Shakyamuni Buddha statue is placed in the middle of the altar. The identifying characteristics are his eye nearly closed, his sitting posture, his hand gesture and the swastika sign on his chest.
He was the son of King Suddhodana from House Sakya inheriting Gotama as last name and Queen Maha Maya. He was born 623 BC in Lumbini Park, in the past that region belong to Ancient India, now lies within Nepal, near Himalayan Range. His family ruled Kapilavatthu city. He got married to Princess Yasodhara and had a son named Rahula.
He was surrounded with wealth, luxury, power with strong attachment to his family and the throne. However, he had always concerned the solution for every kind of suffering that had been existing. Therefore, after a visit through 4 different parts of the city where he saw death, sickness, aging, emancipation, he decided to give up everything, even his title to the throne and found his way of realization of liberation.
After years of pursuing and practicing various teaching, he still could not find himself free. He made a vow under Bodhi tree – tree of enlightenment to not going anywhere until he was enlightened. For 49 days sitting under Bodhi tree, he finally comprehended spiritual reality and become the Buddha. What is the Buddha? Buddha means an enlightened one.
There are three kinds of enlightenment: enlightenment of oneself, enlightenment of others, and perfection of enlightenment and practice.
1. Enlightenment of oneself: Someone who enlightens himself is different from an ordinary person who is not enlightened. Cultivators of the Two Vehicles, the Sound-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas, have enlightened themselves and are thus no longer the same as ordinary people, but they do not enlighten others.
2. Enlightenment of others: Someone who can enlighten others is different from the cultivators of the Two Vehicles. This person is called a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas can enlighten themselves and enlighten others. Being able to benefit themselves, they can also benefit others. They regard all living beings impartially. They themselves are enlightened, and they want all living beings to become enlightened also. This is called "the enlightenment of others."
3. Perfection of enlightenment and practice: Although Bodhisattvas can enlighten others, they still have not reached the perfection of enlightenment and practice. Buddhas can enlighten themselves, can enlighten others, and also have perfected their enlightenment and practice. Because they have perfected the threefold enlightenment, they are Buddhas. "
Source: Venerable Master Hua, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. cttb.org
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