Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Was the Buddha a god?

In a word, no. The historical Buddha grew up as a normal, if not wealthy, human being. His name was Siddartha Guatama, and he was a prince, son of King Suddhodana in the small kingdom of Kapilvastu in present day Nepal. When he was born, a soothsayer told the king that his son would become either a great warrior or a great sage. Because the king was partial to his son being a great warrior (rather than an impoverished, wandering sage), he made sure and kept all ugliness, age, sickness, and death away from Siddartha, in order to surround- and distract- him with the pleasures of life.

However, with the help of his attendant, Siddartha did eventually leave the palace, and saw an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a wandering ascetic. This is when he made up his mind to leave the palace, his father, and even his wife and young son to see why beings suffer, and if he could find an end to this state of suffering.

We know that the causes and explanation Buddha gave to this suffering were the Four Noble Truths and the solution his Noble Eightfold Path.

For more information and background about the Buddha's life and what the term 'Buddha' means, click here. Here are two additional versions of the Buddha's life story, one using a mythological explanation of his birth, the other a simply illustrated slideshow that might be good for children and people of all ages to look though (93 slides).

May all beings be happy!

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