The Buddha's Life
Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince in Lumbini, Nepal, at Mount Palpa in the Himalayan ranges. His father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhya people. His mother, Maya, died seven days after his birth. He was raised by his foster mother, Maya’s sister Mahaprajapati. He married Yasodhara at age sixteen, who subsequently gave birth to their son, Rahula. He lived a life of privilege and luxury, unaware of the life taking place outside his palace. One day, Siddhartha and his servant, Channa, ventured out, and he saw for the first time an old man, a sick man and a corpse. He realized that he too would one day become old, ill and die. He also met a monk who impressed him with his profound serenity. Having gained insight into the transitory nature of worldly pleasures, Siddhartha renounced his life of privilege and luxury. He permanently left his home and family to become a mendicant ascetic. Gautama achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and practised severe austerities for six years. Realizing the limitations of self-mortification, he conceived the idea of the ‘Middle Way’. Finally, he sat in meditation under a Bodhi tree for 49 days and achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. He was 35 years old. The Buddha gave his first sermon on the Four Noble Truths (First Turning of the Wheel) at Deer Park, Varanasi. Soon the Buddha attracted many followers. In time the followers became a structured community, the Sangha. For the next 45 years, he travelled and taught. His days were divided between itinerant preaching in the morning and receiving visitors for discussion at night, with the afternoons reserved for private meditation. He died at the age of 80. His last words were: “Behold, monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
The Buddha's Life
Buddha's view on RENOUNCIATION
The four sights (the monk, the sick man, the old man and the corpse) led to a detachment from transient pleasures and motivated Siddhartha to renounce his comfortable life. He realised that no matter how privileged a person is, the realities of old age, sickness, and death will ultimately have to be faced. Renounce the ephemeral and unburden yourself.
Buddha's view on COMPASSION
After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha identified the cause of suffering, and he also pointed to the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. Compassion for all sentient beings living ignorant of these vital insights motivated the Buddha to share his penetrations. He became a tireless teacher for 45 years.
Compassion extends beyond feeling with or for someone who is suffering.
Great compassion considers the plight of sentient beings chained to the life/death cycle because they do not know or want to know the true nature of their predicament—this boundless compassion inspires the great Buddhist teachers.
The Buddha's view on WISDOM
Siddhartha, before he became the Buddha, was already spiritually highly evolved. However, as the Buddha, he extended the qualities of meditation by giving meditation an ultimate goal: wisdom. In this way, meditation becomes a means to an end which is overcoming ignorance by wisdom.
Wisdom describes a state of acute presence without judgement, division or prejudice. Wisdom simultaneously sees all sides without engaging in any sides. Wisdom is penetrating knowledge without intellect, the experienced reality without any form of filter.