1.1 Who the Buddha is

His Place of Birth and Family

Bimbisara, king of Magadha, offered the Buddha secular wealth and asked about His family.

The Buddha replied:

‘Just beside the Himalayas, O king; there live a people endowed with power and wealth, the inhabitants of Kosala. Their family is Adicca and Sakiya (sakyans) by race. It is from that family that I have wandered out, not longing for sensual pleasures.’

‘Seeing the disadvantage of sensual pleasures I realized that renunciation is peace. I will go and exert myself and my mind delights in it.’

~SN: 422


Even His Physical Body is Attractive

A learned brahmin, Sela, on the Buddha:

‘Your body is perfect. Your are resplendent and well-born, beautiful to look at. Exalted One, your color is golden and your teeth are white. You are energetic.’

‘All the signs that are for a well-born man are on your body, the signs of a great man.’

‘You have bright eyes, a handsome countenance, you are great, straight, majestic. You shine like the sun amongst samanas.’

~SN: 548-550


The Buddha is Fit to be a Universal Monarch

‘You are a bhikkhu of lovely appearance and yours skin is like gold. What is the use of being a samana who possesses the highest beauty?’

‘You deserve to be a king, a cakkavatti, king of kings, having conquered the four corners (of the earth), a lord of India.’

‘Wealthy khattiyas and kings are devoted to you. So, Gotama, rule as a king of kings, a leader of men.’

~SN: 551-553


Thirty-two Auspicious Marks on the Buddha’ Body

1/ His feet have level tread. This is one of the marks of a Great Man,

2/ On the soles of his feet are wheels with a thousand spokes, complete with felloe and hub,

3/ He has projecting heels,

4/ He has long fingers and toes,

5/ He has soft and tender hands and feet,

6/ His hands and feet are net-like,

7/ He has high-raised ankles,

8/ His legs are like an antelope’s,

9/ Standing and without bending, he can touch and rub his knees with either hand,

10/ His male organs are enclosed in a sheath,

11/ His complexion is bright, the color of gold,

12/ His skin is delicate and so smooth that no dust can adhere to his body,

13/ His body-hairs are separate, one to each pore,

14/ His body-hairs grow upwards, each one bluish-black like collyrium, curling in rings to the right,

15/ His body is divinely straight,

16/ He has the seven convex surfaces,

17/ The front part of his body is like a lion’s,

18/ There is no hollow between his shoulders,

19/ He is proportioned like a banyan-tree: the height of his body is the same as the span of his out-stretched arms, and conversely,

20/ His chest is evenly rounded,

21/ He has a perfect sense of taste,

22/ He has jaws like a lion’s,

23/ He has 40 teeth,

24/ His teeth are even,

25/ There are no spaces between his teeth,

26/ His canine teeth are very bright,

27/ His tongue is very long,

28/ He has a Brahma-like voice, like that of the karavika-bird,

29/ His eyes are deep blue,

30/ He has eye lashes like a cow’s,

31/ The hair between his eyes are white and soft like cotton-down and

32/ His head is like a royal turban.

~D. 30: 441


1.2 Rare is His Appearance

The Appearance of a Buddha is Extremely Rare

‘I am, O Brahmana,

a Samma Sambuddha - a perfectly Enlightened One,

an Incomparable Physician.

The manifestation of one like myself

into the world is extremely rare.’

~SN: 560


Rare Things that Occur in the World

‘Rare is birth as a human being.

Hard is the life of mortals.

Hard is the hearing of the sublime truth (Dhamma).

Rare is the appearance of the Buddhas.

~Dh: 182


Things that Tend to Happiness

‘Happy is the birth of Buddhas.

Happy is the teaching of the sublime Dhamma.

Happy is the unity of the Sangha.

Happy is the discipline of the united ones.’

~Dh: 194


The Awakened One Shines by Day and Night

‘The sun shines by day;

The moon is radiant by night;

In his armor the warrior shines.

In meditation shines the holy man.

But all day and night shines

The Buddha with radiant light.’

~Dh: 387


1.3 He is Omniscient

He Knows All

When the Buddha was on the way to Gaya to deliver His first sermon soon after His Enlightenment, Upaka, a naked ascetic having seen Him asked:

‘Your reverence, your faculties are quite pure,

your complexion is very bright, very clear.

On account of whom have you gone forth,

or who is your teacher,

or whose Dhamma do you profess?’

The Buddha replied:

‘Victorious over all, omniscient am I,

Among all things undefiled,

Leaving all, through death of craving freed,

By knowing for myself,

whom should I point to as my teacher?’

For me there is no teacher,

One like me does not exist,

In the world with its gods (devas),

No one equals me.’

‘For I am perfected in the world,

A teacher supreme am I,

I alone am all-awakened,

Become cool am I, Nibbana-attained.’

‘To turn the dhamma-wheel,

I go to Kasi’s city,

Beating the drum of deathlessness,

In a world that’s become blind.’

~MLS. I: 214-215


The Most Supreme Personality

‘Monks, there is one person whose birth into the world is for the welfare of many, for the happiness of many; who is born out of compassion for the world, for the profit, welfare and happiness of gods and mankind. Who is that one person? It is a Tathagata who is Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One. This, monks, is that one person.’

‘There is one person born into the world who is unique, without a peer, without counterpart, incomparable, unequaled, matchless, unrivaled, the noblest among bipeds. Who is that one person? It is a Tathagata who is Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One.’

‘Manifestation of the Buddha into the world is the manifestation of a mighty eye, a mighty light, a mighty radiance, ... and of Arahantship.’

~A. I: 20f


He Knows Beyond thisWorld

‘This world and the world beyond,

Are well explained by the One Who Knows,

And what is accessible by Mara

And what is not accessible by Death.

The knowing Enlightened One,

discerning every world,

Opened the door of undying for

reaching security Nibbana.’

~M. I: 227; MLS. I: 279


The Victorious One

Upaka, the Naked Ascetic remarked:

‘Just as you claim,

You might be the victor of infinity.’

The Buddha said:

‘Like me, they are victors indeed,

Who have won destruction of the cankers;

Vanquished by me are evil things,

Therefore am I, Upaka, a victor.’

~M. I: 171; MLS. I: 215


None is Equal to Him

‘Becoming god (Brahma),

a destroyer of Mara’s army;

having subdued all enemies (cankers of the mind)

I rejoice secure on every side.’

~SN: 561


He Reveals His Wisdom

‘What is to be known is known (by me),

what is to be cultivated is cultivated,

what is to be eliminated is eliminated.

Therefore, I am a Buddha.’

~SN: 558


1.4 The Master ofAll

Skilled Teacher

‘Now I, monks, am skilled about this world,

skilled about the world beyond,

skilled about Mara’s realm,

skilled about what is not Death’s realm.

To those who think they should listen to me and place faith in me,

there will be welfare and happiness for a long time.’

~M. I: 227; MLS. I: 279


The Only Master to Follow

‘Subdue your doubts about me,

have confidence in me, O Brahmana,

for it is difficult to meet a Buddha frequently.’

~SN: 559


Doors are Opened to Deathlessness

‘The doors to the deathless are open!

Let those who will hear leave wrong beliefs,

Now shall I turn the wheel of the Great Law (Dhamma),

For this I go to the Kasian City (Benares),

There shall I beat the drum of deathlessness,

In this world where people are groping in the dark.’

~M. I: 169


The Buddha’s Attitude Towards Miracles

The Buddha warned Kevaddha, a disciple, to put aside persistent requests for monks to perform miracles to edify the Dhamma and its Teacher and the dangers of such an approach to a holy life.

By His own insight and super-knowledge, the Buddha spoke about three kinds of miracles. What are they?

Miracle of Psychic Powers:

A monks with psychic powers can transform his body into several images and back again as well as travel astrally to the Brahma World.

Once a skeptic is told of such feats, the quick retort of ‘black magic’ will upset the devout and those in the know.

Miracle of Telepathy:

A monk with telepathy reads the mind and thoughts of others like an open book. When told of such feats, the skeptic’s reaction is much the same as the first - mockery and derision.

Miracle of Instruction:

A monk gives well-formulated suggestions to free the mind from fetters to achieve liberation. Practice includes realizing the Four Noble Truths, the purification of the mind and walking the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddha praised this miracle because other miracles arouse curiosity but contribute nothing to the purification of the mind.

~D: 11


Do Not Rely on the Stars

‘The fool may wish for lucky days

Yet, luck he shall always miss;

Luck itself is luck’s own star,

What can mere stars achieve?’

~Nakkhatta Jataka


1.5 The Pragmatist

The Buddha Revealed only What is Useful to Gain Nibbana

One day, the Buddha took a few leaves into His hand and asked His disciples:

‘What do you think, O bhikkhus? Which is more? These few leaves in my hand or the leaves in the Simsapa forest over there?’

‘Very few are the leaves in the hand of the Blessed One, but indeed the leaves in the Simsapa forest over there are very much more abundant.

‘Even so, bhikkhus, of what I have known I have told you only a little, what I have not told you is very much more. And why have I not told you (those things)? Because they are not useful, not leading to Nibbana. That is why I have not told you those things.’

~SN. V: 437


A Buddha Utters Only What is Meaningful

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, and that is not liked by others, disagreeable to them, that speech the Tathagata does not utter.’

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, and not liked by others, disagreeable to them, neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.’

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, but not liked by others, disagreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech.’

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be not fact, not true, not connected with the goal, but that is liked by others, agreeable to them, that speech the Tathagata does not utter.’

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, but not connected with the goal, yet liked by others, agreeable to them neither does the Tathagata utter that speech.’

‘Whatever speech the Tathagata knows to be fact, true, connected with the goal, and liked by others, agreeable to them, the Tathagata is aware of the right time for explaining that speech.’

~M. I: 395; MLS. II: 62-63


1.6 Other Virtues of the Buddha

The Buddha and the Lotus

‘As the lotus is born in the water

and grows up beneath the water,

Yet remains undefiled by the water,

fragrant and beautiful,

Just so the Buddha is born in the world,

grows up and dwells in the world,

But like the lotus unstained by water,

He is not defiled by the world.’

~Thg: 700-701


The Buddha Tolerates Abuse

When He was abused:

‘Just as an elephant in the battle-field,

endures the arrows that are shot at him,

So will I endure the abuse and

unfriendly expressions of others.’

~Dh: 320


His Teaching Itself is the Buddha

Elder Vakkali, who was suffering from a terminal illness, greeted the Buddha:

‘For a long time, Lord, I have been longing to set eyes on the Exalted One, but I had not strength enough in this body to come to see the Exalted One.’

The Buddha replied:

‘Hush, Vakkali! What is there in seeing this vile body of mine? He who sees the Dhamma, Vakkali, he sees me; he who sees me, Vakkali, he sees the Dhamma. Verily, seeing the Dhamma, Vakkali, one sees me; seeing me, one sees the Dhamma.’

~SN. III: 120; KS. III: 103


The Buddha is a Protector

‘The Buddha is like a steadfast man who gives protection from fear. The Dhamma is like the protection from fear, and the Sangha is like those who have found protection from fear.’

‘The Buddha is like a good consoler, the Dhamma is like consolation, and the Sangha is like those have been consoled.’

‘The Buddha is like a true friend, the Dhamma is like helpful advice, and the Sangha is like those who have achieved their wishes by following that helpful advice.’

~Pmj: 22


The Buddha is Like a Physician

‘The Buddha is like a skilled physician in that he is able to heal the sickness of the defilements.

The Dhamma is like a rightly applied medicine, and the Sangha, with their defilements cured, are like people restored to health by that medicine.’

~Pmj: 21


The Buddha Taught Only One Thing

‘One thing only do I teach,

The cause of suffering and

the way to cessation of suffering

Just as sea water has one taste,

So is my teaching which deals

With suffering and its cessation.’

~MLS: 180


The One Near to the Buddha

‘Even if one should seize the hem of my robe and walk behind me, if he is covetous in his desires, fierce I his longings, malevolent of heart, with corrupt mind, careless and unrestrained, he is far from me. Because he does not see the Dhamma, and not seeing the Dhamma, he does not see me.

Even if one lives far away, if he is not covetous in his desires, of a kind heart and pure mind, calmed, then indeed, he is near to me and I am near to him. Because he sees the Dhamma, and seeing the Dhamma, he sees me.’

~It: 91


His Last Word

Behold now, monks, I exhort you:

‘Decay is inherent in all component things!

Work out your salvation with diligence!’

~D. II: 156


Take Refuge and Avoid Hell

‘Those who take refuge in Buddha,

Shall not go to the woeful doom;

After casting human life away,

They will fill the world of heaven.’

~D. II.


His Teaching is Our Master

Even after the demise (parinibbana) of the Exalted One, His teaching would serve people as their master.

‘It may be, Ananda, that in some of you the thought may arise, ‘The word of the master is ended, we have no teacher more!’ But it is not thus, Ananda, that you should regard it.

The Truths - Dhamma, and The Rules of the Order - Vinaya, which I have set forth and laid down for you all, let them, after I am gone, be the Teacher to you.’

~D. II: 154; Dialogues of the Buddha, II 171


Essence of the Teaching of Buddhas

‘Not to do any evil,

to cultivate good,

to purify one’s mind,

this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’

‘Forbearing patience is the highest austerity.

Nibbana is supreme.

He is not a recluse who harms another.

Nor is he an ascetic who oppresses others.’

‘Not insulting, not harming,

restraint according to the Fundamental Moral code,

moderation in food, secluded abode,

intent on higher thoughts,

this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’

~Dh: 183-185


The Buddha’s Attitude Towards Conversion

On one occasion Upali, a follower of the Niganthas, approached the Buddha and was so pleased with His teaching of the Dhamma that he immediately expressed his desire to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha cautioned him, saying:

‘O householder, make a thorough investigation first. It is advisable for a distinguished man like you to make a thorough investigation.’

Upali was overjoyed at this unexpected remark of the Buddha, and said:

‘O Lord, if I had been a follower of another religion they would take me from street to street in a procession, proclaiming that such and such a millionaire had renounced his former religion and embraced theirs. But O Lord, you advice me to investigate further, so I am much more pleased with this remark of yours.’

He then repeated the formula:

‘I seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.’

~M. I: 379


Mission of the Buddha

Out of compassion for mankind, the Buddha started His mission soon after His Enlightenment and advised His disciples too, to do the same.

The Buddha addressed the monks, saying:

‘Freed am I, O Bhikkhus, from all bonds, whether divine or human.’

‘You, too, O Bhikkhus, are freed from all bonds, whether divine or human.’

‘Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way: Preach, O Bhikkhus, the Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end, both in the spirit and in the letter. Proclaim the Holy Life, altogether perfect and pure.’

~VIN. IV: 28; SN. I: 105-106; KS. I: 132


1.7 His Supernormal Wisdom

Knowledge and Conduct - Vijja Carana Sampanno

The Buddha is endowed - sampanna with knowledge - vijja and conduct - carana. Hence, He is called Vijja-carana sampanno. Vijja means breaking of ignorance.

This is one of the nine characteristics of the Buddha. The Eightfold knowledge - Vijja is described in the Ambattha Sutta.

1/ The knowledge of insight

2/ The psychic power of the mind

3/ The different kinds of psychic power

4/ The divine eye

5/ The divine ear

6/ The faculty of reading the mind of others

7/ The ability of remember previous existence

8/ The destruction of the cankers - asava


Conduct - Carana

The fifteen ethical principles are:

1/ Morality

2/ Restraint of the senses

3/ Moderation in eating

4/ Vigilance or awareness

5/ Confidence

6/ Moral shame -hiri

7/ Moral dread - ottappa

8/ Great learning

9/ Energy

10/ Mindfulness

11/ Wisdom

12/ 1st Jhana

13/ 2nd Jhana

14/ 3rd Jhana and

15/ 4th Jhana


Six Kinds of Incomparable Knowledge of the Buddha - Asadharana Nana

1/ Indriya Paro Pariyatti Nana: The Buddha’s senses are purified (freed from all defilements) and are always directed through the 5 virtues of confidence - saddha, mindfulness - sati, calmness - samadhi, energy -viriya and wisdom - panna.

His realization of all these qualities enabled him to see the purity and impurity of others’ minds and to preach the Dhamma for their benefit.

2/ Asayanusaya Nana: Before He preached, the Buddha had the supernormal power to understand and to analyze the mental attitude of the people:

Their understating capacity, their mental background, hindrances and development, their capability or otherwise of realizing the Dhamma and their characters and habits carried over from previous births in samsara.

3/ Yamaka Patihariya Nana: The Buddha had the supernormal power to perform the twin miracle of radiating red and white rays from his body simultaneously (often interpreted as fire and water). On rare occasions He performed this miracle through his jhanic power to confound those who were devious, conceited and skeptical.

The Buddha did not generally resort to miracles to convert others, and actively discouraged His disciples from performing them to prove the superiority of His Teachings.

4/ Maha Karuna Samapatti Nana: The Buddha has great compassion to liberate others’ suffering. His compassion is boundless (permeating the entire universe) and beyond comparison with any other teacher.

5/ Sabbannuta Nana: The Buddha is all knowing and there is nothing in the universe He cannot understand, whether in the past, the present or the future.

6/ Anavarana Nana: The Buddha’s enlightened mind is luminous, unobstructed and profound to realize the real nature of everything in the universe.

~Pmj: 21


The Ten Kinds of Supernormal Power of the Buddha’s Enlightenment - Dasa Bala

1/ The insight or ability to know what is possible and what is impossible. The knowledge of how things come into existence, their causes and how they disappear.

2/ The insight to see the inner workings of the web of karmic effects and their fruition; how a karmic effect inevitably ripens, is averted, is counteracted or minimized according to the interaction and intensity of the three evil roots of greed - lobha, hatred - dosa and delusion - moha along with their opposing virtues or anti-dotes of liberality -alobha, loving kindness -adosa and right view -amoha and to understand certain worldly conditions which hinder or favor the operation of karmic effect, good and bad.

3/ The insight to understand how one particular karmic action such as killing - panatipata, or liberality - dana performed, conditions rebirth dependent on each person’s intention -cetana when the idea of going that particular action is implanted.

4/ The insight to know how animate and inanimate objects and the world systems exist according to the combination of the five aggregates and the four elements of solidity, fluidity, motion and heat.

5/ The insight to know how people maintain differing characters, likes and dislikes as a flow-over (continuum) of their habits and mental tendencies from their previous births in samsara.

6/ The insight to preach efficaciously according to the understanding capacity of the listener, often resulting in instantaneous enlightenment.

7/ The insight to prescribe the right objects of meditation by knowing the different mental defilements or hindrances prevailing in the mind of the meditator at that moment of time to gain ecstasy - jhana.

8/ The supernormal power to recall His previous lives and those of others.

9/ The insight to understand how the rebirth of individuals takes place according to their kamma.

10/ The insight to know how He gained His mental development, purity and enlightenment by a process of eradicating all His mental impurities and developing only virtues.

By way of analogy, the supernormal powers of the Buddha when compared with other spiritual leaders is like that of sunlight placed against moonlight; the light of stars and the light of an oil lamp. The brilliance of sunlight which leaves no object unseen is all pervasive and illuminating.

~M. I: 69-71; MLS. I: 93-95