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The person known generally as the Buddha is credited with beginning a spiritual
movement that shaped the institutional and intellectual development of Asia.
His given name was Gautama, and he was born into the ruling family of the kingdom
of the Sakyas sometime in the middle of the sixth century B.C. It is said that
the Buddha lived a life of comfort and ease until he turned twenty-nine, at
which time he fully realized that men are fated to grow old, become sick, and
die. Faced with the reality that life inevitably involves suffering, he inquired
as to its purpose and set off in search of the great Truth of existence, leaving
behind his wife and newborn infant. Traveling south to the Magadha kingdom,
he found two instructors who guided him through the mysteries of self-induced
hypnotic meditation. He soon grew dissatisfied with these practices alone and
was drawn to the ways of the ascetics, who denied the obvious realities of material
existence and led lives of severe austerity. After fainting from near starvation,
Gautama decided to find his own path to the truth, one that combined elements
of both mysticism and asceticism. He believed that humans come to know ultimate
reality through meditation, and the closer they come to the supreme Truth, the
less they require of this world to sustain themselves. At thirty-five Gautama
became the supreme Buddha and developed a following that grew into one of the
major religions of the world.
Carus, Paul, comp. The Gospel of Buddha. London: The Open Court Publishing
Jennings, J.G., trans. The Vedantic Buddhism of the Buddha. Translated
by J. G. Jennings. London: Oxford University Press, 1948.
Hamilton, Clarence H., ed. Buddhism: A Religion of Infinite Compassion.
Edited by Clarence H. Hamilton. New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1952.
Ward, C.H.S. Buddhism. 2 vols. London: The Epworth Press of London,
Blofeld, John. The Jewel in the Lotus: An Outline of Buddhism in China. London:
Sidgwick and Jackson Ltd., 1948.
Takakusu, Junjiro. The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy. Translated
by W.T. Chan and Charles A. Moore. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1947.
Ballou, Robert O., Friedrich Spiegelberg, and Horace L. Friess, eds. Bible
of the World. New York: The Viking Press, 1939.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.