The Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama: The Path from Suffering to Enlightenment

by Ane Krstevska

The Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama: The Path from Suffering to Enlightenment

Siddhartha Gautama, the “Enlightened One” or better known as Buddha is definitely among the most popular and influential individuals from India, with the incidental discovering of Buddhism. Gautama, opposite of his teachings related to the renunciation of the worldly wealth and compassion, and the ruling establishment of religion, is usually compared with Jesus from Nazareth, who was later called “Anointed One,” or Christ.

Gautama, together with the movement called Buddhism, are quite similar to Christ and the so-called Christian movement, when it comes to religious hierarchy and rituals renunciation, in favor of a more profound spirituality which includes personal responsibility for the spiritual condition of a person.

The life of Siddhartha Gautama before Buddhism.

As per various traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is born in present-day Nepal, known as Lumbini in his time. The parents of Gautama were from the clan called Shakya, and they were members of the warrior/ruler case. Because of that, his life was comfortable while he was still young. Some stories from Buddhism underlined the years when he was young, telling that he lived in a palace. As one Buddhist legend says, a prophecy told his father that Gautama would become the Buddha or some powerful king. As his father did not want Gautama to be Buddha one day, he did everything that was in his hands in order to keep Gautama away from encountering pain and suffering.

The plan of his father worked, but only for some time. Gautama enjoyed his lifestyle and the palace, and he was also married to one woman called Yasodhara. Their son was named Rahula. Later on, their son became one of the followers of Gautama. When Siddhartha matured, he was more conscious of all the suffering which existed outside of the walls of the palace. According to some Buddhist legends, he even realized that such suffering could occur to him too. This, together with the suffering that other people in the world experienced, caused great distress in Gautama, and he made the decision that he was not able to continue living this type of luxurious life when a lot of people out there were suffering.

Somewhere at the age of 29, Gautama decided to leave his life from before, and be one of the wandering ascetics. According to Buddhist tradition, he left from the palace in secret; however, this isn’t certain yet. He joined those wandering ascetics, called Sramanas, who formed sects around India, who also renounced the conventional religion and the world. Siddhartha lives like this for many years, searching for things that would make sense of the suffering of humans.

The asceticism of Siddhartha was quite severe. At one specific point, he was about to die. After he tried extreme asceticism, he couldn’t find the answer yet. Buddhism followers believe that Siddhartha decided that people can’t find the needed answer in the extreme asceticism, but they could find it in living the excessively luxurious and gracious lifestyle.

The appearance of Buddhism.

One day, while Siddhartha has been sitting under one fig tree and was meditation, an answer came on his mind all of a sudden. During this point, he actually attained the so-called Nirvana. And, he also became the so-called Buddha, or Enlightened One. Shortly after that, he had the first sermon and started expounding on what later became central to the Buddhism of today. This sermon was held at Sarnath.

It is still not entirely clear what the precise answer that he foundwas because even Buddhists nowadays debate on this particular topic. Nirvana is a word which comes from one word which means “snuffed out,” or “blown out.” The word, in fact, gives an idea of cessation and extinction. A lot of Buddhists from nowadays think of this word as a cessation of wishes and desires. Central to the teaching of Buddha is the ideas which attach to something that leads to suffering. Siddhartha then realized that some things such as good health, wealth, or even family and friends would fade away, or die, and the attachment to such things is only going to make us feel the parting with such things hurt and painful, in that way leading to suffering.

According to the Buddhist tradition, Buddha believed that a solution would be not to permit people to attach to such things.

Buddhism’s core teachings.

Siddhartha decided to remove every ritual of this dominant religion in India, in order to come to the fundamental core spiritual truth about which the Buddhists were not able to come to a specific consensus. According to some, Buddhism’s core is compassion for those who are afflicted and poor. According to others, it is about breaking the death and the rebirth cycle. And, others even believe that everything is about living a normal, balanced, and moral life, which would be free of pain and suffering.

Humanism is one aspect from Buddhism which does seem to be distinctive. Buddha was completely clear that human beings had the responsibility for the actions they take, instead of magic and gods having the responsibility. The motivations and actions of ordinary people were more emphasized in Buddhist stories than some supernatural entities.

Buddhism gained many rituals and liturgical traditions, together with supernatural, cosmological, and metaphysical ideas over centuries. Siddhartha did not really consider them very important; however, the most significant thing he took into consideration was how a person should live, and the way in which the question related to the suffering of humans has to be addressed.

This is the similarity between Jesus and Siddhartha Gautama – their teachings related to criticism and compassion of the already existing religious establishment were usually compared, but one thing which is different in their teachings is how the two of them broke through the religious rituals and traditions to coming to the core issue of existence.

Ane Krstevska



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