Siddhartha's father wanted him to become a great ruler and vowed to make life as pleasant as possible so Siddhartha would not want to leave the palace.
The Birth of Siddhartha
Approx. 563 BCE
Siddhartha Gautama's parents were Queen Maya and King Shuddhodana. His mother conceived when Siddhartha descended from heaven and entered his mother's womb in the form of a baby white elephant. She gave birth from her side on the full-moon standing and holding onto a tree that had bent for her. Water poured from the sky though he was clean and unstained.
Renunciation and Austerities
534 BCE - 530 BCE
Siddhartha became a wondering seeker of spiritual knowledge. He meditated and attained a state of deep trance. He then tried controlled breathing that involved retaining breath for longer and longer periods of time. Next, he tried reducing food and he reduced food intake to just 1 grain of rice a day. Physically, he had headaches from controlled breathing and became emaciated and ill.
The Four Sights
Siddhartha craved spiritual satisfaction. When he was 29, he left the palace for an excursion and saw things his father had not planned. Siddhartha became inspired by the thought of finding a spiritual solution to the problems of human life. He saw for main sights on four separate occasions that made him want to leave:
1. He saw an old man, his body broken by life
2. He saw a sick man on the roadside
3. He saw a corpse being prepared for cremation
4. He saw an aesthetic Hindu monk
The First Sermon
531 BCE - 486 BCE
Siddhartha becomes known as the Buddha, which means 'enlightened one' and 'one who has awakened'. He first preached his sermon in Sarnath, India at a royal deer park. He shared his new understanding of life with 5 Hindu ascetics. These became bhikkhus , or Buddha's monks. This was the beginning of the Buddhist community, there was an order of monks called the Sangha, and an order of nuns called the Bhikkhuni Sangha. The order and Buddha preached Dharma and philosophy for 45 years, all over northern and central India.
He sat under a tree, and in a state of higher consciousness, something comparable to a psychic state, remembered all of his previous lives, in detail.
He saw death and rebirth, of all types of beings as a consequence of their good and bad deeds; good deeds brought a better life int he next rebirth, bad deeds brought unpleasantness.
He decided to remove craving and ignorance for himself. He achieved nirvana (enlightenment) of the truth of life and the freedom from ignorance, he experienced the end of suffering and the cycle and achieved perfect wisdom and piece. He stayed in this state for 7 days.
Siddhartha Discoverers the Middle Way
After experiencing the extremes, he found that self denial was a s unsatisfactory as life in the palace is, so he came to the conclusion that the best course was the Middle Way, or a path between both extremes. The best life was one of moderation.
When Buddha was 80 years old he declared that the Dharma, together with the rules of this monastic life, would be the peoples spiritual guide when he was gone. he believed that each person should decide, for himself/herself, what teachings to follow. On his death bed, he said 'Hols firm to the truth as a lamp and a refuge, and do not look for refuge to anything besides yourselves'. He died between two trees and upon his death reached Parinirvana, complete Nirvana, which released him from the cycle of involuntary rebirth.