Teaching of the Buddha; Suffering; Purification; Liberation; Death; Thirst; Pessimism; Nirvana
This paper identifies two themes-suffering and liberation from suffering-as the two key concerns of the teaching of the Buddha. The teaching of the Four Noble Truths contains the Buddha`s understanding of human predicament and the solution he discovered for it. The ultimate liberation from suffering is described in the teaching of the Buddha by such terms as `diseaseless-ness,` `decayless-ness,` and `deathless-ness` which are popularly misunderstood as referring to some kind of eternal existence with all the imaginable blessings lasting indefinitely. The paper shows that the final goal can be characterized by such terms as `deathless-ness` or immortality only in the sense that one who has realized it has conquered his death, and death no longer is to him what it is to ordinary people who are not enlightened. Subsequently the paper focuses on two crucial concepts that denote the final liberation in the early discourses of the Buddha, namely, purification and liberation. These terms signify the purification of mind of defiling factors and liberation of it from binding factors or psychological shackles or fetters. These also highlight what really happens to the liberated person at the liberation, affirming thereby that liberation is not a form of eternal life bestowed on one through the grace of an omnipotent deity; but it is a state of mind and resultant state of happiness arising from its purification and liberation. Finally the paper lays emphasis on the fact that by describing human existence as characterized by suffering the teaching of the Buddha does not subscribe to some form of pessimism of life, and shows how the Buddha, as well as the disciples who realized the cessation of suffering were happy in experiencing the blissfulness of nirvana.