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"Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth."
- The Dhammapada

Origins of Buddhism

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(A) According to the White Lotus Sutra, before Buddha generated bodhicitta, he was born in a Brahmin family in India and his name was called Ocean of Dusts, and he later generated bodhicitta in the presence of the Buddha of Jewel Essence. (B) According to the Sutra of Kalpa, before Buddha generated bodhicitta, he was born in a porcelain maker family and later he offered a porcelain cup to the Sakya Tathagata and generated bodhicitta. (C) According to the Sutra of Repaying the Kindness of Parent, before Buddha generated bodhicitta, he once born in the hell realm due to his own karma, and became a chariot bearer of the prison officer. When he saw other chariot bearers suffered through the beating of the prison officer, he could not bear it but generated compassionate bodhicitta. (D) According to the Sutra of the Three Heaps, before Buddha generated bodhicitta, he was once born as a son of a merchant and his name was called Always Joyful. He later generated bodhicitta in the presence of the Buddha of Solemnity. All the above scriptures recorded how Buddha generated bodhicitta and practised the bodhisattva path during his first great kalpa. These were also the period where Buddha in the Path of Accumulation and the Path of Preparation.

According to Sutra of Ornament of Maitreya's Five Discourses, during the second great kalpa to accumulate merits in practising the bodhisattva path, Buddha was born and was given the name Practising Joyful Effort. He accumulated merits in the presence of Tathagata of Great Aggregate and attained the level of first ground bodhisttva. He then rebirth as a merchant called Skillful Wisdom, and he reverently served the Tathagata of Supreme Branch and accumulated merits in this great kalpa and attained the level of seventh ground bodhisattva. This was the period where Buddha in the Path of Seeing and the first seven grounds of bodhisattva path.

According to the scriptures, when the Buddha practised bodhisattva path in the third great kalpa, he was once born in the Brahmin family and his name was called Child of the Cloud. In those times another son of a Brahmin family attained buddhahood and known as Buddha Dipankara who was invited by King whose name is Enemy Conqueror, to his Lotus Palace. When the future Buddha saw deva making offering to Buddha Dipankara, he went out to buy five flowers to offer to Buddha Dipankara, and placed an animal skin on the floor. On the animal skin, he placed his own hair and reverently requested Buddha Dipankara to make prediction on him. Buddha Dipankara said “in future, you will become a Buddha called Shakyamuni”. After the prediction, the future Buddha instantly arise into emptiness, and entered into the Samadhi of the Eighth Ground, and attained the eighth ground great light empowerment attainment. Finally in one countless kalpa, he attained the ninth and tenth ground (Vajra Stabilised state), eliminated the Afflictive Obstruction (to liberation) and the Knowledge Obstruction (to omniscience) and all karmic imprints. This was the period where Buddha practised the eighth to the tenth ground of the bodhisattva path.

The above are about how Buddha practiced during the three great kalpa to purify karmic obstruction and accumulate merits. The methods of his practice are the union of the Two Truths (Conventional and Ultimate Truths), diligently practiced the Six Perfections, and use the Four Ways of Gathering Disciples (acting generously, speaking sweetly, working for the disciples’ benefit, and practising what one preach) to lead sentient beings into the path, in order to accumulate the merits of method and wisdom. His liberating activities included ripening the un-ripen mind of the disciples (by leading them enter into the path of accumulation and the path of preparation), perfecting the ripen mind of the disciples by leading them into the path of seeing and the path of meditation). The object of such benefiting activities are the higher capacity Mahayana disciples. The fruits of the practice are the attainment of the spontaneous union of the Two Kayas (Dharmakaya and Rupakaya).

After Buddha completed his Bodhisattva Path training, he again reborn in the India Brahmin family and his name was called the Lad Guru. After these, he reborn as the prince of Tushita Heaven and his name was called The White Sacred Crown. When Buddha taught the Dharma to the gods in the deva realm, the musical instruments of the gods naturally produced the praise and invitation music of Budhha Dipankara Prediction, so the Buddha think of taking rebirth in the Southern Continent Jambuling and forsaw the four future situations of his rebirth which are (a) born in Southern Continent called Jambuling; (b) born in the period where human life span is 100 years old; (c) the father belong to the royal familiy; (d) The mother belong to the Maya family.

The reasons that Buddha chose to reborn in the above four situations are: (a) to have perfect human rebirth in order to practice the Dharma, thus reborn in Southern Continent Jambuling; (b) among the thousand Buddhas, Buddha Sakyamuni possess the characteristic of the White Lotus, and vowed to teach the Dharma in the Southern Continent Jambuling when human life span is 100 years old, and unlike other Buddhas who vowed to reborn to teach the Dharma only when human being life span reach 1,000 or 10,000 years old, thus it is like the white lotus which is rare and profound; (c) Sakya royal family has a long history, likewise if the Dharma is transmitted by this family, it can also spread in a long history; (d) the mother Maya family has karmic link with the Buddha in previous lives. With this four profound conditions, when Buddha wanted to reborn in the human realm, the gods pleaded the Buddha not to leave them as the god realms will miss their protector. So Buddha asked Bodhisattva Maitrya to stay in Tushita Heaven in the gods realm, and turn the wheel of Dharma on his behalf. After these, Buddha then decided to reborn in human realm. In the Wood Rat Year Spring at the Fourth Month Fifteen Day he appeared as a six tusks white elephant in a dream and entered into his mother’s womb. Ten months later he born in the Ox Year. From his birth day till twenty nine years old, he lived in the Sakya Palace. During this period, Buddha perfected all the various skills of arts, married and fathered a son, and also perfected various worldly skills.

One day, Buddha wanted to understand the situation in ordinary people lives, he left the palace and saw the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death; and realised that it is meaningless to simply just seeking after worldly activities. At the same time, he saw a world-renouncing ascetic and asked the people around him who is this man. They said he is a bhikshu (literally means beggar, mendicant) who abandoned the joy of desire, a wandering monk. Immediately the Buddha generated renunciation. When he returned to the palace, he requested his father to allow him to leave home and become a wondering monk but his father did not agree. In one of the nights, he rode the horse and left the palace. When he reached the site of the Stupa, he shaved his head, take up the vows of the monk, and later reached the Nairanjana River, and practiced as a ascetic for 6 years. One day he met a young woman who made offering to the god of trees. This young woman regarded him as equivalent to the god of trees and offered him milk. Immediately Buddha’s body transformed into golden body, and walked towards the direction of the Bodhi Tree. On his way he met the monkey who offered him fruits, and his body became even healthier. When he reached the vajra seat under the Bodhi Tree, he was 35 years old. And on the 15th day of the fourth month (also known as Sakya Month) of the Earth-Pig Year before the sunrise, he subdued the mara, and attained enlightenment when the bell of the palace rang. He then arose and declared the five states of full enlightenment. These five states are profoundness, free from defilement, illuminating, eternal, and the truth like nectar. He thought that if he taught this truth to others, they will not understand. As such he did not teach others but abide in solitude meditation in the forest for 49 days. After this, Brahma offered the thousand-spoke Dharma Wheel to the Buddha and Indra offered the clockwise curving conch shell, requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of Dharma. Thus, the Buddha went to Deer Park Varanasi, and on the 4th day of the sixth months turn the First Wheel of Dharma of the Four Noble Truths to the five bhikshus. Later he went to Vulture Peak Mountain to turn the Second Wheel of Dharma of Prajna Emptiness to the Mahayana practitioners. He then went to Vaisali and other places to turn the Third Wheel of Dharma of the Cittamatra (Mind-Only), which refers to the Three Natures, namely Imputational Nature, Other-powered Nature, and Thoroughly Established Nature. Through these three turnings of the wheel of Dharma, he ripen disciples of the three types of capacity into maturity. Then he manifested parinirvana in Wood-Monkey Year. All the above mentioned events are only manifestation of the Buddha to liberate karmic-linked disciples through turning the wheel of Dharma. Actually the historical Buddha attained Buddhahood long ago before he even born in this world. Due to different legends, there are different dates regarding the birth date of the Buddha. However, this article is based on the account of Lama Atisha. To understand more details about the life of Buddha, one can refer to other books about the history of the Buddha.

The followings are the three councils that formalise the collection of scriptures canon and how Buddhism propagated in India.

First Council: One year after the Buddha entered into parinirvana, 500 arhats gathered in Rajagrha for the First Council chaired by King Makyedra (meaning No Enemy). Ananda recited the sutras which is the collection of the discourses of the Buddha. Buddha’s close attendant Upali recited the Vinaya which is the Monastic Discipline codes. Mahakasyapa finalised the collection of the scriptures canon. The reasons to convene this council are: (1) To avoid the gods (deva) to look down on human realm as they may misunderstand that human realm did not treasure the teaching of the Buddha; (2) To ensure the transmission of the teaching of the Buddha.

Second Council: One hundred and ten years after the Buddha entered into parinirvana, at Vaisali, King Ashoka gathered 700 Arhats to recite and formulate the Tripitaka. The reasons for the formulation of the canon of scriptures is to avoid the transmission of ten false teachings so that the true Buddhadharma can remain in this world. (The ten false teachings refers to some of the bhikshus considered ten acts as not constituted as violating the precepts, however, after the second council, the majority of the monks still considered these ten acts as violating the precepts).

Third Council: There are different legends concerning this council. The more popular legend said that three hundreds years after the Buddha entered into parinirvana, at the Kunphan Monastery in Kashmir, King Kaneka gathered 500 Arhats, 500 Bodhisattvas, 60,000 Pandits to recite the Tripitaka and formulate the teachings. The reason for the formulation of the canon of scriptures is to reveal the Shravakayana of the Sthaviravadins 18 schools, so that the Buddhadharma can remain in this world.

The above three councils are agreed by both the Theravada and Mahayana. However, the Mahayana also has another uncommon legend that at the south of Rajagrha, at the mountain of Bimala Sambhang, gathered one million bodhisattvas reciting the Tripitaka and other scriptures. Bodhisattva Manjushri gathered the Abhidharma, Bodhisattva Maitreya gathered the Vinaya, and Bodhisattva Vajrapani gathered the Sutras, and the eight great bodhisattvas gathered the uncommon Mahayana Teaching. The formulation of the Mahayana scriptures are not by the Hinayanists because the Hinayanists could not uphold the methods of the Mahayana. Thus, there is this uncommon Mahayana legend. As for the gathering of the canon of tantra within the Mahayana, Bodhisattva Vajrapani gathered most of the tantra, and some of the tantra are the requesters directly requested to the Buddha, and after receive the transmission from the Buddha, these requesters then recorded and formulated the tantra, for example, the Kalachakra Tantra is formulated by the King of Shambala. The above gathered teachings of the Buddha, if we classify it based on the content of the teaching, it can be classified as the Tripitaka of Sutra, Vinaya, and Abhidharma; if we classify it based on the method of practice, it can be classified as Ethnic Discipline, Samadhi, and Wisdom. As for the nature of the Tantra, Master Shentiwa considered it belong to the category of Sutra in the Tripitaka, while Master Abhayakara considered tantra embodied the Tripitaka of Sutra, Vinaya, and Abhidharma.

Only when one listen, contemplate, and practice the Tripitaka; train in Ethnic Discipline, Samadhi, and Wisdom; in order to ripen one’s capacity, then one can be considered as an Upholder of the Buddhadharma. The presence of such upholders of the Buddhadharma is the presence of the Dharma in this world. The seven successors of the Buddha are: Kasyapa, Ananda, Sanavasin, Upagupta, Dhitika, Krsna, and Mahasudarsana. Such kind of persons that propagated the Buddhadharma, in India has Bodhisattva Nagarjuna with the so-called Two Excellences and Six Ornaments (the Two Excellences refer to the two masters, namely Sakyaprapha and Gunaprabha), whose expertise in Vinaya; and the Six Ornaments refer to Nagarjuna and Aryadeva whose expertise is in the Madhyamika, Asanga and Vasubandhu whose expertise in Cittamatra, and Dignaga and Dharmakirti whose expertise in Pramana).