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Buddhists Celebrate Birth of Gautama Buddha

April 8, 2021. On this day, Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, thought to have lived in India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. Known as Siddhartha Gautama in his youth, at age 19 he was a royal heir in India.

His palace life was removed from the everyday life of common people, and when he discovered how people suffered outside the palace walls, he was deeply disturbed and decided to discover how to overcome human suffering. To find solutions to human suffering became Siddhartha Gautama’s life purpose.

At the age of 29,  Siddhartha secretly left the palace and became a wandering ascetic. He sought the best spiritual teachers of his day and practiced the extreme forms of asceticism that they advocated as the means to realize the ultimate reality of life. After following their teachings for almost six years, and being very weak from fasting, Siddhartha realized that their path was too extreme.

According to the legend, he seated himself under the “Bodhi” (a pipal) tree and promised not to rise until he had attained the supreme enlightenment. He entered a profound meditation and finally reached Nirvana, the highest level of enlightenment, becoming a Buddha at the age of 35.

For the next forty-five years, the Buddha and his disciples went from place to place in India spreading the Dharma, his teachings. Their compassion knew no bounds, they helped everyone along the way – beggars, kings, and slaves. At night, they would sleep where they were; when hungry they would ask for a little food.

Wherever the Buddha went, he won the hearts of the people because he dealt with their true feelings. He advised them not to accept his words on blind faith, but to decide for themselves whether his teachings are right or wrong, and only then follow them.

BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA

Gautama Buddha died at age 80, telling his followers to continue working for their spiritual liberation. For most of its followers, Buddhism remains as an empowering philosophy rather than a religion. Today, there are an estimated 350 million people in 100 nations who adhere to Buddhist beliefs and practices.

Sources of information: Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com); Wikipeadia.org (https://en.wikipedia.org/, The Winning Life: An Introduction to Buddhist Practice; “Following the Buddha’s Steps” – ( http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/Buddhism/footsteps.htm)

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