The Tree of Knowledge
The 4 Truths that Buddha discovered
When Buddha was blessed with enlightenment on that full moon day in the month of May, it is said that he maintained silence for the whole week. He did not say a word. Mythology says that all the angels in the heaven were frightened.
They knew that it was only once in a millennium that someone blossoms like Buddha. Now he was silent! The angels then requested him to say something. He said, “Those who know, they know even without my saying and those who do not know, will not know even if I say something. Any description of light to a blind man is of no use. There is no point in talking to those who have not tasted the ambrosia of life, and therefore I am silent.”
How can you convey something so intimate and personal? Words cannot. Many scriptures in the past have declared that “words end where truth begins.” The angels said, “What you say is right. But consider those who are on the borderline, who are neither fully enlightened nor totally ignorant. For them, a few words will give a push, for their sake you speak and every word of yours will create that silence.” The purpose of words is to create silence. If words create more noise, then they have not reached their goal. Buddha’s words would definitely create silence, because Buddha is the manifestation of silence. Silence is the source of life and is the cure for diseases. When people are angry, they maintain silence. First they shout and then comes the silence. When one is sad, they ask to be left alone and retreat into silence. Similarly, silence is the recourse one takes to if ashamed. If one is wise too, there’s silence.
When Jesus was asked, “Are you the son of God?” he kept silent; it was the wisest thing to do. When you are telling someone you have a pain in the leg and they want you to prove it, how is that possible? When you cannot prove something as deep as pain, how can you prove something like enlightenment or divinity? Joy and fulfillment bring silence while desire brings noise. Look at the noise in your mind. What is it about? More money? More fame? More recognition? Fulfillment? Relationship? The noise is about something; silence is about nothing. Silence is the basis; noise is the surface.
From the very beginning Buddha lived a very satisfied life. Any pleasure was at his feet the moment he wanted it. One day he said, “I would like to go and see what the world is.” He started thinking when he saw someone who was sick, someone who was old and someone who was dying. These three instances were good enough to bring in him the knowledge that there is misery. When he saw someone sick, he said, “Enough! I have experienced it.” Just one glimpse of an old man and a corpse was enough. Buddha said: “There is no joy in life; I am dead already! There is no meaning in life. Let me go back.” Buddha set out in quest of truth, all by himself, leaving his palace, wife and son. Nothing could stop him. He knew he wouldn’t be able to get away during day, so he quietly escaped at night and his search continued for several years. He did all that people told him to do, he went from place to place, fasted, and he walked along many paths, before discovering four truths.
1. “There is misery (Dukha) in the world”
In life, there are only two possibilities: one is to observe the world around us and know from others’ sufferings and futile exercises; the second is to experience it and find that it is misery. There is no third possibility. If you are sensitive, you don’t need to go through all that yourself. You can look at those who are suffering and become wise.
2. The second truth: “There is a cause for misery”
You can be happy without a reason. Joy does not need a reason, laughter does not need a joke but misery has a cause.
3. The third truth: “It is possible to eliminate misery”
4. The fourth truth: “There is a path to get out of misery”
Following the four truths, he gives the eight-fold path of right equanimity, right vision, right silence, right meditation, etc. Buddha also said that the three things to do are Sheela, which means conduct, Samadhi, which means an equanimous meditative state, and Pragya, which means awareness.
Buddha was born at a very interesting time in India’s history, at a time when India was prosperous and had reached its height in philosophical thinking. In a highly intellectual society, people think they know it all, but in fact, they have not known at all. This was the case in India. So Buddha said, “Come, I have a simple technique for you. Keep your concepts to yourself, but just come and sit.” Then Buddha gave them four steps.
They are — 1: Observe the body (Kayaanu Paschana); 2: Observe the sensations (Vedananu Paschana); 3: Observe the flow of mind (Chittanu Paschana), and 4 : Observe your true nature (Dhammanu Paschana).
Buddha has propounded all that there is to know about the mind and its functions in such a methodical manner. Mind is noise; the source of the mind is silence. That’s why Buddha said, “no mind”. He was referring to the chain of thoughts that simply wander in the mind all the time. At a time when there was so much prosperity, Buddha gave a begging bowl to his main disciples and asked them to go and beg! He made kings take off their royal robes and take a bowl in their hand! Not that they were in need of food but he wanted to teach them the lesson of becoming ‘nobody’ from being ‘somebody’.
You are nobody; you are insignificant in this Universe. When kings and geniuses of that time were asked to beg, they became embodiments of compassion. Observe your true nature. What is your true nature? It is peace, compassion, love, friendliness and joy and it is silence that gives birth to all this. Silence swallows the sadness, guilt, and misery and gives birth to joy, compassion and love. Buddha came to take away the misery, the guilt, the fear, the arrogance, the ignorance, and bring back wisdom, strength, beauty, knowledge and peace.
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Source: ‘Buddha – The Manifestation of Silence’