The fictional protagonist of the novel, Siddhartha, though he bears the same name, is not the historical religious leader later known as Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Eastern religion Buddhism. Hesse’s novel is set in the sixth century BC, in the time of the Buddha, who is referred to as Gotama in the book.
Siddhartha is derived from two Sanskrit words siddha (achieved, accomplished) and artha (meaning or wealth), together meaning “one who has found meaning (of life)” or “one who has attained wealth (of knowledge).”
Sallow wood refers to a grove of the Sal tree, a shrubby broad-leaved willow. The Sal tree is widely distributed in the mountains of Europe and Asia and grows along riverbanks. The wood is a good source of charcoal and tanbark. In India, this beautiful and flexible wood is used in many wood crafts. The Sal tree can grow as high as 30 to 35 meters with wide trunks measuring up to 2-2.5 m. Its leaves are in full bloom in the month of May.
The Sal tree occurs in Indian architecture, as a decorative sculptural element integrated into Indian temple architecture. The sal tree maiden, or salabhanjika is depicted as a yakshini, or beautiful and voluptuous nature-deity.
In Buddhist legends, Queen Maya went into labor in a Sal grove and gave birth to Siddhartha, (Gautama Buddha) in a standing position while holding onto the branch of a Sal tree.
Mythological tales surrounding the fig tree are found in many ancient cultures. In Ancient Roman mythology, a sacred fig tree is associated with the legend of Romulus, the founder of the city of Rome. In Hinduism, the fig tree symbolized wisdom and immortality; the Banyan and the Pipul trees that are associated with the life of the Buddha are also species of fig tree.
The fig tree and its fruit, the fig, are symbolically mentioned in the Holy Bible, subject to varied scholarly interpretations. Adam and Eve wrapped themselves in fig leaves for modesty, after eating the fruit of temptation, which proves that the fig tree also occurred in the Garden of Eden.
The English word brahmin is derived from the Sanskrit word Brāhmana (Sanskrit: ब्राह्मण). A brahmin was someone who had acquired Brahmavidya or highest spiritual knowledge through rigorous discipline of body and mind, and under strict tutelage. In the early Vedic period, anyone who dedicated himself to an austere life and to the pursual of this knowledge wad designated a brahmin, irrespective of birth or class.
The education of brahmin youths was sponsored by warriors, mostly rulers and feudal lords. To become a priest, the youth had to embrace virtues of truth, purity and morality, and reject the sins of hypocrisy and dishonesty. Brahmins slowly came to be recognized as representatives of the Divine Forces and this helped to strengthen their position in the Hindu caste-system, leading to a phase of Brahmin orthodoxy.
Govinda, the “one who knows, finds, or tends cattle", is one of the many names of the Hindu God, Lord Krishna. Hesse may have used the name Govinda in this mythological context, or as an homage to the Lama Anagarika Govinda, born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann, who was a famous Buddhist scholar of German origin and contemporary of Hesse. Hoffman practiced Tibetan Buddhism and translated many Buddhist texts.
Water has been used in the customs of many religions across the world, especially those concerning purification.
Holy Ablutions is a religious rite: the ritual washing in one of the holy rivers of India of the body or possessions, with the intent of purification, cleansing of sins, or in preparation for prayer. Holy Ablutions can be performed in the morning and evening. Water and salt can be used. Ablutions have also been performed with blood, and even the urine of the cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism.
Ablutions or washing also occur in biblical references and relate to the concept of cleansing and the absolution of guilt. Islamic ablution or Wudu comprises 26 washing movements carried out five times a day.
Sacrifice can comprise offerings of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to the gods, as well as personal surrender as a form of worship. The ritual of sacrifice is known as yagya, and according to the Vedic scriptures has been important since creation. Common ingredients of a yagya are milk, ghee, curd, grains, spices, woods and the soma plant. Animal offerings have been documented but were uncommon.
Havanam (also Havana, Havan) is a purifying yagya in Hinduism that involves a fire ceremony, in which the fire god, Agni, is believed to carry the offerings to the gods. A passage from the great epic, The Mahabharata, Aswamadha ParvaSection 24 & 25, reads: Restraining the senses and the mind, the objects of those senses and the mind should be poured as libations on the sacred fire of the Soul that is within the body.
Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, India, explains the five great daily sacrifices for the householder, as follows:
1. Brahma Yajna or Veda Yajna that includes teaching and studying scriptures
2. Deva Yajna that includes oblations into the sacred fire is Deva Yajna)
3. Pitri Yajna that is offering of water to the ancestors
4. Bhuta Yajna thatb is offering food to all the creatures.
5. Manushya Yajna includes hospitality to guests and goodwill to all men
In contemporary society, yagya and havana are performed at weddings and funerals, and in personal worship.
A human being is the sum total of his body, mind, soul, and spirit. The soul is not the same as spirit. The Latin root of the English word, spirit is spiritus, meaning "breath", but also "spirit, soul, courage, vigor."
The spirit is the inherent energy within a living being that cannot exist separate from the body. The soul on the other hand is regarded as eternal also believed to exist outside the body. In the Holy Bible, the soul and spirit are referred to in two different connotations in various verses.
The Modern Catholic Dictionary (John A. Hardon S.J.) defines spirit as: "That which is positively immaterial. It is pure spirit if it has no dependence on matter either for its existence or for any of its activities...." The soul is defined as: "The spiritual immortal part in human beings that animates their body. Though a substance (Catholic Encyclopedia: Substance) in itself, the soul is naturally ordained toward a body; separated it is an "incomplete" substance."
In Buddhism, devas are spirits or non-human beings that reside in the heavens as the result of good karma.
In the context of Siddhartha, the term pure spirit denotes a good individual with compassion, seeking truth and knowledge. A pure spirited individual, by virtue of the goodness within radiates with calm, peace and vibrancy.
The word meditate is derived from the Latin root meditatum, to ponder. It is an internal, personal practice in which the practitioner trains the mind or self-induces a mode of consciousness in order to realize some spiritual or medical benefit. On account of its spiritual element, meditation forms an integral part of most religions. The entire process of meditation comprises three stages − concentration, meditation and absorption.
Contemplation stems from the Latin root templus, and means to enter a sacred place. In Hindu and Buddhist practices, it is the act of holding a thought or object in the mind's eye and observing the thought or object from many perspectives, to reach a stage of mystical absorption beyond meditation, characterized by ecstasy. Gautama Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree in contemplation for several days and attained Enlightenment.
Ringu Tulku: ‘He saw the truth. Enlightenment for us Buddhists means not only intellectually but experientially seeing things as they are, including who we are.’
Nididhyasana is the Sanskrit word for the “art of contemplation and meditation”. Nididhyasana means uninterrupted or continuous meditation to enable thought-waves pertaining to the Supreme Being or Brahman to flow through the mind.
Listen to an artist's musical rendition of Nididhyasana, uninterrupted contemplation.
Ātman (Sanskrit: आत्मन्) is a term used in Vedanta Hindu philosophy to identify the Universal Spirit - macrocosmic as well as microcosmic. Generally translated into English as 'Self,' it is the immortal aspect of the mortal existence, the element, the force, the indestructible energy that is hidden in every object of creation including man. It is the divine in all of us, the part of the macrocosms that encompasses the entire universe.
Some texts, describe the Atman as a flame, of the size of thumb, which exists between the eye brows (anatomically, the location of the pineal gland), or in the heart of all as an emotion, but its exact form and location is uncertain.
"The soul is not born; it does not die; it was not produced from anyone... Unborn, eternal, it is not slain, though the body is slain." - Katha Upanisad
In Mandukya Upanishad, the self is described as fourfold:
"The wakeful Vaishwanara, the Universal Male (the ego),
The dreaming Taijasa, the enjoyer of subtle objects and the Lord of the luminous mind, (the astral),
The mysterious Pragna, the deep Sleeper and the Lord of Wisdom and
Atman the eternal, the Incommunicable, the end of phenomena, Brahman Itself."
The Self or Atman can be experienced only when the five senses cease to impact the mind, and the mind is free of thoughts and desires. The practice of Yoga can help a person to attain this state of Oneness, where the Atman can be realized.
Generally, the phrase “being one with the Universe” or “feeling one with the Universe” implies a sense of identity, resonance, compatibility with the goodness of the cosmic forces, the Universe. It is an empathy with the Universe and its beings.
Philosophically, the concept of one with the universe can also be understood in the context of a "Royal union" or Raja Yoga, as propounded by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. It is the balance of all the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual facilities to be able to attain one's higher self, feel love for all beings and hence be receptive to divine forces.
Verses 2:4-5 from the Ashtavakra Gita are translated as:
As a wave,
Seething and foaming,
Is only water
So all creation,
Streaming out of the Self,
Is only the Self.
Consider a piece of cloth.
It is only threads!
So all creation,
When you look closely,
Is only the Self.
The being comprises the sensory aspects of the mind and body. The "innermost Being" is the individual Self or Atman, and is characterized by satyam, shivam, sundaram - truth, consciousness, bliss.
Indian mystic, Osho in one of his discourses explained," Everything that is valuable comes from your own innermost being. It may be love, it may be intelligence, it may be creativity, it may be courage, it does not matter what. Anything of value comes from your own innermost being. Many dimensions open up with your experience of yourself."
The Taittiriya Upanishad explains that the the Self (Atman) is encased in five layers: the physical body, the life force, mind, intelligence, and bliss. It is through the art of contemplation and meditation that the human being can realize the Self or Atman, beyond the physical, astral and causal planes of existence.
Meditation helps one to observe thoughts, feelings and be conscious of these layers that encase the Atman, and be aware of one’s breath or life force, while contemplation allows one to invoke peace and bliss. When all the layers become still, one becomes aware of the pure consciousness of the Self alone remains, and this is the innermost of Being.
Man becoming God is a Hindu concept, wherein the inherent divinity of man is recognized. The presence of dharma, that is self-discipline by moral rules, differentiates one man from other human beings.
According to the Hindu saint, Shankaracharya, dharma can be of two types: pravritti-lakshana and nivritti-lakshana. Pravritti dharma is the observance of the moral codes of conduct in day-to-day actions, and in the enjoyment of the senses (kama), as well as in the acquisition of wealth (artha). This is what differentiates humans from other living beings.
Nivritti-lakshana is the total relinquishing of kama as well as artha to attain moksha or salvation. This is what enables a human being to embrace spiritual practices and strive for oneness with the Universe.
Bathing or morning cleansing with water, in Hinduism, is an everyday obligation, a rite of spiritual purification, and a form of ablution. It is symbolic atonement or amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong thoughts and deeds.
In the Christian tradition atonement means that reconciliation with God is accomplished through the death of Christ. Day of Atonement is a Jewish holiday akin to spiritual spring cleansing. In Hinduism, people bathe in the holy River Ganges to atone for their errors and sins.
The Rig Veda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ) is one of the Holy Vedas, and is an ancient Sanskrit text considered sacred to followers of the Hindu religion. The Vedas contain verses on mythology, stories, details of rituals and social mores, codes of conduct, and religious practices.
Religious scholars assert that the Rig Veda may be the oldest religious text in the world and the 1028 hymns dedicated to the plethora of Hindu gods may have been passed down orally for centuries before being actually written down. Just like the Christians believe in the divine origin of the Holy Bible, the Hindus believe that the Vedas were not composed, but directly revealed to the sages.
Vessel is a symbolic reference to the mind, the intellect, as an empty and open receptacle for knowledge and learning. Like an open-mouthed urn or vessel, made of clay, the mind is ready to fill with the water of knowledge and to let the drops seep into the welcoming clay. Water is an apt metaphor for knowledge that is free-flowing and quenches the thirst of the seeker.
In Hinduism, Prajapati (Sanskrit: प्रजापति "lord of creatures") is a deity of procreation, and the protector of life, often depicted as a lingam figure, sitting in a cross-legged lotus position, ready to give birth to all of creation.
In later Hinduism, the word Prajapati referred to ten different deities - Atri, Angirasa, Vasishta, Bhrigu, Narada, Marichi, Pulaha, Krathu, Pulasthya, and Prachethasa - who assisted the creator Brahman in creation. Hence, the term Prajapati came to be used as a title for the creator god Brahman.
The concept of Self is closely connected with the concept of Atman, the immortal aspect of the mortal existence, the element, the force, the indestructible energy that is hidden in every object of creation including man. It is a beings original nature - satyam, shivam, sundaram - truth, consciousness, bliss.
The Taittiriya Upanishad explains how the Self (Atman) is encased in five layers or sheaths: the physical body, the life force, mind, intelligence, and bliss. The aim of this meditation is to observe the layers and become still to be able to manifest the pure consciousness of the Self. This is realization of the Self, the innermost Being.
"Whence all creation had its origin, he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not, he, who surveys it all from highest heaven, he knows − or maybe even he does not know."
The Vedic texts attribute creation to is brought forth by the interaction of god, soul, and matter (water, air, heat, soil and ether), and is hence based on the universal laws of nature, of continuity, and of no beginning and no end.
Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, in his book, "Origin of Speech" proposes that human beings require rituals and tangible signs to establish an orderly environment, and control this environment based on the power exerted through speech.
Read a paper by Charles F Hockett, on the origins of speech and the 13 design-features of language.
A saying from the Vedas claims that "Speech is the essence of humanity." Speech and writing, are the ultimate tool for expressing ideas and actions. The New Testament states, "In the beginning was The Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God..." In Buddhist and Hindu practices, the chanting of mantras, or recitation of verses, is an essential spiritual practice.
Breathing exercises are an integral part of yogic practices and are said to generate relaxation and calmness. Pranayama is performed by breathing in and out only through the nose, which is supposed to be more beneficial than breathing through the mouth. Proper breathing sends more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and hence establishes better control over the vital life energy (prana). The Buddha is said to have used a meditative technique in which he restrained his breathing by pressing his tongue against the palate.
Aristotle divided the five senses as sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. According to modern science, human beings are also capable of experiencing pain, balance, joint motion and acceleration, sense of time, temperature differences, and direction. From the yogic perspective, mastery over the five senses, is essential for purification of the mind, body and soul, and this control is attainable through yoga and meditation.
"Great indeed are the devas who have sprung out of Brahman." — Atharva Veda.
Read more about the pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddeses.
Carl Sagan talks about the gods as dreams of men, and the many manifestations and incarnations of the gods. Acts of the gods refers to events outside of human control, like the weather, calamities, or miraculous acts.
The Chandogya Upanishad is an ancient source of principal fundamentals for Vedanta philosophy and is part of the Sama Veda, attributed to the singer of hymns, named Chandoga. It contains information on important spiritual practices like Dahara vidya, and Shandilya vidya.
A detailed commentary is available on the Divine Life Society's website.
Brahman (Devanāgarī: ब्रह्मन् bráhman) is the eternal and transcendent reality that exists in all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything in the Universe. Brahman is also described as Satchitananda ("Truth-Consciousness-Bliss"). Brahman is the source and essence of the material universe. In the Taittiriya Upanishad Brahman is described as satyam jnanam anantam brahman ("Brahman is of the nature of truth, knowledge and infinity").
The goal of Vedanta is to realize that the Atman is a microcosm, and is a part of the macrocosm, Brahman - "ekam sat" ("Truth is one"), and "All paths lead to the one Truth, though many sages [and religions] call upon it by different names."
The Vedic writings describe the universe as composed of fourteen planetary systems. The earth is the middle planetary system, and based on our karmas, beings are born in either lower (hell) or higher (heavenly) planetary regions. The earth is one of the heavenly worlds 'Dyava Prithvi’, or desirable places to be born into to enjoy temporary pleasures, based on the results of the karmic actions. Hence, it is the aim of a human being to attain eternal life, and escape the cycle of birth, death and temporary abode in heaven.
Read the English translation of Rig Vedic hymns to heaven and earth.
The Banyan tree (ficus benghalensis) is an ornamental tree with large oval leaves and widely spread aerial roots which descend from branches. The tree is commonly found in tropical India, East Indies and tropical Africa. In ancient times, merchants and travelers often used large enclosures formed by the trees as market shelter.
The Sacred Fig or Bo-Tree is a type of banyan fig native South East Asia. Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment under a Bo-Tree. The Banyan tree is a well-known symbol for happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. In India, Hindu devotees circumambulate around the sacred fig tree as a mark of worship.
In the Hindu view of creation, the Nada Brahma or the Sound Celestial appeared as a result of an atomic explosion that produced infinite waves of sound. These sound waves caused cosmic ascent and expansion, and hence resulted in creation if the universe. The sound was a monosyllable: Om, and is considered the most sacred syllable associated with the beginning of the universe. Vedic mantras commence with the chanting of Om, as an offering to God for the well-being of the earth and all its creatures.
In the age of the Buddha, stringent Brahamanical rules and societal structure of class based hierarchies, were viewed as obstacles in the path to moksha, or liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Some of these schools of heterodox thoughts embraced asceticism as a form of religious life. Ascetics, or Samanas (meaning "to strive", as in performing austerities), renounced Vedic society and culture as a reaction to the exclusive religious rights of the village Brahmins, and also renounced the role of a householder to eliminate karmic debts.
Through rigorous asceticism, including include celibacy, bodily mortification, homelessness, mendicancy, and upavāsa (fasting) the samanas sought to attain moksha, or acquire siddhis (magical powers). The Hindu god, Shiva, is regarding as the supreme wandering ascetic, and is depicted with matted hair, and wrapped in a tiger or elephant skin, an emaciated body smeared in ash from the funeral pyre.
Self-denial is the sacrifice of one's own desires or interests, and "unpitying self-denial" would sacrifice without any repentance or sense of misfortune at having to renounce worldly pleasures. Self-denial can take the form of asceticism or abstinence. In the context of Buddhism, self-denial can also be understood as no-self or anattā.
In the early texts, Buddha preached that all things perceived by the senses (including the mental sense) are not really "I" or "mine," and not worthy of one’s attention.
The Dhammapada 367 states, "He who has no thought of "I" and "mine" whatever towards his mind and body, he who grieves not for that which he has not, he is, indeed, called a bhikkhu (asectic)."
From the Christian perspective, true self-denial concedes self-interest to the divine interest.
As Richard Baxter, a puritan, says, "Wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God's interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere."
Passion, as a philosophical concept is identified with an innate or biologically driven emotional states such as anger, greed, lust or the other deadly sins, and is different from the modern romantic connotations of the word.
The seventeenth century Dutch philosopher Spinoza described the distinction between action and passion, as well as the state of being active and the state of being passive. Passion is the result of confused ideas about the causes and effects of any events that affect us.
Still passion can hence be equated with quietism or a state of quietness and passivity that accepts whatever God sends and values silent contemplation. Quietism is also a form of Christian mysticism characterized by passive contemplation and the destruction of the human will in face of the divine will.
Change the world by changing yourself. Heal the world by healing yourself. Find a need and fulfill it. Service is the greatest form of spiritual practice.
Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve, You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. - Martin Luther King Jr.
The Sanskrit word for service is seva, that is selfless service. Service as a devotional practice is to perform an act with no intent for personal gain or acknowledgement. Service may include acts such as sweeping the temple, preparing for a puja (ceremony) or feeding people. The spiritual practice of seva is karma yoga, the yoga of action that brings together service with devotion to God.
Karma yoga, as explained in the Bhagavad Gita, the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield [of life] is selfless service unto humanity; the yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the attainment of Knowledge of the Self. The adjective “devastating” refers to the destruction of all attachment or egoism, when performing service to humanity. Such a path may be initially filled with desolation, and challenges but leads to purification of the heart.
Bast fibers derived from hemp are used for non-woven carpet yarn, rope, traditional carpets, hessian or burlap, paper, sacks, etc. The production of these fibers is a very labour intensive process.
After harvesting, the hemp stalks are soaked in water to enable the bark-like bast fibers to separate from the inner woody core. After this the plants are dried and then the fiber is shaken out, and cleaned. Bast fibers, such as jute, are also used for spinning and weaving into textiles.
In the age of the Buddha, stringent Brahamanical rules and societal structure of class based hierarchies, were viewed as obstacles in the path to moksha, or liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Some of these schools of heterodox thoughts embraced asceticism as a form of religious life.
Ascetics, or Samanas (meaning "to strive", as in performing austerities), renounced Vedic society and culture as a reaction to the exclusive religious rights of the village Brahmins, and also renounced the role of a householder to eliminate karmic debts. Through rigorous asceticism, including include celibacy, bodily mortification, homelessness, mendicancy, and upavāsa (fasting) the samanas sought to attain moksha, or acquire siddhis (magical powers).
Thomas Kelly, says in his book "Sadhus: The Great Renouncers" draws an interesting portrait of Indian ascetics or Sadhus:
"Sadhus are an enigma to me, living the mystery of ancient questions that have no answers. Tricksters, derelicts, madmen, charlatans, wanderers, mystics and yogis, their boldly painted bodies confront us with essential questions at the heart of existence.... how they allowed their bodies to become symbols of the sacred- from walking around naked to remind us of our naked selves, to wearing ash to remind us what are bodies become, to dreadlocks to remind us of our natural wild natures devoid of social convention. Their bodies were texts, which spoke volumes regarding sacred symbolism. A sadhu’s body is a map of the Hindu universe, for the body is a microcosm of the cosmos. Like a canvas, the colour and painted symbols aid in purification, inspire, and remind of the timeless divine beyond body and form. The body is used to tell stories. As the sadhus works towards an egoless state, he becomes the very symbols he’s painted whether it be Shiva, Vishnu, or Rama, the colors refer to esoteric inner visions and possible alchemical states of consciousness. The real goal of a Sadhu is to achieve an attitude of non-attachment and transcendence of the physical body."
Siddhartha’s father relents in front of his son’s persistence to be allowed to join the ascetics. He, however, asks Siddhartha to come home whenever he finds the source of true happiness, the path to enlightenment, so that he can guide him also on the same path. Siddhartha is also welcome back if he fails in his quest. While Siddhartha’s father is an embodiment of pure paternal love, his statement also shows that he is dedicated in his pursuit of bliss, of happiness by appeasing the gods, by following the daily customs, and yet he has not attained the desired state of blissfulness.
This statement is indicative of why he allowed Siddhartha to pursue another path; to enable his son to seek happiness, while also hoping to find if at all there was another way to salvation, other than by fulfilling customary duties. While Siddhartha’s father does not doubt the goodness of his daily life and its customs, he is also wise enough to understand that there are more paths than one to reach the Absolute Truth.
Siddhartha’s relationship with his father at this point in time, is reminiscent of The Prodigal Son, one of the best known parables of Jesus.
In Hindu philosophy, ignorance of the True Self causes ego and the perceived distinction between consciousness and physical matter, between mind and body. This ignorance is the cause of karma debt and reincarnation. The state of illusion, or Maya, gives rise to egoism and desire.
In Indian religions, Maya (Sanskrit: माया māyā) is personified as a deity centered around the illusion of the duality or polarity of the Universe. For a person seeking enlightenment, the main goal is to bridge this polarity, and see that the Self and the Universe are one.
"The Noble Truth of Suffering is this: Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrows and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering – in short, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering." - Pali Tripitaka, Buddhist collection of sacred texts, Sutta-Nipata
Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and even the Bible and some Christian traditions point out that pain is an integral part of human life. According to Hindu philosophy, a person who is immersed in the realization of momentary pleasures of acquiring wealth, sensual and sensory stimulation is destined to face the painful aspects of materialistic existence. Alienation from the desire to acquire wealth and knowledge (artha) and sensory pleasure (kama) is the social order (dharma) that one must strive for to ultimately attain spiritual liberation (moksha). Until then the quest for pleasures, will lead to pain and discomfort that stems from desire.
Emptiness or voidness in spiritual contexts can be translated into shunya meaning space, with no boundaries and as man's ultimate goal. Buddha says when you become shunya, when you become absolutely nothing, then you cultivate insight that leads to wisdom and inner peace.
"The Deeper your creation, The greater will be your Emptiness afterwards. The greater the storm, the greater will be the silence that comes in its wake." - Osho
Many creative people assert that after they have completed an artistic piece or indulged in a creative act, they feel spent, and empty because they have given up their absolute identity to create. A Houston-based non-profit theatre group has given this concept of "shunya" a different tangent. They say, “shunya is not the end, but the beginning. The goal is to become empty so that something new can come out of it.”
"When the rays of the mind are scattered over diverse objectsyou get pain. When the rays are gathered and collected bypractice the mind becomes concentrated and you get Ananda(bliss) from within." - Swami Sivananda
Pure or “Sattvic” thought is the result of a mind that is steady and single-focused. It is an unruffled state of the mind, unaffected by worldly desires and difficulties where there exists spiritual ananda (bliss), peace, contentment, fearlessness, steadiness, inspiration, intuitive perception, and absence of anger, egoism and raga-dwesha (likes and dislikes).
Pure thought is attainable through meditation and concentration but the challenge is to find the right fixation for the mind. The mind assumes the shape of any object it intensely thinks upon, and hence it is important to subdue the mind, rid oneself of mental perceptions and use the pure intellect to still the mind, to reach a stage where there is no touch with any sense-object.
Self-denial is the sacrifice of one's own desires or interests, and can take the form of asceticism or abstinence. In the context of Buddhism, self-denial can also be understood as no-self or anattā.
Meditation is a practice of training the mind or self-inducing a mode of consciousness in order to realize a benefit. It requires discipline and the ability to concentrate and focus. Self-denial can help develop this concentration by eliminating the desires that lead to wavering thoughts.
Saṅsāra or Saṃsāra (Sanskrit: संसार) literally meaning "continuous flow," is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth or reincarnation.
In Indian religious philosophy, the good or bad actions (karma) committed by a person during the course of each lifetime determines the future destiny of each being. Samsara is closely linked with the idea of rebirth (or reincarnation), but also refers to the condition of life, and the experience of life.
“The One who gives you the most pain, is none other than (your) Buddha… as he is the one who helps you evolve.” - Happiness in Austerity - Buddha
Moksha or Nirvana, freedom or salvation from the cycle of birth and death is the ultimate goal of Hindu religious life. The cycle of birth or death, in the material world, or sansara, is defined by the law of karma and Mokhsha is attainted when the individual is liberated from this cycle to attain eventual union with Brahman.
Apart from austerity and renunciation as the path to painless eternity, Hinduism emphasizes on the importance of fulfilling the duties during one’s lifetime. One who dies after fulfilling all his obligations, rests in peace because he has no remaining karma. If a person is able to realize the reason of his birth and is able to fulfill the purpose of his life, then he can free himself from the cycle of birth and death for eternity.
Watch a rendition of Buddha's moksha in an Indian classical dance form, Odissi:
This dance represents a spiritual culmination for the dancer soaring into the realm of aesthetic delight. The Buddhist verse in Pali says: May I always indulge in good Karma and keep good company, so that I may attain nibbana or the freedom from the cycle of birth and death and be one with the Divine."
"To be born here and to die here, to die here and to be born elsewhere,To be born there and to die there, to die there and to be born elsewhere -That is the round of existence."
- Buddhist Text: Milinda's Questions 77
The theory of Samsara is associated with the belief that one continues to be born and reborn in various realms in the form of a human, animal, or other being based on the karma in one’s past life. According to Jain texts, if evil karma can cause a person to be reborn as a plant or even as a rock.
"To attain to the human form must always be a source of joy. And then to undergo continuous transitions, with only the infinite to look forward to: what incomparable bliss is that!" - Lao Tse (Tao Te Ch'ing)
In the Buddhist concept of Samsara, human beings crave pleasure and produce the causes and conditions of the next rebirth after death. Each rebirth repeats this process in an involuntary cycle whereby beings go through a succession of life times in any one of the many possible forms of life, culminating in death.
"Samsara - the Wheel of Existence, literally, the "Perpetual Wandering"- is the symbol of this continuous process of birth, old age, suffering and death. (It) is constantly changing from moment to moment, (as lives) follow continuously one upon the other through inconceivable periods of time. Of this Samsara, a single lifetime constitutes only a vanishingly tiny fraction." - Gautama Buddha
Dwelling in non-being means experiencing nothingness or losing all sense of individuality, of the Self, to be able to merge with Brahman.
In Sanskrit, the word, shunya is synonymous with other words like zero, emptiness, stillness, beingness. Buddha says when you become shunya, when you become absolutely nothing, then you cultivate insight that leads to wisdom and inner peace.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline and a devotional practice in which a person willingly abstains from some or all food, drink, or both, and even sexual and other sensual activities for a period of time. Most religions use fasting for self-purification and disciplining the body to submit to the Self.
Fasting is also undertaken as a part of self-denial in an ascetic regime, in fulfillment of particular vow or simply in conformity to a specified calendar-based fast day. Mahatma Gāndhī, an Indian political leader and social reformer, used fasting as an effective tactic to exert moral pressure on his political opponents.
“When the breath is irregular, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still and the Yogin obtains the power of stillness. Therefore the breath should be restrained.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
The breathing exercises in yoga are called Pranayama - Prana means the body’s vital or psychic energy, and yama to control or master it. The Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, says: “Pranayama is cessation of the movement of inhalation and exhalation” and “thus the covering of the light is dissolved and the mind is fit for concentration.”
In certain breathing exercises one inhales completely and holds the breath and in others one exhales completely and holds the breath. In deep meditation or relaxation, the breath can become gradually fainter and eventually stops for a while. This is described as the highest form of pranayama. In his book, “The Holy Science,” Sri Yukteswar maintains that holding the breath calms the autonomic nervous system so that the inner organs also get to rest.
Coconut milk is a sweet, white liquid derived from the meat of a mature coconut. It is rich in oil and sugars. In the ancient medical science of Ayurveda, coconut milk was also prescribed for its medicinal properties.
Rice wine is an alcoholic drink made from the fermentation of rice starch. Rice brew typically has a higher alcohol content than wine made from fruits such as grapes.
Although wine was commonly used in the Vedic period, Buddhist principles forbid its consumption:
"Let the house-holder, who approves of this Dharma, not give himself to intoxicating drinks, let him not cause others to drink, nor approve of those that drink, knowing it to end in madness." (Dhammika Sutra).
There are five commandments binding on Buddhists, laymen and Bhikkus alike and one of them is:
"Let not one drink intoxicating drinks."
To be initiated into the Buddhist order one has to accept ten commandments and take this vow among others:
"I take the vow to abstain from intoxicating drink, which hinders progress." (Mohavagga 1-12).
According to Buddhist scriptures a wise person is endowed with good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct.(AN 3:2). A wise person may undertake unpleasant actions but they have good results. Wisdom is thus the ability to comprehend between right and wrong, and comprises of contemplation based on knowledge, nobility of thoughts and actions, intuitive understanding, discipline, and discretion.
In the Christian Bible and Jewish scripture, wisdom is represented by the sense of justice of the lawful, and is a virtue as seen in the parable of the and wise king Solomon, In Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10, the fear of the Lord is called the beginning or foundation of wisdom. In Proverbs 1:20, there is also reference to wisdom personified in female form, "Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares." Continuing in Proverbs 8:22-31, this personified wisdom is described as being present with God before creation began and even taking part in creation itself, delighting especially in human beings.
According to Hindu philosophy one's actions or karma cause one to be reborn as a higher or lower being. A person with a multitude of good actions or karma, is likely to be reborn as a higher being, and can even escape from saṃsāra, the cycle of death and rebirth, through the attainment of the highest spiritual state. This state is called moksha (or mukti) in Hinduism.
Gautama Buddha was a member of the Sakya clan and was later known as the founder of Buddhism. The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as "handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive."(D,I:115).
The Hindu scholar Patañjali discussed the concept prati-prasav (literally "reverse birthing”) wherein the soul carries the burden of impressions of karma accumulated from his past life. Prati-prasav, or past-life regression is today used as a form of yoga, and a meditative technique.
Osho talks about the Prati Prasav Process in Yoga - 'Prati-prasav' is a beautiful word; 'prasav' means birth. When a child is born it is prasav. Prati-prasav means you are again born in the memory, you go back to the very birth, the trauma when you were born, and you live it again. Remember, you don't remember it, you live it, you relive it again." Osho has related the concept of Prati Prasav with Dr Arthur Janov's theory of Primal Therapy.
Prati- Prasav as an ancient meditation technique was given by the Buddha to his disciples:
Before going to sleep, begin to count slowly to yourself a series of simple numbers, backwards and forwards, such as 2, 4, 6, 8 10--10, 8, 6, 4, 2. Continue this repetition rhythmically. Having got this rhythm moving, almost but never quite automatically, deliberately try to picture yourself as you appeared on getting up that morning.
Nirvāna (Sanskrit: निर्वाण) literally means "blowing out" — referring, to the supreme state freedom from suffering and the extinguishing of the fires of delusion and individualism.
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says of nirvāna that it is "the highest happiness," "the unconditioned" (asankhata) mind, and is also known as "deathlessness" (Pali: amata or amāravati. Nirvana can be attained by anyone who leads a life of virtuous conduct and practice in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path.
Mara is the tempter, a devil in Buddhism, who tried to seduce the Buddha with the vision of beautiful women, also said to be Mara's daughters. Mara personifies the "death" of the spiritual life; the distraction that humans face from the spiritual path when the mundane becomes alluring or the negative seems positive. Mara can also be one’s desires that fog the mind, and has to be defeated by the person himself.
In the Pali texts, the Devadatta, a Buddhist monk and contemporary of the Buddha is considered to be the manifestation of Mara. Devadatta formed his own branch of Buddhism with 500 dissident followers. He is also said to have attempting to kill the Buddha on several occasions.
This picture of a wall painting in a Laotian monastery depicts Devadatta on one of his attempts to kill the Buddha by pushing a huge boulder in the path of the Buddha and his entourage. The boulder is said to have split mid-air but a splinter struck the Buddha's foot and caused bleeding.
Influenced by the Hindu pantheon of gods, the Buddhists believe in the existence of celestial beings or devas, and the Buddha is often portrayed as a teacher of the gods, helping them to find a way out of samsara.
Read a chapter titled, The Buddha: Teacher of Gods and Humans.
During Buddha's time, Maghada, was one of the four chief kingdom, and important socio-political center of India and comprised the sixteen Mahājanapadas (Sanskrit, "great countries"), or regions, in ancient India. The region coincided with that of modern day Bihar, south of the Ganges River. Rajagaha, the modern day Rajgir, was the capital of Magadha. The Buddha's chief disciples, Sāriputta and Moggallāna, came from Magadha.
When Buddha gave his first discourse at Sarnath to his five disciples, he addressed them thus, "Do not address me as friend, O monks. I am the Saint, the Perfect One, the supreme Buddha. Open your ears, O monks; the path is discovered that leads to deliverance. I will show you the path; I will teach you the law. Listen well, and you will learn the sacred truth.:
- The Life of Buddha, by A. Ferdinand Herold, tr. by Paul C Blum 
The Perfect One means the Tathagata (Devanagari: तथागत) literally “the awakened one" or "the enlightened one."
Gautama Buddha is said to have referred himself as the Tathagata instead of using pronouns. Tathagata means one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth, beyond all death and dying, beyond suffering. Gautama Buddha also used it to refer to other Buddhas who preceded him and who would follow. In later Mahayana Buddhism, Tathagata came to mean the essential Buddha nature found in everyone.
The word Hypnotism is derived from the Greek word "Hypnos" which means "the Greek God of Sleep". Hypnotism is a sleep like-state in which the mind responds to external suggestions of the hypnotists and can act in the directed way. Hypnotism originated in ancient India and was known as "Yoga Tandra", "Pran Vidya" or "Trikala Vidya", and is the state of higher consciousness between sleeping and waking that is experienced in meditation.
Walking on water is a phrase often used in the English language to refer to the performance of a task in an extraordinary manner or accomplish a feat that seems nearly impossible. Historically, it also refers to a miraculous deed, whether as a fact or an illusion. The most well-known reference to this phrase is in the Holy Bible, in the Gospel of John 6:16–21, in which Jesus walks on water. Some Buddhist texts, Hindu stories, the story of Ch’an Master Huang-Po, mythological tales of Orion, Horus, Macbeth, and the Aeneid and some Native American myths, also contain references to walking on water.
In the modern context, a new sport of Liquid Mountaineering that includes running on the surface of the water, is based on the claim that walking on water is not a miracle but simply dependent on the physics of buoyancy.
Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī (Sanskrit: श्रावस्ती), a city of ancient India, was one of the six largest cities in Ancient India. Savatthi was located on the banks of the river Aciravati (now called the Rapti river) and was the capital city of the kingdom of Kosala, ruled by king Pasenadi, a disciple of Buddha. The Buddha passed the greater part of his monastic life in Savatthi, a beautiful city with vast amounts of agriculture and diversity.
Anathapindika, "feeder of the destitutes", was the chief lay disciple of Gautama Buddha. He was known as the "foremost disciple in generosity" as well as character. He identified and bought a quiet park near Savathi, at great expense and erected the famous Jetavanā. Buddha spent most of the rainy season giving discourses in the Jetavana grove.
Today, Jetavana was one of the most famous of the Buddhist monasteries in India.
Alms bowl is used by bhikkhus for going on alms round or pindabat.
In the essay "Buddhism Meets Western Science", Gay Watson explains:
"Buddhism has always been concerned with feelings, emotions, sensations, and cognition. The Buddha points both to cognitive and emotional causes of suffering. The emotional cause is desire and its negative opposite, aversion. The cognitive cause is ignorance of the way things truly occur, or of three marks of existence: that all things are unsatisfactory, impermanent, and without essential self."
The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths and is the way leading to the end of suffering (dukkha) and the achievement of self-awakening. Also known as the Middle Path or Middle Way it is often represented by a dharma wheel (dharmacakra), with eight spokes.
Read an English translation of the teachings of the Buddha: http://www.holyebooks.org/budhism/buddha2.html
Suffering translated to Dukkha (Pāli दुक्ख; Sanskrit दुःख duḥkha).
The Buddha talks about Dukkha:
This, bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, sickness is dukkha, death is dukkha. Presence of objects we loathed is dukkha; separation from what we love is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.
— SN 56.11
Dukkha can refer to various unpleasant experiences ranging from discomfort to pain and suffering. Dukkha is the focus of the Four Noble Truths; the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering: (Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada Magga) states,"This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration."
Khenpo Dudjom Dorjee teaches on the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering:
In Sanskrit literature, dukkha was often compared to a large halting and screeching potter's wheel that would not produce good pottery.
As the Buddha said in Samyutta Nikaya #35:
What ordinary folk call happiness, the enlightened ones call dukkha.
The Buddha discussed three kinds of dukkha or suffering:
1. The obvious sufferings of: pain, illness, old age, death, bereavement
2. Suffering caused by change: violated expectations and fleeting moments of happiness
3. Subtle form of suffering arising as a reaction to qualities of conditioned things, including the skandhas, the factors constituting the human mind
The Noble Truth, regarding the origin of suffering (Dukkha Samudaya) reads as follows:
"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."
Khenpo Dudjom Dorjee teaches on the Truth of the Cause of Suffering:
Buddha’s first invitation, ‘Come, monk, live the holy life so that you can put an end to suffering,' was an invitation to personally experience the truth in Buddha's teachings, by renouncing family life and adorning the robes of a monk. Buddha's encouraged a missionary way of life. When sixty followers had reached enlightenment, the Buddha sent them out to teach others with these words, ‘Go out, monks, and teach the truth, which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle and glorious in the end, for the good of all beings.’
As the number of followers grew, restrictive regulations were imposed. A distinction was made between novice ordination and higher ordination, and formal rule of discipline of over two hundred rules emerged.
The Order of Bhikkhus,or formal order of monks formed, originally only for men. Later an order for women who renounced worldly life also emerged - a Bhikkhusi Order.
As Aloysius Pieris writes, "At the heart of Buddhism is a community. Sangha really means in Sanskrit ‘cemented together’, people who are sticking together. The Buddha’s doctrine was entrusted to a community and at the very inception of Buddhism, the message was preached and a community was formed together – the monastic community. So community is of the very essence of Buddhism. But, together with the monastic community, the Buddha said there were four kinds of disciples: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. From the beginning there was a tendency to define the community in terms of these four."