The Name Of Siddhartha
Growing up with no knowledge of suffering until seeing it with my own eyes, I wanted to find a cure for it. My birth name is Bodhisattva, but I was given the name of Siddhartha, he who has accomplished his aim. I was born 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal into a Kshatriyan family, I was a prince.
My father, Suddhodana, was the king of Nepal, chief of the Shakya clan. My mother was queen Mahamaya, but I do not know much about her since she died a few days after I was born. So, I was raised in the palace by her sister, Mahapajapati. I lived a luxurious life. When I had come of age and reached sixteen years old, I was married to the beautiful princess, Yasodhara, and once our child was born, he was named Rahula.
One day, when I was twenty-nine years old, I was curious about the world outside of the palace walls. I wanted to see the land and the people. I told my charioteer that I wanted to go out to the park. As usual, my father ordered his ministers to keep watch of me. The charioteer drove the carriage out towards the park. When we arrived at the park, I saw a man. Not just any man: he was old, aged and advanced in years, white-haired, his body marked with spots, broken, bent forward, leaning on a staff, and going with tottering limbs. I asked my charioteer who the man was. He told me the man is called old, exhausted by age. I then question my charioteer if I, too, am subjected to old age, he tells me that everyone is. He said that we are all of a kind that grows old.
I could not believe what I had seen. The man looked so old, I had never seen anything or anyone that advanced in years. I requested my charioteer to drive me back to the palace immediately. What I had seen that day led me to question myself: What is this? What is the cause of this? Is there a cure? These questions ran through my mind the rest of the day.
A few days later I decided to go out to the park once again. Will I find another man of old age? Or is there a different kind of man this time? Just as before, my charioteer drives out to the park. Then I saw an ill man, his eyes and voice unlike other men. I asked my charioteer the same question from the other day. He said I, too, am subjected to fall ill. Days after I saw a man who has ended his days. I learned that this was death and I, too, am subjected to death. We are all subjected to illness and death.
That night, after learning of old age, illness, and death, I decided to leave the palace. I had to find out the cause of this old age, this suffering, and find a cure. I left the palace with my squire, Chandaka, and my favorite horse, Kanthaka, very late at night. As we were about to leave the city, I ordered Chandaka to return to the palace with Kanthaka. Finding the cure to suffering was something I needed to do myself. I cut my hair off and change my robes for yellow ones, which was given to me by the gods of the Pure Abode, going forth from a home to a homeless life.
Going on a search for a way to release this suffering took me about six years. I had gone eastwards and I might have passed by Sakyas, Koliyas, and Mallas. My first first teacher was Alara Kalama. I had told him that I wanted to practice the religious life in this doctrine and discipline. He told the the practice was attainment of the state of nothingness. Then I a bit later I realized this doctrine is ineffective to attain cessation of suffering, and so I abandoned it.
When I continued my search for a cure, I came across this spot in Magadhas. It seemed to be a fit place for striving, and so I sat down in that spot. Then suddenly, I wondered if I could practice without breathing. I restrained breathing in and out multiple times, about three. Just then, I wondered if I could also restrain myself from food, and so I did. There were divinities that had seen me and offered to feed me food. I declined. So then I thought about just taking small amounts of food. Going on with little foods to eat, I became thinner. I started to eat solid food, rice, and sour milk that was given to me by the five monks attending me.
When I recovered after eating solid food, I was able to regain my strength. I had no sensual desires or evil ideas and that allowed me to attain the first trance of joy and pleasure with reasoning and investigation. Then without reasoning and investigation, I was able to attain the second trance. Being able to dwell with equanimity, mindful, and happily allowed me to attain the third trance. Lastly, abandoning pleasures and pain allowed me to attain the fourth trance.
I had travelled to the town of Bodh Gaya and decide to sit under a fig tree, hoping it would help me find the answer to solving suffering. I sat under that tree for many days. Firstly concentrating to clear my mind of all distractions, then mindfully meditating to open up to the truth. I then started thinking about my previous life and everything going on in the universe. Then on the full moon, with the rising of the morning sun, I understood the answer of suffering and became Buddha, he who is awake.
A man, who goes by the name Mara, tried to prevent me from becoming Buddha. One of the things he did was assemble a fourfold army and roared at them to slay me. He also had three of his daughters try to tempt me, but I conquered all temptations. I remain seated under the tree, (which is called the bodhi tree).
Then I went to Sarnath near Benares and I was able to preach my very first sermon at a deer-park. I explained the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to the five monks that I met. I told them the Four Noble Truths: The truth is that life is suffering, it is solely caused by desire, the only way to ending suffering is to end desire, and finally, the way to end desire is to avoid the extremes in life. To put it short; take the Middle Path. The Middle Path is the Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right effort, right action, right livelihood, right speech, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
The purpose of the Eightfold Path is to produce insight, tend to calm, and lead to disgust, absence of passion, cessation, to the state of ascetic, to enlightenment, then to Nirvana. I became enlightened when I was thirty-five years old.
Then King Bimbisara of Magadha granted me a monastery near his capital, Rajagriha. This, along with other generous donations, permitted the community of converts to continue their practices throughout the years. This also gave many people an opportunity to hear and learn about my teachings.
Ever since then, I dedicated my life to this: going to places and being able to teach the practices to people. My daily routine was to wander around, beg my own meal, and spend the days meditating, but after my second meal, I go teach. It did not matter what a person’s status in the world is, or what their background or wealth or nationality might be. All were capable of enlightenment. That is how I, Siddhartha Gautama, was able to reach enlightenment and find the cure for suffering.
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