Lessons from the prince who became Buddha (Part Three)
November 21, 2016
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The purpose of life is to gain the human experience and make peace with it.
Once more, while pondering this discontent, rumours of a holy man, the Buddha named Gotama reached the Samanas in the village. It is interesting to note that even though the man was the Buddha, the holy of the holy, the most revered and exalted one, the rumours about him were just like those of mortal men – praise and defamation. He was not immune to the human experience, but his believers said that he possessed the highest enlightenment. Among the feats that he could perform, Gotama could remember his previous lives (based on the belief of reincarnation). It was said that he had overcome the suffering of the world in himself and had halted the cycle of rebirths.

This time it was Govinda who spoke to Siddhartha with the intent to leave the forest and its self-castigating ways. Siddhartha, though convinced of this need, bore little interest in Gotama’s teachings which centered on the Laws of the Universe, more so that of cause and effect. Siddhartha himself praised them, because they were clear and could be proven, but in his heart, he held a conviction that teachings of the one knowledge could not be taught through words, but rather, had to be experienced for oneself. This, he expressed to Gotama once he decided that he would not be joining his following and by so doing, parted ways with Govinda, his childhood friend.

Gotama, ever the wise one, expressed a profound truth to him that even now may still be misunderstood.

He said to him, “Be warned, oh seeker of knowledge, of the thicket of opinions and of arguing about words. There is nothing to opinions, they may be beautiful or ugly, smart or foolish, everyone can support them or discard them. But the teachings you’ve heard from me, are no opinion, and their goal is not to explain the world to those who seek knowledge. They have a different goal; their goal is salvation from suffering. This is what Gotama teaches, nothing else.”

The laws of the universe and their teachings, though definite and like an epiphany in nature, do alleviate suffering when followed, but do not replace seeking of the one true knowledge. The teachings will teach you certain things, yes, but one will not reach enlightenment through them. Only one’s own experience of life, the fragility and confusion of it, the fullness and awesomeness of it, may lead a person to enlightenment.

Read Also: Lessons from the prince who became Buddha (Part Four)


About author

Wanjiru Ndung'u

Wanjiru Ndung'u writes fiction, poetry and essays. She is an irretrievable night owl, tea-lover and cat mom. She enjoys books, alternative music, movies and streaming shows.

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