Lord Buddha was neither a god nor reincarnation of a god or any Super-being. He was a human being but a unique being. Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and surpassed the state of a human being.
He understood the world through his own perseverance. He showed the infinite capacity of a human being. He taught how to explore the latent faculties of a human being.
He told the world that deliverance could not be achieved by praying. It has to be achieved by oneself only through realization. It cannot be passed down from one to another. The belief of the people of a super natural being who rules over the situations taking place in the world and their destinies was turned down by Buddha as an illusion.
In his doctrine, the path for purity and final emancipation was shown. He explained the path in detail step by step for any one to follow and practice. It is a procedure one has to follow by oneself. The process does not constitute any praying expecting from someone above to endow salvation on oneself. It is a matter of wisdom.
The path leading to cessation of suffering and reach emancipation is called the ‘Eight Fold Path.’ It is sub divided into three divisions such as Wisdom group(Panna), Virtue group(Seela) & Concentration group ( Samadhi). Buddha called this the “Middle Path”
(Majjima Patipada). Though the path is given in figurative form, one should know the path in proper sense that those are mental factors.
To attain emancipation one has to follow and practice the ‘Eight Fold Path’ with great sacrifice. Once it is done genuinely, one attains the four states called ‘Sothapatti’, ‘Sakadagami’, ‘Anagami’ and ‘Arahath’.
Apart from following the above ‘Eight Fold Path’, Buddhists follow a convenient religious practice, the rituals. Rituals are not the proper pathway to achieve the goal. Still it can not be condemned totally. Rituals serve some benefits to Buddhists who are unable to follow the stream to quick emancipation. The Buddhists who observe ‘Pancha Seela’ and engaged in rituals fulfill the initial stage of the ‘Eight Fold Path’. ie, ‘Seela’ the self discipline. Those who observe rituals properly during the recital of ‘gathas’ understanding and following the meaning, they accumulate the merits of contemplation, it is ‘Samadhi’the second stage of ‘Eight Fold Path’
The ‘gathas’ meant to worship Buddha, ‘gathas’ to offer flowers, food or any other item to Buddha amounts to concentration. According to this meaningful interpretation, every time anybody engaged in these rituals accumulate enough merits to proceed up to the final goal. It complies with the Buddha’s teaching and none should hesitate in doing so.
May you attain Nibbana by developing your mind and insight keeping in touch with what Buddha taught.
By Padmasri Samaranayake