A short story about Buddha – Part 3

Paulo Coelho

[...]

He who once was called Siddhartha, now transformed into Buddha, left behind him the tree under whose branches he had managed to reach enlightenment, and set out for the city of Sarnath, where he met his old companions and drew a circle on the ground to represent the wheel of existence that leads constantly to birth and death. He explained that he had not been happy as a prince who owned everything, nor had he learned wisdom through total renunciation. What human beings should seek in order to reach Paradise was the so-called “middle way”: neither seeking pain, nor being a slave to pleasure.

Impressed at what they heard from Buddha, the men decided to follow him on his pilgrimages from town to town. As they heard the good news, more and more disciples joined the group, and Buddha began to organize communities of devotees, following the principle that they could help one another mutually in the duties of body and spirit.

On one of his journeys, Buddha returned to his home town, where his father grieved deeply on seeing him begging for alms. But he kissed his father’s feet and said: “you, Sire, belong to a lineage of kings, but I belong to a lineage of Buddhas, and millions of them also lived begging for alms.” The king remembered the prophecy that had been made when his son was conceived, and made his peace with Buddha. His son and his wife, who for so many years had complained of having been abandoned, eventually understood his mission and founded a community which began to spread his teachings.

When he was approaching the age of eighty, he ate something spoiled and realized he was going to die of food poisoning. Helped by his disciples, he managed to travel as far as Kusinhagara, where he lay down for the last time beside a tree.

Buddha called his cousin Ananda and said:

– “I am old and my pilgrimage in this life is nearing its end. My body looks like an old cart that has been used a great deal and is still working only because some of its parts are precariously tied up with straps of leather. But that’s enough, now it’s time to go.”

Then he turned to his disciples and asked if anyone had any doubts. Nobody said a word. He asked the same question three times, but they all remained in silence.

Buddha died smiling. His teachings, today codified in the form of a philosophical religion, are spread across most of Asia. In essence, they consist of understanding oneself profoundly and having a deep respect for one’s neighbor.

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Comments

  1. kirsty says:

    buddha is so cooool! :)

  2. austere says:

    Buddham sharanam gacchami.. sangham sharanam gacchami..

    The words echo past the ages.
    In the museum here in Mumbai there are precious artifacts and excavated statues from the 2nd-5th C. There is a cave monastery in a nearby forest, a relic from the BC period, carvings, stupa and all.

    Such a handsome man, the Prince. What regal bearing. What strature. The folds of the garments, each hair detailed, the tilt of his head.

    The frieze of his departure from the palace. You can see the grief and join the sorrow, a young man has gone, never to return. You wail distraught, yes, after all these centuries.

    And the quiet repose of the Buddha. Nothing more need be said.

  3. susan says:

    There is an old saying, if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say it. Maybe the disciples had nothing good to say.

  4. toni j says:

    The moment you realize all these people need to change, was infact not them, but you. You tear yourself apart.. Then are able to look at another, past the illness, poverty, you can see through the smoke…*

  5. Nanci says:

    Thanks for sharing this 3-part story. I loved the ending, where he asked his disciples three times if there were any doubts. It was the perfect question.

    This leads me to a question of my own because I’ve read that Buddhism is a religion. I’ve also heard it is a psychology, and a philosophy. Is it possible that it’s all three?

  6. Lo que los seres humanos deben tratar con el fin de alcanzar el Paraíso era el llamado “camino intermedio”: ni la búsqueda de dolor, ni ser un esclavo de placer.

    Estoy de acuerdo, totalmente de acuerdo, el camino del medio, el camino del equilibrio para todos los que viven en la sociedad que sabemos que no es nada fácil lidiar con todos los quehaceres de la vida.
    Un beso Paulo, gracias por esta historia.
    También me gustó mucho “El tercer ojo” de Lompsan Rampa.

  7. Lau Lau says:

    Dying of food poisoning only shows our vunerable state as humans.

    It is such a preciuos opportunity to have been born as a human, and it’s actually annoying to see how we waste our time

    Buddha walked the earth as a human, but I’m sure his soul is happy wherever he is now. To reach the mental state Buddha had 2500 years ago, is still an aspiration for many – but we laugh and joke about it. Enjoy the ride then …. that’s all I can say!

    Man will only be free, if he decides to free himself!

  8. Alexandra says:

    Very nice.Is just my motto ,the middle way.Not black,nor white.I really loved to read that story.

  9. Kasia says:

    I am so happy to see the life story of Buddha here. It is so nice that people reading this blog can learn something about Buddhism! I am Buddhist myself and for me the essence of my religion is destroying selfish mind, developing the mind of cherishing others and what is the most important realizing the ultimate nature of things.

  10. austere says:

    Buddham sharanam gacchami.. sangham sharanam gacchami..

    The words echo past the ages.
    In the museum here in Mumbai there are precious artifacts and excavated statues from the 2nd-5th C. There is a cave monastery in a nearby forest, a relic from the BC period, carvings, stupa and all.

    Such a handsome man, the Prince. What regal bearing. What strature. The folds of the garments, each hair detailed, the tilt of his head.

    The frieze of his departure from the palace. You can see the grief and join the sorrow, a young man has gone, never to return. You wail distraught, yes, after all these centuries.

    And the quiet repose of the Buddha. Nothing more need be said.

  11. THELMA says:

    ‘The Golden Middle Way’, The path of balance and Harmony.
    LOVE,
    Thelma

  12. Gina Re says:

    If Siddharta ate something spoiled SPOILED and was going TO DIE of POISONING FOOD, meand that he DON’T was SO illuminated :-DDDD lol ;-)
    W McDonalds!!! :-D

    1. Ankita says:

      so sad…after all the wealth of knowledge he shared with the world, somebody still thinks he wasn’t “SO illuminated”…

    2. Ravindra says:

      Siddhartha was enlightened, but it doesn’t mean that he was immortal. On the other hand, the knowledge of mortality of human life was the trigger for Siddhartha to become an enlightened one (Buddha) in teh first place. Only question is whether he knew before eating, whether the food was spoiled or not. That doesn’t matter, because even if he knew, one can argue that that was the way he thought was ok to end his life (it requires some cause). You can ask the same question, whatever way his life would have ended. And again, don’t think that enlightenment (taht is state of the soul) will avoid mortality (that is state of the human body). Actually, his death (and the cause of death) clearly teaches us this difference.