Thích Nhất Hạnh (born as Nguyen Xuan Bao on October 11, 1926) is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in Plum Village in the Dordogne region in the south of France, travelling internationally to give retreats and talks. He coined the term “Engaged Buddhism” in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. Thích Nhất Hạnh’s approach has been to combine a variety of traditional Zen teachings with insights from other Mahayana Buddhist traditions, methods from Theravada Buddhism, and ideas from Western psychology to offer a modern light on meditation practice. Drink Your Tea poem by Thích Nhất Hạnh is very inspirational.
Nobel laureateMartin Luther King, Jr. nominated Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. However, the prize was not awarded to anybody that year. Nhat Hanh was awarded the Courage of Conscience award in 1991.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves
– slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.
In his teachings Gautama Buddha have mentioned the following as enemies of Human beings.
Sensual passions are your first enemy.
Your second is called Discontent.
Your third is Hunger & Thirst.
Your fourth is called Craving.
Fifth is Sloth & Drowsiness.
Sixth is called Terror.
Your seventh is Uncertainty.
Hypocrisy & Stubbornness, your eighth.
Gains, Offerings, Fame, & Status wrongly gained,
and whoever would praise self
& disparage others.
That, Namuci, is your enemy,
the Dark One’s commando force.
A coward can’t defeat it,
but one having defeated it
Gautama Buddha (also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni,or the Buddha) was a monk on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal, grew up in Kapilavastu, Nepal and died at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.
Siddhartha Gautama was the son of Śuddhodana, “an elected chief of the Shakya clan”, whose capital was Kapilavastu. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) was a Koliyan princess. Buddha’s mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha (Pāli: Siddhattha), meaning “he who achieves his aim”. His family name was Gautama. In accordance with ancient Indian customs many learned Brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony of newly born prince. Among them there were eight distinguished Brahmins. After examining the characteristics of the child, seven of these highly learned Brahmins indicated two alternative possibilities, and said he would either become a universal monarch or a Buddha (“awakened one”). But the youngest Brahmin, Kaundinya, who excelled others in wisdom, declared that the prince would become a Buddha.
Siddhartha was brought up by his mother’s younger sister, Maha Pajapati. At the age of sixteen Gautama Buddha got married with his cousin of the same age named Yaśodharā. Princess Yaśodharā gave birth to a son, named Rahula.
At the age of 29, he left his palace to see the outside world. Despite his fathers efforts to hide from him, all the negativeness of life such as aging, sickness, suffering, and death, Siddhartha saw an old man,a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. After coming in contact with these harsh realities of life, Buddha felt that material wealth was not life’s ultimate goal. These sights depressed him, and he decided to overcome aging, sickness, suffering and death by living the life of an ascetic.
To begin his journey in search of truth and eternal peace, Prince Siddhartha left his Palace, accompanied by his charioteer Channa and riding his horse Kanthaka. The ascetic Siddhartha, the former prince who once lived in lap of luxury, now became a penniless wanderer. He initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. After he left Rajgaha, he studied and practiced under some learned aesthetics of that time, but none of these teachings satisfied Siddhartha, and he felt that his quest of the highest truth was not achieved.
Hearing about Siddhartha’s renunciation, Kaundinya, the young Brahmin who predicted his future, and four sons of other Brahmin also renounced the world and joined him. They lived a strict ascetic life and practicing self- mortification. For almost six long year’s ascetic Gautama made a superhuman struggle practicing all forms of intense austerities. His body was almost reduced to a skeleton. Despite these all hard work he didn’t found what he was looking for. Nevertheless, his energy was indomitable.
Siddhartha began to reconsider his path. Then he thought about cultivating breathing exercise. Siddhartha realized that meditative dhyana was the right path to awakening, and the extreme asceticism didn’t work. Siddhartha realized that enlightenment could not be gained with an exhausted body. Physical fitness was essential for spiritual progress. He started taking food and nourished his body.
Kaundinya and four other companions thinking that Siddhartha had abandoned his search and become undisciplined left him alone. Siddhartha was not discouraged by this incident but there separation helped him. Alone in deep solitude great men realize deep truths.
Siddhartha Gautama sat under a pipal tree (the famous Bodhi tree)—in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, and he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. Siddhartha attained enlightenment under this tree.
After a stupendous struggle of six years, in his 35th year the aesthetic Siddhartha, without the guidance of any supernatural agency, and with the help of his own intuitive knowledge, wisdom, hard work and persistence became a Buddha or the awakened one. He became a Buddha by his own effort and was not a Buddha by birth.
Gautama Buddha provided answers to questions like ‘What is the nature of human life?’ and ‘Why does man have to undergo suffering?’ in the form of four noble truths.
Noble Truths: At the root of all human affairs, there are the following four noble truths. 1.Dukkha(Suffering):Human life is full of suffering.
2.Trisha(Desire):The cause of suffering is desire or craving.
3.Dukkha -nirodh:It is possible to end suffering.
4.Pratipad:The way to end of suffering.
The way shown by Gautama Buddha to end suffering is known as astang marg or the eight fold path.The eight principles are
Panchasheel:These are the rules of conduct that are to be followed along with eight-fold path.
1.Ahimsa(Non-violence):No living thing should be hurt.
2.Satya(Truth):One should not tell lies.
3.Asteya:One should not steal.
4.Indriya Samyam:One should win control over bodily desires.
5.One should not take intoxicants.
Formation of the Sangha: Gautama Buddha organized his followers in the Sangha in order to propagate his doctrine to masses. Followers who entered the Sangha have to follow strict rules and were called Bhikkhus. People from all casts and women were allowed to join the Sangha. Buddha used Pali language to propagate his teachings.
Gautam Buddha’s message, “Bahujan-hitay, Bahujan -sukhaya”: For the welfare and happiness of all” made a deep impact on the world.
At the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body.
“Behold, O monks,I exhort you. All component things are subject to change . Strive with diligence.”