change. Till he could find such a thing, these was no peace, only torture. There was no life, only questions. A child was born, lets celebrate, people said. But why?, asked Buddha. For he is going to die someday. He will grow and go through pain and suffering. Why should we celebrate something which is full of horrors? The question, the doubt and cynicism became his life. His each and every moment was filled with this question which seemed unanswerable. The quest was quenched only when he found his own answers. His own set of principles, his own truth. When he accepted life as a cycle of birth and death, of pleasure and sorrow. When he accepted that there is no getting away from it till we are in it. And that moment he became Buddha. He became the consciousness which lives this truth. The spirit which believes in it, is shaped by it. His response to each moment of life, each question of his followers came from one pot, that life is full of sorrow and everything in it is cyclic.

But then, it is not just about Buddha. It is about each one of us. We look at life with our own consciousness. It may not be so very much defined though. It may just be an unsaid, not-so-well-understood set of experiences, beliefs and motivations. But then it is, whether we know about it or not. We all are our own living Buddhas. Our Buddha may not be so evolved though. And who am I or anyone else to say who is evolved. Buddha, the evolved one, could very well be the most under-developed. He didn’t understand one basic fact of life, that it is transient. But then he was evolved because he knew his own version of truth. He was Buddha because not only he knew it, he lived with it. He was Buddha because his each moment was infused with his consciousness, which was so clear, lucid and consistent.

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