Buddha Poornima – A Time of Enlightenment
Siddhartha Gautama was a prince, born into a royal family. How then, did he become the realised soul that we all know and revere today? And what can we learn from Lord Buddha’s search for enlightenment? Buddha Poornima, also known as Vesak or Buddha Jayanti, is celebrated today as a significant festival to rejoice the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.
Prince Siddhartha lived his early years sheltered from old age, sickness, death and suffering, indulging in sensual pleasures. One day, at age 29, he decided to see what was beyond the palace walls. Once he was exposed to the ills of human life, he resolved to search for that which was beyond birth and death, and so began his path to enlightenment. In a divine discourse in Brindavan on the 30th of May, 1999, Swami said, “Gautama came to be known as Buddha because He developed Buddhi (intellect) and discrimination power. Discrimination is of two types: individual discrimination and fundamental discrimination. Individual discrimination arises out of selfishness, whereas fundamental discrimination is concerned with the welfare of one and all. One should discard individual discrimination and have only fundamental discrimination. This was the teaching of Buddha.” (‘Control Your Senses,’ Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 32, Part 1.)
Buddha undertook various self-inquiries over 6 years, trying various sadhanas, and came to the conclusion that it is only through mastery over the senses that one can realise the divinity within. This mastery cannot be achieved through neither self-indulgence nor self-mortification. Buddha prescribes the Eightfold middle path between the two extremes. Buddha prescribed eight duties, which are parallels to Swami’s teachings Samyak Vaak: purity in speech, refraining from falsehood, slander and abusive speech. Samyak Dhrishti: having the right or pure vision. Samyak Sankalpa: good or pure thoughts, and harmony of thought, word and deed. Samyak Karmanta: goodness in action. Samyak Shruthi: listening to sacred words
The above duties constitute true sadhana, according to Swami. These lead to Samyak Jeevanam: leading a pure life, free of worldly attachment. Next is Samyak Sadhana: good spiritual endeavour/ effort, to eradicate all evil within and remove impurities of the mind. Lastly, Samyak Samadhi: concentration, equal-mindedness, and turning the mind towards that which is permanent. It is at this point that one achieves Nirvana, the sense of oneness with all, that leads to everlasting bliss.
Buddha was not a God and he made no claim to divinity. He was a human being who, through the tremendous effort of heart and mind, transformed all limitations. Buddha means ‘the enlightened one’ and refers to the person that has cast off the veil of ignorance and achieved self-realisation, verily liberation. In this sense, we all have the potential to become Buddha.
The underlying message of Buddha Purnima, as described by our own Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is that the mind should shine with total purity like the full moon. In a Brindavan discourse on May 15th 1997, Swami said, “We are celebrating today Buddha Poornima or Buddha Jayanti. What does Poornima (full moon) signify? It signifies wholeness. When the mind is filled with love, it achieves fullness. As long as the mind is filled with darkness (evil thoughts), there is no meaning in celebrating Buddha Poornima. Get rid of this darkness. Without the light of love in the heart, what use is there in having illuminations outside? Light the lamp of the Divine in your minds. Banish hatred and envy from your hearts. Man is the victim of two evil planets: attachment and hatred. To escape from their grip, the only way is to cultivate love.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. 30.) Hence the mind should unite with its source, the Atma, which is pure and effulgent.
As we observe the effulgent full moon this Buddha Purnima, let us reminisce on Buddha’s teachings and embed them into our daily lives. As Swami says, there is no darkness on the full moon night. This Buddha Purnima, let us all venture to attain full purity of the mind.
Om Sai Ram.
(Young Adult from Sai Centre of Howick and Pakuranga)