Life of Buddha

A Look at the Path to Seeking Enlightenment

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April Reyes

Chamberlain College of Nursing





Life of Buddha

Siddhartha was born in a country, in what
is now southern Nepal. This country ruled by a clan called the Shakyas. 
The king and head of this clan, was named Shuddodana Gautama and he had a s
wife, Mahamaya. These were Siddhartha’s parents. Siddhartha was born in a small
town named Lumbini. He was born into wealth and privilege (Asia Society, 2018). Some
articles state he won the hand of his bride while others state his father chose
his bride named Yashodhara.  They married
when both were 16 years old and they had a son (Molloy, 2013, p. 125). With privilege
came the responsibility and Siddhartha was kept in palace walls and as
prevented from experiencing much outside of those walls(Molloy, 2013, p. 125).  He
was not allowed to see the elderly, the sickly, the dead, or anyone who had devoted
themselves to spiritual practices. As Siddhartha grew up he increasingly grew restless
and curious about the world beyond the palace walls.

Finally, one day he demanded that he be allowed
to see his people and his lands.  The king cautiously arranged that
Siddhartha be able to see outside the palace walls but not see suffering that
he feared would lead him to a religious life.  It was only a matter of
time until he saw old people, sick people, and eventually even death.  It
was after seeing this, that Siddartha asked his friend and squire named Chandaka
the meaning of all these things. It was then that Chandaka shared the simple
truths that Siddhartha should have already known. Siddartha would come face to
face with the fact that we all get sick, age and eventually all will die (“Ancient Histiry
Encyclopedia,” 2018). After coming to these understandings Siddhartha
sought out an ascetic, a monk who had renounced all the pleasures of the
flesh.  This was the time Siddhartha opened his mind and world to religion
and seeking peace.

 Siddhartha was twenty-nine when he came to
realize that he could not be happy living the way he was (Molloy, 2013, p. 125).  He began
to want more. He sought to learn how to overcome suffering.  After kissing
his sleeping wife and newborn son named Rahula, he cut his hair and snuck out
of the palace and escaped into the forests of northern India (Asia Society, 2018). He then
began to practice the severities and self-mortifications practiced by a group
of five ascetic monks.  He practiced this
for 6 years and the monks noticed his sincerity and intensity of his practice (“Ancient Histiry
Encyclopedia,” 2018). They were so astounded that, before long, the
five they became followers of Siddhartha.  Unfortunately, the answers to
his questions were not found so he redoubled his efforts.  He refused food and water, until he was near
death (Molloy, 2013, p. 127).  During his practices of the ascetic life, he
ate only what he found on the ground, and drinking only rain water. He only
wore, only a loin cloth.  Still the answers he was in search of wouldn’t
come (Asia Society, 2018). This
made Siddhartha try harder. It was during his hardest efforts that Siddhartha came
to the realization that these extreme practices were not getting him any closer
to answers.


came to the realization, that there might be a better way to find some middle ground
between the extremes of the life of luxury and the life of self-mortification.
One day while outside of the town of Bodh Gaya, Siddhartha decided that he
would sit under a fig tree for as long as it would take for him to find the
answers to the problem of suffering.  It was during this time of
meditation that he began opening himself up to the truth.  During the full moon of May, and with the
rising of the morning star, Siddhartha finally began to understand the answer
to the question of suffering (Asia
Society, 2018). This is when he became the Buddha. Buddha means “he who is
awake.” Those who follow the tenants of Buddhism seek spiritual awakening as its
founder and leader Buddha. The ultimate awakening is called Bodhi. Bodhi is
defined as “awakening (Religion
Facts, 2017).” The fig tree in which Siddhartha sat is now called the Bodhi
tree. It is often a site of pilgrimage for practicing Buddhists. Those seeking
to see where Buddha found his awakening (Religion Facts, 2017).  Those who practice Buddhism seek to find their
way to enlightenment much like Buddha.


gave up his life of privilege and luxury to seek an end to suffering. His path
was found through extreme but those who choose to follow Buddhism seek
enlightenment through stages and by following paths. Buddhism is based on the
seeking of Bodhi and ultimately Nirvana. This is often reached through cyclic
reincarnation or re-births. An ordinary person, or puthujjana is considered
trapped in the endless changes of samsara. Samsara means doing good or evil as
influenced by his desires and aversions. 
The ordinary person is born or re-birthed in higher or lower states of
being (Dissanayake, 2017). These
are traditionally thought of as heavens or hells. They face these states
according to their actions. As ordinary persons they have little control over
their minds and behaviors. Without awakenings, their destinies are chaotic and
haphazard and are thereby subject to great suffering. In Buddhism the ordinary
person has never seen and experienced the ultimate truth of Dharma, and
therefore has no way of finding an end to his predicament. Darhma is a term
that describes “cosmic law and order.”
(Dissanayake, 2017)



who begin sincere training on the Buddhist path and experiences the truth to
the extent of cutting of a number of the ten mental fetters, becomes a
“noble person.” Fetters are defined as obstacles to awakening.  Noble persons are to become an Arahant in the
near future (usually within seven lives). Their specific path is governed by
the degree of attainment reached. This means each individual has their own
cycle to face based on experiences in life (Dissanayake, 2017). Awakening is
sought through four stages of enlightenment. The four stages of enlightenment
in Buddhism are:  Sotapanna, Sakadagami,
Anagami and Arahant. The first stage Sot?panna, which means “one who
enters the stream.” The stream is the Noble Eightfold Path regarded as the
highest Dharma.  In the first stage
“stream-enterer” is said to have “opened the eye of the Dharma.” (Dissanayake, 2017) Stream-enterer
is guaranteed enlightenment after no more than seven successive rebirths or
less Once into this stage a follower can also be sure that he will not be
reborn in any of the unhappy states or rebirths including an animal, a preta,
or in hell.  Once entering this stage,
the follower can only be reborn as a human being, or in a heaven (Nirvana). The
stream-enterer has attained an intuitive grasp of Buddhist doctrine has
complete Saddha (confidence) in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha,
and has good Sila, which is moral behavior. (Dissanayake, 2017)


The second stage is that of the
Sakad?g?m?, which means “one who once comes.” The once-returner will
return to the human world only one more time and will attain Nirvana in that
life. (Dissanayake, 2017)The
third stage is that of the An?g?m?, which means “one who does not
come”. The non-returner does not come back into human existence, or any
lower world, after death. The nobleman on this stage is reborn in one of the
worlds of the R?padh?tu called the “Pure Abodes.”  (Dissanayake,
2017) This is where he will reach Nirv??a. 
Some are reborn a second time in a higher world of the Pure Abodes, but
in no case, are born into a lower state. The fourth stage
and final stage of enlightenment is that of Arahant(Religion Facts, 2017). This is a
fully enlightened human being who has abandoned all fetters, and who upon
decease will not be reborn in any world, having wholly abandoned sams?ra.
Sams?ra is the cycle of reincarnation or re-birth (Dissanayake, 2017). Each person’s
path is individual. Each seeker must pursue Bodhi on their own and no two paths
are the alike. Each person’s life has its own obstacles and or sufferings.


Any follower of Buddha may
choose to assist others in any number of ways. For example, some may assist in
ending suffering by providing meals to hungry or finding ways to end other’s
suffering. Each person’s fetters are their own. Some spend hours meditating or
seeking truth in order to let go of fetters. Those that choose to become monks
choose to preserve the teaching of Buddha and assist in spreading his teachings
around the world (such as missionaries). Wanderers are those that go on
pilgrimages. They seek out opportunities to open up to seeking enlightenment
and ending suffering. They spread Dharma in order to even out the cosmic energy
and seek out truth. Often many wanderers may travel the world to let go of
fetters and move forward on their path of enlightenment.

In conclusion, many seek the path to
enlightenment together. Each must learn the stages together and take the paths
together; however, each path is an individual. Though we are all human, we each
face our own suffering. Personal experience is paramount in Buddhism as in most
religions. Reflection in life through meditation and seeking truth is principal
to most religions. Buddha left his easy life of privilege and luxury to seek a
way to end suffering and seek truth.  Many
in all religions move forth and leave their homes in order to spread and seek
their own truths. Many practice together or as individuals. Although each person
has their experience many share the common goal of ending suffering and
spreading truth to seek enlightenment


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