The Life of the Buddha

1. Early Life
Prince Siddhartha was born during the fifth month of Vesakha, a full moon day in 623 BC.  The baby immediately took seven steps, and with each step a lotus flower appeared.  Five days after the birth of the prince, eight wise men came to the palace for a naming ceremony.  Seven of the wise men raised two fingers and said that the prince would either become a Great King or a Buddha.  One of the wise men, but the name of Kondanna, only raised one finger, and said the prince would become a Buddha.  The baby was then named Siddhartha.  Only two days after this ceremony, his mother, Queen Maha Maya, passed away.  The queen's sister, Pajapathi Gotami, was also married to the prince's father King Suddhodhana, and she took care of the young prince.

2. Marriage
King Suddhodhana wanted the prince to marry a beautiful girl.  Many of the girls from the country came to prince's palace so he could choose a wife.  The prince gave each of the girls a gift, but to one princess, he gave a ring from off his finger.  Her name was Princess Yasodhara, and they soon got married. 

3. The Four Sights
One day, the prince went out of the palace with his horseman, Channa.  On the first trip out of the palace, Prince Siddhartha saw an old man, and realized that everyone had to one day grow old.  On the second trip, he saw a sick man, and he knew that everyone could become sick.  On the third trip, the prince saw a dead body, and knew that everyone has to die some day.  One the fourth trip, the prince saw a monk.  The monk was very calm and happy, because he led a peaceful life.   After seeing the monk, the prince decided he wanted to leave the palace and help people find peace and happiness, just like the monk.  Soon after, he heard that he had a new son names Rahula. 

4. Leaving the Palace
When Rahula was born, King Suddhodhana threw a big party.  After having a lot of fun, everyone fell asleep.  At midnight, Prince Siddhartha took one last look at Yasodhara and Rahula sleeping soundly, and left the palace with Channa and his horse, Kanthaka.  At the river, the prince took off all his jewelry, and asked Channa to return it to the king.  Then, the prince cut off his hair with a sword and changed into yellow robes. The prince was only 29 years old. 

5. The Search for Truth
After dressing himself in simple robes, Siddhartha went to houses with his alms bowl, to look for food like other monks.  Now, he was called Ascetic Gotama.  He wanted to find a way out of suffering.  Soon he met two monks, and being a good student he learnt all of the teachers' teachings.  He then decided to find the Truth by himself. 

6. Seeking Enlightenment
Ascetic Gotama decided to find the end to pain and suffering.  For six years, he almost killed himself by not eating and torturing his body.  He realized that was not the answer to stopping pain and suffering.  After finally having food, he sat under a Bodhi tree and said that he would not leave until he had gained Enlightenment.  

7. Enlightenment
While Ascetic Gotama was meditating under the Bodhi tree, Mara, the evil on, told him to give up his struggle for Enlightenment.  He freed his mind of all bad thoughts, and became calm and peaceful.  He was in deep meditation.  In the second part of the night, he saw the past lives of other beings.  During the third part of the night, he finally came to know the truth of all sufferings.  At age 35, Ascetic Gotama gained Enlightenment and became a Buddha, or a "Fully Enlightened One."

8. Weeks after Enlightenment
For the first whole week after Enlightenment, the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree meditating and enjoying peace and happiness.  During the whole second week, the Buddha kept his eyes on the Bodhi tree to show his gratitude for the shelter it gave.  During the third week, the Buddha created a bridge that was jeweled with his own special power.  The whole week he walked up and down on the bridge.  The fourth week, the Buddha meditated on the Higher Teaching of the Dhamma, on a jeweled throne.  His mind and body were so pure that six rays of colors came out of his body.  The colors were: blue, yellow, red, white, orange, and a mixture of the five colors.  On the fifth week, the Buddha meditated under the Ajapala Banyan tree. Three of Mara's daughters came to disturb the Buddha, but he just continued meditating.  During the sixth week, while meditating under the Mucalinda tree, a heavy rain began to fall.  Then a king cobra named Mucalinda, coiled around the Buddha seven times to protect him from wind and rain.  After the rain, the cobra became a man, and paid his respects to the Buddha.  On the fiftieth day after Enlightenment, two merchants named Tapassu and Bhalluka came and offered food to the Buddha.  They became the first two lay followers of the Buddha.  The Buddha gave them some of his hair, and they left happily. 

9. Invitation to Preach Dhamma
After Enlightenment, the Buddha found that many people were still doing wrong things.  Brahma Sahampati begged the Buddha to teach the Dhamma three times.  It was the only after the third time that the Buddha finally agreed.  Then the Buddha realized that there were some people who understood his teachings.

10. The Meeting of Five Friends
The Buddha decided to preach the Dhamma to his five friends, Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji.  At the sight of the Buddha, the five friends decided they would not welcome him because they believed he had a very happy life.  As the Buddha came closer, they liked the calm look on his face.  After a little while, they decided to sit and listen to what the Buddha had to say.