Buddha

 

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563 BC – 483 BC

Religious Teacher

Indian

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

“All wrong-doing arises because of the mind. If the mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?”

Buddha emphasized that he was not a god or savior. The relationship between Buddha and his followers is that of a teacher and student with the ultimate goal being enlightenment.

Buddha was a prince in northeastern India and grew up living at his father’s palace. His father tried to steer him away from religion by keeping him in the gardens surrounding their home. At 16, he married his cousin, a neighboring princess, and they had one son. At 29, he had four visions: the first of an old man, the second of a sick man, the third of a corpse and the fourth of a wandering holy man seeking for truth. From these he was convinced he should leave his wife and newborn baby in the care of his family and seek religious enlightenment. This, he believed, would free him from life’s suffering. He became a wandering monk. For six years, he learned about meditation and practiced extreme forms of self-denial and self-torture. One by one, he pulled out all the hairs of his beard. In his wandering, he came to a village, sat under a tree and meditated for an entire night. Enlightenment came. He learned what caused suffering -- attachment and desire (taught in the Four Noble Truths). He also learned how to elimate them -- proper view, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration (the Eightfold Path). As the numbers learned of his experience, he became known as Buddha, “enlightened one,” and his message was known as the dharma. After his enlightenment, Buddha traveled, taught and organized his followers for 45 years. He stopped at 80; his body was burned and his bones dispersed. Buddhists believe his powers are still in relics and images of Buddha.