of a concept relies on understanding the concept's root, its origin(s) and formation. For those who are new to the religion, the story of Buddha will be a good place to begin your journey.
Born Siddhartha Guatama in the sixth century B.C in what today is Nepal, the Buddha was a wealthy prince of the Shakya clan. He married, had a son and lived a pampered life. His father carefully sheltered him from all misery. But during four excursions away from the palace he encountered four signs - an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a monk. The first three symbolized humankind's suffering; the fourth Siddhartha's destiny. Siddhartha adopted the ascetic, homeless path, first with teachers and then, for nine years, on his own. But asceticism proved fruitless. He began to eat again - to formulate Buddhist ideas of the Middle Path - and settled under the famed bodhi tree, vowing to meditate until he solved the problem of suffering. Forty-nine days later he achieved his great Enlightenment (or satori) as the Buddha which is sought after by all Zenists.
Reluctant even to speak of it because of its wordless nature, Siddhartha finally addressed a group of disciples, then gave his first discourse in the Deer Park in Benares and spent the rest of his long life teaching. He died at the age of eighty after eating spoiled food. Buddha, as he became known, is not the only buddha.
According to Buddhist writings, there were six before him and thirteen to follow. The next will be Maitreya, due to come in a future age to renew the dharma.
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TENZIN GYASTO, XIV DALAI LAMA
by Olivier Follmi
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