He writes about reading biographies. He writes about writing biographies.
From Canada to Granada - Zalaikha's Story - The Spotahome Blog
Writers are the subject of many of the biographies he reads and writes. But why biography now? Shvetaketu is asked five questions which contain the essence of the doctrine but is unable to answer even one of them. Say a wish of men!
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There is store of gold, of cattle and horses, of slave-girls and tapestries and robes! These aspects of the story are all deeply symbolic, on several levels. Gautama thereafter left Rajagriha and continued southwards to Gaya. He meditated in silence for a full six years. He ate one sesame seed and one grain of rice a day, and his body became utterly emaciated.
During this time, he was waited upon with reverence by his five disciples. This is all very symbolic. Further, we may find another important aspect of the symbology if we once again reach back to the Upanishads. As one translator has explained:. We may see, then, that the six years itself symbolic of fasting holds the meaning of one who has withdrawn themselves from their outer senses, having those five serving him in strict obedience as though they were his disciples.
He is, it would seem, attempting to go beyond the states of consciousness which he learned under the guidance of Arada and Udraka. Gautama is restraining both his hunger kama and his thirst tanha , as well as his outwardly creative voice sakti ; that is, he has turned all his power inward.
His eventual course-correction which we will shortly come to may represent a realization that action is inherent and necessary, that Liberation is not to be attained through inaction or complete withdrawal alone. For six years he practiced the supreme concentration— The all-pervasive concentration. Without any conceptual thought, Immutable and mentally still, He practiced the all-pervasive concentration That merges with the element of space. There was no thought, no movement, no conceptual mind, and no change, yet it was all-pervading and not dependent on anything.
This absorption is likened to space, because like space—which is motionless, uncaused, and changeless—there is nowhere it cannot reach. In that way it is similar to space, and therefore it is described as such.
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We may also bring forward another system of transcending states for comparison, being that which is detailed in the Mandukya Upanishad and later Vedanta teachings. The fourth state of that system is described thus:. There is much more of this nature of symbolism in these stories, which may be searched for by the earnest student. Keeping in mind our symbolism, we read:. Fearful of the suffering of birth and death, he wanted only the cause of right awakening.
The wonder I previously obtained beneath the jambu tree is better still. Know that that is the right path! The path will not be obtained by an exhausted body. It must be sought after with corporal strength. When food and drink fulfill the faculties, the faculties rejoice, so that the mind is at ease.
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When the mind is at ease, it complies with quietude. Tranquility is the snare for trances. Through meditation one knows the Right Law, and with the power of the Law one may obtain what is hard to obtain. In quietude one may leave old age and death, in the highest form free from any impurity.
Such fine ways all come from food and drink. We cannot simply withdraw from any and all action and experience in the hope of reaching enlightenment; no, we must learn to engage in action rightly—that is, without attachment to results, without personal desire. The Lalitavistara gives us more on this aspect of the story, wherein it is said that in addition to the five mendicants, Gautama was served by ten village girls. We may suggest an approach to the symbolism here, building on what has already been said.
We see then, after his breakthrough, that upon deciding to eat again, Gautama does not get his food from those five, but instead gets it from the ten girls and from one who had gathered milk from a thousand cows. The lesser number. But when the man has been spiritually reborn, he enters into possession of the spiritual senses, the inner powers of perception also; he now possesses ten or a thousand cattle.
As our five mendicants represent the senses, just as the cattle in these Upanishads, our ten girls may be seen likewise to represent the ten inner senses and powers developed and awakened through initiation or meditation these ten being female also connects them with the feminine powers, saktis. So Gautama ceases to eat food gain experience through the five outer senses, and instead begins to gain experience through ten inner spiritual senses and powers.
The Nidana-Katha gives us another hint of symbology when it speaks of the meal Sujata gave to Gautama:. Now that was the only food he had for forty-nine days , during the seven times seven days he spent, after he became a Buddha, at the foot of the Tree of Enlightenment. These numbers are well familiar to students of eastern esoteric philosophy. All these, and more, contain multi-layered symbolic meanings. In this way are nearly all texts of ancient India written. We are told:. With compassion for others, He practiced for their sake as well.
Motivated by compassion for others, He sought to bring about vast benefits to the world.
He did not practice for himself, Neither for pleasure nor to feel the taste of absorption. Here we find the keynote of the Path of the Bodhisattva, the Path of Compassion, wherein the final rest and reward of Nirvana is forsaken in order to remain to aid mankind. He proceeds in order to perfectly accomplish the ten powers, the fourfold fearlessness, and the eighteen unique qualities of a buddha.
We will therefore digress for a moment before returning to the story. We begin with a selection of quotes on the symbolism of the tree. Every nation had its sacred tree, with its peculiar characteristics and attributes based on natural, and also occasionally on occult properties, as expounded in the esoteric teachings. Thus the peepul or Ashvattha of India, the abode of Pitris elementals in fact of a lower order, became the Bo-tree or ficus religiosa of the Buddhists the world over, since Gautama Buddha reached the highest knowledge and Nirvana under such a tree. In this all worlds are set firm, nor does any transcend it.
Its branches growing out of the three qualities with the objects of sense as the lesser shoots, spread forth, some above and some below; and those roots which ramify below in the regions of mankind are the connecting bonds of action. Its form is not thus understood by men; it has no beginning, nor can its present constitution be understood, nor has it any end. When one hath hewn down with the strong axe of dispassion this Asvattha tree with its deeply-imbedded roots, then that place is to be sought after from which those who there take refuge never more return to rebirth, for it is the Primeval Spirit from which floweth the never-ending stream of conditioned existence.
The Vedas are its leaves. He only who goes beyond the roots shall never return, i. It is an absolute mystery that reveals itself only through the efforts of the imprisoned Manas and the Ego to liberate themselves from the thraldom of sensuous perception and see, in the light of the one eternal present Reality.
This Tree of Life is represented across all major religious and philosophical traditions, both east and west. It appears in the Christian bible, and is one and the same, symbolically, as the cross.
Having completed his austerities and meditations, having come to understand what was needed in order to reach enlightenment,. There is no way that I could attain unsurpassed and complete awakening without his knowledge. So I will now arouse that evil Mara. Once I have conquered him, all the gods in the desire realm will also be restrained.
It is also significant that Gautama himself purposefully arouses Mara: he does not passively await the battle, nor is he satisfied to go through life walking on eggshells so as not to arouse the darkness within himself. No, he takes the fight straight to Mara, he initiates the battle through his own self-devised and self-induced efforts. It is represented as a King of the Maras with a crown in which shines a jewel of such lustre that it blinds those who look at it, this lustre referring of course to the fascination exercised by vice upon certain natures.
We are, as humans, constantly dealing with this greatest of inner foes. And Mara is not alone in the battle.
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