Introduction to Buddhism – Week 2 January 16, 2013
- The historical Buddha ca. 5 -6 centuries
o The complete biographies of Gautama‟s life were written hundreds of
years after his death and include legends not found in earlier texts.
- Sakyamuni: “Sage of the Sakya Clan”, Sakya were ancestors of the Buddha.
- The Caste System: born into castes that you could not move out of.
- Buddha was born into Kshatriyas caste system: privileged
o Born in what is now Nepal
o A white elephant appeared in a dream to the Buddha‟s mother before
- Birth of Sakyamuni: mother gave birth in a garden
o He could walk immediately when he was born and lotus flowers came
where he walked.
- The 32 primary marks and 80 secondary marks of a great man: physical marks
o Long earlobes, cranial bump
- The four signs
o His father thought that he would either be a great secular leader or
o His father wants him to be a great leader/monarch, like himself
o Didn‟t want his son to follow tradition of going into forest and getting
aesthetic means/having to beg for food.
o So he surrounds his son with luxury, got married and had a son.
o Buddha goes out one day and encounters four signs:
1) An old man: had never seen an old man because he was
surrounded by luxury. Had to ask the chariot man what was
wrong with the man.
2) A sick man: he had never seen sickness before.
3) A corpse: chariot driver says “ultimately we all die”. Buddha
realizes that his fate is to ultimately get old, sick and die.
4) An aesthetic monk, a forest sramara: Buddha decides that this
is what he has to do because he is no longer happy.
- Sramara/Samara (Pali): “Striver”
o “strives for liberation and contentment”
o Looking for moksha
o Following the Indian tradition
- The great Renunciation (age 29), leaving behind his wife and son.
o Cuts his hair in the forest: symbol of starting aesthetic practices
o Got teachers and excelled at all aesthetic practices
- Emaciated Buddha: he was surviving on one grain of rice a day, controlling body
o At the verge of death and he still hadn‟t found answer to the problem of
o Took food by a milk maid and came to the conclusion of The Middle Way
Realized that extremities didn‟t lead to any resolve, what‟s
important if the middle way. Resolved to achieve enlightenment
Achieved enlightenment at the age of 35
Enlightenment / “The Awakening” (age 35)
He wasn‟t going to teach (he thought that the enlightenment was
too profound that people wouldn‟t understand), tradition says that
the God‟s came down and told him to teach
Brahma and Indra invited the Buddha to teach
35 and continued teaching until age of 80, he contracted dysentery
after his last meal (pork vs. mushroom) and falls ill and dies (lies
down on his right side).
Cremated, as was the tradition of his time. He is split up into 8 urns