Discuss the major events of the Buddha’s life and career as treated by Smith.
The future Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha in the Gotama clan
among a people dwelling near the present-day border with Nepal, known as a
Sakkas. After a royal upbringing, he renounced family life, studied under various
spiritual teachers went his own way, practiced self-mortification for a period, and
thereafter rejected this in favor of moderation. He achieved an ‘awakening’ after a
night of meditation beneath a Bo tree at the place now known as Bodh-gaya. He
proclaimed his teaching, his ‘realization’ or ‘awakening’ to a small group of
disciples in an animal park at Isipatana (Sarnath) near Banaras and spent the
remainder of his life giving spiritual instruction both to the public at large and to
an ever-growing body of disciples. By his death in his eighty-first year his
following had become a large and well-organized community. Please pay special
attention to pp. 82-88 in Smith, which offers a much more dynamic and engaging
account of the Buddha’s youth and career, and to his discussion of the Four
Passing Sights of the Buddha’s youth. (1. the vision of the old man, 2. the vision
of a body racked with disease, 3. the vision of a corpse, 4., the vision of a monk
with a shaven head [sannyasi]).
Name and describe the 5 Skranta (elements) of personal identity.
What we call a “being” or ourselves as “I,” taught the Buddha, may be
divided into five groups or elements; when any are grasped at or lead to
attachment, they are “dukkha.”
1.The first is matter, by which is meant solidity, fluidity, heat, motion, extension,
etc. The first is quite simply our bodies and our five physical senses.
2. The second is “sensations,” or “feeling.” The second denotes the basic
qualitative feel in our relation to the world, such as whether an object is hot or
cold, a sound is harmonious or grating, etc.
3. The third is “perceptions,” often treated as “concepts.” The third denotes the
products of the mind that we call ideas or concepts, those by which we recognize
One, two, and three all concern basic bodily or mental functions, and not yet the
human will that is the basis for karma, or individual responsibility.
4. The fourth is “mental formations,” or better “constructing activities.” The
fourth is the first in the list that assumes our responsibility for our actions; The
fourth implies that volition that is the basis for joy and hatred, as active in forming
and constituting one’s own character.
5. The fifth is “consciousness,” or better, “analysis.” So, working backwards; the
fifth is our capacity for knowledge or science.