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Buddha Mind - get one, be one.


Maya's dream
There are many Jataka stories which tell the story of the Buddha in many lives prior to his human birth [see: ACTIVITIES - SOUND]. However the usual image that begins the Buddha's story is that of Queen Maha Maya's dream where she envisioned a white elephant piercing her right side. [this could be understood symbolically as immaculate conception].
After exactly ten months the Queen set out for her home town but stopped at Lumbini Park [see: ART - SHRINES - PILGRIMAGE] where she gave birth to a son, Siddhattha. Images usually show giving birth standing up holding onto the branch of a tree. Some images show the baby being born from her right side [see thumbnail]. Some say this indicates a caesarian section. It could explain why she died seven days after the birth. This was about 563 BCE (some say 623). Another popular image of this time is the baby, having been born perfectly clean, on his feet, then taking seven steps to the north. With each step a lotus flower sprang from the ground. He then proclaimed: 'I am highest in the world, This is my last birth!' [see thumbnail]
Siddhattha's birth
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Asita the Sage
With the birth of Siddhattha there were many wondrous signs - stars and lights in the sky, trees flowering out of season. These were seen from his remote hermitage by the great sage, Asita, who traveled to the palace. He predicted that the child would be a Buddha but wept, knowing that he would dead before the enlightenment.
Eight Brahmin priests were called to read the auspicious signs and foretell the future of the child. Seven of them raised a hand with two fingers - indicating that he would either be a great world ruler or a Buddha. The youngest priest raised only one finger. This was Kondanna who became one of the five ascetics.
Eight priests

Rose Apple Tree
At the annual ploughing festival King Suddhodana, Siddhattha's father, leads the celebrations but Siddhattha gets bored and wanders off, eventually settling under a rose apple tree. He sees death in nature, goes into meditative absorption. The amazing thing is that when he is found the shadow of the tree has not moved, but stayed in place shading the boy.
Siddhattha's cousin, Devadatta, is generally presented as the black sheep of the family - the bad guy. He shot a white swan which Siddhattha rescued. Devadatta was very angry, claiming the bird was his as he had shot it. The matter was taken before the palace council who eventually agreed the bird was Siddhattha's as he had saved its life. This is one of the classic stories exemplifying compassion (with the marriage story of the horse - see below).
Siddhattha saves the white swan

When Siddhattha was 16 (adolescent stuff!) his father saw that his son was thinking about life too much and worried about the predictions of Asita and the 8 Brahmins. He thought: 'I want my son to be a King, not a Buddha'. His ministers suggested: Get the boy a wife, that will bring his mind more into 'the world'. There are two parts to the story - selecting the bride & the contest (to prove himself worthy of the bride) - see thumbnail.
Siddhattha is 29 and many questions still trouble him. He goes into Kapilavatthu and sees old age, sickness, death and a holy man (either sequentially or on separate visits). After much anguishing it is this that finally decides him to leave home in search of truth - only to then find that he is to become a father. Tradition has it that he left on the day his son, Rahula, was born.
Four sights
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There was a party to celebrate the birth. Afterwards, late in the night, Siddhattha awoke to find the whole Palace in a deep sleep. The place was in a real mess after the party and he was disgusted. He called Channa to prepare his horse and the three of them left the Palace. It is said that the gods induced the sleep, opened the gates and (the god Hrideva) muffled the horses hooves. Once across the River Anoma Siddhattha cut off his hair and gave his regal finery to Channa. He later swapped clothes with a woodcutter.
One last look

MAPS - The Buddha lived and taught in the area known as the Ganges Plain, a vast area in Northern India.