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A thangka is a painting on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. It is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting but consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered over which a textile is mounted and then over which a cover is laid, usually silk.
The ancient Sanskrit word 'Buddha' means 'having become awoken ' in the sense of having attained 'supreme awareness'. It is closely related to term 'Bodhi' which refers to awareness. The serene & sublime image of Gautama embodies a condition of compassionate understanding, of an awoken illuminated mind. This is a stark contrast to many Western ideas of outward pride, muscular vigour & displays of material wealth. Gautama Shakyamuni was born c.563 BCE in Lumbini which is today in Nepal. He concentrated on the cardinal Rule of Desire & its relationship to hate. This Principle pre-existed his lifetime & is a theme common to Hinduism, Jainism & similar faiths. Desire is taken in the sense of greed, selfishness, possessiveness which combine to obscure higher awareness & understanding, especially in context with the world around us. He was certain that the suffering sick people, hungry people, old people & poor desperate people was caused by & had arisen through a misunderstanding & that misplaced-desire & had generated this suffering.
The idea of freeing the self (ourselves) from material world & the realisation of the supreme self is a theme common to Indian Philosophy. This is why worrd associated with the liberation such as Moksha, Samsara ( cycles of suffering), Karma & Nirvana are common to Hindusim , Jainism & Sikhism. The difference between these three schools of thought is twofold, 1. How this freeing of the self is attained & 2. What the nature of this freedom 'is'. That is what state of being freed or partly freedactually feels like or how it can be described.
Gautama is painted with golden skin sitting in a lotus seat [Skt. Padmasana] also called the meditative seat [Skt. Dhyanasana] & upon a white moon disc which represents the male principle of method which itself is upon a lotus throne. His left hand touches the ground in what is called bhumisparse mudra which symbolises his own recognition of enlightened mind in one of the most iconic images in all Buddhism. The palm always faces inwards. His feet are deliberately drawn level with one another & enlarged, being specific marks of a Buddha. His right hand supports an alms bowl [Skt. Patra], containing the liquid elixir of eternal life. Somehow the simple image of the bowl reflects his overwhelming humility & kindness. He wears the traditionally maroon gold monk's patched robe [Skt. Samghati] made of twenty five pieces of cloth which the first Buddhist monks sewed together. The Buddha has a green nimbus and blue aureole around his body signifying the highest level of understanding. Siddhartha is surrounded by Pink Lotuses [Skt. Padma]. This kind of lotus is connected with loving kindness & a flowering of pure consciousness. The closed bud to his right side represents the past or originating mind, the blooming flower represents the present & the buds represents the future Buddha Maitreya and forthcoming realisations. His elongated earlobes depict his royal connection; his knotted black hair & topknot symbolise his abandonment of worldly possessions; the dot [Skt. Urna] on his brow on the command chakra [Skt. Ajna] represents his transcendent wisdom, the 31st mark of a Buddha.
Gautama was born c.563 BCE Lumbini, today in Nepal Died c.483 BCE Kushinagar in India. within the Sakya kingdom in Nepal. He family names were variously called Gautama [Skt. 'Best Cow'] & surname Shakyamuni [Skt. meaning 'Sage of the Shakyas'] The name Gautama is linked with a person called Maharshi [Eng. victorious on earth] Gouthama who was an ancient seer. Maharshi Gouthama descendents adopted his surname. During his life he was as often called Gautama Tathagata, as Gautama Siddhi-hatha as Gautama Buddha. It was in recognition of his spiritual accomplishments he was called Siddhihatha & relates to why Gautama is a Hindu avatar. The lineage of 23 Buddhas were for the majority drawn from Janapada Kings & high ranking Brahmins.
He studied Buddhist Ideas in several locations in Kashmir & Northern India which to may seem a contradiction in terms, this is because to many Gautama Buddha is what Buddhism is. There are in fact two basic schools of thought. 1. That Gautama is recognised for his enlightened reasoning who according to Theravada Buddhism was the 28th Buddha. 2. That he is the Supreme Buddha [Skt. Sammasambuddha] of our age & that he is the be all & end all of Buddhist Doctrine, & closely follow his progress or 'life story' & to how he in how became full awoken. In Hinduism he is considered to be the ninth avatar of God Vishnu.
At the age of 29 Siddhartha left his palace in order to meet his people. Despite his father's effort to remove the sick, aged & impoversihed, Siddhartha encountered an old man. Disturbed by this, when told that all people would eventually grow old by his charioteer Channa, variously, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. Deeply depressed by these sights, he sought to overcome old age, illness, and death by living the life of an ascetic. He left his palace leaving behind this royal life to become a mendicant. Siddhartha left Rajagaha and practised under two hermit teachers. After mastering the teachings of Alara Kalama Siddhartha was asked by Kalama to succeed him, but moved on.
He then became a student of Udaka Ramaputta, but although he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and was asked to succeed Ramaputta, he was still not satisfied with his path, and moved on. He initially became as ascetic but then After asceticism and concentrating on meditation and Anapana-sati (awareness of breathing in and out), Siddhartha is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way- a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
Gautama thus journeyed to Deer Park near Varanasi (Benares) in northern India, he set in motion the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the group of five companions with whom he had previously sought enlightenment. They, together with the Buddha, formed the first sangha, the company of Buddhist monks. For the remaining 45 years of his life, the Buddha is said to have traveled in the Gangetic Plain, in what is now Uttar Pradesh, Bihar & southern Nepal, teaching to an extremely diverse range of people, from nobles to outcaste street sweepers, mass murderers such as Angulimala & cannibals such as Alavaka. The sangha travelled from place to place in India, expounding the dharma.
2nd Commentary Gautamas entire Teachings revolve around: The Principle of the Three marks of existence; 1. Dukkha (Sanskrit: du?kha): That all beings suffer from all situations due to unclear mind. 2. Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things are impermanent. 3. Anatta (Sanskrit: anatman): That the perception of a constant "self" is an illusion. Gautama coonsiders the arising of this suffering, & explains that this is caused by a misunderstanding of phenomena (the world around us) which is impermanent [Anicca] which he then related to the illusion of the ego, which is actually nothing but an illusion. [Anatta]. He shows that by understanding the nature of the suffering, & specifically its arising, we can alleviate this or extinguish it altogether.
The Principle of the Four Noble Truths: that suffering is an inherent part of existence; that the origin of suffering is ignorance and the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment and craving; that attachment and craving can be ceased.
1.To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment. The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardour, pursuit of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable. The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering. There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the Noble Eightfold Path will lead to the cessation of attachment and craving and therefore suffering.
Buddhists & Jains present a 'series of ideas' to liberate the human spirit (the self). Buddhist ideas centre on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. He certainly incorporated the lessons he received form the Sages that he spent so many years with. Vajrayana Buddhism additionally includes a lot of Deity Figures which comunicate these ideas which Guatama was less interested in. Modern Hinduism is more bound to their deity figures, especially the trimurti of Brahma, Siva & Vishnu who are seen to greatly assist in liberating the self. The practice of Tantra (the cultivation of a person energy patterns/line) is also common to all Indian Oriented Faiths. *Gautama formulated so many profound principles that is quite easy to envisualise his as some type of Christ figure. But this is not true. Gautama declared that we all have Christ-nature & the capacity to be Buddhas within us, just as he. The trick is to awaken, be aware of & to nurture our own Buddha nature so that we can become fully realised or at least partly realised. Gautma became fully realised & this not so easy. He said that teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our personal experience and are praised by the wise. See the Kalama Sutta for details.
Gautma originated a series of compelling ideas on 'how to liberate the self' & how to 'raise the human condition of our life' which run through all forms of Buddhism. These are simple a collection of ideas which are devised to enable us to free ourselves from all if not some of the suffering we experience in our lives. It is very easy why Gautama Buddha is mistakenly taken to 'be Buddhism itself'. These principles are as follows:
The Principle of 3 Universal Truths - The Principle of the 3 Marks of Existance (Aka. Universal Characteristics) - The Principle of The Four Noble Truths - The Principle of the Noble 8-Fold Path - The Principle of Sutra Fallibility
In the Principle of the 3 Universal Truths & the Principle of the 3 Marks of Existence points 1 & 2 are identical. The 3 Principles of the Universal Truths lists Nirvana as no.3 whereas the 3 Marks of Existence lists Dukkha. It is possible that the Principle of 3 Universal Truths pre-dated Gautama Buddha as the Idea of Nirvana is common to all Ancient Indian Philosophies. Gautama quite possibly added Dukka i.e. The idea of Suffering, but certainly not to the exclusion of Nirvana which is an important part of his advice. In Gautma's teachings the understanding of sufering is a 'means' to attain Nirvana. Since Dukka & Nirvana are so quintessential, in Buddhism the The Principle of 3 Universal Truths - The Principle of the 3 Marks of Existance (Aka. Universal Characteristics) are sensible called the 4 Universal Truths.
- The Principle of 3 Universal Truths (Aka. Three Seals) 1. Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things are impermanent. The term expresses the idea that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux. The Pali word anicca literally means "inconstant", and arises from a synthesis of two separate words, 'Nicca' and the "privative particle" 'a'. Where the word 'Nicca' refers to the concept of continuity and permanence, 'Anicca' refers to its exact opposite; the absence of permanence and continuity.
2. Anatta (Sanskrit: anatman): That the perception of a constant 'self' is an illusion.
In Buddhism, anatta (Pali) or anatman (Sanskrit: ????????) refers to the notion of "not-self". In the early texts, the Buddha commonly uses the word in the context of teaching that all things perceived by the senses (including the mental sense) are not really "I" or "mine", and for this reason one should not cling to them. The Pali suttas categorize the phenomena experienced by a being into five groups ("khandhas") that serve as the objects of clinging, and the basis for a sense of self. In the Nikayas, the Buddha repeatedly emphasizes not only that the five khandhas of living being "not-self", that is, not "I" or "mine", but that clinging to them as if they were "what I am", or were "mine", gives rise to unhappiness.
3. Nirvana (Skt.) That eternity is Nirvana. Through the understanding of impermanence, suffering & not-self, we will have liberated ourselves from the ignorance. When all the defilements are removed, wisdom arises. Just as when darkness is removed, light arises. And, when wisdom arises, we eliminate our attachment to existence and non-existence, and then arrive at the threshold of Nirvana.
Nirvana is a Sanskrit word which is originally translated as "perfect stillness". It has many other meanings, such as liberation, eternal bliss, tranquil extinction, extinction of individual existence, unconditioned, no rebirth, calm joy, etc. It is usually described as transmigration to "extinction", but the meaning given to "extinction" varies.
There are four kinds of Nirvana: 1. Nirvana of pure, clear self-nature - It is commonly possessed by all individual sentient beings. It is not subject to birth and death, and does not increase and decrease.
2. Nirvana with residue - The cause, but not all the effect (Karma) of reincarnation is cut off; the obstruction of affliction is removed, but not that of 'what is known' (Dharma), thus the body which remains is subject to birth and death. Those beings are Arhats.
3. Nirvana without residue - Both the cause and effect of reincarnation are extinguished, both afflictions and 'what is known' (Dharma) are extinguished. All kinds of suffering are externally in stillness. There is no further residue. Those beings are Bodhisattva.
4. Nirvana of no dwelling - With wisdom and compassion, those who attain this kind of Nirvana will not dwell in birth and death nor in Nirvana, and will continue to rescue all living beings forever.
1. Nothing is lost in the universe The first truth is that nothing is lost in the universe. Matter turns into energy, energy turns into matter. A dead leaf turns into soil. A seed sprouts and becomes a new plant. Old solar systems disintegrate and turn into cosmic rays. We are born of our parents, our children are born of us. We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything. If we destroy something around us, we destroy ourselves. If we cheat another, we cheat ourselves. Understanding this truth, the Buddha and his disciples never killed any animal. 2. Everything Changes The second universal truth of the Buddha is that everything is continuously changing. Life is like a river flowing on and on, ever-changing. Sometimes it flows slowly and sometimes swiftly. It is smooth and gentle in some places, but later on snags and rocks crop up out of nowhere. As soon as we think we are safe, something unexpected happens. 3. The Principle of Cause & Effect The third universal truth explained by the Buddha is that there are continuous changes due to the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect is known as karma. Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserves it. We receive exactly what we earn, whether it is good or bad. We are the way we are now due to the things we have done in the past. Our thoughts and actions determine the kind of life we can have. If we do good things, in the future good things will happen to us. If we do bad things, in the future bad things will happen to us. Every moment we create new karma by what we say, do, and think. If we understand this, we do not need to fear karma. It becomes our friend. It teaches us to create a bright future.
Within the Dhammapada Gautama Buddha says:
"The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit."
- The Principle of the 3 Marks of Existance (Aka. Universal Characteristics) [Skt. Trilaksana] i.e. by which suffering could be understood, which are 1.Dukkha (Skt.) That all beings suffer from all situations due to deluded mind. To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.(See 4 Noble Truths) 2. Anicca (Sanskrit: anitya): That all things are impermanent. 3. Anatta (Sanskrit: anatman): That the perception of a constant 'self' is an illusion.
His teachings revolve around this dynamic. The Principle of The Four Noble Truths, that suffering is an inherent part of existence & that the main symptoms of that ignorance are attachment & craving; that attachment and craving can be ceased. Gautma's 2nd was the Principle of the Noble 8-Fold Path as a set of guides to take people form a position of Suffering to a position of less or no suffering. This is closely related to the principle of Karma. Gautma's 3rd was the Principle of Dependent Origination [Pali. Pa?iccasamuppada], Gautama closely looked at the arising [Skt. Arudaya] of the suffering (the 2nd Noble Truth). This is in 2 distinct parts. A. Suffering arising through the '5 aggregates' of our sense experience (i.e. eyes, ears, touch etc) which in Sanskrit is called skandhas. These are any of five types of phenomena that serve as objects of clinging and bases for a sense of self. B. The nature of the material world of phenomena, that any phenomenon 'exists' only because of the 'existence' of other phenomena in a complex web of cause & effect covering time past, present and future. Because all things are thus conditioned and transient [Skt. anicca], they have no real independent identity [Skt. anatta].
By considering universal suffering, Gautama's great achievement was to take spirituality to the common people in the fields & villages. Gautama realised that we all suffer, & that in which case, the transmission of Vedic Brahmanism & the wisdom of the Vedic Sages was relatively limited & not helping the suffering of most people. This was a rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture. He declared that we all have the potential to be illuminated & become fully enlightened. This was in contrast to the ritualised Vedic Brahmanism in his time. That enlightenment was not just the preserve of Brahmins & of Kings or sages which was not accessible the everyday person. His teachings are as much directed at the old, the ill, the poor as at the rich.