Have you wondered why enlightenment is the most crucial life attainment of a Buddhist? If you have, then you must have heard of Buddha’s enlightenment. Although, it may seem too difficult for you to comprehend, right? Never bother yourself much. Hence, this page will take you by hand and teach you all you need to know about Buddha’s enlightenment. However, we encourage you to read with rapt attention to be able to get the knowledge shared here.
Early Days of the Buddha
India, at the time of the Buddha, was very spiritually open. As a result, every primary philosophical view was present in society. Then, people expected spirituality to influence their daily lives in positive ways.
At this time of great potential, Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha, was born into a royal family in what is now Nepal. This is close to the border with India. Growing up, the Buddha was brilliant and compassionate. In addition, he was tall, healthy, and handsome. However, the Buddha belonged to the Warrior Caste.
There was a prediction that he would become either a great king or a spiritual leader. But, his parents wanted a powerful ruler for their kingdom. Therefore, they tried to prevent Siddhartha from seeing the unsatisfactory nature of the world. Hence, they surrounded him with every kind of pleasure.
Also, they made available for him five hundred attractive ladies. And, they included every opportunity for sports and excitement. He thoroughly mastered critical combat training. Even winning his wife, Yasodhara, in an archery contest.
Life at The Palace
Actually, Siddhartha was a rich prince and the son of a king. Therein, his father wanted him to become a king. He gave Siddhartha many things and did not let him see anything terrible. Afterward, Siddhartha married a woman and had a son. Subsequently, he named his son, Rahula. The name meant “chains.” Siddhartha named his son because he felt the frustration in his life. Consequently, he left the palace on the day his son was born.
The Quest Begins
Siddhartha grew up in a life of privilege and luxury. In general, he experienced protection from all knowledge of pain and suffering. Young Prince Siddhartha Gautama at the age of 29 left the family palace to meet his subjects. At which time, the reality of human suffering confronted him.
Having been confronted with the Four Passing Sights, (a sick person, an aged person, a corpse, and a holy man) and greatly troubled by them, the young prince renounced his life of luxury. As a result, he left his home and family to discover the truth of birth and death. Certainly, to find peace of mind. He sought out one yoga teacher and then another one. Subsequently, after mastering what they taught him, he moved on.
Siddhartha walked through the forest. In the forest, he found a group of ascetics. Thus, he watched them and thought this was the way to attain enlightenment. Therefore, for six years he lived with the Puritans. He tortured himself, held his breath. And, most importantly, he fasted until his ribs stuck out “like a row of spindles”. Thus, he could almost feel his spine through his stomach.
He ate one grain of rice and drank from the river every day. One day, a boat was on the river with a musician and his students on it. Siddhartha heard the musician say, “If the string is too tight, it will snap. If it is too loose, it will not play.”
Then he remembered something. Once as a boy, while sitting under a rose-apple tree on a beautiful day, he had spontaneously experienced great bliss and entered the first Dhyana. That is to say, he fell into a deep meditative state.
Actually, he realized then that this experience showed him the way to realization. Hence, there is no need for punishing his body to find release from the confines of the self. Instead, he would work with his nature and practice purity of mental destructions to realize enlightenment.
As a result, he knew then that he would need physical strength and better health to continue. Also, about this time a young girl came by and offered the skinny Siddhartha a bowl of milk and rice. When his companions saw him eating solid food, they believed he had given up the quest. Therefore, they abandoned him.
At this point, Siddhartha already realized the path to awakening was a “middle way”. That is, between extremes of the self-denial and over-indulgence.
Method of Enlightenment
The Buddha became enlightened by using meditation (deep thought). More so, he practiced Vipassana meditation. As a result, he concentrated very hard with a clear understanding of the law of impermanence. This cleared his minds of all attachment, craving, and aversion.
Under the Bodhi Tree
At Bodh Gaya, in the modern Indian state of Bihar, Siddhartha Gautama sat beneath a sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) and began to meditate. Basically, according to some traditions, he realized enlightenment in one night.
How Did He Realize Enlightenment?
Siddhartha became purified through concentration. Thus, he acquired the Three Knowledges. The first knowledge was that of his past lives and the past lives of all beings. On the same note, the other knowledge was of the laws of karma. Finally, the third knowledge was that he was free of all obstacles. And, then, released from attachments.
When he realized release from samsara, the awakened Buddha exclaimed,
“House-builder, you’re seen! You will not build a house again. All your rafters are broken, the ridge pole destroyed, gone to the Unformed, the mind has come to the end of craving.” [Dhammapada, verse 154]
Did The Buddha Encounter Any Temptations?
Yes, he encountered the temptations of Mara. However, the early Buddhist texts portrayed the demon Mara in many different ways. Therefore, sometimes he is the lord of death. And, some other time, he is the personification of sensual temptation. Or, he could be a kind of trickster god. Generally, his exact origins are uncertain.
Buddhist legends say that Mara wished to stop Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment. So, he brought his most beautiful daughters to Bodh Gaya to seduce him. However, Siddhartha did not move. Instead, Siddhartha responded by developing even deeper concentration.
Thereafter, Mara sent armies of demons to attack him. But, Siddhartha sat still and untouched.
Then, Mara claimed that the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him and not to a mortal. Even more, Mara’s demon soldiers cried out together, “I am his witness!” thus, Mara challenged Siddhartha “These soldiers speak for me. Who will speak for you?”
Subsequently, Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth. And, the earth itself spoke: “I bear you witness!” then, Mara disappeared. To this day, the symbol of the Buddha often portrays this “earth witness” posture. With his left-hand palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth.
Siddhartha could not be frightened into abandoning his meditation. Seeing this, Devaputra Mara fled. In this way, he triumphed over all the demons of this world. As a result, he became known as “Conqueror Buddha.”
What Happened After the Disappearance of Mara?
Siddhartha then continued with his meditation until dawn. Consequently, he attained the vajra-like concentration. Thus, with this concentration, he removed the final veils of ignorance from his thought. Basically, this is the very last mind of a limited being. And, in the next moment, he became a Buddha, a fully enlightened being.
Thus, as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.
After his awakening, the Buddha remained at Bodh Gaya for a time and considered what to do next. Of course, he knew that his great realization was so far outside ordinary human understanding. In other words, no one would believe or understand him if he explained it. Indeed, one legend says that he tried to explain what he realized to a wandering mendicant. But, the holy man laughed at him and walked away.
Eventually, he formulated the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, so that people could find the way to enlightenment for themselves. Then, he left Bodh Gaya and went forth to teach.
Armed with his new knowledge, the Buddha was initially hesitant to teach. Certainly, this was because what he then knew was difficult to explain to others in words. According to legend, it was then the king of gods Brahma, convinced Buddha to teach. As a result, he got up from his spot under the Bodhi tree and set out to do just that.
About 100 miles away, the Buddha came across the five ascetics he practiced with for so long. Of course, the ones who abandoned him on the eve of his enlightenment. And, to them and others who gathered, he preached his first sermon. Thus, this sermon henceforth known as Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma explained the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Afterward, they became the pillars of Buddhism.
Most noteworthy, the ascetics then became his first disciples and formed the foundation of the Sangha, or community of monks. Women became part of the Sangha. As a result, all barriers of class, race, sex, and previous background were not put into consideration. Instead, only the desire to reach enlightenment through the banishment of suffering and spiritual emptiness mattered.
For the remainder of his 80 years, Buddha traveled, preaching the Dharma (the name given to the teachings of the Buddha). Most of all, in an effort to lead others to and along the path of enlightenment. When he died, it is said that he told his disciples that they should follow no leader.
The Summary of the Buddha’s Teachings
Unarguably, Buddha is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in world history. And, his teachings affected everything from a variety of other faith (as many find their origins in the words of the Buddha) to literature to philosophy. In general, this involves both within India and to the farthest reaches of the Western world.
How Long Did Buddha Meditate for Enlightenment?
The Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple is called the Sri Maha Bodhi. And, Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (bodhi) while meditating underneath a Ficus religiosa. According to Buddhist texts, the Buddha meditated without moving from his seat for seven weeks (49 days) under this tree.
When is Buddha’s Enlightenment Day?
Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Hereafter translated as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali. Bodhi Day is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month. Above all, this is the last important day in the Buddhist calendar because our actions are 100000 times more powerful than on other days. This year, Buddhists will celebrate Bodhi Day on the 08 of December (2019).
Basically, a special purification and fasting retreat in Kadampa Buddhist Centers worldwide mark this event based on the practice. Also, Buddhists observe this practice in conjunction with eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara. It is very powerful for purifying the negative karma of body, speech, and mind. And, most importantly for pacifying strong delusions such as desirous attachment and hatred.
It is also a unique method for receiving blessings. More so, it improves our experience of love, compassion, and bodhicitta.
Death of Buddha
After his intensive works and teachings, the Buddha died at the age of 80. On his final day, accompanied by Ananda (his cousin and chief disciple) and some bhikkhus, they arrived at a place called Pava. A blacksmith at Pava, by name Chunda, came to know of Buddha’s arrival and wanted to offer him bhiksha. And, with great reverence and delight, he prayed to the Tathagata (Buddha) to accept his bhiksha. Certainly, the Buddha agreed to it. As a result, Chunda offered him sukara maddava – a sweet dish.
However, there is a vast debate here as to whether it was pork or a dish made of mushrooms gathered with the help of pigs; (Sukara in Sanskrit – Pali means pig).
Whichever it be, that was what the Buddha got from Chunda first. He ate it and was terribly ill. Thereafter, he asked Ananda to bury the remaining portion of the dish in the ground. Chunda felt agitated and guilt-stricken. But, the Buddha consoled him, saying that it was not his fault.
Despite being severely ill, the Buddha, with the party of bhikkhus, managed to arrive at a place called Kushinara. Then, he was very weak, and his disciples began wailing in grief. So, he consoled them and gave some final instructions to Ananda. This regards mostly to what should be the conduct of bhikkhus after his passing away. Finally, the Buddha instructed the bhikkhus to be earnest in their efforts to seek the truth.
The Buddha then gave up his mortal coil and entered the sphere of infinite consciousness. Which is beyond perception and non-perception.
Buddha Enlightenment Quotes
- Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
- If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.
- Nothing can harm you as much as your thoughts unguarded.
- People with opinions go around bothering each other.
- By liberation of the self through love, we will develop love. We will practice it. We will make it both a way and a basis.
- Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.
- Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance.
- If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart.
- It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see one’s own mistakes.
- Three things cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun, and the Truth.
- Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness, conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.
- Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except yourself.
- If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.
- Health is the greatest gift, and contentment is the most significant wealth.
- If you don’t tend to one another, who then will tend to you?
- The foolish and the ignorant give themselves over to negligence; whereas the wise treasure mindfulness as a precious jewel.
- Silence the angry man with love, Silence the ill-natured man with kindness, Silence the miser with generosity. Silence the liar with truth.
More Buddha Quotes On Enlightenment
- As a mountain of rock is unshaken by the wind, so also, the wise are unperturbed by blame or by praise.
- Better than a hundred years in the life of a person who is idle and inactive, is a day in the life of one who makes a zealous and strenuous effort.
- Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
- That deed is not well done, if one has to repent for having done it, and if, with a tearful face, one has to weep as a result of that deed.
- It is a man’s mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.
- Die’ is not a word to be used in the case of enlightened beings like Buddha.
- His final departure is called ‘Mahaparinirvana’ – The Great Final Release.
Reference site for quotes
The historical Buddha, also called Gautama Buddha or Shakyamuni Buddha was believed to have been about 29 years old when he began his quest for enlightenment. Subsequently, he accomplished his quest about six years later when he was in his mid-30s.
In general, the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment might not appear the same way in all schools of Buddhism. There are, of course, elements of folk history and fable at work here. This is because the details of Siddhārtha Gautama, a clan prince living roughly between the years of 563 BCE to 483 BCE are not precisely known. It is certain, however, that this young prince was an actual historical figure. Also, the transformation he underwent set in place a spiritual revolution that continues to this day.