Siddhartha was born to King Shuddhodana and Queen Maya of the kingdom Shakya. He had a very special birth as he came out of the womb walking and talking. For Queen Maya the birth was painless and clean.
To prevent Siddhartha from becoming a great savior he wanted to make his life as pleasant as possible do he built him 3 palaces; one for the winter, one for the summer and one for the rainy seasons.
Siddhartha left his kingdom to find a spiritual solution to the problems of human life; he craved spiritual satisfaction. At the age of 29 Siddhartha went out into the city 4 times, each time he saw something new. The first time he saw an old man-broken by life- leaning on a staff. The second time, a sick man laying on the roadside. On his third trip, he saw a corpse be prepared for cremation. Lastly, on his fourth trip, he saw an ascetic Hindu monk; one who practices serve self-denial.
During this time he participated in self-denial believing that they would be productive. To gain spiritual knowledge he tried meditation, attaining a deep trance and controlled breathing. To help him achieve spiritual satisfaction he gave up his palace and his privileged life. In result of this form of self-denial he got headaches, became emaciated and very ill.
Siddhartha became known as Buddha. which means "the Enlightened One" or "One Who Has Awakened." He went on to share he insights with five Hindu ascetics, who later became bhikkhus, or Buddha's monks because they accepted his insights. This was the beginning of the Buddhist community. The order of monks are called the sangha.
When Siddhartha went through enlightenment he sat under a tree and meditated. As he did this, he entered a psychic state and remembered all of his previous lives in vivid detail. He viewed death and rebirth as consequences of good and bad deeds. Good deeds brought a better life, and bad deeds brought unpleasantness. After realizing this he removed craving and ignorance from his life. Once he removed craving and ignorance he achieved nirvana; a state of supreme realization and enlightenment; an understanding of the truth of life and the freedom of ignorance. He stayed in this state for 7 days (or 7 weeks)
The middle way is a path between both extremes of very privileged and very poor. It is the path of moderation.
When Buddha died he told his followers to decide what himself or herself believed based on his teachings and that everyone is responsible for their own salvation. Buddha achieved Parinirvana which means he was released from the involuntary cycle of rebirth.