One who is above buddhi (intellect). Generally used to refer to Gautama the Buddha.
If I say “Buddha,” today most people think of Gautama the Buddha. Gautama was not the only Buddha. There were many before him, many at that time and many more after him. Buddha is not his name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha. He became a Buddha. The word “Bu” means buddhi or the intellect. One who is above his intellect is a Buddha.
There is probably no one in the world who has not heard of Gautama’s name. Though there have been many Buddhas, his name has lived on. He has been one of the greatest spiritual waves and probably the most successful spiritual teacher on the planet. In his own lifetime, he had forty thousand monks and this army of monks went out to bring a spiritual wave. He did not do anything very new as such, but he offered spirituality to the society in the way that it works. Till then, spiritual process was offered only in Sanskrit language in that part of the world and Sanskrit was available only to a certain community of people. Others were barred from learning it because this language was seen as the key to the Divine. For the first time, Gautama spoke in Pali, which was the common language of the day. He opened up the floodgates of spirituality for all kinds of people.
Early Life of Gautama the Buddha
Gautama was a prince of a small princely state. When he was born, some Yogi predicted that he will either become a great emperor or a great sage. When he made this prediction, Gautama’s father got a little excited. He did not want him to become a great sage. He wanted him to become a great emperor. He thought that by being exposed to some suffering or misery, he may turn into a sage. So he kept him in utter pleasure – the best of food, clothes and pleasures. When he was nineteen years of age, his father got him married to a very pretty young woman, kept him in a palace which was secluded from the rest of the society, where he lived in pleasure and was never exposed to any kind of suffering. One day, Gautama thought that he will just take a drive through the town, so he asked his charioteer to take him across
….he could not hold it anymore – in the middle of the night, without telling anyone, he slipped out of the palace like a thief and left for good.
As he was going, he saw a man who was old. He had never seen an old man in his life. His father had protected him from all this. He said, “What happened to him?” The charioteer said, “Oh, he is just an old man.” “How does it happen?” he asked. He said, “Everyone gets old someday.” He looked at himself; he was a nice youth. “What, me also?” He said, “Yes, everyone gets old. If they live long enough, they get old.” This was a realization for him that “I will become like this.”
Then he saw a man lying on the street who was ill with something, not able to get up and in great suffering. He said, “Stop! What is this guy? What’s he doing?” He said, “Oh, he is sick, unfortunately.” “What does that mean?” He said, “The body, sometimes it gets sick. It can happen to just anyone.” “Me, a prince? It can happen to me?” “It can happen to anyone.” Then he saw, “Oh, I can become like this.” He was completely disturbed by this. Then they went further and he saw a funeral. They were carrying the dead body of a man. “What happened to that guy?” “Oh, he just died, that’s all.” “What does that mean?” “That happens to everyone without exception.” Then he said, “What am I doing? Just eating, pleasures and nonsense! What am I doing with myself?” He went into turmoil within himself. Suddenly, being a prince and the pleasures of this palace broke apart for him.
He started looking, “What is the point of all this? This body is going to get old, this may get sick and this will be dead for sure. Why am I investing my entire life in this?” But by then he had an infant boy. He could not leave this loving wife and this lovely little baby. He struggled and struggled.
By then, a little over one-and-a-quarter year had passed. When the little boy was one-and-a-half years of age, he could not hold it anymore – in the middle of the night, without telling anyone, he slipped out of the palace like a thief and left for good. He went in search, “I want to know the truth about this life.”
Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment
These are times when different schools were established in India. At one point they were over 1800 different ways of doing things, 1800 different varieties of Yoga. It is like how the medical science is becoming today. Twenty-five years ago, if you wanted a medical checkup, all you needed was your family doctor. Today, there is a doctor for every part of your body.He sat there with this determination, “Either I must see the ultimate nature of my existence now, or I will sit here and die. I will not open my eyes till I know this.”
Similarly, this happened to the Yogic system. People started specializing in a variety of small things. When specialization crosses a certain point, it becomes ridiculous. This happened to Yoga. It crossed that point where 1800 different specializations of Yoga happened. That is when Patanjali came and kind of assimilated everything into Yoga Sutras to minimize this expanse that was growing endlessly.
When Gautama came, it was post Patanjali, but still there were many things. He went from school to school and he pursued eight different forms of samadhi. He saw all of them were wonderful experiences, but it still did not liberate him. In this condition, he started walking as a samana, which is a certain system where their fundamental practice is that they will never ask for food. They do not go in pursuit of food because they want to beat the fundamental instinct of survival.
Samanas used to just walk, never asking for food. But the culture was sensitive. If they saw a spiritual person walking, people would cook at home and run behind him and serve him wherever he was because they knew that he will not ask for food. If you become a samana today, you will walk yourself to death! Those days, people were sensitive to his sadhana and responded, so there were thousands of samanas walking the country. Gautama became a samana. Even if you are not asking for food, you may walk near a town so that food will come. But Gautama took it too seriously and just walked. He became just bones and a bag of skin.
Then he came to a place where there was a river called Niranjana. It was just about eighteen to twenty inches of water and he stepped into it. Halfway down into the river, he did not have the energy to cross. There was a dead branch and he just held onto it. He did not have the strength to take the next step but he is not the kind of man to let go. He held on. We do not know for how long. Maybe it was two minutes. When you are feeling so weak, those two minutes might have looked like many years. Then, as he hung on, he just realized, “What is it that I am striving for? What is it I am wandering the entire country for? Going from school to school, learning this, learning that, what is it that I am looking for?” Then he realized, “There is really nothing. This life is on. All I have to do is just take away the barriers which are not allowing me to experience this.”
How Gautama Became a Buddha
When he realized that everything is within him and there is nowhere to search, he suddenly had the energy to take the next step and the next step. He crossed the river and sat down under that now very famous Bodhi tree. It was a full moon night. He sat there with this determination, “Either I must see the ultimate nature of my existence now, or I will sit here and die. I will not open my eyes till I know this.”
Once he made that resolve, to know what is within you, can happen in a moment. When he saw that you do not have to do anything in particular for realization, he was fully enlightened. And the moon was shining. He had not eaten properly for many years. He was a samana for four years and he had gathered five disciples. These guys thought, “He is real. Because he does not eat, he is really rigid,” and now they saw that he is in some exuberant state and they could see the light on his face. Then they were waiting for him to open his eyes and give the teaching. He opened his eyes, looked at them, smiled and said, “Cook something, let’s eat.” They were totally disappointed. They thought, “He has lost it.” They walked with him for four years when he had nothing but torture, but when he got enlightened, they left him because they wanted to hear something severe. But he said, “Cook something, let’s eat. We have been wasting our time.”
How Buddha Died
Gautama the Buddha died of poisoning. His food was poisoned and after eating it he realized this and he knew that he cannot take it. The host first fed Buddha and they prepared the meal for all the monks who were with him. So he said, “You have given me wonderful food, I have eaten it, but I do not think my disciples can digest this food. You must be satisfied with your hospitality that I have eaten. Do not feed it to my people.” So he went down. He was not dead yet, but lying there ill. The disciples gathered, so he had to speak to them and give them some guidance on how to take this ahead because he came to an unexpected end. He would have lived for a few more years. He was unable to sit up. He could not speak lying down so he just supported his head and spoke. That pose became the pose of Gautama’s Mahaparinirvana, as it is called. That pose became very sacred for the Buddhists. There are many images of Buddha lying down because the last message, the basic direction he gave as to how this movement should go on was at that time. Many Buddhists started lying down like this. It is a culture. You can imitate the pose but you cannot become a Buddha.
Significance of Buddha Pournami
▵ Sadhguru on the Significance of Buddha Pournami
In the yogic culture, Buddha Purnima is a very significant day in any spiritual aspirant’s life because this is the third purnima after the earth shifts to the northern run of the sun. Today, in commemoration of Gautama the Buddha, we have named it after him. Buddha Purnima, is seen as Buddha’s day of enlightenment. After almost eight years of very body-destroying efforts, Gautama had become very weak. For four years he had been a Samana. The main sadhana for a Samana was to walk and never seek food – just walking and fasting. This destroyed his body almost to a point of death. At this time, he came to the river Niranjana, which as many other rivers in India today, has dried up and disappeared. This river was actually just a large stream with knee-high water flowing swiftly. He tried to cross the river but half-way across, his body was so physically weak that he could not take one more step. But he is not the kind to give up so he just held on to a dead branch that was there and just stood.
The emaciated Siddhartha Gautama becomes Gautama the Buddha. This stone sculpture now at the Lahore Museum, dates to the 2nd century AD.
It is said that he stood like that for many hours. We do not know whether he actually stood for many hours, or for a few moments which seemed like hours in that state of weakness. But at that moment, he realized that what he is seeking is after all within himself, so why all this struggle? “All that is needed is absolute willingness and it is right here. Why am I searching around the world?” When he realized this, he had that little extra ounce of energy to take that step, walk across the river and sit down under the now famous Bodhi tree. He sat down with the determination that, “Unless the Ultimate happens to me, I will not move. Either I will get up as an Enlightened Being or I will die in this posture.” And in a moment he was there because that is all it takes.
So there have been many, but this incredible human being, in many ways has changed the face of this planet and still continues to do so. 2500 years is not a small amount of time.
All it takes is that it should become the only priority. Then it is just one moment. The sadhana, the effort is just for this. Because people are so scattered all over the place, it takes such a long time just to gather them and make them into one organic whole. People are identified with so many things. So the first thing is to gather yourself. Only if this human being is fully gathered as one whole, we can do something with him. So it was just that one moment. He became fully enlightened as the full-moon was just rising. He sat there for a few hours and then he got up. Seeing the intensity of his sadhana as a Samana, over the years, five co-travelers had gathered around him who looked up to him. The first thing Buddha said when he got up was, “Let’s have dinner.” These five were aghast. They thought he had fallen. They felt totally disappointed. Gautama said, “You are missing the whole point. It is not about fasting, it is about realizing. The full moon has risen within me. Look at me. Look at the change in me. Just be here.” But they went away. Out of his compassion, after a few years, he went in search of these five people one by one and put them on the path of enlightenment. So there have been many, but this incredible human being, in many ways has changed the face of this planet and still continues to do so. 2500 years is not a small amount of time.