The Buddha lived around 2,500 years ago. The story of his life is one in which all of mankind can relate to, the search for truth behind the human condition. His quest for a solution to life’s suffering and freedom from the continuous cycle of rebirth, would be the motivation behind him leaving his life of luxury to devoting himself to the practices of extreme self discipline. It was in his realization of the ‘middle path’ that would lead him to enlightenment, and what would become the foundation of the Buddha’s teachings.
“One day he will either conquer the world, or become an enlightened being” (Grubin, 2013) He was named Siddhartha Gautama, and he was of noble blood. Stories say, his mother Maya knew of his importance at conception and it was predicted by sages that he would either become a powerful ruler or a holy man. Maya died when Siddhartha was only seven days old, and for 29 years his father protected him from the harsh realities of life.
Eventually the reality of human suffering confronted him. It is said that on a trip outside the palace, Siddhartha saw an old man, a sick man, and dead man. He knew that it was something inevitable, and that all human beings would experience it. He also saw those who were seeking spiritual guidance, Sramanas 1 and noticed they had a sense of contentment, as if they were unaffected by all of life’s problems that were staring them in the face. And while Siddhartha had it all, a new baby boy, wealth, money, women, power, he was still unsatisfied. It’s a very symbolic story that corresponds with the popular saying, ‘money does not buy happiness.’
The problem of human suffering and the quest for its solution(Grubin), led Siddhartha to leave his family behind. For six years, Siddhartha lived in the forest as a sramana in search of enlightenment. Free from life’s attachments he devoted himself to the ritualistic practices of yoga, meditation, and self mortification (Prebish and Keown). It was believed in India, that by harnessing the body’s energy, one would be able to free...