Monday, May 21, 2007
Becoming the Buddha
Becoming the Buddha: Siddhartha Gautama did not necessarily become the Buddha overnight. Born in 563 BC along the Indian border in what is now modern-day Nepal, Gautama appeared to have it all. His father was a feudal lord who made every effort to shield his son from the drudgeries of life including disease, famine, and poverty. Yet one day in his twenty-ninth year, Gautama decided to leave it all behind and seek enlightenment in the forest. For six years, he searched the forest, encountering everything from ascetic Hindu monks to the evil one known as Mara. It was during this time that Gautama famously sat under what is now known as the Bo Tree and meditated for seven days and seven nights. His meditations were brutally interrupted by Mara who tempted Gautama with fame, greed, and lust. Gautama, needless to say, resisted all of Mara's temptations, and therefore, reached enlightenment. For the next forty-five years of his life, Gautama embarked on a mission to bring enlightenment to all those who sought it around India. His Four Noble Truths and Eight Disciplines subsequently became the basis of a reformed version of Hinduism known as Buddhism. Yet in 483 BC, at the ripe old age of eighty, Gautama died of dysentery.