Buddha and the Conditions of Suffering



1.     The Idea of a Buddha

a.     Buddha is not a name but a type of person

                                      i.     An enlightened individual, many of whom appear successively, at certain intervals

                                    ii.     “Historical” Buddha - (6th/5th Cent BCE) – Shakyamuni

2.     Life of the Buddha

a.     The Buddha Shakyamuni Gautama Siddhartha (563-483 B.C.E.):Shakyamuni = sage of the shakyas, Gautama = family lineage, Siddhartha = "success." NE India

b.     Important Historical Points in the life of the Buddha:

                                      i.     Birth: 563 BCE, Lumbini Grove

                                    ii.     Enlightenment: 528 BCE Bodh Gaya

                                   iii.     First Sermon: Deer park near Sarnath (near Banaras)

                                   iv.     Death: 483 BCE Kusinagara (from rancid food)

c.     Sequence: birth, prophesy, youth and marriage, the awakening (chariot rides), disillusionment and withdrawal, sanyasa, enlightenment

3.     Dukkha: suffering, dissatisfaction, unease

a.     The Buddha analyzed the nature and causes of suffering, like a doctor diagnosing an disease, to understand and overcome them.  Buddhism is not inherently pessimistic.  Attempt to see things as they are, decide on the best way to respond to them.

b.     Three levels of dukkha: ordinary suffering, dukkha as change, the five attachment groups.

c.     Anicca: impermanence, change    

                                      i.     We are surprised by change, often disturbed.  We get used to things. All things, including ourselves, in flux.

                                    ii.     One tries but cannot cling to anything, as all things arise and pass.

                                   iii.     For example: The shock of change: seeing old friends appearance, your own face, physical change, divorce, death, illness.

d.     Anatta: no permanent self.

                                      i.     No permanent reality behind phenomenal reality: all is process, change. No self that is constant.

                                    ii.     The Individual = Groups of events (skandas): Bodily events, perceptions, feelings, dispositions, states of consciousness.  The individual is a temporary combination of such events

                                   iii.     There is no soul that transmigrates