The great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
The great renunciation of Prince Siddhartha
by P. S. Mahawatte
Prince Siddhartha was the heir to his father’s throne. Upto the age of 29 the prince was provided with all the luxuries whether he wished or not. He was provided with three palaces; one to spend the winter, one to spend the rainy season and one for the summer. Although he was provided with all these pleasures of the senses he was not happy. He was not happy because he knew that he would get old, sick and then die. So all this is impermanent. He was determined to find out the answers as to why people are being born, get sick, old and die. One day he bid farewell to his wife and the newly born baby son and left all the luxuries and went into homelessness clad in a yellow robe as His only possession. He was in his prime of life at 29 years when he renounced all the luxurious living which is described as the Great Renunciation.
Why this is called the Great Renunciation could be discerned from what the Buddha says about Himself as related by Bhikku Nanamoli. "I was delicate, most delicate, supremely delicate. Lily pools were made for me at my father’s house solely for my benefit. Blue lilies flowered in one; white lilies in another, red lilies in a third. I used no sandalwood that was not from Benares. My turban, tunic lower garments and cloak were all made of Benares cloth. A white sunshade was held over me day and night, so that no cold or heat or dust or grit or dew might inconvenience me. I had three palaces; one for the winter, one for the summer and one for the rains. In the rains palace I was entertained by minstrels with no men among them. For the 4 months of the rains. I never went down to the lower palaces." This can be described as Kamasukaliyanuyoga - extreme of pleasure which the Prince experienced and subsequently renounced.
For seven long years, he sat under several gurus - teachers and learnt all they could teach. He reached the same level of mental development as the gurus but he did not find the answers to what he was searching for. At that time, there was a religious sect whose leader was Nigantanatha Puthra or Maha Vira who believed that Mokshya could be obtained only by giving a great deal of torture to the body. He perhaps thought of giving this theory a try by subjecting his body to self-torture, that he may find the answers and underwent the kind of self mortification that no human being could endure. This could be the Atthakilamathanuyoga that the Buddha spoke of.
It was his iron will to find the Truth that enabled him to endure this self mortification. It dawned upon him that in the same way as extreme pleasures, extreme mortifications did not reveal the answers he was seeking and abandoned the self mortification in the same way he abandoned self indulgence and decided to follow the Middle Path - Madyama Prathipadawa. Again with Iron Will, he sat under a tree which later came to be known as the Bo Tree with the firm resolve to make a final attempt to find the answers to his quest even if he were to die in the attempt.
The recluse Prince Siddhartha by his own efforts, not claiming any divine guidance or divine connections, found the answers to what he was seeking and became the Enlightened Buddha Gotama Samma Sambuddha. He at last found the answers he was seeking.
With boundless compassion, He set about explaining the Profound Dhamma beginning with His previous teachers the five ascetics. In explaining the Four Noble Truths to the five ascetics the Buddha said "Such was the Vision, Insight, Wisdom, Knowing and Light that arose in me about Tthings not heard before". He spent the next 45 years explaining the Dhamma in every way possible to make the disciples to penetrate and understand the Four Noble Truths. There were many disciples who achieved Arahathship during the lifetime of the Buddha. He was born in the normal way other people are born and lived as a human being endowed with all the pleasures and comforts not available to most and attained Nibbana as the Enlightened One all by His own determined viriya.
The birth, the Enlightenment and the Passing away of the Buddha occurred on the Wesak Full Moon Day. These three great events also took place in the open under a Tree. The Buddha has been described as the supreme environmentalist also. To protect the environment, the Buddha prescribed a Vinaya rule that His disciples should not even pluck a leaf from a tree leave alone cutting down trees. It is for the same reason that the Buddha allowed a fixed residence for the rains - Vas kaleta. What the Buddha taught was the Four Noble Truths. There are no mysteries in the Buddha Dhamma. The entire Dhamma is for the development of the mind and not the promotion of blind faith.
The Buddha’s teachings are called "Dhamma Anithiha", the Truth that carries its confirmation within itself, stands in no need of external authorisation. Late Ven Nanavira says "It is a fashionable blunder to hail modern science as vindicating the Buddha’s teaching". In fact,the scientists are still discovering by long and expensive research using highly developed scientific instruments, what the Buddha perceived and described by His own wisdom 2500 years ago. An article that appeared in ‘The Island’ on January 20, 2000 about a research project of Prof. Martin Raff, Professor of Biology at University College, London unravelling the way the body lives and dies says " Every minute, millions of healthy cells kill themselves, assisted by a network of signals from within or from other cells. These signals comprise a range of biochemical social regulators which either accelerate or put a brake on the death process".
The Buddha explained this process of impermanence stating that the same person cannot enter the same river twice. This also clearly shows that there is no "I" controlling or directing the activities of the body. The Professor further says "Cell suicide the invisible programmed carnage within our bodies is known as apoptosis". "It may seem wasteful for so many healthy cells to die.
We still do not know why such huge numbers kill themselves or quite how". The Buddha explained this process as Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Sankara and Vinnjana. All things are Aniccha (impermanent) Dhukka (suffering) and Annatha -no self. It is this all important teaching that distinguishes Buddhism from all other religions. Buddhism is not a Faith religion.
There was a colleague at my work place in the UK, who was a lay preacher and a very fine gentleman. He was a teetotaller, non smoker and never used even a swear word. We had many discussions about our respective religions and on my last day at work, we went for our customary walk in the park after lunch and he told me that he would be the happiest man if he could make me a Christian. I responded positively by acknowledging that he was a better Buddhist than I was and told him that I was prepared to accept the Ten Commandments and would he then accept me as a good Christian. He said that in order to accept me as a good Christian, I should accept and believe in God! Since I could not do this, we parted as good friends.
Buddha says "As the great ocean, ye disciples is penetrated by only one taste, the taste of salt, even so disciples this Doctrine and this order are penetrated by only one taste, the taste of Salvation." In the Malunkyaputta Sutta, the Buddha points out that " The religious life, Malunkyaputta does not depend on the dogma that the world is eternal... or not eternal. Whether the dogma obtains that the world is eternal or not eternal, there still remains birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair for the extinction of which in the present life I am prescribing." What the Buddha prescribed was the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the only Path and there are no short cuts. This path can be travelled only by those disciples who has Samma Dhitti. In English, this is described as Right View. Most erudite scholars define this as the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. This has to be so because right view for some may not be the right view for some others. Before one embarks on a journey, he should have an idea of the destination. He should be satisfied that "there is Dhukka" and that there is a way to bring an end to Dhukka as prescribed by the Buddha and that is why he has undertaken the journey. The traveller has to have a firm Resolve - Samma Sankappa to ensure that his Samma Dhitti is not allowed to be blurred or discouraged. This Resolve is described as Vithakka. These two in the Path are the Wisdom (Panna) and the next three is categorised as Morality (Seela) and the last three as Samadhi (Concentration). Without Seela there can be no Samadhi and without reaching Samadhi one cannot reach Wisdom. It is with this wisdom that realisation will come". All component things are impermanent. It is the nature of things that what is born should die. Having arisen they pass away. There cessation is happiness- Nibbana. (Translation from the book Maha Parinibbana of the Buddha by U. D. Jayasekera.)
The Buddha on one occasion said "In this one fathom long body along with its perceptions and thoughts do I proclaim the World, the origin of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world". There is no mystery in this. The Buddha was referring to the Visual, Sound, Taste, Smell, Touch and Thought Worlds. These are our Worlds created by us which we do not want to let go. That is why we hold onto this Self, I and Mine and to the belief I was, I am and I shall be

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