Buddha, Buddhism and it’s myths

This bas relief depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding on to a sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, shedding an oval halo, around his head.

During my recent visit to Po Lin Monastry I found some conflicting information about Buddha’s birth place. I saw some paintings with information saying Buddha was born in Nepal and some other info saying he was born in India. It might not matter to most, but those who are serious about history and Buddhism itself should know the facts. I’ve known many serious Buddhists who really thought that Buddha was born in India until they met me. I had to point them to reliable sources to get the facts across. The truth is that; Buddha was born in Kapilbastu, Lumbini, Nepal.

Recently I’ve read a lot about Buddhism and from my understanding it is more of a philosophy than a religion. I’ve really found very useful stuff and can say that Buddhism has totally shifted my paradigm. If I have to explain it in one sentence then it would be; Now I’m taking life not too seriously and trying to live in the current moment, i.e. NOW. It’s quite complicated to get into details, but I think some day I’ll try to explain. Anyway, other thing I discovered about Buddhism is that it’s too flexible (don’t know whether it’s good or bad). It has evolved for last 2600 years in different geographical regions and it had to accommodate different types of people. Some very intellectual, some highly devotional where as some highly physical (needed something like yoga) others preferring to stay calm for weeks, months and years in meditation. But we should be careful in generalizing the Buddhism itself as a whole with our initial experience and understanding because it would be like seven blind men trying to describe an elephant. There are certain central principles to which all forms of Buddhism agree upon.

As I’m reading about Buddhism, I found some common myths (there should be more but these are the ones I know at this moment. I think I’ll update this list as I become aware of them):

  1. The myth that Buddha was born in India has been spread by some Indian archaeologists. The truth of course is that Buddha was born in Lumbini, Kapilbastu which is in Nepal. The Indian Government officially recognizes it, Ashoka pillar (erected by Indian Emperor) is in Lumbini, Nepal and it is listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
  2. Buddha is a name. The word Buddha is not a name but it is a title. The word Buddha means ‘One who is awake.’ The historical Buddha of this world was named Siddhartha Gautama.
  3. Buddha was a god. Buddha was once a man who later became Enlightened.
  4. Buddha was Buddhist. Buddha was born in a Hindu family. His teachers were Hindu saints. He lived as a Hindu, although he didn’t like many aspects of Hinduism, he was a reformer. He died a Hindu. Buddhism was created later by his followers based on his teachings.
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Posted in Body, Mind & Spirit, Hong Kong, Life, Nepal, Reviews

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