The Buddha, a lot of snails and a spider
The story of Prins Siddharta Gautama
When I was a small girl living in Holland my Mother told me about the world religions.
I found the story about Buddha very fascinating and my child’s imagination would travel in time and to that far away country where Buddha lived. He was born as a prince in a place called Lumbini which is in India close to the border of Nepal. Siddharta Gautama was born about 2,600 years ago. It was predicted that Siddharta could become a great ruler but also left open the possibility for him to become a spiritual leader. His royal parents wanted their son to follow them and become a powerful king. That is the reason why they shielded him from the outside world.
It then happened Siddharta did go outside the palace walls and encountered the real world. This left him profoundly touched as he was confronted with an extremely sick person, the following day a very old man and then a dead person.
When venturing outside again on the next day he passed a man who was meditating. It seems their minds connected and Siddharta realized that all he needed was within his own mind. He left his family and the royal palace behind him to be able to find his full enlightenment.
In the following 6 years, he visited many masters and teachers who showed him how to meditate. This did not satisfy him as he wanted to master his mind. That is why he decided to remain in meditation till finding enlightenment, a state he reached after 6 days and nights, just before his 35th birthday. He traveled on foot during the following 45 years, teaching people of all social levels and castes.
Source: The Story of Buddha
Worldwide one can see a growing interest in Buddhism, the Buddhist texts being translated into many languages. Up to 8% of the world population practice Buddhism. In China live approx 100 million Buddhists.
Real Buddhism is very tolerant of other religions and does not distinguish between Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. We are all human, after all, understanding and accepting our differences. There have been no wars in the name of Buddhism. To lead a moral life. To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions. To develop wisdom and understanding. The sad thing is that not everybody is as tolerant. Remember the destruction of the big Buddha statues by the Taliban in March 2001?
These big Statues were carved in the side of a cliff at a high of 2,500 meters (8,200 ft ) and at about 230 kilometers from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. They were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A visit to the museum
When I was about 7 years old my parents took me to an exhibition of Buddha statues which impressed me. I noticed that some statues showed a Buddha with snails on his head and that is when my Mother told me this story.
Buddha used to meditate a lot and doing so he would not be conscious of the time passing.
One day he had found a nice place under a tree, so he was sitting in the shade. But as he meditated for many hours, he ended up sitting in the sun. He was not aware of the danger of suffering a sunstroke but a snail passed by and recognizing him, did. The snail crept up and sat on top of his shaven head. Soon more snails followed until Buddha’s head was completely covered. The snails getting the full sun dried out but saved Buddha from getting a stroke. That is the reason you often see a Buddha statue with snails on his head.
Buddha and the spider
My Mother also told me another Buddha story.
Some bandits tried to capture Buddha and he was running for his life through the forest. Suddenly he saw a cave with a big spider web in the entrance. Buddha had no choice so he ran straight through the web and hid in the back of the cave. The spider had recognized him and understood Buddha was in danger. In a jiffy, she repaired her broken web. The bandits reached the cave and one of them said that Buddha must have gone into the cave. The other bandit said that that was not possible as the spiderweb was intact so they left.
The spider is a useful animal
This is the reason why one is not allowed to kill spiders. One can pick them up with a soft cloth and put them outside. They are useful animals as they catch annoying mosquitoes and the like. All animals have a place on our planet and we should respect that.
We all come from the same source and we all go back there after our life here on earth. We should come to realize that we are all equal with the same rights and obligations. Doing that living in peace would become much easier.
Here is a nice video you might like to see.
Photo Source: Pixabay
Perhaps you like to read Cindy’s story.