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Ishan Gadde

Ms. Morin
May 15, 2015

Blissful Buddha
Sometimes the human race questions what the reason for pain
and suffering is for. Sometimes it all seems pointless. One man in
particular discovered the reason for all pain and suffering, and wanted
to find a way out of it. This man was Siddhartha Gautama, commonly
referred to as the Buddha, who lived approximately in the 4th-6th
century B.C.E. in India. Before the Buddha was born, a fortune teller
predicted that he would be either two things: the greatest ruler of all
time, or he would be a great saint. In an effort to make his son the
greatest ruler of all time, the father of Buddha, Suddhodana, kept his
son inside the palace and ordered that no one, including the guards
take him out of the palace. Under this condition, the Buddha stayed in
the palace up until he was 29 years old. During these 29 years, the
Buddha began to gain curiosity of the world outside the palace. He
began to take rides around the town in his chariot. One day the
Buddha noticed three men. One man was old, the other was a sick
man, and the third was a human corpse. Since Siddhartha Gautama

had been in the palace for 29 years and had been constantly
surrounded with luxuries, he had never seen anything like these three
men because his father had shielded it from him. Ever since that
moment he began to focus his life on finding a cure for this pain.
There is a striking piece of art that encompasses the aspects of
balancing pain and suffering with happiness. This piece, located at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, is called Seated Buddha Reaching
Enlightenment. The seated Buddha is true for the eternal truth of a
moment of pain leads to a lifetime of glory, because the Buddha had to
go through moments of intense pain such as fasting, and being
detached from the material world, in addition to this he also had to
leave his family but it all lead to the glorious achievement of
enlightenment. Pieces such as the Seated Buddha Reaching
Enlightenment are usually found in monasteries. This can be proven by
a quote from, Buddhists are not idol worshippers. The

sculpture was made in Bihar India in the Nalanda Monastery in the late
10th-11th century. This was during the Pala Period which took place
around the Chola Dynasty.

The piece of art, Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment,

represents all the hardships that the Buddha endured that led to the
glorious achievement of enlightenment, such as separating himself
from his wealth. The piece is made of black schist and is approximately

26 inches tall, and a width of approximately 17 inches. The accession


number in the MET is 20.50.16. The Buddha was created during the
Pala Period, which was around the time of the Chola Empire. During
this time, Buddhism was the most followed religion in Northern India. In
the piece of art, the Buddha is touching the ground, and he is
preparing to reach enlightenment, the greatest achievement in
Buddhism. The sculpture has broken edges that indicate that it was
part of a bigger sculpture, but it was broken off.
In the picture the Buddha is touching the earth using a mudra. A
mudra is a symbolic gesture that is usually performed using the hand.
Each mudra has a different meaning and a different formation of
fingers. This piece of art has one very important mudra. The buddhas
right hand is touching the earth. This mudra is known as
bhumisparshamudra. This represents the moment in which he reached
enlightenment under the bodhi tree.

Since Buddha is reaching enlightenment it shows that he has went

through hardships to get to the point of glory. This can be shown
through the buddhas long ears. To Buddhists, Buddha's long earlobes
symbolize a conscious rejection of the material world in favor of
spiritual enlightenment. This information provided from National

Geographic shows the audience that the buddha had enjoyed a period
of wealth and prosperity at some time of his life. Another quote from a
sacred buddhist text enforces the fact that the Buddha was wealthy,

At that time the constellation Pushya was auspicious, and from the
side of the queen, who was purified by her vow, her son was born for
the welfare of the world, without pain and without illness. This quote

from the Buddha-Karita of Asvaghosha is another reason to believe

that the Buddha was a wealthy individual, and royalty, but since he is
depicted as reaching enlightenment, he left all this wealth and good
fortune to pursue the goal of enlightenment.
The main cause of suffering that the Buddha went through was
wanting all his wealth and fortune to stay. A quote from historian Kurt
Behrendt further proves this point Suffering is caused by desire and
attachment; that attachment leads to an ongoing cycle of rebirth
(samsara), which one can break free of only by letting go of desire and
the resulting attachment; and that to do so one must follow the
Buddhist dharma. This quote by MET historian Kurt Behrendt

exemplifies the pain that the Buddha went through. This pain is
endured when following the Buddhist dharma, which is the duty of
buddhists. This is to detach oneself from the material world and focus
on achieving nirvana. The Buddha went through this pain when trying
to detach himself from his wealth, but in doing this he reached the
ultimate goal of enlightenment.
The Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment was made during the
late 10th and 11th century in Bihar India. During this time period the
Pala Period was dominant and thriving. A quote from the Asia Society

Museum justifies how much Buddhist arts flourished under the Pala
Dynasty in Northern India, Pala-ruled areas became one of the last
strongholds of Buddhism in India; as a result, the religion and its arts
thrived. This quote from the Asia Society Museum shows that the arts

under the Pala Period were promoted, which lead to the creation of the
Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment and other pieces of art. This
period of time is especially important because as the previous quote
says, this was one of the last strongholds that Buddhism held before
being invaded by the Islamic Empire. This makes pieces like the Seated
Buddha Reaching Enlightenment even more valuable to historians
because it was one of the last Ancient productions of the Buddha from
Northern India.
The Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment was originally made
and found in the Nalanda Monastery in Bihar India. Nalanda is
considered an auspicious place in the wold of Buddhists. It was there
place of birth and nirvana for a famous disciple of Buddha, Sahiputra.

The Nalanda Monastery was constructed in the 6th century and it is

said that direct disciples of the Buddha started the Monastery. The

Nalanda Monastery is still standing today making it a valued primary

source. A reason for the survival of the Monastery is because it also
functioned as a learning center. The Monastery became one of the
premier institutions of the Ancient World, as it attracted students from
several different countries. With this being said, the Monastery was

kept in an optimum condition because it provided education for

whoever was the ruler of the region at the time. This enabled the
Monastery to survive until the modern day. This is why artifacts such as
the Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment can be found in a pristine
condition considering the age of the artifact.
The statement that, A moment of pain can lead to a life time of
glory can be proven using ancient texts from Buddhism. The text of
Buddha- Karita of Asvaghosha embodies this idea. A quote from this
ancient text further justifies the idea of pain leading to glory, Then the
charioteer answered, 'O prince, this evil is common to all; thus pressed
round by diseases men run to pleasure, though racked with pain. This

quote from the Buddha- Karita of Asvaghosha occurs when then

Siddhartha Gautama was riding through his city with his charioteer. He
was asking his charioteer why some people were sick and dying and
this was the answer that was given. In this quote, the charioteer is
saying that the people are surrounded with pain so when they see the
opportunity of any pleasure, they run towards it to cherish it. This
quote influenced the young prince and it began his quest in order to
find the end of pain and find pleasure.
When the Buddha was experimenting ways to end pain, he tried
tactics such as fasting. At one point during his fasting the Buddha was
offered some food by a stranger. This was the moment when the
Buddha realized that he didn't have to torture himself until he felt no

more pain, but he actually had to balance suffering and pleasure. He


called this harmony of pain and pleasure the Middle Path. The Middle
Path can also be used with emotion, so that oneself is not too happy
and not too sad. This discovery of balancing pain with pleasure
ultimately lead to the glorious achievement of enlightenment.
The eternal truth that A moment of Pain can lead to a lifetime of
glory, is relevant in the ancient world. It is also true in the 21st
century. A great example of where this eternal truth can be found, is in
the world of sports. The journey of athletes and the Buddha are more
similar than most expect. Both the athletes and the Buddha had to
suffer detachment from families. For example, the Buddha had to leave
his family to seek enlightenment. Athletes must participate in matches
and events all around the world, in turn leaving their families. The
Buddha had to experiment a way to reach enlightenment and he
ultimately discovered the middle path. Athletes have to find their own
middle path so they do not let their emotions take over during a
match. However, the key thing that the Buddha and the Athletes both
underwent is suffering. Both the Buddha and Athletes had to undergo
suffering and pain but ultimately for both, all the pain and suffering
lead to glory. With knowing that a moment of pain leads to a lifetime
of Glory. A boxer by the name of Muhammad Ali once said, I hated
every minute of training, but I said, Dont quit. Suffer now and live the
rest of your life as a champion. This quote made by Muhammad Ali

further proves the eternal truth that a moment of pain leads to a

lifetime of glory. In the quote Ali says that he hated every second that
he suffered during his training and practice but he still did it because
he knew that it would lead to a positive outcome. This is certainly true
in the case of Ali as he is widely regarded as the best boxer of all time.
All though this quote was made in the 20th century, it is still used
today. An example of this would be on inspirational websites. These
websites put together quotes to inspire people and Alis quote is well
known and can be found on any of these websites.
Another famous athlete who believes in this eternal truth is Louis
Zamperini. Louis Louie Zamperini was a former Olympic track star.
He is also a survivor of World War II. In a book named, Unbroken (A
book about the life of Zamperini) Louie says this quote while he is
training with his brother who was also competing in track. One
moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory. As they were training,

they were both very tired, and as fuel, they generated this quote. This
quote fueled them to keep working hard and endure the suffering
because they knew that it would lead to a greater outcome. This
outcome for Louie would become competing in the Olympic games and
an amazing tale of survival in World War II. The Eternal Truth that A
moment of pain can lead to a lifetime of glory is true in the Ancient
World, but is is still as true in the modern day, because this truth can
be found in the world of sports in the 21st century.

The eternal truth that, A moment of pain can lead to a lifetime of

glory is proven to be true in the Ancient World and the 21st century. It
can be seen in the Ancient World by observing the life of Buddha and
also observing Seated Buddha Reaching Enlightenment. The piece of
art shows that this is true by depicting the Buddha reaching
enlightenment, because in order to get to this place of enlightenment,
one must undergo suffering by being detached from the surrounding
world, but at the same time one must balance pleasure with pain. This
would be called finding the middle path. The eternal truth that, A
moment of pain can lead to a lifetime of glory can be proven in the
21st century especially well by using athletes. Athletes such as
Muhammad Ali and Louis Zamperini embody the truth that suffering
leads to glory. This can be proven because with these athletes because
Ali is widely regarded as the best boxer of all time and Louis Zamperini
was a stand out Olympic athlete who was also a survivor of World War
II. Even though this eternal truth is very relatable to these two athletes,
they are still relevant to every person in the world, according to
Buddhism. One of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is that Suffering
is universal. This means that everyone goes through suffering. This

means the eternal truth A moment of suffering can lead to a lifetime

of glory is true to everyone, because if one can withstand the
suffering, one can achieve whatever they think is glory. This is why this
eternal truth is still relevant and will be relevant forever.