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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
39 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly to appreciate old age, sickness, and death in the same way he did, and to summon the courage to do whatever it takes to go beyond birth and death. Since a deep sense of renunciation for samsaric life is the key to the spiritual path, cultivate a heartfelt wish that renun- ciation grows within you so that you won’t be glued to this samsaric world forever. Buddha’s last incarnation as an ordi- nary human being was as Prince Siddhartha; aspire to make your current life your last, so you no longer have to endure this endless cycle of existence, like a bee in a bottle. And always remember that people like us have buddhanature, no matter how ordinary we may appear to be. Bodhgaya Bodhgaya is little more than a shantytown and most visi- tors are shocked by the dust, the dirt, the beggars, and the poverty—although (unfortunately) the situation is slowly improving. What many people experience once they’ve left the madness and entered the inner circle is that the atmosphere created by the Mahabodhi Temple is so potent it’s as if you fall into a trance. Here you’ll find the vajra seat (vajra asana, also known as the diamond seat) where, after many years of searching for the truth and six excruciating years of penance by the banks of the Niranjana River (known today as the Falgu River), Siddhartha finally discovered the Middle Path and achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree. The actual tree under which Siddhartha sat was destroyed centuries ago, but a seed found its way to Sri Lanka and a tree was propagated so that later its fruit could be returned to India (there are many wonderful stories about how this seed was acquired) and planted on the exact spot of the original tree. The bodhi tree is important to Buddhists because it is a symbol of enlightenment. In spite of an abundance of trees, caves, and temples in the area, it was in the shade of a bodhi tree that Siddhartha chose to sit, and it was also there that he crushed his final defilements to achieve enlightenment and become the liberator of the Three Worlds—the world of desire, the world of form, and the world of no-form. It is believed that all the one thousand buddhas of this fortunate eon will achieve enlight- enment right on this very same spot. All of which means that showing respect for the bodhi tree is not the same as worshiping B.sriKanthstePhenr.lasKy A Western pilgrim makes mandala offerings at the Nalandabodhi stupa in Bodhgaya while other pilgrims offer prostrations