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undaunted

When news of Prince Siddhattha's renunciation was spread around Kapilavatthu, five of his friends renounced lay life and became wandering monks. Many religious teachers roaming the Valley of the Ganges often had many disciples, and the monk Gotama practiced with two distinguished ascetics, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, gaining the final stage of rarified mental concentration. Yet, upon returning to normal consciousness, the end of suffering continued to elude the prince-monk. Learning that no one could teach him what he so keenly desired, he thanked his teachers and departed. He was disappointed but not discouraged. Realizing that the highest truth is only found within oneself, he decided to struggle alone until his quest was rewarded. In India, it is common religious practice to undertake painful self-mortification of the body with the belief that the mind, freed from the confines of the flesh, might soar to heights of liberation. Wandering to the shore of the River Neranjara, near the town of Gaya, he was reunited with his five companions and all settled there to undertake austerities. The texts say the Future Buddha attempted the most extreme forms of self-torture, experimenting with every form of ascetic practice known in his day. The Master's early struggles against panic, fear, horror and dread are graphically described in the scriptures. Even though his body was overwhelmed with pain, he continued to pursue even more agonizing practices such as prolonged fasting to the point of emaciation. Excessive breath-control would leave him unconscious. During these times the Buddha-elect managed to keep his mind detached, poised and persistent_qualities which would assist him later in his herculean efforts to win Enlightenment. On one occasion, he was so very near death that Mara, the Evil One, came into his heart, whispering, "A thousand parts of you belong to death. Only one part belongs to life. Living and performing meritorious deeds is better for you. Why, Siddhattha, continue such painful striving?" The monk Gotama tells Mara how the spiritual hindrances can be overcome by striving. He confirms his willingness to continue the search.

Contents | Birth | 4 Sights | Renunciation | Austeristies | Middle Way | Enlightenment | Teaching | Home | 2 Disciples | Women | Last Disciple | Death