Siddhartha rose from his seat under the pippala tree. He looked up into
the sky and saw the morning star. It was shining so brightly as never
before. An indescribable joy filled his heart. He felt a deep inner
peace that made everything around him seem so light and open. He had
seen the true face of his mind at dawn. He had realized enlightened
mind. Nirvana was within his reach.
started to walk towards the River. He thought, “I have found freedom for
myself. I wish I could show others how to achieve this liberation of
mind. The path to this freedom has been long and difficult. I must think
of an easy and practical way that people can follow step by step.
“Good morning,” Svasti was walking towards Siddhartha and greeted him from a distance.
“Good morning, Svasti. You are here very early this morning.”
Siddhartha walked over to Svasti and patted him gently on the shoulder.
“Well. It stormed so hard last night. The thunder was deafening, and
then came the downpour. The roof leaked and we were all soaked in our
little hut. We were all glad it was over by the break of dawn. I was
thinking about you so I came straight away. But…” Svasti stared at
“Is something the matter?” asked Siddhartha.
“No. You…you look different. You look so …so…relaxed. You look so
gentle, so calm, and so…still… “ Svasti stuttered a little as he spoke.
He tried not to stare too much.
“Oh, Svasti, I am very
happy because last night I found the answer that I’ve been looking for
so long. Will you please ask your sisters and all your friends to come
see me this afternoon?”
Svasti nodded, “Yes, I’ll gather up everyone and come then.”
Siddhartha then asked, “Where are your buffaloes?”
“They’re needed in the fields today. I just have to cut some grass for
their evening feed then I’m done for the day. I promised Bima that I’d
try to mend the roof.”
Siddhartha smiled. He always
thought Svasti a very fine and responsible boy. “So, I’ll see you this
afternoon. I’m just going to the river to wash. I’ll walk with you
Early at noon that same day, Sujata brought lunch
to Siddhartha. She felt excited that her forest teacher had found his
answers. As usual, Sujata would tell him about the happenings in her
village while Siddhartha ate. After lunch was over, when everything was
put away, she could not contain herself anymore. “Please, could you
explain a little about what you have discovered…a part that you think I
would be able to understand?”
Siddhartha smiled and
nodded. “Thank you for lunch. And yes, of course I will share what I
know with you. Do you think that you could come again this afternoon
with your friends? I’d like to speak to all of you together. Svasti is
going to bring his sisters and friends.”
“Sure, I better go straight away before my friends go off to the field to play.”
That afternoon, many children came with Svasti and Sujata to see
Siddhartha. They gathered around the pippala tree where Siddhartha sat.
Sujata got up and offered a big basket of tangerines to Siddhartha.
“These are just freshly picked from the orchard.” Siddhartha smiled and
took over the basket. One by one he passed out the tangerines to the
“I am very happy to see all of you here today. I
am very grateful to have this wonderful place for me to do meditation. I
am very grateful to Sujata for providing me food everyday for the past
few months. I am very grateful to Svasti who brings me treats and krusha
grass for my seat. I am very grateful to all of you who come to see me
and offer me your wonderful company.
“Today, I’d like to
share with you something I’ve learnt. I want to show you something that
already belongs to you. It is your very own awareness, your own knowing.
It is such a precious part of you but it often goes unnoticed. What do I
mean by that? When you are thinking, are you aware that you are
thinking? When you are speaking, are you aware that you are speaking?
When you are doing something, are you aware that you are doing
something? To be aware of what you are engaged in is to be mindful of your thoughts, of your speech, and of your actions.
“As you listen, you are paying attention to my words. Now I shift your
attention to the tangerine that you are holding in your hand. Let us be
aware of the tangerine in our hands. Let us be mindful of the tangerine.
We look at it. We see its roundness. We see its bright orange. We feel
it in our hand. We feel its waxed and rough skin.
eat a tangerine, we first peel off its skin. We are mindful as we peel
the skin. We are mindful of our fingers feeling the moisture from within
the tangerine. We are mindful of its distinctly fragrant smell. After
the skin has been peeled, we see its sections. We are mindful of its
sections. We are mindful when we break up the sections. We are mindful
as we place a section in our mouths. We are mindful of the tangerine
section in our mouths. We are mindful as we bite into it. We are mindful
as the juice squishes out and fills our mouth. We are mindful of its
taste. We are mindful of its fragrance. We are mindful of its texture.
We are mindful as we chew. We are mindful as we swallow. And we continue
this mindfulness practice as we eat the tangerine.
“Can someone think of some benefits of being mindful?”
Sujata right away volunteered her thought, “My grandfather always told
me to pay attention to how I sit, how I eat, how I walk, and how I sleep
so that I carry myself properly and that I am considerate of others.
Mindfulness is important so we take care not to become rude to others.”
Svasti said, “Mindfulness keeps my attention on my water buffaloes.”
Bima, Svasti’s sister, in a tiny voice reflected, “I sometimes burn the food I cook when I’m not mindful.
“Very good. Mindfulness keeps our attention in the moment. This means
that we are not thinking about the past as in, “…I would have caught
that fish had I not slipped.” Neither are we pondering about the future
as in, “…will I be invited to my friend’s party?” The past has passed,
and we cannot go back nor do anything about it. The future is yet to
come. It is very uncertain, governed by all kinds of conditions that are
not within our control or within our knowing. Therefore, what is the
sense in worrying over it now? If we really care about the future, we
should look at what we are doing now. What we put in now we will reap
its results later. The present moment is precious to us because life is
made up of these precious moments. We try to be mindful in every moment.
“My young friends, shall we now eat the tangerine in
mindfulness?” Siddhartha then looked at the tangerine in his hand. He
started to peel its skin. All the children followed his example. A
gentle quietness settled around the pippala tree.
When everyone was finished eating. Siddhartha looked at the children and smiled.
One girl said, “I couldn’t keep up with the mindfulness most of the
time. Why is that? I kept thinking of all sorts of things…”
“Me too. I have to stop myself from thinking about what I would get for my birthday tomorrow.”
“I was still feeling mad that my mother wouldn't let me wear my new dress today.”
“I. . . I. . . I was worried that I was going to get a good scolding
from my father. . . . I broke a broomstick today while using it for a
The children were all nodding their heads in
agreement as each one of them took turns to express the feelings and
thoughts that came up.
“Excellent, that is exactly what I
wanted you to see.” said Siddhartha. “Right now your mind is like that.
You should not expect otherwise. You cannot force your mind to stay at
one place anyway even if you try. It is your mindfulness that allows you
to see that your mind has wandered off. When you are aware of being
distracted, simply bring your attention back gently to the task at hand.
“My young friends, it is very important not to
deliberately hold your mindfulness by force. That is not the point. You
would only be creating unnecessary pressure. That is harmful. Right now,
you cannot keep your mindfulness for very long. That is all right. That
is quite natural. Like anything else that we learn to do, we go about
it a little bit at a time. With mindfulness, it’s the same. You try to
be mindful whenever you can, and in time, your mindfulness will be
developed into your habit of mind.”
“When mindfulness is
stable and natural, it will guard your mind against negative thoughts
such as fear, hopelessness, despair, anger, greed, jealousy. You will
see them clearly like you see a bird in the sky. When you can catch
these negative thinking of the mind, you can calmly and gently let them
go. They will not affect you as much. As a result, you will not act them
out. You will not act out of anger. You will not act out of jealousy.
You will not act out of fear. In this way, you will avoid acting
negatively and the suffering that comes with it. You will get along
better with others. This is just one method that I’ve learnt to avert
“Last night I found the Path of Awakening. I
call it awakening because it was as if I woke up from a dream. I will
stay on here for a while longer and then I’ll be leaving you.”
A deep sadness was felt in the children’s hearts.
“I will come back to visit all of you.” Siddhartha looked straight
ahead and smiled with such happiness that the heaviness in the
children’s hearts was lifted.
Sujata stood up and joined
her hands, “ Great teacher, you are the “Awakened One. In our Magadi
dialect, awaken is “Budh”. And someone who is awakened is called
“Buddha”. Can we then call you the “Buddha” from now on?”
Then, a boy named Nalaka stood up and said, “For the past few months,
you have meditated under this beautiful pippala tree. It is indeed the
most beautiful tree in this whole forest. You were awakened under this
tree. Let us call this tree the “Bodhi Tree”. The name “Bodhi” actually
shares the same root as the word ”Budh” which means to awaken.”
Siddhartha nodded in agreement. All the children were delighted and they all clapped their hands in excitement.
This was how Siddhartha Gautama came to be known as the Buddha.