Enlightenment of the Buddha

Last Words

The Buddha tirelessly traveled and taught until his death at age 80. His last words to his followers:

"Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All copounded things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."

 

Siddhartha sat beneath a sacred fig (Ficus religiosa), known ever after as the Bodhi Tree (bodhi means "awakened"), and settled into meditation.

The work of Siddhartha's mind came to be mythologized as a great battle with mara, a demon whose name means "destruction' and who represents the passions that snare and delude us. Mara brought vast armies of monsters to attack Siddhartha, who sat still and untouched. Mara's most beautiful daughter tried to seduce Siddhartha, but this effort also failed.

Finally, Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him. Mara's spiritual accomplishments were greater than Siddhartha's, the demon said. Mara's monstrous soldiers cried out together, "I am his witness!" Mara challenged Siddhartha--who will speak for you?

Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself roared, "I bear you witness!" Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.

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