Read The Buddha's Diamonds Online

Authors: Carolyn Marsden

The Buddha's Diamonds (7 page)

More than two thousand five hundred years ago, the Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha. When he was just a baby, a wise man predicted that he would become enlightened, free from suffering. Siddhartha's father was upset at the prediction as he wanted his son to be a powerful ruler. He kept Siddhartha secluded in the palace so he would know nothing of the world.

Nevertheless, as a child, Siddhartha witnessed worms being eaten by birds. He was shocked and saddened by the worms' pain. He also rescued a swan that his cousin had wounded with an arrow.

The young Siddhartha sat under a rose-apple tree learning to meditate, paying attention to the sensations of his breathing.

In spite of the king's precautions, as a young man Siddhartha went out of the palace. For the first time, he witnessed old age, illness, and death. The sight of suffering moved him so deeply that he escaped from the palace, going into the world to become a holy man.

For years, Siddhartha lived among the holy men of the forests. These men ate almost nothing and tortured themselves, believing that this lifestyle would lead them to the truth. Siddhartha became known as Gautama.

Gautama grew very weak. One day he heard some girls playing a lute, a musical instrument with strings. Upon hearing the music, he realized that if the strings were too tight or too loose the music wouldn't be beautiful. He saw that by living the life of self-denial, he'd pulled his own strings too tight. Gautama resolved to live a life of moderation.

Soon after this realization, Gautama was bathing and almost fainted from hunger. A young girl offered him a bowl of rice and milk.

After Gautama had eaten and gained strength, he recalled his childhood meditations under the rose-apple tree. He seated himself under a bodhi tree, resolving not to move until he had found a way to end suffering.

Gautama sat under the tree for forty-nine days. During this time, he experienced many temptations, but overcame all of them. He gained insight into suffering, understanding that it is caused by greed, selfishness, and ignorance.

Gautama transformed into the Buddha, the Enlightened One. He became a respected teacher. Many people came to hear him speak and to practice the teachings that have now been handed down for more than two thousand five hundred years.

In Buddhism, Buddha is not worshipped as a god. Instead, Buddha statues are used to remind us of the wise and compassionate Buddha nature within ourselves.

The Vietnam War (1959–1975) was a struggle between the communist government of North Vietnam and the American-backed government of South Vietnam.

In order to stop the spread of Communism in southeast Asia, the United States sent troops to Vietnam to fight alongside the South Vietnamese troops.

The war claimed 58,000 American lives and the lives of between 2 million and 5.7 million Vietnamese, a large number of whom were civilians.

While much of the fighting involved conventional battles and aerial bombing, the Vietnam War was largely a guerilla war affecting the civilian population. In simple villages like Hai Nhuan, soldiers from both sides planted land mines, burned houses, and killed innocent people.

Although in this story the war has been over for several years, Tinh and the other villagers still suffer from the aftermath of the conflict.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of my friends and fellow writers Gretchen Woelfle, Susan O'Leary, and Emily Whittle; the members of my critique group, Janice Yuwiler, Virginia Loh, and Sarah Wones Tomp; the Venerable Phuoc Tinh of Deer Park Monastery for his inspiring dharma talk on the Buddha's diamonds; and, as always, my editors, Deborah Wayshak and Amy Ehrlich, who helped young Tinh find the Buddha's diamonds. — C. M.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.

Copyright © 2008 by Carolyn Marsden and the Unified Buddhist Church Cover photograph copyright © 2008 by Catherine Karnow/CORBIS

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.

First electronic edition 2016

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Marsden, Carolyn.
The Buddha's diamonds / Carolyn Marsden and Th
y Pháp Niệm.
— 1st ed.
p.  cm.
Summary: As a storm sweeps in, Tinh's father tells him to tie up their fishing boat, but the storm scares him and he runs away. When the damage to the boat is discovered, Tinh realizes what he must do.
ISBN 978-0-7636-3380-6 (hardcover)
[1. Fishers — Fiction. 2. Responsibility — Fiction. 
3. Family life — Vietnam — Fiction. 4. Vietnam — Fiction.]
I. Niệm, Th
y Pháp. II. Title.
PZ7.M35135Bu 2008
[Fic] — dc22    2007023025

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