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The Buddha's Ideal of a Man

We would try to bring out Buddha’s ideal of a man so that we may try to grow into the picture of His ideal man.

Awakening of Bodhicitita

To progress on the path of virtue a man need have faith in his divine potentiality. Unless this awakening of faith has taken place and the Bodhichitta in man has been vivified he cannot fathom the depth of Nirvana, nor taste the joy of true freedom. Man need realise, as a living and sustaining experience, that though he has a separate existence in an inscrutable way, he is part and parcel of the Dharmakaya and it is his divine destiny that every day he should grow nearer to Dharmakaya and become a beneficent power for good.

The Need for an Ideal

For the growth of man it is necessary that he should set out an ideal before him and this idal he must try to reach with all his being and spirit The ideal that Santi Den placed before himself is worth emulation by all sincere followers of the Lord as there is perhaps no passage in the entire Buddhist literature which puts so forcefully the Buddhist ideal before a man.

“May I be a balm to the sick, their healer and servitor until sickness ceases to exist. May I with plenty of food and drink quench anguish or hunger and thirst'.

“May I become an unfailing store for the poor and serve them with manifold things for their need. My own being and my own pleasures all my righteousness in the past and present sent and future, I surrender indifferently that all creatures may win their end. Nirvana lies in the surrender of all things and my mind is Nirvana. If I must surrender all, it is best to give it for fellow creatures”.

“I yield myself to all living beings to deal with me as they desire, they may smite or revile me, for ever bestrew me with dust, play with my body, laugh and wanton. I have given them my body. Why should I feel anxious? Let them make me do whatever work bring them pleasure, but may never mishap befall any of them by reason of me. If any be worth or pleased with me, may that be ever a cause of them to gain all their ends. May all who slander me or do me hurt or jeer at me gain a share in enlightenment.”

‘I would be a protector of the unprotected, The ideal that Santi Den placed before himself is worth emulation by all sincere followers of the Lord as there is perhaps no passage in the entire Buddhist literature which puts so forcefully the Buddhist ideal before a man.

“May I be a balm to the sick, their healer and servitor until sickness ceases to exist. May I with plenty of food and drink quench anguish or hunger and thirst'.

“May I become an unfailing store for the poor and serve them with manifold things for their need. My own being and my own pleasures all my righteousness in the past and present sent and future, I surrender indifferently that all creatures may win their end. Nirvana lies in the surrender of all things and my mind is Nirvana. If I must surrender all, it is best to give it for fellow creatures”.

“I yield myself to all living beings to deal with me as they desire, they may smite or revile me, for ever bestrew me with dust, play with my body, laugh and wanton. I have given them my body. Why should I feel anxious? Let them make me do whatever work bring them pleasure, but may never mishap befall any of them by reason of me. If any be worth or pleased with me, may that be ever a cause of them to gain all their ends. May all who slander me or do me hurt or jeer at me gain a share in enlightenment.”

‘I would be a protector of the unprotected, The ideal that Santi Den placed before himself is worth emulation by all sincere followers of the Lord as there is perhaps no passage in the entire Buddhist literature which puts so forcefully the Buddhist ideal before a man.

“May I be a balm to the sick, their healer and servitor until sickness ceases to exist. May I with plenty of food and drink quench anguish or hunger and thirst'.

“May I become an unfailing store for the poor and serve them with manifold things for their need. My own being and my own pleasures all my righteousness in the past and present sent and future, I surrender indifferently that all creatures may win their end. Nirvana lies in the surrender of all things and my mind is Nirvana. If I must surrender all, it is best to give it for fellow creatures”.

“I yield myself to all living beings to deal with me as they desire, they may smite or revile me, for ever bestrew me with dust, play with my body, laugh and wanton. I have given them my body. Why should I feel anxious? Let them make me do whatever work bring them pleasure, but may never mishap befall any of them by reason of me. If any be worth or pleased with me, may that be ever a cause of them to gain all their ends. May all who slander me or do me hurt or jeer at me gain a share in enlightenment.”

‘I would be a protector of the unprotected, a guide of wayfarer, a ship, dyke and a bridge to them who seek the further shore, a lamp for them who need a lamp, a bed for them who a bed, a slave for all beings who need a slave, I would be a magic gem, a lucky jar, a spell of power, a sovereign balm, a wishing tree, a cow of plenty for all beings. As the earth and other elements are for the various service of the countless creatures, dwelling in the whole of space, so may I in various ways support the whole sphere of life in space until all be at peace.”

Self – Reliance

This is the ideal set forth. It provides an idication of the extent of self-surrender and sacrifice that is required for promoting the common good, it also gives an indication of the social order that is set forth as an ideal, which has to be achieved, it is clear from the Lord's last message to Ananda, in which He asked Ananda, “Do ye abide islands unto yourselves, taking refuge in none other, islanded by the Norm, taking refuge in the Norm, seeking refuge in none other”.

He wanted Man to be self – reliant

The exhortation did not mean that we learn nothing from each other, what it means is that we should have no dependence on external assistance and should work out our own salvation Our Lord has laid very great stress on this quality and has emphasised repeatedly that man is the architect of his own fate. His exhortations to Ananda, who depended on him a great deal, were most frequent. “Therefore, Ananda, be ye lamp unto yourself. Betake yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast as a refuge to truth; look not for refuge to any besides yourself. Work out your own salvation with diligence”. At another place he stated, “In him who depends on others there wavering, in him who is independent there is no Wavering”

Freedom from Fear

He wanted men to be brave and fearless. As a young man our Lord was noted for His skill as a charioteer and as a fast rider. These qualities marked Him out as a brave and fearless young man. When He led a lonely life in the wilderness all sorts of fears haunted Him in the beginning but He soon overcame all these fears. The Lord gave a vivid description of these fears and how He overcame them to Brahman Jaissoni.

“So, Brahman, when the next time came round I did so and made such shrines my lodging for the night. As I stayed there a deer may be, came up to me or a peacock threw down a twig or else a breeze stirred a heap of fallen leaves. Then I thought here it is, comes that panic fear and horror. Then Brahman there came to me this thought, why do I remain thus in constant fear and apprehension? Let me bend down to my will that panic, fear and horror just as I am and just as it has come to be. So as I was walking to and fro that panic, fear and horror came upon me. Then I neither stood still nor sat nor lay down but just walking up and down I bent to my will that panic, fear and horror.”

When Angulimala the bandit chief aimed at the Lord, He stood firm and unmoved and the Lord's cool courage and utter absence of fear surprised the bandit chief. It is most difficult to cultivate this quality but it is the sign of a truly great man and we need cultivate it. In one of His sermons He stated that absence of fear was one of the qualities of a truly wise man. While the Lord exhorted men to be self-reliant and fearless He also wanted them to cultivate the virtue of humility. “Let us not be puffed up” was one of His favourite advice to disciples.

He wanted men to be up and doing, work hard and with diligence and to acquire proficiency in their work. His exhortations on this subject are most numerous and we can reproduce only a few here.

“Awake and arise there can be no slumber for those that are diseased and pierced by arrows of pain”

“Be watchful and have done with indolence.” “Thou thyself spur thyself on and by thyself purify thyself.” “By manly deeds, by earnest striving, by selfdiscipline and renunciation make for yourself-, ye wise a island that no flood can overwhelm”.

“Yield not to idleness.” “Idleness is disgrace, constant sloth is defilement. “By strenuous striving and with the help of insight you should pull out the poisoned arrow of indolence.” “With all thy strength struggle.” “Awake, arise and strive unremittingly.” “Nerveless sloth the true disciple has cast away. From idle lassitude he is free. He purges his heart of all sloth and idleness. By effort wisdom is achieved. By heedlessness wisdom is lost”. “I adjure you 0 disciples for your own sake be diligent.” “Half-hearted effort prepares the way for new error and delusion.” “Like a thorough bred horse touched by the whip even so be strenuous and be filled with religious emotion. Fruitful be in all good work.”

Proficiency in Work Proficiency and skill in one's profession was deemed by the Lord to be a great blessing. Steadfastness The Lord wanted men to be steadfast in their duty and persevere in their efforts for good against all odds. “Be steadfast in the performance of your duties, great and small.” “Follow ye the path of duty.” “The noble swerve not from the right path let happen what may”. Nirvana it is stated is realised only by those who are steadfast and persevering. “The ever-meditative, the ever-steadfast, persevering wise ones realise Nirvana free of bonds and the highest.”

Discipline

He wanted men to discipline themselves and keep their desires in restraint; for without discipline and self-restraint no progress was possible for man. History is strewn with the examples of many talented and highly gifted men whose brilliance and great natural gifts came to be altogether wasted as they did not restrain their desires. History also records many instances of men's achievements in different fields which be came possible due to their turning a new page in their life.

His many exhortations on this subject are worth a serious study. ‘Good it is to bind the body, to put a bridle upon the tongue, to bring the mind to subjection.” “Good is perfect self-mastery. The disciple who is lord of himself shall be free from all sorrows.” “Though a man may conquer in battle thousands and thousands of men, a yet greater conqueror still is he who has conquered himself.” “Who so conquers desires that is difficult to subdue sorrow step from him like water off a lotus leaf.” “As rain does not soak through into a well thatched house even so desires can find no entrance into a well-guarded heart”

Unselfishness

He wanted men to cast off selfishness. “To bring self-seeking to an end that is blessedness”. He wanted men to be open and frank in their dealings with each other.

“Let us be open and unconcealed, not furtive and hidden.” About our Lord it had been stated:

“As the perfect one speaks so He acts. As the perfect one acts so He speaks. And because He speaks as He acts and acts as He speaks therefore is He called the perfect one.”

Discard Greed

He wanted men to discard all greed and self- aggrandisement. “An adherent of the doctrine should everywhere avoid appropriating to him— self what is not given to him or what he knows belongs to another. He should shun every kind of misappropriation.”

He wanted men to be gentle, even to those who may have transgressed the law. Forbearance and friendly speech were considered by Him to be a very great blessing. There art many beautiful sayings of the Lord on this subject. “Liberality, courtesy, good behaviour and unsefishness these are to the world what the linchpin is to the chariot. Even if a man has powers over others yet ought to be gentle with weak. Follow the path of duty, show kindness to thy brother and bring them not into suffering.”

Judge not

He strongly deprecated the common failing of judging others harshly and exhorted men to be generous to the fault of others and instead look for one's own fault. “A man readily perceives the fault of his neighbours, his own, however, he perceives only with difficulty. Men eagerly uncover the failings of others but their own they carefully conceal, as the cheat e loaded dice, what does it matter to thee? Whether another is guilty or guiltless, come, friend, and look to thine own ways. He who only sees the faults of others and whose thoughts run continuously on blame, delusion daily in him grows and the end of pain for him is still very far away. Look not upon the fault of another what this one has done, or has left undone, rather turn thine eyes upon thine own perverted ways, thine own omission and negligence.”

He wanted men to take their own reformation in hand earnestly before they set to reform others. “Each should first establish himself in that which is good and true and only then undertake the instructions of others. Thus doing he who has insight will avoid much sorrow”.

He tells Chunda his disciple that a man who has not reformed himself can hardly reform others.

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