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Unformatted text preview: 1.3 THE GREAT DEPARTURE AND ENLIGHTENMENT Two key events in the legend of the Buddha are hIs decisIon to leave his fam- Ily and home ¡o se¡ ou¡ on a relIgIous quest¢an event Known as his Great DepaRure£and his at¤ainMen¡, six years la¡er¥ of bodhI (enlIghtenMent)¦an event that transforms hIM froM being a bodhIsat¤va (a being headed for en§ LightenMent) into beIng a Buddha (an Enligh¡ened or Awakened One). The s¡o¨ of the Buddha's Great DepaRure was clearly informed by¥ and a Model for¥ ¡he ordina¡ion ritual of BuddhIst Monks. One of ¡he first thIngs that the Buddha does af©er leavIng hoMe Is ¡o cut his hair¥ to give up hIs prIncely clo¡hes In exchange for the rough garb of an asce¡ic¥ and to eMbarK¥ bowl in hand¥ on the rounds of a Mendicant. The saMe even¡s are ritually reenaCed ¡o ¡hIs day by Buddhis¡ monks¥ whose Initial ordInation ceremony¥ caLled theIr wandeªng forth (pravrajy«)¬ is marKed by ¡he shaving of ¡heir head the ex® change of ¡heIr lay clo¡hes for the robes of a Monk¥ and the acquIsI¡Ion of ¡heir beggIng bowl¯ The practIce of abandoning one°s home ¡o adopt a life of religious MendI® cancy was¥ however¥ already widespread In the Buddha°s time± ²t was¬ in fac©¥ an age ¡ha¡ saw all sor³ of youthful ques¡ers (SraMaQas)¬ not Just Buddhists¬ seekIng out teachers and striving for reLIgious sa¡Isfa´tion In one way or an® otherµ ¶¡ was an age of ferMen¡¬ in which it was though¡ ¡ha¡ enlIghtenMent· salva¡Ion¬ and escape from ¡he prison of repeated rebiRhs could coMe only by "droppIng ou¡¥¸ by quItting the householder°s life wI¡h its pleasures and ob- lIga¡ions¹ The Buddha/s faMily£the º«Kya tribe£being of »royal blood¥ was clearLy opposed ¡o the Buddha°s Great DepaRure¼ AccordIng ¡o Buddhist legend¬ a¡ the ¡IMe of the Buddha½s biRh¥ soMe soo¡hsayers had predic©ed tha¡ if he reMained at hoMe and inherited hIs father¾s throne¥ he would becoMe a grea¡ cakravaRIn kIng¬ or ¿worldÀrulIng¿ monarchÁ The BuddhaÂs father¥ ºuddhodana¬ concerned for the fu¡ure of his famIly line¬ unders¡andably preferred his son°s becoMing a caKravaRIn king ¡o his becomIng a wanderIng ques¡er. ¶n ¡he hopes of preventIng hIs son°s de- par¤ure¥ he ¡herefore Made the Buddha a viÃtuaL prisoner in ¡he paLace¬ sur® Äounding hIM wI¡h bevIes of beautIful women and encouraging his a¡tachMent to hIs princIpal wife¥ YaSodhar«¬ and to his newborn son. Bu¡ all of thIs was In vaInÅ The Buddha¥ on a drive In his chario¡ ¡hrough ¡he royal park¥ came across an old person¥ a sick person¬ and a corpse and becaMe deeply distressed the phenoMena of old age¥ sickness¬ and dea¡h¼ When¬ on hIs nexÆ outIng¬ Met a wanderIng SraMaQa who seemed to be at peace with the worLd¥ he was inspired ¡o leave home and become a ques¡er hiMselfµ Çoon thereaf©er¥ accordIng to what Is perhaps the bes¡Èknown version of ¡he story¬ he was filled wI¡h disgust by the sIgh¡ of the sleeping woMen of his hareM¬ droolIng¥...
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course ASIA 142 at San Jose State University .