Buddha’s Path to the Middle Way

Buddha’s Path to the Middle Way

One of the most well-known spiritual and religious leaders in the history of the world is none other than Buddha

Temptation of Buddha by Mara (Tibetan Buddhist)

Before he was universally known as Buddha, he was born Siddhartha Gautama. His first name, Siddhartha, means “he who achieves his aim.” While there is debate about the exact period in time when he was born, it is commonly believed to be somewhere around the sixth to fourth century B.C. Siddhartha was born Lumbini, which is the present-day Nepal, to a wealthy and aristocratic family. It is believed that his father was a chieftain or oligarch of the large Shakya clan and that his mother had passed away just a few days after he was born. Aside from Siddhartha, he was also frequently called Shakyamuni, which translates to the “Sage of the Shakyas.”

Large Size Shakyamuni Buddha Interpreting His Dharma


It is said that Siddhartha was raised in Kapilavastu, which geographically would be either the present-day Tilaurakot in Nepal or Piprahwa in India. While a number of scholars are reluctant to make definitive claims regarding the life of Buddha, there are those who have stated that as a young boy, Siddhartha was raised in a sheltered environment, within a luxurious palace that was built specifically for him.

After the death of his mother, Siddhartha’s father wanted to shield him from suffering and the difficulties of the world. Based on the studies of his life by some scholars, it is said that Siddhartha married quite young, at the age of sixteen, and had a son soon after. However, he continued to lead a secluded and sheltered life for another thirteen years.

Lapis Buddha of Healing (Tibetan Buddhist Medicine Buddha)

As the story goes, it wasn’t until Siddhartha was out one day with his charioteer and came across an old man that his eyes were opened to the realities of human life and its fragility. This led him to wonder and question things that he himself had not experience. He then undertook explorative journeys, which exposed him to a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and a hermit or ascetic. It was then explained to Siddhartha that the ascetic man had rejected worldly attachments in an effort to be free from the fear of human death and suffering. All these new things that Siddhartha began to see and become aware of greatly affected him. At the age of twenty-nine, he decided to leave his kingdom, including his wife and his son, in order to lead a more spiritual life. Siddhartha became determined to discover a means to assuage universal suffering, which he had come to believe was a definitive trait of all humanity.

Padmasana Buddha Under The Lifelike Bodhi Tree

The next six years of Siddhartha’s life were said to have been lived in seclusion as he focused on studying and meditating, following different religious teachers. As the popular tale goes, one night, Siddhartha sat beneath a Bodhi tree and vowed to meditate until the questions he had and the truths he sought finally appeared to him. He spent many days meditating and clearing his mind. During this time, he defeated the threats of the demon Mara, who challenged his becoming Buddha. Siddhartha banished the evil Mara and touched the ground, asking the Earth to witness his path to enlightenment. Soon thereafter Buddha began to mentally visualize all that had transpired in the universe and finally came to the answers he had been searching for all these years. It was in this very moment that the metamorphosis transpired and Siddhartha Gautama transformed into Lord Buddha.

Large Tibetan Buddha Teaching of Dharma


It is said that Buddha was then very hesitant to preach and teach the new knowledge that he had obtained. However, according to legend, it was Brahma himself, one of the primary gods of the Hindu triumvirate, that convinced Buddha to teach and share his enlightenment.

Following his own enlightenment and his own experiences – of an early life lived in sheltered opulence followed by years living as an ascetic, deprived of worldly luxuries – Buddha encouraged those he taught to forego either extremes of sensuous indulgence on one hand and on the other end of the spectrum, aesthetic denial. Instead, Buddha emphasized that one must strive to lead a life in, what he called, the Middle Way.

Buddha, whose name means the “Enlightened One” or the “Awakened One” taught as a spiritual leader for approximately forty-five years, during which he established a large following. He travelled to many different places to preach the Dharma, which was what his teachings were called, in order to lead others along with him to the Middle Way or his path of enlightenment.

30" White Marble Sleeping Buddha | Handmade | Reclining Buddha Sculpture | Home Decoration

It is believed that Buddha passed away at around the age of eighty. As with his year of birth, his year of death is also not precisely known but many believe it to be somewhere between 411 to 400 BCE. While his cause of death is also not definitively known, according to scholars, it could have been from an illness that he contracted from eating spoiled meat. Many say that when Buddha died, he told his followers that they should not follow any leader but instead, they should “be your own light.”ay at around the age of eighty. As with his year of birth, his year of death is also not precisely known but many believe it to be somewhere between 411 to 400 BCE. While his cause of death is also not definitively known, according to scholars, it could have been from an illness that he contracted from eating spoiled meat. Many say that when Buddha died, he told his followers that they should not follow any leader but instead, they should “be your own light.”

Thousands of years after his death, the boy Siddhartha who, at birth, was prophesied by a holy man to achieve great things as a king or spiritual leader certainly did just that. Today, Buddhism is one of the largest religions. Some four hundred seventy million Buddhists around the world worship Buddha and follow his teachings to lead a spiritual life in the Middle Way.

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