Life of the Buddha

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Life of the Buddha
Context
• Prince Siddhartha Gautama
• Part of the Shakya Clan (hence
name Shakyamuni)
• Born Kapilavastu in Northern India,
563BCE
• Indian religion at time was Hinduism
• Buddhism part of a revolt against
Hinduism: expensive sacrifices,
Caste System, pessimistic view of
salvation, etc
Siddhartha’s Birth
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Birth stories very symbolic
Queen Maya’s dream: elephant in side
Born in garden at Lumbini
Trees bent down to support Queen Maya
Born out of her side
Golden Skin
Walked seven steps and lotuses grew at his feet
Declared this was his last rebirth
Siddhartha’s Early Life
• A seer called Asita told his father
King Sudohanna that he would either
grow up to be a great leader, or a
holy man.
• To make sure he became a king like
him, the King kept Siddhartha in the
palace for his whole life.
• He was surrounded by youth,
beauty, pleasure and wealth, and
had no idea that life could be any
different.
The Great Renunciation (The Four
Sights)
• Siddhartha began to question life, and asked
what was beyond the palace walls.
• He convinced his charioteer Channa to take
him outside 4 times.
• On these occasions he saw an old man, a sick
man, a corpse, and lastly a holy man
(saddhu).
• The first three sights dispirited him, but the
fourth gave him hope that he could figure out
how to stop all the suffering in life (he was
moved by great compassion)
• He decided to leave his family (wife and child
too – also symbolising leaving attachments
behind) to become a wandering holy man in
search of the truth.
Asceticism
• Siddhartha first came across some yogins who
taught him the art of meditation. He stayed with
them for a couple of years, then moved on to join
a group of ascetics.
• Ascetics deny themselves things in order to
‘force’ the mind to see clearly. For example, a
lazy person might force themselves to stand all
the time.
• Siddhartha decided that since he had lived a life
of material luxury, he would starve himself.
• Legend has it that he reduced his food until he
was living on 3 grains of rice a day and almost
died.
• He eventually realised that this was not helping
him realise the truth, and (with some help from a
local girl) made himself better.
Enlightenment
• Soon after this, Siddhartha sat under a
pipal tree (commonly known as a bodhi
tree) and decided he would not move
until he had an answer to the world’s
suffering.
• For many days Siddhartha meditated,
facing Mara and all of his temptations.
• Eventually Siddhartha came to realise
the truth about reality and became
enlightened.
• He was now the Buddha (enlightened
one)
• He spent the rest of his life travelling
and teaching what he had learned.

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