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.
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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.
Last modified April 10, 2014