Foundation Experience or Enlightenment
Prince Siddhartha left his old life in the palace after bearing witness to suffering in the streets. He took up the Ascetic life involving starving his body. After breaking this fast when a lady gave him some rice Siddhartha chose to try the 'Middle Way' between the extremes of having everything (a palace life of a prince) and having nothing (that of an Ascetic).
He chose to meditate under the Bodhi tree where he then reached his enlightenment.
During his enlightenment he was repeatedly tempted by the demon Mara. first he was tempted by desire in the form of beautiful women, then he was tempted by the fear to give up.
Siddhartha was not distracted and said "Let my hands grow numb, my bones dissolve. Until I have gained understanding I will not rise from here". He then lifted his right hand and touched the earth in front of him as the earth itself was his witness to his promise.
Everything That Follows (In Short)
Prince Siddhartha is now known as the Buddha after he was enlightened at 35 years old.
For the next 45 years the Buddha travelled around India teaching the truth of the way things are. The teachings are called the Dharma.
The buddha said that his teaching was to be tried out in life as it is a practical way to overcome suffering and to find true happiness. He taught that his teachings werent to be believed just because he taught them, but to follow it to see if it is true.
His chief disciple asked what they would do without him when he died. The Buddha told him "I have always taught that death is a natural part of life. It is nothing to fear. When I am gone, let my teachings be your guide. If you have understood them in your heart, you have no more need of me"
His Dharma and Sangha (community of followers) had taken root when he died.
Buddha's body was cremated and his ashes were divided between four key pilgrimage sites.
The four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path were created for a Buddhist to follow.
The Four Noble Truths
These involve coming to terms with suffering or Dukkha (a word which suggests restlessness and unsatisfactoriness.
1. Dukkha is part of everyday life- Life is filled with the miseries of birth, old age, sickness and death. We will never be happy if our happiness is based on things which change.
2. The cause of suffering- The Buddha believed that we experience Dukkha because we are always craving.
3. How to end Dukkha- The only way to end Dukkha is to stop craving
4. The cure of suffering- The Buddha taught that we can practice letting go of craving by following moral and spiritual disciplines. These are summoned up in the Eight-fold Path.
The Noble Eight-fold Path
By keeping to this path a person can achieve a state of bliss, happiness and peace that is free from suffering or Dukkha. This state of bliss is called Nibbana.
1. Right Understanding- seeing the world as it is and understanding that there is a path to freedom
2. Right Attitude- your attitude to life effects what you get out of it. developing right attitudes and thoughts is important
3. Right Speech- words are powerful so take care with what you say. what you say should be helpful and encourage goodness
4. Right Action- you should behave in kind and compassionate ways.
5. Right Livelihood- you should have a job that does not destroy life or cause harm to others
6. Right Effort- be mindful of what you think, say and do. Seek good thoughts and not bad
7. Right Awareness- be alert to life, aware of what you do and its results and reasons for it
8. Right Concentration- letting go of all desires and cravings
Five Precepts that sum up Right Action
First Precept- I will not harm living beings
Second Precept- I will not take what is not given
Third Precept- I will avoid harmful sexual pleasures
Fourth Precept- I will avoid using words in incorrect ways
Fifth Precept- I will not take drugs or drink that confuse the mind