•Appears similar to birth of Jesus. (thieves! LOL)
•The child is raised as a pampered prince, sheltered from life’s problems.
•Frustrated by his failure to achieve a spiritual breakthrough, despite years of striving, the bodhisattva (Pre-
enlightened Buddha), is now at a loss.
•Decides to try new approach: chooses a pleasant spot by a cool river, under a Bodhi tree and sits and meditates.
•Mara (satan-figure) appears and tries to tempt him, but Buddha will not be swayed.
•Just before dawn, the bodhisattva enters a state of complete awareness, of total insight into the nature of reality;
this state is called bodhi. After hundreds of lives, he has fulfilled his bodhisattva vow.
•He is no longer a sattva (‘being, person’) striving for bodhi; he is now a Buddha, a ‘fully enlightened one’.
•Having completed the path to full enlightenment, he has earned the title Tathagata (‘thus-gone one’).
•Another term for this state of enlightenment is Nirvana.
•This state has 2 aspects, negative and positive: In its negative aspect, nirvana represents freedom from worldly
evils such as greed, hatred, and delusion. In its positive aspect it represents transcendent happiness.
Setting the Wheel in Motion
•The newly-enlightened Buddha’s first concern is to seek out and instruct his two former yoga teachers, but through
psychic powers he perceives that both have died.
•Buddha begins by telling his 5 friends to follow the path of moderation between self-indulgence and asceticism.
•Only after Buddha began to eat, drink and sleep in moderation was he able to reach enlightenment. The principle
of moderation eventually becomes the basis for a general ethic of the ‘Middle Way’.
•For the next 45 years the Buddha travels throughout the Middle Region, ordaining disciples and teaching
thousands of lay followers.
•Buddha is eating a meal with his friends and suspects the dish is tainted, so he eats it to make sure no one else
does- this causes him to fall ill and eventually die.
•Prior to his death, his disciples ask him whom they should follow if he dies, and he tells them to follow the
dharma. Thus, in Buddhism, no individual has absolute authority, although there are senior authorities in particular
•On his deathbed, the Buddha meditates through the yoga stages, then at the moment of death he experiences
parinirvana: the final end of the cycle of rebirth, the total cessation of suffering, the perfection of happiness.
The 2 nd
•The Sanskrit term ‘dharma’ is related to the Latin firma; thus we could understand ‘dharma’ to refer to teachings
that are firm or lasting.
•At the core of Buddha’s 1st sermon in the deer park were the “Four Noble Truths” about suffering and the
“Eightfold Path” to overcoming it:
1) Noble Truth and Suffering: No living being can escape suffering. Birth, sickness, senility, and death
are all occasions of suffering, whether physical or psychological.
2) Noble Truth of Origin: Suffering arises from craving, from excessive desire.
3) Noble Truth of Cessation: Suffering will cease when desire ceases.
4) Noble Truth of the Eightfold Path: It is possible to put an end to desire and hence to suffering by
following the Eightfold Path:
Right view or understanding (specifically the Four Noble Truths)
Right thought (free of sensual desire, ill-will, and cruelty)