Who was the Buddha? If you just look at the word, a buddha simply means one who is awake, but when one is talking about THE Buddha one is most likely referring to Siddhartha Gautama, in this article we’ll go through some of the most interesting facts about this enormously influential individual who gave rise to Buddhism.

  1. Siddhartha Gautama was born into princely family in the region of what is now southern Nepal or northern India. He belonged to the Shakya tribe and was the son of King Shuddhodana and Queen Maya. The Buddha is also known as Shakyamuni, or the “Sage of the Shakya Tribe.”
  2. We get most of our knowledge of the Buddha, his life and teachings through the many different stories that were told and retold in the Buddhist tradition, these were later written down.
  3. The Buddha was a human being who confronted the fundamental problems which had troubled countless generations of the past in the Indian subcontinent, suffering and death were the main problems. His solution(s) laid the foundations of what then became Buddhism.
  4. He lived his life and spread his teachings about 2500 years ago or 500 BCE. Some scholars even give an exact date of his birth, namely 566 BCE.
  5. The Buddha is known for his transformative life and the dramatic series of events that led to his enlightenment. His life started of in a sheltered palace and kingdom, where he was raised as a prince who married and had a child. Shakyamuni’s story really begins when he through a series of unexpected events finds himself outside of the safe confines of the palace, here he came to witness sickness, old-age, death and poverty for the first time in his life. This made such a big impression on his mind that he decided in his mid-thirties to renounce his family and princely life which subsequently led him to become a travelling beggar, an ascetic and then after his awakening, a sage and master.
  6. One of the main concepts the Buddha is known for is the so called middle way/path, which was characterized by avoiding the extreme poles in life. In other more concrete words one need not starve one self, he realized, something he said after his long ascetic experiences where he did precisely that, starvation to the point of severe emaciation, and one need not be an affluent prince or a king neither to reach that final state of understanding of nirvana, this he could personally attest to since being a opulent prince in his past and an wandering ascetic in his nearer-past. He spoke from experience, nothing beats it.
  7. The Buddha is often depicted in statues, figurines and art as serenely sitting in a lotus position with his hands folded on his lap. In the West and the East his gentle smile has become the go-to image when it comes to existential contentment and peace of mind.
  8. After a long and arduous journey, both physical and mental, he sat under a tree and through a spontaneous moment of intense meditation realized the truth of nirvana and the cause(s) of suffering, Siddhartha became awake to himself and hence became a buddha under the famous Bodhi-tree.
  9. After he woke to the truth of nirvana, the Buddha traveled the roads in Northern India amassing disciples and spreading the insights that he discovered.
  10. The Buddha is believed to have had his physical death at the ripe age of 80, he had a long and productive life of teaching and providing the peoples of the Indian subcontinent with spiritual wisdom. After his death, he entered the state of paranirvana, or total extinction, which is another way of saying that he was fully released from the bonds of samsara, the cycle of birth and death. His body was cremated.

10 Authentic Quotes by Siddhartha Gautama

All these following quotes are genuine quotes from Buddhist scriptures, most notably the Dhammapada but also a couple other suttas/sutras.

You yourself must strive.
The Buddhas only point the way.
Those meditative ones who tread the path
are released from the bonds of Mara.

– The Buddha in the Dhammapada

There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.

– The Buddha in the Dhammapada, verse 39

Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.

– The Buddha in the Dhammapada

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

– The Buddha in the Dhammapada

Ceasing to do evil, Cultivating the good, Purifying the heart: This is the teaching of the Buddhas.

 – The Buddha in the Dhammapada, verse 183

If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow.

– The Buddha in the Dhammapada

Whatever living beings there may be — feeble or strong, long, stout, or of medium size, short, small, large, those seen or those unseen, those dwelling far or near, those who are born as well as those yet to be born — may all beings have happy minds.

– The Buddha in the Karaniya Metta Sutta

The world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world.

– The Buddha in the Sutta Nipata

Know from the rivers in clefts and in crevices: those in small channels flow noisily, the great flow silent. Whatever’s not full makes noise. Whatever is full is quiet.

– The Buddha in the Sutta Nipata

Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.

– The Buddha in the Bhaddekaratta Sutta

The Buddha’s Way to Enlightenment

One of the main methods of the Buddha and of Buddhism to reach enlightenment is by simply being aware of ones breath. When your mind becomes one-pointed in this technique, you slowly become aware of the gaps between the thoughts, and when you are aware of the gaps, they become wider and longer. And when the gaps between the thoughts become wider and longer, you discover your own essential and natural state of being. The substrate from which all thoughts and sensations arise out. Even the body and all other sentient life derive their existence from this “gap-less” foundation of existence.

The Buddha’s way to enlightenment was through the middle path and through this “vipassana” awareness of breath. Understand that thoughts are like clouds, and as such they belong to time. Or as Gautama Buddha said in the Kimsuka Sutta,

“Whatever has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasing.”

What does this mean for us?

This means that everything that we perceive in the phenomenal world is transient, not is stable. “Panta Rei” or “Everything flows” as Heraclitus once said around the same time as the Buddha but in Greece. Everything is swallowed up by time and transformation. Except for one thing!

Pure consciousness! Presence! Awareness!

Why? Well because it itself gives birth to time. Awareness is the womb of existence and of time. When the consciousness realizes its own essential nature, it attains nirvana. IF we wish to enter the gateless gates of nirvana we have to walk the walk our selves. Or again to quote Buddha from the Dhammapada,

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Begin your journey towards yourself and see what mystery awaits your lovely gaze. This is what the Buddha did, this is what Mooji did, this is what Meister Eckhart did, Heraclitus, St. Teresa of Avila, Jesus of Nazareth, Rumi, Hafez and Kabir did.

Find it within the retreats of your own soul, and you shall be liberated and all ignorance shall come to an end.


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