The Life of Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama was born about 583 BCE, His father, King Suddhodana, was leader of a large clan called the Shakya. His mother, Queen Maya, died shortly after his birth. While on a journey he was shocked by the sight of an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse. The stark realities of old age, disease, and death seized and sickened the Prince. For a time the Prince returned to palace life, but he took no pleasure in it. Even the news that his wife Yasodhara had given birth to a son did not please him. His firstborn was called Rahula. One night he wandered the palace alone. Musicians and dancing girls had fallen asleep and were sprawled about, snoring and sputtering. Prince Siddhartha reflected on the old age, disease, and death that would overtake them all and turn their bodies to dust. He realized then that he could no longer be content living the life of a prince. That very night he left the palace and changed his prince's clothes for a beggar's robe. Then he began his quest for enlightenment. He and five disciples left to find enlightenment by themselves. The six companions attempted to find release from suffering through physical discipline enduring pain, holding their breath, fasting nearly to starvation. Yet Siddhartha was still unsatisfied. He remembered an experience from his childhood, when his mind had settled into a state of deep peace. The path of liberation was through discipline of mind. He realized that instead of starvation, he needed nourishment to build up his strength for the effort. But when he accepted a bowl of rice milk from a young girl, his companions assumed he had given up the quest and abandoned him. The work of Siddhartha's mind came to be mythologized as a great battle with Mara, a demon whose name means "destruction' and who represents the passions that snare and delude us. Mara brought vast armies of monsters to attack Siddhartha, who sat still and untouched. Siddhartha reached out his right hand to...
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