Noble truths

Not quite following the footsteps, skipping the place of enlightenment, I arrived at the place where the Buddha came afterwards to find his old friends and reveal to them the truths he had discovered in Bodhagaya. This ancient chedi marks the auspicious spot.

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As the inscriptions around the temple show the sermon in all major Asian languages, but not English, I resorted to my smartphone to find the actual words, and had some quiet time to contemplate their meaning.

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“This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering: Birth is suffering; decay is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering. Presence of objects we hate, is suffering; separation from objects we love, is suffering; not to obtain what we desire, is suffering. Briefly,… clinging to existence is suffering.

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cause of suffering Thirst, which leads to rebirth, accompanied by pleasure and lust, finding its delight here and there. This thirst is threefold, namely, thirst for pleasure, thirst for existence, thirst for prosperity.

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of suffering: it ceases with the complete cessation of this thirst, — a cessation which consists in the absence of every passion with the abandoning of this thirst, with doing away with it, with the deliverance from it, with the destruction of desire.

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Path which leads to the cessation of suffering: that Holy Eightfold Path, that is to say, Right Belief, Right Aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Endeavor, Right Memory, Right Meditation….”

Thus he set in motion the wheel. The wheel is a much older symbol, associated with Vishnu (whose incarnation Buddha is, according to Hindus). Cycle of birth and rebirth. And the power to cut through it all. It is a symbol used in the Indian flag as well as the yellow Thai Buddhist flag. So, this is where and how it all started.

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Statue in the Thai temple in Sarnath. The different hand positions always have their own meanings. This one, of course, teaching.

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Excavating even more monasteries and chedis. The sprawling complex was once home to hundreds of monks.

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More intricate stone carvings from the chedi

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Thousands of pilgrims flock to this new temple to listen to the first sermon being recited.

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Tibetan temple. The hand position shows the victory over evil, who wanted to tempt Buddha while he was deep in meditation.

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The four lions are the emblem of India. They go all the way back to King Ashoka, who spread Buddhism all around the subcontinent during his reign. The original statue, 2200 years old, is now in a museum.

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(I know the header is not quite clear 😦  It’s from the Tibetan temple and I really liked it.
Also, I can’t see what I’m posting. Hope it looks ok… it will be fixed later if not. 😦 )

 

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