Siddharta Gautama BuddhaBuddha's Life

Based on Wikipedia

Buddhist inspiration: Who was Gautama Buddha?

Buddhism is the one world religion that everyone seems to respect. Many more people would like to call themselves Buddhists than actually are Buddhists by traditional counts.

Buddha found the source of sorrow, what sorrow is and the way out of sorrow (or suffering).

He has inspired millions around the world and in the West his teachings symbolize religion without belief.

When a man dwells on the objects of sense, he creates an attraction for them; attraction develops into desire, and desire breeds anger.

(Dhammapada quote)

Why was Gautama Buddha Imporant?

  1. He loved truth and sought it all his life
  2. He taught the truth he found for the rest of his life, out of love for humanity
  3. His truth came in a form that did not require belief, but reason and meditation

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

(Dhammapada quote)

Gautama Buddha (approximately 563 BC - 483 BC) (1) was born Siddhartha Gautama (Sanskrit form, or Siddhatta Gotama, Prakrit form); the title Buddha (enlightened one) was later bestowed upon him by his followers. He is also commonly known as Shakyamuni (or Sakyamuni), "The sage of the Shakya/Sakya clan", and as the Tathagata (untranslatable: roughly, "The thus-come one" or "The thus-gone one", emphasizing the nature of a Buddha to go about in the world without adding or subtracting anything from his experience.)

The Buddha is a key figure in the religion of Buddhism.

Biographical sketch

Accounts of his life were passed down by oral tradition and first written a few hundred years after his death. The Buddhist scriptures do contain accounts of metaphysics and magic in the Buddha's life. Some, such as calming an angry elephant his enemies had released to kill him, may be acceptable to materialist readers. [some of these tales are on this website, follow the links in this article] Others, such as his conversations with gods or instantaneous teleportation to Sri Lanka, may not. Stripped of these metaphysical or magical aspects, a sketch of his life runs thusly:

Prince Siddharta was born in Lumbini (in modern day Nepal), to the kshatriya caste of warrior-aristocrats. (The Indian caste system was also probably somewhat more informal at this time than it later became). He was the heir to the position of "prince" ("village chieftain" may be more accurate) of the Shakya clan's village of Kapilavatthu or Kapilvastu in the foothills of the Himalayas in what is now Nepal.

Siddharta married and had a son: Rahula, but at age 29, around 534 BC, having become increasingly dissatisfied with the contrast between a life of aristocratic luxury and the suffering he observed endemic in all people, Siddharta abandoned his inheritance and palace and began living an ascetic life, training with ascetic philosophers, and practicing austere meditative practices

After six years, around 528 BC, he found that the severe practices did not lead to greater understanding, abandoned them and concentrated on meditation and the "middle way" (a practise of non-extremism), and soon afterwards claimed he had realized complete awakening or enlightenment into the nature and cause of human suffering and the steps necessary to eliminate it. This enlightenment is called a state of "Bodhi," and hence the name "Buddha," or "enlightened one." [More on Buddha's path to enlightenment and his meditation teachers]

The Buddha emphasized that he was not a god nor the messenger of a god and that Enlightenment was not the result of a supernatural process or agency, but rather the result of a close attention to the nature of the human mind which could be rediscovered by anyone for themselves.

For the remaining 45 years of his life, he traveled the Gangetic Plain of central India (region of the Ganges/Ganga river and its tributaries), teaching his meditation practice to an extremely diverse range of people, from nobles to street sweepers, and including many adherents of rival philosophies and religions. He founded the community of Buddhist monks and nuns (the Sangha) to continue the teachings after his death (considered to be the paranirvana or complete ending of the Buddha).

After intermittent illness, the Buddha died at Kusinara (now Kusinagar, India) at the age of 80. His last meal was sukara-maddava which he had received as an offering from a smith. The correct translation of this term is unknown; sukara means "pig", maddava apparently means something like "delicacy". Sukara-maddava may mean "tender pork" or "mushrooms or tubers enjoyed by pigs". Vegetarianism is for Buddhists an ideal rather than a mandate, and monks and nuns in particular are enjoined to accept all offerings of food made to them (unless they know an animal has been killed especially to feed them). One account gives the Buddha's last words as: "All things which are made of parts eventually come apart. Be mindful, and achieve Enlightenment!", while another gives, "Subject to change are all things. Strive on with diligence."

Personality and character

Do not speak harshly to any one; those who are spoken to will answer thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful: blows for blows will touch thee.

Hatred does not cease in this world by hating, but by not hating; this is an eternal truth.

(Dhammapada quote)

The Buddha as presented in the Buddhist scriptures is notable for such characteristics as:

Better than a thousand useless words
is one useful word,
hearing which one attains peace.

(Dhammapada quote)
Buddha Home Accessories

Stories about the life of Siddharta Gautama Buddha - Buddhist religious beliefs

Dharmapada quotes - from the Buddha

The Dhammapada (or Dharmapada) is an old Buddhist book of sayings. It is not clear whether they are actual sayings of the Buddha himself, as the text isn't part of the Pali Canon. On the other hand, the text has been found in both Theravada and Mahayana sources so it is common to all traditions of Buddhism.

He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real driver; other people are but holding the reins.

Teachings of the Buddha

Religious views in buddhism

The Four Noble Truths

1. Suffering exists

2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires

3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases

4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

Noble Eightfold Path

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Three Qualities (the eight aspects of the path can be grouped into three qualities as follows)

  1. Wisdom (panna)
  2. Right View
  3. Right Thought
  4. Morality (sila)
  5. Right Speech
  6. Right Action
  7. Right Livelihood
  8. Meditation (samadhi)
  9. Right Effort
  10. Right Mindfulness
  11. Right Contemplation or concentration or meditation

More Buddhism teachings - that is: more lists

Pali canon - what the Buddha said

The oldest known Buddhist texts

The Pali Canon is our oldest source on the teachings of Buddha. It has three parts (pitaka):

1. Vinaya Pitaka, dealing with rules for monks and nuns

2. Sutta Pitaka, discourses, mostly ascribed to the Buddha, but some to disciples

3. Abhidhamma Pitaka, variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics etc.

Together these three are called the Tipitaka.

According to scholars the Pali Canon is a mixture of material going back to the Buddha and material by his disciples. The earliest versions we know historical facts about date to the fifth century C.E.

Previous lives of the Buddha - Jataka Tales

Footnote

1) The picture of Buddha as given above is from Digibeeld an online database maintained by Kern Institute, University Leiden, The Netherlands. Shahr-i-Bahlol is an archaeological site in Gandhara (Northern Pakistan). Ellen Raven (teacher of Buddhist art at Leiden University) estimates that it dates from the third century A.D.  

DigiBeeld nr. 14842; This picture was made in 1906 of 1907. Buddha from Shahr-i-Bahlol.;  Celloidin paper, toned (DCZ);  Kern Institute, Leiden University. Free of rights.

The date for the Buddha's birth is contested. Classic sources still put it at around 563 B.C. but many maintain his life should be placed in the fourth century B.C.