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Buddhism

Serenity of Buddha & Precepts of Buddhism by Anandmurti Gurumaa

Most people would have probably heard the word 'Buddha', and again most would equate it to the prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism. This 'Buddha' is well known to people from all parts of the world, given the large global following of Buddhism including the allied school of Zen Buddhism. However, the word 'Buddha' literally means 'the enlightened one'. And moreover, we all have the potential of becoming a Buddha, or rather realising our Buddha nature.
Gautama Siddhartha Buddha was the sheer embodiment of compassion and wisdom. His heart overflowed with benevolence for all living beings, full of boundless empathy and mercy for one and all. A heart full of compassion alone can experience true love for all beings and guide mankind from the shackles of suffering towards the bliss of liberation. Buddha was the incarnate form of compassion and love, reflected so clearly in his serene smile. Moved by the presence of global human suffering and realising the illusory nature of this world, he renounced everything and walked on the path that lead him to the ultimate liberation. Buddha was deeply aware of others' suffering and hence he relentlessly worked on guiding mankind on this path of liberation from all misery.
There are several books readily available on Buddhism delving into all aspects – historical facts, spiritual teachings, sutras, light reading for the casual reader, and profound discussions for the more cerebrally inclined. Revered Anandmurti Gurumaa too has lucidly explicated the teachings of Buddha and these have been compiled in a book format making it readily available to the common man. But what is different about her expositions, what has she said has not already been said before, you may ask.
Well, this is no ordinary orator, no ordinary author. This is not another literary scholar who has studied the scriptures, interpreted the knowledge, and presented his or her own understanding of the scriptural texts. This is an enlightened master who has actually, literally, first-hand experienced the veritable truth – the same truth that was experienced by Gautama Siddhartha and all other enlightened masters. After all, truth is not of different kinds. There is only one universal truth. And the one who has experienced that truth, has shattered his ignorance forever, broken free of all bondages and delusions, is a Buddha.
Anandmurti Gurumaa is one such living Buddha. So, in effect, a 'Buddha' has written about, not only the Buddha that Gautama Siddhartha was, but the Buddha that resides within all of us. It cannot get any more authentic than that! Furthermore, the language is simple as this is a compilation of live discourses given to a gathering of masses from all walks of life.
Her expositions on Buddha's teachings are assembled in a book called The Compassionate Buddha in English which is also available in Hindi as a set of two books in Hindi: Dhamma & Karuna Hridya. This is a compilation of the live discourses given by beloved Gurumaa, which includes exposition on the precepts given by Buddha, their meaning and relevance to our day to day life. And the narrative is very engrossing with several inspirational stories like the uplifting story of the dacoit Angulimaal. Prior to meeting with Buddha, he had led a terrible life of violence and carnage. But even a ruthless murderer like Angulimaal was utterly transformed by the compassion of the ever merciful Buddha.
And it is in his context that Buddha gave the following precept:

Yassya pāpam kaţam kammam kushlein pithayati
So mam lokam param prabhāseti, abhamutto vā chandramā


No matter how many sins were committed by him in the past, the 

occurrence of a single virtuous karma was enough to mask the earlier sinful karmas – just like the darkness of the night sky is offset by happening of one event – rising of the moon. And there is no bigger virtuous karma than emerging out of the shackles of ignorance.
So there is hope for everyone irrespective of what he or she has done in the past. And these are the comforting words Buddha gives to all in the form of another precept:

Yassya pāpam kaţam kammam kushlein api yaţi
So mam lokam bhawāsyéţi, abhāv muţţovchandramā


No matter if you have sinned in the past, the occurrence of one virtuous act transforms you like the lustrous moon in a dark sky. The one whose sins get concealed by the virtues, he shines like the moon in a clouded sky, spreading its light everywhere. Thus the compassionate Buddha offers a glimmer of hope for all.
Anandmurti Gurumaa explains how with the arrival of Buddha, religion took a momentous turn – from the predominant faith based to one based on logic and rationale. In those times, religion was largely a blind practise of rituals and idol worship. But Buddha's arrival proved to be revolutionary for he encouraged logical enquiry, he motivated people to explore, to question, to understand rather than blindly engage in baseless ritualistic practises. And that is why he never talked about God or Atman. In fact people would be told to refrain from asking him these three questions: who or what is God, who or what is the Atman and who or what is this universe. This indeed was a radical shift from the predominant faith based doctrines of those times.
Anandmurti Gurumaa relates the journey of Gautama Siddhartha from a prince to a man of realization, how the prince renounced his riches and single-mindedly pursued the path of inner evolution. And once he attained the highest truth, he spent the remainder 40 years or so of his life travelling wide and far, establishing dhammapads (ashrams) and imparting his teachings to all sincere seekers.
The disciples were referred to as bhikshus and adorning the yellow robes ordained by Buddha, and surrendering themselves to him and his teachings, they would gracefully chant:

Buddham sharanam gatchhāmi
Sangham sharanam gatchhāmi
Dhammam sharanam gatchhāmi


'Sharanam gatchhāmi' means 'I take refuge in you, surrendering completely to your will'. I take refuge in the 'sangha' – the entire confederation including Buddha and all his disciples walking on the path shown by him. I take refuge in the 'dhamma' – the doctrine which upholds and supports the disciple on the spiritual path. This can loosely be taken as akin to 'dharma'. I have to finally take refuge in the dharma but for that I need the guidance of an embodied enlightened master, one who is a Buddha.
Anandmurti Gurumaa explains the essence of Buddha's teachings and elaborately discusses the fundamental principles he gave to mankind whereby man could become free of all negativities & suffering and evolve to great spiritual heights. The principles focus around suffering, how the nature of this world is suffering but there is a way out of it. Furthermore, she talks about the practical techniques he advocated for living in awareness, including the practice of Ānāpānāsatiyog.
Through her riveting commentary, Anandmurti Gurumaa motivates one and all to delve deeper, inculcate and experience this deep compassion which resides in all hearts. She provides a tremendous inspiration to the reader to commence the journey, from the Buddha without to the Buddha within.

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