Loving Oneness Now
[NOTE: The following account of the life of Gautama the Buddha is as accurate as I can make it. Understand that only anecdotal accounts of Gautama's life have survived from more than 2500 years ago, but just because they are legends does not discount the likelihood of them having happened. Troy, and Homer's accounts of that period, were long regarded as fictitious legends until Herman Schliemann dug up Troy! When I was a boy many erudite skeptics said the life of Jesus was a fictitious legend, with no evidence to support it. Now we know very differently.
Anyway, please read the following account, not as strict history, but rather for its inspirational content and spiritual message.]
* * *
Siddhartha was a
spiritual Being who, even before his incarnation, agreed to found a pure,
egoless philosophical religion which would be casteless, open to all, free of ritual and
sacrifice, and able to be fulfilled by any
individual willing to meditate. Even so, it would have clear guidelines and
practical prescriptions which, if followed by adherents, would lead them to
their own enlightenment.
Gautama, by agreement with them, was born to Queen Maya and King Suddhodana Gautama in 563 BC. His mother
died seven days later so Siddhartha was thereafter cared for by his aunt,
The infant prince was
visited by Wise Hermit Asita who told the king that Siddhartha would become the
Enlightened One who would have perfect Knowledge and set the peoples of the
world free. Now the King was both pleased and dismayed by this prophecy because,
though he wanted a famous son, he also wanted grandsons who would guarantee the
continuance of his family lineage. An Enlightened One would almost surely be
celibate, so Suddhodana made plans to keep his son firmly anchored in the
delights of palace life.
The King gave orders,
not to Siddhartha, but to the staff of the royal household, never to allow the
prince outside the extensive palace grounds. This was to be done indirectly,
without coercion. Thus, Siddhartha would lead an idyllic life quite unaware of
villainy, crime, sickness, or death. Everything negative was to be concealed
from him——and so it was. He was not overly spoiled, and he did receive an
excellent, though narrow, education.
At the age of sixteen
he married his beloved Gopa who was his exact anima counterpart. King Suddhodana
brimmed with happiness when his grandson Rahula was born. By this time
Siddhartha was aware of his wider destiny and determined on his own authority to
explore the city outside the palace gates. There, he was appalled to see sick
people, poverty, the handicapped and the dying. Closely questioning his personal
charioteer the prince soon extracted from him the sad truths of human suffering
and was deeply moved.
“Will I, too, suffer
and die?” Siddhartha asked.
“It is the destined
fate of every one of us, my Lord,” his aide answered. “All living things on
earth wither and cease to be.”
The prince was shocked
by this realization of his own mortality and for the first time in his life felt
true fear. He returned to the palace but now all the pleasures and pleasantries
of the royal household were tasteless to him and depression set in. Siddhartha
continued to roam through the city and countryside until on one such excursion
he met a simple monk who was sitting in solitude under a shade tree.
“And what do you do,
my good fellow?” he asked the monk respectfully.
“Nothing, young man,
I do nothing.”
“Then what do you
“Nothing, I want nothing.”
“Do you fear
nothing, my friend, nothing.”
“Are you happy?”
asked the prince.
“Happiness is not sought. It only happens.”
does happiness just happen?”
“When you want nothing and find
nothing in your mind, then you will be
serene.” The monk then closed his eyes to indicate he had no more to say.
on the monk’s words for several days before he went to his father to announce
his newfound determination to become a monk. When the King remonstrated against
this crazy idea, his son asked him this crucial question.
“Sir, can you
guarantee that, if I stay here, I will never suffer sickness, grow old,
experience misfortune, or die?”
“Of course not. Even
divine beings cannot guarantee that.”
“Then I must leave.”
That night Siddhartha,
donned some simple clothes and left the palace while everyone slept. He had
kissed his loving wife and toddler son very gently so as not to awaken them,
He entered the ashram
of the guru Arata Kalama where he studied the doctrines of asceticism and
renunciation, and learned several methods of meditation. But the extreme
austerity, the constant mortification of the body and the continuous proximity
of others soon led Siddhartha to seek a more solitary, less vain path to
After much meditation
while alone on a distant mountain, Siddhartha experienced deep peace and, as a
result, decided to visit the nearby city of Rajagriha to give them his message.
Crowds gathered and when they heard his wisdom took him to Vimbasara, their
king, who offered him whatever rewards he wanted in return for his permanent
residency there. But once Vimbasara learned from Siddhartha that he had been a
prince, he knew that any offer of material rewards was pointless.
The next stop for the
wandering Siddhartha was the ashram of the saintly Rudraka, a teacher who had
many followers. After listening intently for several days, the young man left
the ashram, again disappointed that no new knowledge was forthcoming there. To
Siddhartha’s surprise five of Rudraka’s disciples followed him even though he had said little. The names of these five were
Asvajit, Bhadrika, Kaundinya, Mahanaman and Vashpa.
Siddhartha and his
followers wandered on until they settled by the fertile banks of the Nairanjara
River, the waters of which were clean and clear.
“Here, there is pure
water to drink with plenty of nuts, fruits and herbs to eat, even as the natural
beauty around us will nourish our inner vision. Here, we will stay and mediate
on peace. We shall live simple, quiet lives eating enough to keep healthy,
sleeping enough to be refreshed, and exercising enough to keep fit. We will
speak only when necessary so that we can hear the inner voice of wisdom.
Several weeks after
this Siddhartha, while meditating, fell into a profound trance. His breathing
became so shallow it was unnoticeable, while his pulse seemed to have
disappeared. The five disciples thought he had died but he had only gone
out-of-body quite spontaneously. During this state he spoke with both his Guide and
his ascended mother who jointly reassured him he was well along his chosen path
to supreme knowledge.
Siddhartha and his
friends meditated by the river for six years, during which time he became
emaciated and very weak mostly because he forgot to eat. This debilitation led
to an inability to sit or walk upright, and it was then he realized, yet again,
that austerities and denial were not
the way to further spiritual progress. He began accepting nourishing food from local
villagers, until he had fully regained his health and strength. The five
disciples felt Siddhartha had betrayed his sacred trust and, disillusioned, they
departed for Benares in order to find a “real” holy man.
A local woman, a farm
owner, presented him with a new homespun robe, and thereafter regularly supplied
him with sufficient, wholesome food for his needs. As he sat down under a huge
tree, near the farm and river, he resolved not to move until he achieved full
enlightenment. Within a week the darkest aspects of his unconscious Shadow
archetype appeared before him as Mara, the Destroyer. At first Mara faced
Siddhartha with his own projected fear but the fury of the manifested storms,
the floods and the earthquakes did not make him quail or move. Next Mara’s
armies, as projections of Siddhartha’s own aggression, hurled rocks and arrows
at him. When these fell harmlessly they attacked him with pikes and swords.
Still, was Siddhartha unharmed and he did not move. He had demonstrated not only
that he had no fear of either aggression or fear, be they inside himself or
outside. For him these two human ego-emotions had been transformed into only
Love. Siddhartha now extended that
Love to embrace Mara and his legions causing them to disappear from his Mind; he
had Loved his “enemies.”
This liberation from
his own darkest ego allowed Siddhartha’s Mind to be flooded with a succession
of remarkable insights, the first of which was a knowledge of all his previous
lifetimes. He saw not only his own numerous cycles of birth and death, but also
the folly of this fruitless process for all humans. It was the ego’s desires
which initiated each cycle of birth to death and thus it was the ego which was
the builder of its own shabby house in the Mind. To relinquish the ego and its
desires, he saw, is to rid oneself of the house by tearing it down—gently.
Once that ego-demolition is
accomplished, he realized, one is freed from all birth and death and all
attachment to meaningless activities and objects.
Siddhartha had become
the Enlightened One, the Buddha, who would dispel darkness. His body continued
to sit under the tree but his released Mind traveled all through the Universe,
and through all the other domains, including Reality. It was at this point that
Mara returned briefly with his final ego-temptation.
“Blessed One,” he
flattered Siddhartha, “now you know
the Reality of Formless Mind-as-such and have experienced the supreme bliss of
Silent Oneness, stay there in that
endless Ultimate State.”
The Buddha knew it would be most unloving
to desert all the human beings on Terra leaving them to the dark
ego-machinations of Mara, who, of course, only existed in their own unconscious
fabrications. But, the Buddha realized, humans caught in the ego-birth-death
cycle had to be shown how to extricate
themselves from their own ego-web of attachments and desires, and from the
suffering these caused. Therefore the Compassionate One did not stay permanently
in the state of Nirvana. All this was accomplished during the 49 days he sat
The Buddha now
realized he had a problem, namely, how
to teach the set of subtle, difficult-to-understand Supreme Truths he had
discovered to a disinterested, confused, ego-preoccupied, need-ridden
population. Where to start? On an intuition he decided to travel to Benares, to
seek out his five former disciples. He found them there in the Deer Park. They
were still dubious when they met him but as he spoke of the Truths he had
inwardly realized they began to listen intently.
“You once despised
my rejection of asceticism as unholy, but now I wish you to understand that both
self-indulgence and self-mortification or denial rest on the (false) assumption
that ego-desires are Real. If they
were Real we could never be rid of
them. Therefore I now teach the Middle Way which recognizes the essential unreality
of the ego, its needs and its worldly preoccupations. But you must first know
and accept in principle the four Noble Truths.”
The Buddha had caught
their attention and the five listened raptly.
“The first Truth is
that all life on Terra is suffering no
matter how much it may appear to be otherwise superficially. The second Truth is
that this suffering is caused by ego-needs, ego-desires, and ego-preoccupations.
The third Truth is that all these ego wants
are merely belief systems in the Mind.
The fourth Truth is that the ego’s belief systems can be relinquished by the
determined adherence to the Eightfold Path.”
do the four Noble Truths and this Way or Path of yours propose we relinquish these ego-desires? How do we attain this blissful state of Nirvana?” asked Kaundinya.
“The Eightfold Path
has eight learning tracks” the Buddha replied, “and each of these eight
methods has to be followed and completed if you would attain the egoless state
of Nirvana. The eight tracks are: right knowledge (of the True Self), right
motive (the aspiration to achieve enlightenment), right speech (without harm),
right action (always helpful, never hurtful), right living (contributing to Life
with compassion), right effort (persevering with patience), right concentration
(mindfulness), right (practice of egoless) meditation. Follow these eight paths
to their end and the Truth will be yours.”
Vashpa needed some
clarification. “Siddhartha, will your Eightfold Way eliminate all my suffering?”
“Yes, yours and
anyone else’s. It is one’s ego-desires, such as the need for power,
sensations and possessions, as well as the ego’s clinging to false securities,
that condemn one to repeated cycles of birth and death, and the many lifetimes
of pain and suffering they incur. Let them go! Free yourself from these vain
pursuits of the ego by using my eight positive
methods of right knowledge, right motive, right speech, right action, right
living, right effort, right concentration and right meditation. If you focus
your attention unwaveringly on these right-minded principles, you will soon be
Enlightened. But remember, mortification, denial and deprivation are only negative. They will get you nowhere. Seek and follow only the Right
Way to realize Reality.”
The Blessed One soon
had sixty disciples to all of whom he taught his True Way. He had realized that
teaching the Eightfold Process of
reaching Nirvana was more essential to their eventual understanding than
detailed, abstruse descriptions of Reality, Formlessness, Mind-as-such, Supreme
Truth and Infinite Bliss as the One
Siddhartha often used
simple stories or similes to illustrate his teachings. He wandered from place to
place gently explaining his Truths and the Right Path to any who would listen.
Some disciples stayed with him while others went off to spread their Master’s
words of Wisdom. The Buddha decided to re-visit King Vimbasara at Rajagriha who
was so overjoyed that, on his arrival, he presented the Master with a large
tract of verdant land which included a large grove of bamboo. The Buddha was so
delighted with its peacefulness and beauty that he made it his headquarters.
Gautama, as the Buddha
was now called, eventually returned to Kapilavastu to visit his father and
family who rejoiced to see him. His brother Nanda, who was now the heir to their
father’s throne, was very happy with his own privileged situation. He had
every right to be because not only would he succeed to a wealthy, well governed
kingdom, but he was also about to marry a gorgeous, bright princess who loved
The Buddha, dismayed
by Nanda’s attachment to ego-relationships and worldly possessions, took his
brother aside to counsel him.
“Nanda, do not seek
the satisfactions or pleasures of this mundane existence because they will
always bring you pain. This ego-world of everyday life is only made of flame and
smoke. Everything in it experiences pain, decay and death. You have had many
previous lifetimes and all have
resulted in frequent tears, crushed ambitions, debilitating illnesses and
insoluble problems. Many times you have grieved in deep despair over the loss of
loved ones—your children, spouses, parents, friends and even favorite
animals. You, in human form, have died numerous times, often after considerable
suffering. And now you desire to repeat that insane process yet again. This
palace, this place of pleasure and heartache, is no more real than froth and
foam. It is only a fraudulent dream from which, if you wish, you can awaken into
When Gautama left his
father’s kingdom he was accompanied by both Nanda and his own son, Rahula.
They all returned to the Bamboo Grove near Rajagriha.
The Blessed One was
only halfway home to the Bamboo Grove when six of his relatives and a stranger,
a barber, caught up with him, asking to be his disciples. He agreed so long as
they followed his teachings. One of his relatives was named Ananda, and it was
he who interceded for Siddhartha’s aunt Mahaprajapati—the one who had
nurtured Siddhartha as a child—when she made several attempts to join his
disciples as a devout nun. Eventually the Buddha consented, but he did have
misgivings that mixing male and female devotees would place a sexual strain on
Shortly after this,
Gautama decided to visit his Guide and his mother a second time. Leaving the
experienced monk Sariputra in charge of the community the Master walked alone to
an isolated corner of the dense woods, sat down, and promptly dropped into a
deep, altered state. At this advanced stage of his full spiritual realization
the Buddha had extensive control over his Mind and body.
After loving greetings
all round, his Guide asked him if there was anything further they could do for him.
“No, not while I am
on Terra, but once I ascend to these domains I wish to emulate Maya here, my
loving mother. She has cared for me ceaselessly, just as I would wish to love
and watch over everyone who follows my precepts, at least until all Terra is
liberated from ego-darkness.”
His Guide was impressed.
“You already know you can do whatever you
want to do here, and so you only grant yourself
your own wish. It will be so. Now, Gautama, do you wish to visit what you call
Formlessness, in Reality?”
“No, because I can
bring It to me at any time I enter a Nirvanic State during meditation.
Formlessness is, for me, an extreme dynamic and continuous state of Silent Love
and Complete Joy within the One Mind. When in
It I do not exist because I am
have a perfect understanding of Oneness, don’t you my Buddha. Your
contribution to eradicating the darkness on Terra will be enormous. You are a
“Then I shall now
return there and continue with my avowed purpose of teaching humans how to
enlighten themselves, because no one
can do it for them. Teachers can only
point the Way.”
Some years later,
while traveling with a few monks, Gautama became thirsty. Soon he espied a well
from which a devout woman was drawing water.
“Please may I have a
drink,” he asked her quietly.
The woman turned to
see who was asking, but when she saw it was the Buddha she backed away with
downcast eyes saying, “My Lord, I am of low caste. If I give you water you
will become unclean.” Secretly though, she wished to embrace the Master and
receive his blessing and he knew this intuitively.
“But I did not ask
you about caste. There is no caste,
for we are all One. Now embrace me and receive my Loving blessing.”
In wonder the woman
embraced him and knew Real Love. Ecstatic, she gave him cool water to drink,
then he moved on.
One of his disciples
was shocked. “Master, you hugged a woman—how could you do
such a thing?”
“I have no thoughts of sexual desire, my friend, and so I
left her behind at the well. But she is still in your
mind because of your own
unrelinquished desires, desires which you ascribe to her, to me and to others.
Release yourself from all your own ego-needs and ego-emotions first, and then
you will see spiritual purity in the Minds of others. Keep only Real Love in
your Mind, and Love every human being.”
sincere women joined the Buddhist communities which Gautama and other itinerant
monks had founded around the country. The numbers of his followers grew daily as
his message was spread wide and far by his disciples. The Buddha, when quite
old, set out on his last journey. First, he and his close followers visited the
new city of Pataliputra on the Ganges and he predicted it would see greatness.
After crossing the river he fell gravely ill and suffered much pain. Ananda, his
most selfless disciple, was extremely concerned but his Master recovered and
they walked on towards Vaisali.
“I am eighty years
old,” said the Buddha to his devotees, “and I am close to the end of my
mission here. I have taught all of you every point of my doctrine, my truth, my
sacred law, my Dharma very thoroughly. Each of you must now be your own
Light. Always look nowhere but inside your own
Mind-as-such for that Light.” The Master paused a moment then continued,
“Ananda has never asked to be my successor, here on Terra, because he has no
ego, so in the future look to him to be your True Guide in my place. Ananda Knows
the Right Way to Live.” Ananda felt no reaction in himself.
The Blessed One held
onto life for three more months. He and his group reached the banks of the
peaceful Kakutstha River where the Master bathed in the pure waters. That night
they slept in a mango grove, then over the weeks moved on to Kusinagara where,
in a nearby wood by the Hiranyavati River, the Buddha noticed two identical
He asked Ananda to
prepare his couch between the twin trees which symbolized the identical nature
of the True Life of Mind-as-such on earth and the True Life of Mind-in-Nirvana.
As he lay there his monks, nuns, and other devotees paid him homage.
With his final breath
the Buddha said to everyone, everywhere, “All that exists in time must perish.
Have no investment in it. Relinquish all that is not eternal and seek only
Nirvana, Reality, through the Eightfold Path.” Then he Lived.
* * *
Loving Oneness Now -- Copyright © 2007 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD