Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, i.e. the “enlightened one” or “the awakened”, lived in Northern India, in what is now Nepal, during the 6th to 5th century B.C.. Despite the historical evidence that he did in fact live, the events of his life are still debated because the Buddha’s teachings were passed on by oral tradition and writings only appeared about 400 years after his death. Gautama was born a prince as his father was the king of the Indian tribe of the Shakyas. As the story is told, to impede Siddharta from witnessing the miseries of the world, his father built him an opulent palace, where he lived in seclusion for at least 20 years, ignorant of human hardship and any religious knowledge. At the age of 29, Siddharta decided to leave his kingdom, his wife and son, to live an abstinent life and find a way to relieve humanity from suffering. For a decade, he lived an ascetic life, studying and meditating, until he realised that he could not reach the level of satisfaction
(the Nirvana) by being under harsh physical constraints. From then on, Siddharta encouraged people to give up the extremism of ascetism, and follow a path of balance instead. He called this path the ‘Middle Way’. Supposedly, the night Siddharta realised this, in a pure moment enlightenment, he became the Buddha. For the rest of his life, Buddha traveled, preaching the Dharma, the name given to his teachings, in order to help others to find the path to enlightenment. When he died, it is said that he told his disciples that they should follow no leader.


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