The Buddha

The Early Life of the Buddha

  • The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, was born in the 6th century BCE in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal.
  • Born into a wealthy royal family of the Shakya clan, Gautama lived a life of luxury and privilege until he was 29 years old.
  • Despite his privileged background, Siddhartha was not satisfied with his life and set out to understand the nature of human suffering, an event known as the Great Departure.

The Enlightenment of the Buddha

  • Siddhartha left his princely life and practised severe asceticism for six years trying to find answers to human suffering.
  • Realizing asceticism was not the path to enlightenment, he chose a Middle Way between self-indulgence and self-mortification.
  • Gautama attained Enlightenment or Nirvana under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, upon which he became known as the Buddha, meaning ‘the awakened one’.

Teachings of the Buddha

  • The Buddha spent most of his life teaching a path to enlightenment to others, his teachings are known as the Dharma.
  • Central to Buddha’s teachings are the Four Noble Truths which serve as a guide to understanding and ultimately ending suffering.
  • The Buddha also taught the Eightfold Path, a guide to ethical and spiritual development leading to enlightenment.
  • Another fundamental Buddhist teaching is the principle of dependent origination, which explains how everything is interconnected and influences each other.

The Death of the Buddha

  • The Buddha is believed to have died around the age of 80. His death is also known as Parinirvana – full or complete Nirvana.
  • According to Buddhist tradition, before his death, the Buddha delivered his last sermon where he urged his followers to follow the Dharma and to continue to strive for enlightenment.