Self Help

Buddha A Story of Enlightenment - Deepak Chopra

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Matheus Puppe

· 35 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points from the first chapter:

  • The story is set in 563 BCE in the Kingdom of Sakya.

  • King Suddhodana is a warrior king who believes he is a god. He is engaged in a battle against a rival warlord.

  • Queen Maya is 10 months pregnant and decides to travel to her mother’s home to deliver the baby, against Suddhodana’s wishes. She sets off with a small entourage for protection.

  • The chapter describes the intensity of the battlefield and Suddhodana’s merciless tactics as he leads his troops. It contrasts this with Maya’s calm demeanor as she travels through the forest in a palanquin.

  • Maya mystifies Suddhodana as the physical world does not seem to affect her inner state. The chapter sets up Maya’s special pregnancy and foreshadows the extraordinary child that is about to be born. It introduces the key characters of Suddhodana and Maya.

  • Kumbira, a queen, is escorting Maya Devi, the pregnant wife of King Suddhodana, back to the capital city after a battle. Maya is in labor and the journey is taking too long.

  • They stop in a forest clearing where Maya gives birth, assisted by Kumbira. The baby is a boy, who Maya names Siddhartha, believing her wishes have been fulfilled.

  • Maya is weak after the difficult labor and birth. She describes having a premonition dream months earlier where celestial beings brought her to a sacred mountain lake and she realized she would have a special child.

  • The dream has sustained Maya on the dangerous journey. But now back in the capital, she is increasingly tired and thinks it may be better to live permanently in the dream world. Her health is declining after the labor and she believes she may be “cursed” once she dies.

So in summary, it describes Maya Devi’s difficult labor and birth in the forest, assisted by Kumbira, and Maya’s declining health after giving birth to Siddhartha, the future Buddha, and her premonition dreams.

  • Suddhodana, the king of the Sakya clan, gazes in awe and love at his newborn son Siddhartha. He is overly protective and demanding, insisting the baby be kept in silk clothes and not left alone for a moment.

  • Asita, a forest hermit, has a vision of demons and feels compelled to travel higher in the mountains. There, through meditation, he visits the demon realm and encounters Mara, the king of demons.

  • Asita tells Mara that a Buddha (enlightened one) named Siddhartha is coming, which troubles Mara. Mara shows Asita a vision of suffering but is unprepared for this Buddha. Asita warns Mara that as the ruler of fear, he has forgotten how to fear himself.

  • The story hints that Siddhartha, the newborn prince, may grow up to become this Buddha that troubles Mara. Kumbira, perhaps Siddhartha’s mother or aunt, rushes out of Maya’s birthing chamber with some urgent news, keeping it secret for now.

  • The baby prince Siddhartha was born in the palace. His mother Maya passed away after giving birth, greatly saddening his father King Suddhodana.

  • As the funeral rites were performed for Maya, Suddhodana struggled with grief and anger. He refused to perform the ritual skull smashing and walked away from the ceremony.

  • The nurse Kakoli tried to get Suddhodana to see his son Siddhartha, thinking it may console him. However, Suddhodana harshly showed the infant the burning funeral pyre, distressing all present.

  • Back at the palace, Suddhodana encountered a ash-covered old woman who seemed to mock his grief. This encounter left him determined to suppress his emotions and memories of Maya.

  • Siddhartha was now without his mother Maya, and his father Suddhodana was consumed by anger and grief over her death, distancing himself from his newborn son in the aftermath of the tragedy.

  • Siddhartha’s royal naming ceremony is underway, with animal sacrifices and chanting Brahmins.

  • The court astrologers are hesitant to read the baby’s birth chart aloud, worrying over ambiguous details.

  • King Suddhodana grows impatient and demands they reveal the destiny, hoping to learn if his son will be safe and become a great king.

  • They predict he will be a great king but say his destiny has “complications.” This alarms the king.

  • The famous ascetic Asita then arrives and disputes their reading, saying Siddhartha will “die” to his father and choose a second destiny of ruling his own soul over being king.

  • Asita weeps upon seeing the baby, saying he won’t live to hear Buddha’s teachings. Suddhodana is enraged by Asita’s prophecy and orders everyone to leave.

  • The next day, Suddhodana resolves to ensure his son doesn’t abandon his duty as king, despite Asita’s warnings.

Suddhodana dismounts his horse in the temple courtyard, which is crowded with devotees and vendors. He strides purposefully into the inner sanctum where priest Canki is performing a ritual. Suddhodana interrupts and demands to know if his son can rule the world.

Canki tells him it is possible but his son must be tightly controlled and imprisoned within the palace walls. He must never see suffering or he will disobey. Suddhodana is ordered to keep his son isolated for 32 years. He banishes the sick, elderly and disadvantaged from the city so his son is never exposed to suffering. The gates are closed, shutting his son inside a paradise built to control his mind and ensure he becomes a great king.

  • Siddhartha shows his friend Channa an ant he saw battling and defeating a termite earlier that day. Channa is unimpressed.

  • They go to their usual hiding spot in a hay bin in the stables. Bikram, the stablemaster and Channa’s father, calls Channa away for help with an injured old mare. Siddhartha is told to stay behind as his father wouldn’t allow him to see.

  • Left alone, Siddhartha begins hearing a voice in his head telling him to “look closer.” He is unsettled by this. When he tries to enter the stall where Channa went, he sees through a crack that Bikram is forcing the suffering old mare onto her side to put her out of her misery.

  • An unseen figure watches Siddhartha - it is implied to be Mara, a demonic presence. Bikram takes an ax and kills the mare while Channa looks away. Siddhartha hears the mare’s scream but is pulled away before seeing the actual blow. Mara seems interested in drawing Siddhartha closer and becoming a voice in his head.

  • Siddhartha discovers his father Suddhodana being treated by physicians, who are applying leeches to the king’s chest. Seeing his father show fear shakes Siddhartha deeply.

  • Siddhartha runs into his cousin Devadatta in the hallway. Devadatta taunts and bullies Siddhartha, showing him scars from leeches and saying the king will likely die from his illness.

  • Suddhodana comes to favor Devadatta and treats him like a second son, hoping he will be a tougher model for Siddhartha.

  • In spring, the king throws a large celebration festival to showcase the palace grounds and entertain guests. Siddhartha experiences a rush of new sights and sensations but is still disturbed by his father’s health and Devadatta’s bullying.

Siddhartha was playing with colorful powders at a festival, joking with two girls. His cousin Devadatta snuck up and threw a powder mixed with a rock, cutting Siddhartha’s forehead. When Siddhartha’s father saw, he encouraged Devadatta to keep attacking to teach Siddhartha to fight back. Upset and ashamed, Siddhartha escaped to hide by a pond.

Meanwhile, the demon Mara encountered Devadatta and used his powers to trap the boy in total darkness inside a mountain cave. Mara wanted to use Devadatta for some purpose requiring recklessness and arrogance. Left alone in the cold and dark for many hours, Devadatta started to feel despair as Mara told him he was there to learn.

  • Devadatta is initially lured into a cave by the demon Mara. He struggles to escape and thinks he will die alone in the cave.

  • Mara psychologically tortures Devadatta by playing tricks with his mind and claustrophobia. Devadatta has a weakness from suffocating as an infant.

  • Eventually Devadatta passes out from terror and wakes up back near the pavilion. He is preyed on by Mara due to this inner weakness or fear.

  • It is revealed that demons like Mara can manipulate people’s minds, taking advantage of fears and weaknesses to distort perceptions of reality through illusions and nightmares.

  • Meanwhile, Siddhartha feels isolated and confused as everyone around his father’s court conveys fear and averts their eyes from him. He realizes people disappear who displease his father.

  • While lost in thought, Siddhartha encounters a mysterious old hermit by the pond who seems to have been expecting him.

  • Siddhartha encounters a mysterious stranger named Asita under a rose-apple tree. Asita seems able to communicate telepathically and make himself invisible to guards searching for Siddhartha.

  • Asita reminds Siddhartha of witnessing farm animals getting hurt by plows as a young child, which gave him a profound sense of joy and connection to nature. This was the awakening of Siddhartha’s empathic gift.

  • Asita teaches Siddhartha a meditative sitting posture and how to find inner silence and calm. Siddhartha experiences a deep sense of peace from this.

  • Asita warns Siddhartha that many will try to shape him according to their own desires, not allowing him to find his true path. He tells Siddhartha the tree will be a special, safe place for him.

  • Guards then find Siddhartha, but Asita has vanished. Siddhartha is reluctant to return to the palace with the guards.

  • Siddhartha and Channa were sword fighting in the stable as usual. They got more intense and competitive, with Siddhartha gaining the upper hand over Channa.

  • Siddhartha had Channa at sword point but let him up, avoiding eye contact as he knew Channa was humiliated by the defeat.

  • Channa then tripped Siddhartha and turned the tables, putting his own sword to Siddhartha’s throat and saying he wasn’t thinking about not killing him like Siddhartha was.

  • Devadatta then silently appeared and witnessed this. Channa impetuously dared Devadatta to a fight with his sword, showing his brashness.

  • The three boys - Siddhartha, Devadatta and Channa - were constantly together as part of Siddhartha’s schooling arrangement, though Devadatta despised being around Channa due to Channa’s lower caste status.

  • Devadatta, Siddhartha’s cousin, gets into a confrontation with Channa during a friendly sword sparring match.

  • Devadatta takes offense at some comment from Channa and threatens to seriously hurt or kill him.

  • Siddhartha intervenes to defuse the situation, but both Devadatta and Channa are furious with him for interfering.

  • This incident causes Siddhartha to question the nature of hatred and violence in people. He realizes Devadatta and Channa are both slaves to their passions in that moment.

  • It deeply saddens Siddhartha that even his close friend Channa showed contempt for him after he intervened, highlighting a rift growing between them.

  • The confrontation is an example of Devadatta’s volatile and dangerous temperament, which is being fueled by the demon Mara working within him.

So in summary, it describes a dispute between Devadatta and Channa that escalates dangerously until Siddhartha steps in, but ends up distancing himself from his friend as a result.

  • Siddhartha is preparing for an important coming-of-age feast in his honor. Kumbira is helping him get dressed and ready.

  • A new servant girl named Sujata comes in and Siddhartha notices her, making both of them blush. Kumbira abruptly sends Sujata away.

  • Siddhartha presses a coin into Kumbira’s hand, telling her to stay silent about his interest in Sujata. Kumbira feels he is drifting away from her.

  • The king intends the feast to be a political display of power and induce fear in guests/potential enemies. He warns Siddhartha about the need to rule through fear, but Siddhartha is uncertain and hesitant about this approach.

  • Both the king and Siddhartha feel alone and under pressure. The king worries his project of grooming Siddhartha is failing, while Siddhartha dreads what is expected of him as king but does not want to inflict harm.

  • The feast is now underway but the king will only let Siddhartha make his entrance once the guests are fully engaged and awed by seeing him for the first time.

King Suddhodana throws a lavish feast to celebrate his son Siddhartha. In a dramatic speech, he reveals a prophecy that Siddhartha is destined to rule the world. This angers Devadatta, Siddhartha’s cousin who feels he should inherit the kingdom.

As the celebrations continue, Siddhartha makes his entrance. Though uneasy, he is embraced by his proud father. Devadatta storms off in a rage.

Mara, a demon, senses an opportunity to manipulate Devadatta. Driven by lust and anger, Devadatta heads to a room where a girl named Sujata is waiting.

Meanwhile in another room, Sujata and other women are preparing for the feast under the watch of Kumbira. Sujata seems detached from the excitement, contemplating the prophecy about Siddhartha. Mara aims to use Devadatta to undermine Siddhartha’s destiny.

  • Sujata had recently arrived at the royal court in Kapilavastu and kept to herself. Kumbira, who oversees the women’s quarters, hoped Sujata was wary of attracting the prince Siddhartha’s attention given the dangers.

  • Devadatta, a member of the royal family, bursts into the women’s quarters demanding Sujata. Kumbira tries to protect Sujata, lying that it’s her period to deter Devadatta. When he grabs Sujata, Kumbira persuades him to take another girl instead.

  • Sujata thanks Kumbira profusely. Kumbira is briefly moved but then pushes Sujata away harshly to avoid appearing weak in front of the other girls.

  • That night, Siddhartha plans his escape from the palace after a feast. He packs lightly as he does not want to be recognized as the prince. As he sneaks out, he sees a figure he believes is Sujata running in the shadows.

  • Siddhartha chases after Sujata into the royal gardens but loses her when she enters the hedge maze within. His planned escape is now forgotten as he is drawn to find Sujata in the maze.

  • Siddhartha gets lost in a maze while chasing after Sujata. He can no longer hear her footsteps.

  • A figure blocks his path and takes the form of Sujata at first, then a man. It is the demon Mara trying to manipulate and tempt Siddhartha.

  • Mara takes different frightening forms to try and break Siddhartha through fear and terror. He wants to penetrate Siddhartha’s mind and convince him to give up his quest.

  • Siddhartha remains calm and silent. He realizes resisting Mara only gives him more power, so he finds an internal place of safety. Mara is unable to defeat him.

  • The next day, Siddhartha’s father Suddhodana is angry because Siddhartha refuses to participate in mock combat games arranged for the guests. Canki tries to mediate between father and son. Mara remains determined to battle Siddhartha.

In summary, Mara confronts Siddhartha in the maze through deception and fear, trying to break his will, but Siddhartha remains calm and finds inner strength. His father is unhappy with his refusal to participate in the combat games.

  • The army had been engaged in non-lethal simulated warfare on the plains near the palace for military exercises. Suddhodana wanted to bloodier and more intense combat to impress and motivate the troops.

  • Siddhartha had observed these exercises from the Shiva temple but did not want to directly participate, going against his father’s wishes. Canki, a priest, did not want to get in the middle of their conflict.

  • Siddhartha pleaded with his father to let him leave the palace walls to explore beyond, disturbing Suddhodana. Canki later convinced Siddhartha that it was his destiny to bring back a golden era of prosperity and end suffering, swaying him to agree to fight in the mock battles.

  • That night, Siddhartha reassured his father that he would participate, relieving Suddhodana. Canki observed the upcoming battles from the grandstands, hoping his influence on Siddhartha would placate the volatile relationship between father and son.

  • Siddhartha is preparing to take part in a military competition arranged by his father, the king. He dresses in armor but finds it uncomfortable.

  • His cousin Devadatta taunts him, saying no one will dare to actually fight him. Siddhartha challenges Devadatta to a duel.

  • Siddhartha prepares to ride his prized white stallion, Kanthaka. In the stables, he encounters Sujata, who has come to wish him well. They express attraction and longing for each other.

  • Siddhartha wants to be with Sujata, but she becomes upset, mentioning “the king.” She runs away in tears without explanation.

  • Confused, Siddhartha rides off to the competition, troubled over upsetting Sujata but with no time to clarify what happened between them.

So in summary, it deals with Siddhartha preparing for a military event while an encounter with Sujata discussing their forbidden feelings leaves him confused and concerned over upsetting her.

  • Siddhartha was competing in a tournament held by his father, King Suddhodana. He performed well in sword fighting but remained on the sidelines for the mounted archery competition.

  • In the archery competition, Siddhartha removed his armor to show he was not participating in a charade. He took down opponents one by one until the final two archers attacked together.

  • Siddhartha defeated them both but one archer was fatally wounded in the neck by an arrow. His attempt to remove the arrow caused heavy bleeding and the man died.

  • Devadatta, Siddhartha’s cousin, criticized the events, saying nobody was meant to get hurt. Siddhartha, shaken by the death, challenged Devadatta to a fight but was stopped by his loyal attendant Channa.

In summary, Siddhartha participated in a dangerous tournament where he succeeded but an opponent died, shaking him and leading to a confrontation with his criticizing cousin Devadatta.

  • Siddhartha and Devadatta engage in a fight to the death to settle a dispute over Devadatta claiming Siddhartha’s servant Channa touched him improperly.

  • The fight is close at first, but Siddhartha gains the upper hand. However, as he is about to win, Devadatta cheaply strikes him from behind with a dagger.

  • Enraged, Siddhartha overpowers Devadatta and is about to kill him. But a voice inside tells him to surrender and let go. With great difficulty, he drops Devadatta’s unconscious body.

  • Siddhartha then has a profound inner experience where he metaphorically leaps off a cliff into an empty void. He surrenders something deep within and discovers this void is not chaotic but different than he feared. He has an enlightening vision of his mother.

  • Siddhartha has a strange experience where he jumps into an abyss and falls, losing all sense of who he is. He feels pure and free, disconnected from his fears and identity.

  • He awakens to find his father and others caring for him. Rumors spread that he had heat stroke or was cursed. Leeches are used to treat him.

  • Siddhartha is troubled by what happened. He feels a shroud of sadness that won’t lift. Channa visits and tells him the king beat Channa with a whip as punishment for his role in the incident.

  • Siddhartha reflects on how caste divides people, though Channa still sees him with some superstitious awe due to his status. Siddhartha no longer feels afraid of his cousin Devadatta, who had long threatened him, and wonders what else he is no longer afraid of.

  • Siddhartha searches an empty trunk, reflecting on how he was once a fearful child without his mother. He feels purified after experiencing some change, but is unsure how others will react.

  • Sujata thinks about her interactions with Siddhartha in her room alone. When someone enters, she thinks it is Siddhartha but realizes it is Devadatta, who rapes and blinds her with a knife. He disposes of her body in the river.

  • Sujata’s disappearance is discovered. Kumbira informs the king but he seems indifferent. Siddhartha wants to search for Sujata but his father discourages it. Siddhartha and Channa secretly leave through the woods to search on their own. Channa reflects on how the king once sent away sick and old people, including possibly Sujata’s family.

Channa and Siddhartha visit a village that has been abandoned by the king. The people left there are old, sick, lame or diseased - those who the king no longer needed. They have been left to fend for themselves with no support.

Siddhartha sees how hard their lives are. He goes into a building used as a house of the dead, where corpses lie awaiting cremation. Seeing the suffering of old age, disease and death deeply affects Siddhartha.

The abandoned villagers recognize Siddhartha as the king’s son. They are angry at being cast out and how their lives have been made miserable. Siddhartha is ashamed, realizing his privileged life was built on the suffering of others. He promises to try and help the people. The experience leaves Siddhartha troubled and wanting to understand suffering.

  • Siddhartha sees glimpses of saffron robes under the bodies at a city of the dead, indicating a priest named Canki was there.

  • An old priest approaches Siddhartha and offers to give him a special blessing, but whispers that he must take the priest back with him or be cursed. Siddhartha refuses and rides off.

  • Siddhartha is haunted by thoughts of Sujata, who he recently learned had died. He sees a vision of her corpse on a table among the dead.

  • In the jungle, Siddhartha glimpses a naked hermit he thinks is Asita, an old priest. He chases after but loses him.

  • Siddhartha finds a small clearing being used as a home by someone. He meditates there and has a spiritual experience of sinking into silence. When he opens his eyes, the hermit is there watching him silently.

  • Gautama is a wandering monk who has renounced possessions and worldly attachments. He is exhausted from traveling and has blistered feet.

  • He encounters a group of woodcutters sheltering in a cave. One man offers him food in a hollow gourd, as monks are not allowed possessions beyond basic necessities like a begging bowl.

  • Gautama reflects on how some criminals pose as monks to avoid detection. He eats gratefully and continues on his way.

  • His mind plagues him with doubts and self-criticism. He tries counting steps to distract himself but can’t escape memories, especially of leaving his wife Yashodhara. Their parting was deeply painful for both of them.

  • Gautama wonders if leaving caused Yashodhara grief that could have killed her. He regrets the suffering he caused in pursuing spiritual knowledge and renouncing the worldly life.

Siddhartha leaves his palace to abandon his royal life and become an ascetic. He crosses the river and cuts off his long hair. His friend Channa is deeply saddened by his decision and cuts Siddhartha’s hair reluctantly. They part ways at the river in silence.

Siddhartha continues on his journey and encounters challenges as he gets used to his new simple lifestyle without luxuries. He hopes to find an enlightened teacher in the forest to guide him spiritually. After meeting some cynical travelers, he comes across a wandering monk named Ganaka who has been a holy man for 12 years. Ganaka is critical of gurus who promise enlightenment but don’t deliver. He warns Siddhartha not to be fooled by false teachers. Ganaka shares his own story of devoting himself to spiritual life after his wife died but being disappointed by what he found. He sees similarities between himself and the eager Siddhartha seeking wisdom.

Ganaka, a disillusioned former monk, tells his story to Gautama. He grew skeptical of his previous gurus and their teachings. When he started questioning and criticizing them, he was expelled. Now he wanders as a homeless devotee, surviving on the charity of others.

Gautama is hesitant to engage too much with Ganaka’s cynical view of religion. Soon they come across a situation where a farmer’s cart has overturned, spilling grain. The farmer is angrily beating his wife and ox. Gautama intervenes to help right the cart and calm the situation.

However, Ganaka was watching the whole time and criticizes Gautama’s actions. He thinks Gautama only helped to satisfy his own ego and pride, and that the farmer and wife would have been better solving it themselves. Ganaka’s critiques shake Gautama’s confidence in always acting to promote virtue. Though hurt by Ganaka’s mocking, Gautama realizes some truth in his points. Ganaka believes true enlightenment may not exist, and one should not pretend to be a saint. Their discussion challenges Gautama to reconsider his approaches and assumptions.

Here is a summary of the key events:

  • King Suddhodana has a disturbing dream where he finds Siddhartha’s corpse in a shallow grave. When he embraces the cold body, it speaks to him, saying “The prince is not the king.”

  • Suddhodana tells Canki, the high Brahmin, that he is no longer going to kill him. Canki suspects Suddhodana has a new plan.

  • Suddhodana and Canki discuss potentially making Devadatta the new king, thinking he will be easier to control than Siddhartha.

  • Devadatta encounters a beggar in the forest wearing Siddhartha’s old royal robes. Out of jealousy and anger towards Siddhartha, Devadatta beheads the beggar.

  • Suddhodana sees the beheaded corpse, believing it’s Siddhartha at first. He retreats in shock and grief.

  • The narrative then shifts to introduce Gautama finding a hermit in a forest clearing, preparing to receive teachings from him.

Gautama encounters an ascetic hermit meditating under a lean-to in the forest. He sits nearby for three days hoping to learn from the hermit, who remains perfectly still. On the fourth day, the hermit acknowledges Gautama and says “maybe” he can teach him.

Gautama begins imitating the hermit’s meditation practice. Though he finds it challenging at first to remain still for long periods, he starts experiencing deep meditative states where his body tingles with light and energy.

Over four days, the hermit remains in deep samadhi while Gautama performs small tasks and meditates alongside him. On the evening of the fourth day, the hermit emerges from samadhi and asks “Well?” implying he is assessing whether Gautama is accepting him as his teacher. Their guru-disciple bond is established.

Here is a summary of the provided section:

  • Siddhartha encounters Yashodhara when she is one of many potential brides visiting his kingdom. Unlike the others who were focused on his wealth and status, Yashodhara asks for a necklace to help feed her starving village. Siddhartha is impressed by her honesty and kindness.

  • They marry and Yashodhara weeps on their wedding night, foreseeing that Siddhartha will one day leave her. He reassures her but the premonition comes true when Siddhartha abandons his family to pursue spiritual enlightenment.

  • Years later as a monk, memories of Yashodhara stir passion in Gautama. His master slaps him to banish such thoughts. Gautama then experiences an assault from Mara during a rainstorm but feels peace returning to the master’s camp.

  • The master implies Mara fears what Gautama might discover about himself. But when Gautama asks for clarification, the master departs silently. Gautama joins a group of monks also traveling east in search of teachers who can help him understand Mara.

  • Gautama and Pabbata, two monks, are traveling with Pabbata’s cousins. Gautama engages anyone they meet in conversation, seeking news and gossip.

  • Pabbata takes his faith more seriously than his joking cousins. He tells Gautama he stopped to help him because he felt Gautama’s “presence” - which Gautama denies is possible.

  • They continue traveling together, with Gautama helping locate food and water. Gautama meditates alone one morning and feels a strange cool breeze, realizing the burdens everyone carries.

  • Gautama leaves the group, not wanting to be seen as a “false god.” He finds them again and continues traveling.

  • Later, Gautama saves an old monk named Ganaka who was left for dead in the forest. Ganaka had been planning to die. Gautama runs a camp/ashram now, where miracles are said to occur around him, though he discourages this view of himself. The summary focuses on Gautama’s interactions with Pabbata and Ganaka.

  • A fake miracle worker hobbled into the Buddha’s camp claiming to be healed. Ananda was suspicious of him but the Buddha said to feed him and then request his crutches be given to help another. They expected the man to leave in the morning without handing over the crutches.

  • The summary discusses the Buddha’s previous teachers - Alara, a scholar who taught about illusion/maya and the higher/lower self, and Udaka, a yogi who taught about redeeming the soul/atman rather than seeking God which is already present.

  • With Alara, the Buddha became disillusioned when he saw Alara reject his own son as an illusion. They had a falling out. With Udaka, the Buddha was intrigued by the teachings about the soul rather than seeking the already present divine.

So in summary, it discusses two of the Buddha’s teachers before he embarked on his own spiritual search, and a fake miracle worker who came to the camp seeking food.

Gautama has begun studying under a new teacher named Udaka. Udaka preaches about seeking one’s soul and finding freedom within. However, Gautama questions some of Udaka’s views, such as why the soul wouldn’t immediately tell someone not to hate. This irritates Udaka.

Gautama is troubled by visions of his wife and believes she may be sending him a message about deserving compassion. However, Udaka dismisses this and says to ignore women.

A man named Ganaka, who had tried to commit suicide previously, tells Gautama he intends to try again by starving himself in the jungle. This deeply disturbs Gautama. Ganaka explains that after failing to find freedom through many spiritual paths, death now seems the only way.

The next day, Ganaka is gone. Gautama blames himself for not being able to save or protect Ganaka. He questions the power of the gods and supernatural forces. His friend Ananda worries about Gautama losing faith and wants to pray to Buddha to help lift his spirits.

That night, during a rainstorm, Ananda finds Gautama leaving Udaka’s hut pale and disturbed. Gautama remains silent about what transpired, leaving Ananda concerned about what may have happened.

  • Gautama tells Ananda he has lost faith and will leave that night, not wanting Ananda to try and stop him. Ananda is distressed.

  • Gautama shares that a traveler told him his cousin Devadatta spread rumors that Gautama was dead, likely having committed the murder himself. This has caused suffering for Gautama’s family.

  • Gautama refuses to clear up the rumors, worrying it would lead to Devadatta’s execution. He feels he hasn’t done enough in his spiritual search.

  • Gautama leaves that night alone, planning to push his physical limits to defeat death and attain freedom. He tries to recruit monks to join him but they refuse, thinking his methods too extreme.

  • Eventually five monks do join Gautama. They isolate themselves in a cave, practicing severe asceticism like near-starvation. Gautama has a vision of the god Krishna, who tells him to stop his “stupid” behavior and go home.

  • Gautama continues the asceticism but his mind starts rebelling, questioning if this path will really lead to enlightenment.

Gautama continues pushing himself to extreme limits through self-denial and austerity in an attempt to conquer death and achieve enlightenment. He believes depriving himself of all worldly desires will cut his karma at the root. He tries to convince the five monks following him of this approach.

Over five years of this practice, Gautama reduces himself to a near-skeletal state. One monk, Kondana, leaves out of concern that Gautama is killing himself. The remaining monk, Assaji, cares for Gautama but grows weak himself from the harsh conditions. After falling sick, Assaji realizes he can no longer continue in this way without endangering his own life and soul. He tells the unmoving Gautama that he must leave for his own well-being, but feels great guilt at the prospect of abandoning Gautama’s quest.

  • Assaji lingers around Gautama’s camp for a few more days, leaving supplies of fruit and water before departing without a sound.

  • Gautama has come to realize he must walk the path to enlightenment alone. In meditations, he experiences heavenly pleasure but turns away from it, instead asking to experience more suffering.

  • He arrives in hell voluntarily and endures horrific torments that regenerate each day. After defeating every form of suffering, he is in a state of darkness and silence.

  • Near death, Gautama begins crawling through the forest but becomes too weak. A young girl named Sujata finds him and cares for him, feeding him sweet rice.

  • Gautama realizes this is the same Sujata he knew from years ago. Memories from his past life come flooding back as he regains consciousness.

  • Sujata takes Gautama to her home to recover from his illness and weakness over several weeks. He dwells in her simple mud hut as he regains his strength.

  • Sujata, a young girl, nurses Gautama back to health after finding him weak and starving in the forest. She cares for him in her abandoned family hut over the course of several weeks.

  • Gautama is mentally detached and empty despite physically recovering. He sees himself as a “blank” or “nonperson.” Sujata grows upset by his indifference.

  • After leaving the hut, Gautama wanders aimlessly. He realizes he no longer suffers mentally. He meditates under a pipal tree for seven weeks.

  • Mara, the demon, appears to Gautama disguised as the monk Ganaka. Mara offers to teach Gautama the secrets of the universe, claiming to see into all souls. Gautama refuses, showing indifference even toward Mara.

  • The story sets up Gautama’s mental state after intense spiritual seeking left him empty. He is detached from suffering, people, and even Mara. His encounter with Mara may prompt his continued journey toward enlightenment.

The demon Mara confronts Gautama and tries to tempt him with three beautiful daughters - Tanha, Raga, and Arati, whose names represent desire, lust, and aversion. However, Gautama is able to see through their nature and turns their offers away. This angers Mara, who summons a terrifying army of demons. But Gautama remains calm and unaffected. He tells Mara that he has no soul, daring Mara to find it. Mara agrees to this challenge but is unable to find Gautama’s soul.

Having defeated Mara’s temptations and proven himself soulless and detached from worldly pleasures, Gautama achieves enlightenment and freedom. He realizes he has the power to manifest anything through thought alone. However, he also feels a draw to return to society and share his knowledge. Memories of his wife Yashodhara make him realize he has at least one person who still believes in him. Gautama must now decide whether to remain detached from the world or return to help others find freedom as well.

  • The Buddha had a new vision after realizing Gautama no longer existed and he was now a new Buddha.

  • As Buddha, he had power over the world and could make anything happen, like moving the sun across the sky. But he realized his world should have people to care for.

  • He came across a woman being attacked and erased the traumatic memories and images from her mind. He also brought her husband back to life by refusing to accept that event had occurred.

  • People in a nearby village feared a killer named Angulimala. The old temple priest told Buddha Angulimala’s backstory - how he was wronged and became cursed, now killing people to collect 1000 fingers as a sacrifice.

  • Buddha was drawn to help Angulimala, believing he could lift the curse. He encountered Angulimala in the jungle and was able to avoid his attacks, trying to get him to speak his real name and acknowledge his suffering.

So in summary, the new Buddha used his powers to help ease suffering, like erasing the woman’s traumatic memories and bringing her husband back. He was also trying to help Angulimala by addressing the root of his suffering and curse.

  • Buddha encounters Angulimala, a notorious serial killer, in the forest. Angulimala charges at Buddha with his knife but is unable to catch up to him, despite running as fast as a horse.

  • Exhausted, Angulimala collapses on the ground. Buddha tells him they are standing only a small distance apart. He touches Angulimala’s matted hair, causing him to weep.

  • Buddha learns Angulimala’s real name is Anigha. He convinces Anigha that they are brothers and that they share the same fate in the cycle of birth and rebirth.

  • Anigha washes off in a stream, renouncing his former identity as Angulimala. He agrees to follow Buddha’s guidance on atoning for his crimes by helping others anonymously.

  • Buddha leaves Anigha to begin his atonement, confident he has altered the course of evil through compassion and wisdom. Buddha is still new to being enlightened but growing in power and ability to help others.

Buddha discusses with five monks that life and death are simple - the body returns to dust and is recycled through nature. One monk, Vappa, is full of doubts and anguish, believing he cannot achieve enlightenment due to his impure thoughts and actions. Buddha reassures Vappa that awakening is not about conquering good or evil, which are natural opposites, but detaching from both and realizing one’s true essence beyond the physical. Vappa finds this lesson deeply impactful.

As Buddha and the monks near his hometown of Kapilavastu, his presence alerts his former wife Yashodhara. She prepares for his return, hopeful to reunite with the father of their son Rahula. Buddha seeks to gently transmit his teachings and not agitate people, realizing how deeply asleep the masses are in their true nature.

  • Buddha returns to Kapilavastu with his monks after many years away. He encounters his worried wife Yashodhara and reassures her.

  • They hear the sounds of war nearby. Buddha predicts his father was tricked into war by Devadatta. They continue on to the capital.

  • That night, Buddha and the monks observe the aftermath of a battle from a hilltop. Buddha tells them war is just another way humans suffer, and hopes alone will not end wars.

  • The next morning, they go down to the battlefield where two soldiers are dueling. Buddha boldly walks between the two fighters to intervene, without weapons but believing they can still prevail through non-violence.

Buddha approaches two enemy soldiers engaged in a fight. He tells them to try and hurt him, remaining completely calm even as they threaten him. His calm demeanor unnerves the soldiers, who lower their weapons.

Buddha then takes his disciples to an area with more intense fighting. He walks into the battlefield and begins catching swords in mid-air with his bare hands. This astounds the soldiers, who fall to their knees. He proceeds through the entire army, calming the fighting.

Buddha’s display of miraculous abilities and aura of light convinces the army to lay down their weapons. He then goes to his father Suddhodana’s tent, who is the king leading one side in the battle. Suddhodana is overjoyed to see his son Siddhartha alive, but insists on returning to fight.

Buddha lets his father go, saying love sometimes weeps but an appeal to love does not always prevail. He walks with his disciples to where Suddhodana confronts Devadatta, Buddha’s cousin leading the opposing army. Buddha calls out to Devadatta, implying he aims to resolve the situation peacefully.

  • Devadatta plotted to overthrow Suddhodana and seize the throne through force. He rallied rebel soldiers and allied with a neighboring king to invade.

  • A battle ensued between Suddhodana’s forces and the rebels/invaders led by Devadatta. Buddha intervened to stop the fighting.

  • Devadatta’s former servant Channa challenged Devadatta to a duel. During the duel, Buddha subtly caused Devadatta to slip, giving Channa an opening to attack. However, Suddhodana stopped Channa from killing Devadatta.

  • Taking advantage of the situation, Devadatta stabbed Channa from behind, mortally wounding him. Devadatta was then captured.

  • Buddha comforted the dying Channa and appeared to heal his wounds miraculously. He convinced Suddhodana to show mercy to Devadatta instead of executing him.

  • Through Buddha’s influence, peace was restored and a celebration began. Devadatta, now defeated, slipped away quietly from the new atmosphere of non-violence established by Buddha.

  • Devadatta has always been deeply jealous and resentful of Buddha. He is unable to let go of his hatred.

  • Buddha says Devadatta is tied to him by an invisible rope and will inevitably return as a disciple one day.

  • Assaji hopes Devadatta will be better when he returns, but Buddha says he will still be arrogant. However, the fire of passion will burn out over time.

  • When the ashes are dug through, an inner gem of enlightenment can be discovered that was there all along. This represents finding one’s inner buddha nature.

  • The story suggests Devadatta may one day overcome his hatred and pride to reach enlightenment as Buddha’s disciple, though he has a long journey still ahead of him.

  • The passage discusses different Buddhist concepts of illusion and reality. Buddhism sees the illusion of things like eternal love, immortality, and ignorance being bliss as traps that lead to suffering.

  • Buddha saw through these illusions and believed that anything perceived by the senses or conceptualized by the mind is unreal and impermanent. This leaves nothing seemingly free from illusion.

  • However, Buddha declared that with a shift in consciousness, absolute reality can be revealed. Reality is not a thing, sensation or thought - it is the fundamental ground and source of all existence.

  • Buddhism exchanges believing in an infinite world of perceptions for realizing our true state of Being. This freedom from illusion is so complete it needs no concepts like freedom.

  • The author wrote a novel on Buddha’s life to trace his journey from sleeping to awakening. Buddha demolished all his own beliefs, purified all perceptions, and brought clarity to confusion through realizing the root of suffering is illusion and the only escape is stopping belief in a separate self.

  • Following Buddha involves following his social, ethical and mystical teachings through community, compassion and dissolving the sense of a separate self through non-attachment and non-doing. This involves shifting allegiance from perceived duality to realizing the nature of both/neither.

  • Mindfulness meditation can train the mind to observe thoughts from a place of non-identification. Over time, the gaps between thoughts grow longer as attention settles into silence.

  • This does not mean achieving nirvana or permanent silence, but developing a relationship with thoughts where one is not controlled by them.

  • In this state, silence and thinking can coexist - thoughts emerge from silence but one identifies with the source of thinking rather than the content of individual thoughts.

  • The advantages are highly individual - different for everyone based on their personal suffering. Overall, it leads to greater peace, lack of suffering, fearlessness and other qualities the Buddha exemplified.

  • Buddhism is open-ended and doesn’t require strict rules or beliefs. The focus is on personal observation, meditation, and reducing personal discord over time on an individual level. This makes Buddhism appealing and able to thrive in modern contexts.

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About Matheus Puppe