Buddha Background. . .
An early Gandharan statue of Buddha, 1st-2nd centuries CE, in the Tokyo National Museum.
During the late 6th and early 5th centuries BCE, Siddhartha Gautama of Shakya, who later became known as the Buddha, was born in modern-day Nepal near the Indian border. While there are several mythical stories surrounding his conception and birth, the basic facts of his life are generally agreed upon. Born into a wealthy royal family, the Buddha was born and raised in worldly luxury. Despite his father’s attempts to shield him from the ugliness of life, one day he ventured out beyond the castle walls and encountered three aspects of life: the old, the sick and the dead. Each of these experiences troubled him and made him question the meaning and transience of life and its pleasures.
After this, he encountered an ascetic who, by choice, lived a life renouncing the pleasures of the world. Even while he was completely deprived of life’s comforts, his eyes shined with contentment. These shocking experiences moved Buddha to renounce his comfortable lifestyle in search of greater meaning in life. It was during his time practicing extreme forms of self-denial that Buddha discovered the “Middle Path” of moderation — an idea that closely resembles Aristotle’s “Golden Mean.”
During his life, he had experienced intensive pleasure and extreme deprivation but he found that neither extreme brought one to true understanding. He then practiced meditation through deep concentration (Dhyana) under a bodhi tree and found Enlightenment. He began teaching the Four Noble Truths to others in order to help them achieve transcendent happiness and peace of mind through the knowledge and practice that is known today as Buddhism.
Peace and Love, Jim
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