All religions invariably attempt to alter state of mind of their followers. The spiritual calm that the people desire could come initially through a change of mind by transferring one’s problems to a divine being. In God-centred religions, people seek salvation through divine assistance. But the Buddha taught an entirely different way of spiritual liberation. He achieved Enlightenment as a human being. He was an exceptional human being because He did not take the universal human condition for granted. His inspiration helps any human being to examine his fate, following the example set by the Enlightened One. He taught steadily that man can exert the fullest control over his spiritual condition. He need not be controlled by an external force. This way, about two thousand five hundred years ago , He declared a system of thought that celebrated the supremacy of man. He liberated man and his mind from external bondages and set the human mind free to soar to spiritual heights unshackled by inhibitions, superstitions and dogma.
Man’s personal spiritual effect, he declared was the liberating force that dwells within each individual. He can help himself without, in anyway, depending on outside help to leap him to liberation. He did not initiate a system that should be followed unquestioningly. He merely showed the way and each individual had to tread the Path by himself or herself. The freedom to explore the truth given by the Enlightened One makes Buddhism a unique system. One’s salvation, one’s spiritual liberation could be worked out only by oneself. The freedom of mind he advocated, over 25 centuries ago, is, strangely enough as advanced as the rational attitude favoured by contemporary intellectuals. His sermon to the Kalamas of the kingdom Kosala in ancient India reads like an early declaration of the scientific attitude of mind. In his advice to the Kalamas who expressed their doubts and misgivings about conflicting views expressed by different religious teachers, the Buddha said: “Yes Kalamas, it is proper that you have doubt, that you have perplexity, for a doubt has arisen in a matter which is doubtful. Now look, you Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not lead by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic of inference, nor by considering appearances nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the Idea: ‘this is out teacher’. But, O kalamas, when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome (akusala) and wrong and bad, then give them up. And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome (Kusala) and good then accept them and follow them”.
He advised his disciples to adopt a critical attitude towards his own teachings. Buddhism dose not recognize a spiritual doubt as a sin, though some religious system tend to consider a doubt as a sin against a system. Doubt can only become a sin in a system in which disciples were asked to accept an unchanging body of though without a question. If some one were to raise a question about such a dogma, the questioner or the doubter would be considered to have committed a sin. The Buddha did not advocate believing things on faith. He requested that each individual should realize the truth for himself.
The Buddha freed humanity from the dictatorship of point A to point B:he must walk the path for himself .Getting an other to tread that path would not help at all .Similarly the Buddha advised that each person should realize the truth for himself .The Buddha freed humanity from the dictatorship of dogmatic thoughts. The Buddha, therefore, is perhaps
The greatest advocate in human history of the liberating power of uninhibited thought.
While declaring the potentiality of the freedom of thought, he exercised a remarkable tolerance toward other system of thought. He did not seek to win converts or to deprive other religious leaders or the authors of other systems. Humanity has vastly benefitted from his religious tolerance because this attitude of mind prevented religious wars. Even this is a magnificent human achievement because it led to sympathy and understanding among all human being whatever their faith. The spiritual conquests of Buddhism were all won without bloodshed. Violence is totally alien to the Buddha’s away.
The oneness of mankind is upheld in Buddhist thought, because Buddhism does not seek to divide man but to unify mankind though right realization of the common fate all human beings share. The Buddha, in his spiritual quest, was single mindedly devoted to the search for truth. He was not at all bound by any system. His was a distinct search for truth.
In the early days of Buddhism, men and women were converted to the system of thought declared by the Buddha, because they were able, at once, to see the stark truth of the Buddha’s words. There are stories of truth-seekers who had accepted the Buddha as their teacher even though they have never met him in person. The special quality of the teaching of the Buddha is it’s “came-and-see-ability’’ (Ehi Passika). This way, his word need not be taken on faith: each one could test to see the truth for himself.
In the Buddha way of thought, Buddha merely helps with his words. Each individual has to see the truth for himself. When the truth begins to dawn, doubts clear away. Buddhism, is the means by which right awareness begin to arise in the minds of men.
Men and women lead their lives like sleep-walkers. The Buddha’s word help them to open their eyes for new wisdom to arise in their minds. All dogmatic thoughts, superstitious ideas taken on faith and all the other states of mind that obscure the vision of truth fall away and truth begins to shine like a brilliant gem that has been brought out in to the open. Towards his own teaching too, he adopts the same attitude. For him, any system of thought is only a means for the realization of truth. Once truth is realized, the means can be dispensed with. It is like a raft constructed to cross a stream. When the stream is crossed, there is on need to take the raft along on land. The implication of this teaching is that no system of thought is sacred, it’s only a Path and means. What is sacred is the realization of truth –the understanding that occurs about the way things really are.
Buddha’s attitude to religious life relieves mankind of the crushing burden of unfunctional beliefs and thoughts. Free of this burden, he could move about uninhibitedly. He could ask any question he wished, explore any idea freely. Considered this way, the Buddha’s method brought about a spiritual revolution to a world that had been in the grip of dogmatic religious thoughts. In the field of spiritual thought in the world, the Buddha’s unique contribution is the liberation of the human mind. When the mind is not fettered by the need to defend dogmatic beliefs, man becomes tolerant. He is set free of violence of thought and action.
In consequence, the Buddha’s supreme gift to the cultural heritage of man is the gentle system of thought that had only the well-being of man as its crucial concern.
He taught the world a spiritual objectivity that would help man to identify the issues that really mattered to human existence. His capacity to discern unerringly the central issue of the human problem is vividly illustrated by the well-known episode of Malunkya Putta.
When Malunkyaputta was restless in mind by his curiosity about the nature of the universe and requested the Buddha to explain those issues the Buddha asked him a series of questions in return, in order to enable Malunkyaputta to understand the correct spiritual priorities. Said the Buddha: “Suppose Malunkyaputta, if a man is wounded by a poisoned arrow and his friends and relatives bring him to a physician .suppose the man should then say, ‘I will not let this arrow be taken out until I know the caste, the clan, the family name of the man who shot me and also the size and complexion of the man who shot me. Malunkyaputta, if that happens, that man would die without knowing any of those thing’’. Here, the Buddha admirably identified the need to be steadily aware of the spiritual priorities confronting man. He isolated those fundamental pre-occupations that are connected whit the right king of spiritual life. When the unnecessary pre-occupations are discarded, the mind can soar unperturbed and unhindered towards real spiritual goals.
From modern man, this attitude of mind is helpful even in his worldly decisions. When he is confused by many options and when his mind has to travel in several directions at one time, his capacity for action is drastically reduced.
The Buddha’s method of spiritual objectivity has therefore a direct benefit even for one’s worldly concerns. The right application of the Buddha’s spiritual method to humanly beneficial activities will enhance even one’s practical and pragmatic worldly career.
But the quintessence of the Buddha’s worlds, has, of course to do with spiritual progress. Therefore the primary concern, when we talk about the worlds of the Buddha, is to achieve a clear understanding of the method of the Buddha’s spiritual advocacy.