02/03/06 - buddha

In today's excerpt - Ernst Gombrich speaks to the difficult proposition of Siddhartha Gautama—the Buddha:

"... The idea that came to him, his great Enlightenment the solution to human suffering, was this: if we want to avoid suffering, we must start with ourselves, because all suffering comes from our own desires. ... If we can stop ourselves wanting all the beautiful and pleasant things in life, and can learn to control our greed for happiness, comfort, recognition and affection, we shan't feel sad anymore when, as so often happens, we fail to get what we want ...

"A person's highest achievement on earth is to reach the point where he or she no longer has any desires. This is the Buddha's 'inner calm', the blissful peace of someone who no longer has any wishes, someone who is kind to everyone and demands nothing. The Buddha also taught that a person who is master of all his wishes will no longer be reborn after his death. ... He who no longer clings to life is released from the endless cycle of birth and death, and is at last freed from all suffering. Buddhists call this state 'Nirvana' ...

"The Buddha called [this pursuit] the 'middle way', because it lay between useless self-torment and thoughtless pleasure-seeking ..."


E. H. Gombrich


A Little History of the World


Yale University Press


Copyright 2005 by Caroline Mustill


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