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Perfectionism Is The Enemy Of Perfection

3467 words - 14 pages

The story of Devadatta raises a compelling argument in regards to his journey in overthrowing the Buddha. In traditional Buddhism, Devadatta is seen as a selfish, greedy, jealous, cousin to the Buddha, who attempts three different times to kill him, before growing ill. Whereas in the Lotus Sutra, Devadatta is commended for being a good friend to the Buddha in helping him become fully endowed with the six paramitas. These six paramitas consists of pity, compassion, joy, and indifference, which also included thirty-two features, eighty characteristics, the ten powers, four kinds of fearlessness, four methods of winning people, eighteen unshared properties, transcendental powers and the power of the way. Famous psychologist, Sigmund Freud, designed what he called “the structural model of psyche,” which consisted of an Id, ego, and super ego. The Id and ego pertain to this particular story the most, while ones Id is a set of uncoordinated instinctual trends and ones ego is the organized and realistic section of your conscious the mediates between the id and super ego. This story of Devadatta can be looked at from a metaphorical and psychological standpoint when relating Devadatta to ones Id and the Buddha to ones ego. It is inevitably the story of Good vs. Evil. Furthermore as you read this essay, you will see how the perception of Devadatta changes from the beginning with traditional Indian Buddhism to Chinese Buddhism and the Lotus Sutra.

Gotama “The Buddha”

First before delving into the story of Devadatta, I would like to briefly give the background of his cousin, “The Buddha.” The Buddha, also known by his government name Gotama, was born into both luxury and privilege. In being sheltered by his father, owning three palaces, having a large retinue of servants and a beautiful wife, Gotama gives us some of the best-known features to the traditional account of his life. Although he lived this very affluent lifestyle, Gotama was very uneasy and restless. One day Gotama observes his father and a team of farmers, farming the earth, noticing how hard the men were working, how tired the oxen were, and most of all the disturbance by the plow towards insects, grubs and eggs. Gotama’s life suddenly changes as though he was ‘touched by an angel,’ realizing that it is impossible to maintain life without disturbing the lives of others. Jungian analyst James Hollis refers to Gotama’s change of heart as existential guilt, which is the moment where one comes to realize that the principle the underlies life is death. What this goes to show is that the Buddha was born just like the rest of “us”, through his realization that it is impossible to achieve a painless trajectory through life. In his chapter titled, A Buddha And His Cousin, Richard P. Hayes states, “It could be said that the principal task of a Buddhist is to figure out somehow which kinds of pain are avoidable and which are inevitable and to learn how to avoid as much as possible inflicting and...

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