The information on this website is based on Essential Elements of Buddhism. The title is available from aracariaguides.com.

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The Life of the Buddha - Born c. 560 BCE - Died c. 480 BCE - "I teach about suffering and the way to end it"

Siddhartha Gautama was born a prince in Lumbini, Nepal, at the foot of Mount Palpa in the Himalayan ranges. His father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhya people. His mother, Maya, died seven days after his birth. He was raised by his foster mother, Maya’s sister Mahaprajapati. He married Yasodhara at age sixteen, who subsequently gave birth to their son, Rahula. He lived a life of privilege and luxury unaware of the life taking place outside his palace. One day, Siddhartha and his servant, Channa, ventured out and he saw for the first time an old man, a sick man and a corpse. He realized that he too would one day become old, sick and die. He also met a monk who impressed him with his profound serenity. Having gained insight into the transitory nature of worldly pleasures, Siddhartha renounced his life of privilege and luxury. He permanently left his home and family to become a mendicant ascetic. He achieved high levels of meditative consciousness and practiced severe austerities for six years. Realising the limitations of self-mortification, he conceived the idea of the 'Middle Way'. Finally he sat in meditation under a Bodhi tree for 49 days and achieved enlightenment and so became the Buddha. He was 35 years old. The Buddha gave his first sermon on the Four Nobel Truths (First Turning of the Wheel) at Deer Park, Varanasi. Soon the Buddha attracted many followers. In time the followers became a structured community, the Sangha. For the next 45 years he traveled and taught. His days were divided between itinerant preaching in the morning and receiving visitors for discussion at night, with the afternoons reserved for private meditation. He died at the age of 80. His last words were: "Behold, monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."

The Buddha’s Life as a Reflection of His Teachings

Renunciation
Compassion
Wisdom
The four sights (the monk, the sick man, the old man and the corpse) lead to a detachment from ephemeral pleasures and motivated Siddhartha to renounce his comfortable life. He realised that no matter how privileged a person is, ultimately the realities of old age, sickness and death will have to be faced. After having achieved enlightenment, the Buddha knew the cause of suffering, and he also knew how to defeat suffering. Out of compassion to all sentient beings the Buddha decided to share his insight with others. He became a tireless teacher for 45 years. Siddhartha, before he became the Buddha, was already a highly evolved meditant. However, as the Buddha, he added another quality to meditation. He emphasised the relationship between mediation and wisdom. Meditation is not self-contained but a means to the end: overcoming ignorance by wisdom.

The Buddha Saw the Three Afflictions (The Three Poisons)
These are the three chronic forces that are the root course of all suffering.
The Buddha offered The Three Remedies
These are the three antidotes needed to overcome the three afflictions.