Today is the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth—born Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, the fourth largest religion in the world. Visitors to shrines on his birthday take an offering of fresh spring cherry blossom flowers. As a prince in northeastern India, he lived a life of luxury until, at the age of 29, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a family mourning their dead. Like all Hindus, the prince believed in reincarnation. The thought troubled him that people had to return to this world to suffer again, so he left his wife, child, luxurious lifestyle, and future role as a leader of his people, to search for an end to suffering. Continue reading… (563 – 483 BC)
For years he chose a life of extreme poverty. The story goes that he eventually collapsed from starvation after fasting for six years. Next, he turned away from the idea that poverty is the path to enlightenment and he decided that it is best to pursue a “Middle Way” between luxury and poverty, largely defined by moderation and meditation. At 35 he attained enlightenment (Nirvana) and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened).
He defined 3 practices for gaining enlightenment, which may define the “Religion” of Buddhism:
- Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles: The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal and the principle of reciprocity: This is the “Golden Rule” in Christianity — to do onto others as you would wish them do onto you.
- Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development, which leads to personal freedom and helps us maintain good conduct.
- Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.
Albert Einstein said: “Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”
Celebrations in Japan, Taiwan and Korea include children pouring sweet tea (hydrangea leaf amacha) over the head of the statue of an infant Buddha because some believe it rained tea on the day he was born.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth’s 39-year-old record (1974)
- Frank Robinson, one of baseball’s most underrated players debuted as Major League Baseball’s first black manager – joining the Cleveland Indians (1975)
- The debut album by The Clash, widely celebrated as one of the greatest punk albums of all time was released in the UK after being recorded during three weekend sessions. (1977)
- Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play “Topdog/Underdog” (2002)
- Construction was completed on the world’s first building to integrate wind turbines – the Bahrain World Trade Center in Bahrain (2008)
- The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev in Prague, to reduce each nation’s nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in more than a half century (2010)
And, Happy Birthday to actress Robin Wright who turns 53 years old today.
Known for her film portrayals as Buttercup, in The Princess Bride, and Jenny in Forrest Gump, she won a Golden Globe for playing the devious political wife on the critically acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards. (1966)