Who was Buddha?

Conscious TV

January 09, 2022

Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama in Nepal some 2,500 years ago. He never claimed to be a god or a prophet. He was only a human being who attained enlightenment, understanding life in all its depth.

Siddhartha was the son of a king of a small kingdom located on the border between India and Nepal. His mother died within 7 days of his birth and his father raised him with all the comforts and luxuries, protected from the sufferings and anguish of the world.

At the age of 16, his father married Siddhartha to his cousin Yasodhara and they had a son.

Siddhartha, tired of the dissatisfaction of court life and the comforts it entailed, decided to leave his luxurious life behind in search of wisdom and enlightenment. He left the palace to follow the traditional Hindu path of the sadhus. He was in contact with several Indian masters and was initiated in various ascetic practices. These were based on the belief that one could liberate the spirit by renouncing the body. He subjected himself to numerous privations with such determination that he nearly starved to death.

However, he had not yet succeeded in solving the mystery of life and death. True understanding still seemed far away. He decided to abandon the path of deprivation and looked deep into his heart and mind; he chose to trust his intuition and learn from direct experience. He sat under a tree and vowed not to move until he reached Enlightenment. After 40 days, on the full moon of May, Siddhartha finally attained total liberation, a state of being beyond any known state.

If worldly experience is conditioned by multiple factors-education, psychology, opinions, perceptions-enlightenment is an unconditioned state. A Buddha is freed from greed, hatred and ignorance and is characterized by wisdom, compassion and freedom. Enlightenment brings intuitive knowledge about the deeper aspects of life and thus about the cause of human suffering, i.e., the problem that triggered his spiritual quest.

For the next 45 years of his life, Buddha traveled throughout much of northern India, imparting his teachings. His teachings are known in the East as the Buddha-dharma or "teachings of the Enlightened One."

He came in contact with all kinds of people and many of his disciples attained enlightenment. His disciples, in turn, taught others, and in this way his teachings spread uninterruptedly to the present day.

Buddha was not a god and never claimed to be divine. He was a human being who, through a formidable discipline of heart and mind, transcended all his limitations. He affirmed that any human being can attain Buddhahood.

What are the main beliefs of Buddhism?

Buddhism, a doctrine or religion based on the teachings of Buddha, does not focus on devotion to any god, but on the spiritual development of each individual. Buddhism sees life as a process of constant change and the aim of its practices is to take advantage of this fact. This means that one can change for the better. The decisive factor of change is the mind and Buddhism has developed many methods for working on the mind.

Most importantly, Buddhists practice meditation, which is a way to develop more positive states of mind characterized by calmness, concentration, awareness and pleasant emotions. Thanks to the heightened awareness gained in meditation, it is possible to better understand oneself, others and life itself. Buddhists do not seek to "evangelize" or coerce others into adopting their religion, but rather to make their teachings known to anyone who is interested.

The Four Noble Truths

They represent possibly the most basic formulation of Buddhist teachings. They are as follows:

  • All existence is dukkha. The word dukkha has been translated as "suffering," "anguish," "pain," or "dissatisfaction." Buddha saw that life is a struggle and that we cannot find lasting happiness or satisfaction in life's experiences. This is the problem of existence.
  • The cause of suffering is desire. The natural tendency is to think that our problems originate from outside. Buddha said that the root of these is in our mind. In particular, our tendency to cling to things (or to turn away from them) does not allow us to grasp the true essence of life.
  • The end of suffering comes when desire is extinguished. Since the ultimate cause of our suffering is in ourselves, the solution is also in us. We cannot change the things that happen to us, but we can change our responses.
  • There is a path that frees us from suffering. Although the Buddha places the responsibility on the individual, he also taught methods by which we can change, such as the Noble Eightfold Path.