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Introduction

Buddha Mind - get one, be one.

INTRODUCTION | YOUTH | ENLIGHTENMENT | TEACHING | FINALE | OTHER VERSIONS
There has been
a tremendous amount written on this subject and it is not my intention to provide 'another' life story. What I have tried to do here is present an outline of key events and provide references to more detail - see: OTHER VERSIONS. These events often have a traditional image associated with them and, where possible, I will present these. It must be remembered that the story of the Buddha's life and teaching is where Indian history actually begins (i.e. where record replaces archaeology and legend) so it must also be allowed that what we find now as a story is somewhat a mix of the three. To try and establish a definitive biography is not possible at this date and as you read the various renditions do so as you would a poem - allowing various images - text and graphic - to build an overal feeling for both the social and historical context that this man lived in. From this it is possible to imagine the human being responsible for this story.

memorial
So exceptional was this being that a great many memorials to him have been preserved over the centuries - a testimony to the life of a truly great man - and yet he was human. Many aspects of his life have been written allegorically to try and convey the deep feelings, wonder and awe that his presence must have evoked. Having met a few people who I felt to be wise and compassionate (sadly too rare) I can only begin to imagine what it would be like encountering the perfection of these qualities as the consummation of a human life. Awesome! Any wonder that many records present the Buddha as slightly larger than life - up to 18 feet tall in one account!
There is no doubt that such a person, that we now call the Buddha, existed - there is just too much evidence in support. Details can nevertheless be a bit misty. You will need to read a variety of books - simple kids ones are excellent for the basics - and allow that it will take you some time to evolve a personal picture of this historic person. Consider as you study that accuracy can sometimes usefully be sacrificed to inspiration. For me the most significant image that has emerged from my own studies is that of an enlightened human being - yes, it can be done!
From the Pali scriptures the order of events can only be 'accurately' traced as far as the second year after the enlightenment (the Buddha is 37). The appearance of the Buddha's two chief disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, is the last datable event for this period.
After this a variety of commentarial and post-canonical material allows a reasonable succession of events to to be worked out up until the twentieth year after enlightenment (the Buddha is 55).
From 55 - 79 years old many events obviously took place but there is no knowing which ones or when.
The last year of the Buddha's life is again clearly noted in the Pali canon.
N.B. 1 - The locations that relate to the four main events in the Buddha's life - birth, enlightenment, first teaching, death - are now important places of pilgrimage - see: ART & CULTURE - SHRINES
N.B. 2 - It is important to remember that until the enlightenment this historical person is known by his familly name: Siddhattha Gotama, of the Sakya clan.
INTRODUCTION | YOUTH | ENLIGHTENMENT | TEACHING | FINALE | OTHER VERSIONS