Welcome to the second part of this series! In this post, we’ll explore the opinions of an eastern philosopher rather than only western philosophers so that we can have more variety in this series.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
Our first eastern philosopher is perhaps the most famous. Let’s have a little bit of background on this guy. His real name was Siddhartha Gautama. There are many myths and legends about his birth but the core facts remain the same. According to the Buddhist sutras Gautama was born to royalty. His father was the king Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya. He was prophesied to either become a great king or a great monk.
In the palace, the Buddha experienced many pleasures. His father tried to shield him from all human suffering in an attempt to mold him into a great king. He even built three palaces for his son. But at the age of 29, the Buddha went outside the palace walls in order to meet with some of his servants. Outside the palace walls, he saw an old man, fragile and decrepit.
When his charioteer Channa explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went onto more trips outside of the palace. During those trips, he saw a diseased man and a corpse. These sights depressed him. But he also encountered an ascetic, a person who deprived themselves of all comforts, but the Buddha saw that despite that, the ascetic was still content.
These experiences moved the Buddha to become an ascetic himself. He denied himself of all the human comforts he used to experience with a whim. But he still felt unsatisfied. During this time he discovered the “Middle Path” (something very close to Aristotle’s idea of the golden mean) wherein, it’s not through the extremes of pleasure or self-deprecation that people can find satisfaction and happiness, rather it is through moderation. As he says himself:
“Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”
His teachings eventually lead to Buddhism.
The Buddha believed that through following the Four Noble truths, we could achieve freedom from suffering. The Four Noble Truths are:
- Life is suffering
- Suffering arises from craving
- Suffering can be eliminated
- In order to eliminate suffering, you must follow the Eight-fold path
The Eight-fold path, in turn, is divided into three categories, wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental cultivation.
Right View/ understanding
|Right Intention/ thought||Wisdom|
|Right Speech||Ethical Conduct|
|Right Action||Ethical Conduct|
|Right Livelihood||Ethical Conduct|
|Right Effort||Mental Cultivation|
|Right Mindfulness||Mental Cultivation|
|Right Concentration||Mental Cultivation|
The Buddha and his followers believed that through the Eight-fold path you may transcend suffering and become happy and content.
I’ve found a video on YouTube (That for the record, i did not make.) that also explains the Buddha’s teachings and life in case that’s more your style.
I apologize for the relatively short post this week, I had to rush this one out because I had a lot of surprise responsibilities. Next week I’ll be sure to make up for it.