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By Leslie D. Alldritt

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Extra resources for Buddhism (Religions of the World)

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Prior to his death, the Buddha and his closest disciple and cousin, Ânanda, traveled throughout India delivering messages that focused on the continued existence of the sangha after the Buddha’s death. Although he was eighty years old and ill, the Buddha was still able—due to his strength of mind—to forestall death and continue to impart dharma (the Buddhist teaching). He traveled to Pâpâ, a small town where he was provided a meal by Cunda, a devotee and a blacksmith by trade. The traditional accounts of this meal and its resulting effects upon the Buddha are inconclusive, but it is often conjectured that he ate tainted food, which contributed to his death, though it is quite likely that the Buddha was near death prior to the visit.

This man has been ruined by old age. ” 6 Siddhartha very naturally then asked whether this condition is unique to this person or if all humans grow old. Chandaka retorted, “Advanced age will certainly come upon you through the inescapable force of time, no matter how long you may live. ” 7 The prince, learning that he too would grow old, was shaken, and decided to forego the anticipated pleasantness of the park and return at once to the protection of the castle. The castle did provide physical protection for the prince but his mind was no longer protected, and he began to think deeply about the idea of aging, which troubled his thoughts.

A Buddhist works to concentrate on present reality and not dwell on past events or anticipate future events. Another name for this is mindfulness. It means being fully present to each moment as one lives it. A Buddhist strives diligently to develop good concentration skills, because they are crucial to moving closer to Awakening. Right Mindfulness occurs contemporaneously with Awakening. Until there is Awakening, one is not truly able to practice right mindfulness. 3 Scriptures The definitive sutras [scriptures] are the wisdom sutras, such as the Heart of Wisdom (Prajña¯pa¯ramuta¯ahrdaya), in which the Buddha spoke of the ultimate nature of all phenomena: that form is emptiness and emptiness is form, and apart from form, there is no emptiness.

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