The Path Of Buddha Essay

1659 words - 7 pages

Self reflection often leads to profound discoveries about the true reality of the world around us. Such is the case when looking at the life of Siddhartha Gautama; the one who became enlightened and challenged the belief systems of the society in which he lived. His profound philosophical teachings have endured through thousands of years and have influenced the moral foundation of many cultures throughout history. Buddha's philosophy differed from other religions in that it was psychological, and it focused on reaching enlightenment through inner worldly means rather than by prayer and worship. Buddhism's philosophical teachings showed the world that anyone could reach liberation through their own means, regardless of their social status. The Buddha taught people to live in moderation and showed them the importance of avoiding both extremes and indulgences, to live a life according the middle path. Many of the key teachings of Buddhism revolve around the principle of the middle path, and in order to understand its importance, we must first examine the story of how Gautama became the enlightened one.
The Life of Siddhartha Gotama
Gautama's story begins in northern India nearly 2,500 years ago during a time when Hinduism influenced much of India's societal norms and roles. Gautama was said to be a prince in a small kingdom called Lumbini, in modern day Nepal (Buddha Dharma Education Association 1999). Being part of a royal family, Gautama was surrounded by pleasure and was guarded from the harsh realities of the world. Until one day he left his home and on the road and saw a man with disease, a man who was dead, and an ascetic monk. According to the Pali Canon, Gautama saw the world as a cycle of suffering, and this belief influenced him to leave his life of luxury, and to live life as an ascetic. During this time it was common for people trying to live a holy life to leave their family and possessions to become unattached to the world (Armstrong 2001). As an ascetic he had two teachers that taught him yogic meditation, but left their training because he felt he had not achieved his goal of enlightenment (Robinson & Johnson 1982). For six years Gautama practiced trance inducing meditation and abstained from eating food to the point where he almost died. This experience lead him to believe that he could not achieve enlightenment through extreme behavior and lead him to develop the idea of the middle path. Some time later, according to legend, Gautama accepted food from Sujata and sat under a Bhodi Tree to meditate, only to be threatened and tempted by Mara. During this meditative trance, Gautama rejected Mara's temptation, found nirvana, and was transformed into the Buddha by, according to Robinson and Johnson, “...realizing the destinies of all living beings and of the general principles governing these destinies” (1982). After his enlightenment, the Buddha wanted to stay under the Bhodi Tree to pass away without teaching people what he had...

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