From Birth to Renunciation
A unique Being, an extraordinary Man arises in this world for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the any, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. Who is this Unique Being? It is the Tathāgata, the Exalted, Fully Enlightened One. – Anguttara Nikāya
The Kalama Sutta
Do not believe in something because it is reported. Do not believe in something because it has been practiced by generations or becomes a tradition or part of a culture. Do not believe in something because a scripture says it is so. Do not believe in something believing a god has inspired it. Do not believe in something a teacher tells you to. Do not believe in something because the authorities say it is so. Do not believe in hearsay, rumor, speculative opinion, public opinion, or mere acceptance to logic and inference alone. Help yourself, accept as completely true only that which is praised by the wise and which you test for yourself and know to be good for yourself and others.
Anguttara Nikaya 3.65, Sutta Pitaka, Pali Canon
The Buddha replied to Upaka
All have I overcome, all do I know. From all am I detached, all have I renounced. Wholly absorbed am I in the destruction of craving (Arahantship). Having comprehended all by myself whom shall I call my teacher? No teacher have I.14 An equal to me there is not. In the world including gods there is no rival to me. Indeed an Arahant am I in this world. An unsurpassed teacher am I; Alone am I the All-Enlightened. Cool and appeased am I. To establish the wheel of Dhamma to the city of Kāsi I go. In this blind world I shall beat the drum of Deathlessness.
He gave up his kingdom and claim to the throne in search of philosophical Truth. He tried all of the ascetic, extremist practices and reached high levels of tranquility and trance, but no ultimate liberation. Finally after six years of struggle in the forests of India including practices such as extreme fasting to the point of near death, he discovered that the middle way was best. By avoiding the extremes he attained enlightenment with full wisdom into the answers of birth, death, suffering, and the end to suffering. At the age of 29 Buddha left home and started wandering as a beggar and ascetic. After about six years he spent around Bodhgaya finally some time sitting under the Bodhi Tree or fig tree (Pipal, Ficus religiosa), meditating, tempted by demon Mara with all the desires of the world. Resisting these temptations, he received enlightenment. His face full with divine splendor and effulgence. He got up from his seat and danced in divine ecstasy for seven consecutive days an nights around the sacred Bodhi Tree. his foot prints found at all the important sites mark this incidence. After his enlightenment his heart was filled with profound mercy and compassion. He wanted to share what he had got with humanity. He traveled (Charika) all over India and preached his doctrine and gospel. Enlightenment came to him at the age of 35 in the year 528 B.C. He taught to all for 45 years (Buddha on Charika) until his death at the age of 80 in the year 483 B.C.
Buddha in his childhood confronted by three disturbing facts of life: old age, sickness, and death, and had an intense urge to overcome them. Leaving home, he performed extremely rigorous and tortuous practices, but was disillusioned by them, as these means did not cause any ethical and spiritual transformation within him. Hence he revolted against such practices. Ultimately on his own he attained Enlightenment whose essence was Wisdom and compassion. The two together, according to Buddha, cause a revolution in one’s attitude and behaviors, and set him on the path of progress in terms of personal and social morality. A person in the society is determined by the level of ethical and humanitarian consciousness he achieves in his moral practices through personal effort.
Buddha realised and preached the Four Nobel Truth: that life is painful; that suffering is caused by ignorance and desire; the beyond the suffering the life there is a state which cannot be described but which he termed nirvana; and that nirvana can be reached by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path (अष्टांग मार्ग astang maarg) is devised for the above-said purpose and is essentially the perfection of morality wisdom and meditation.
The first three, based on moral precepts( शील shila ) are:
Right Speech (सम्मा-वाचा samma-vacha), refraining from speaking falsehood, malicious words, harsh and frivolous talk;
Right Deeds (सम्मा-कमंता samma-kamanta), refraining from killing, stealing, and misconduct;
Right Means of Livelihood(सम्मा-आजीव samma-ajiva), refraining from earning livelihood by improper means, malicious words, such as immoral or illegal trades or professions;
The next three, associated with mental development ( चित्त chitta) are:
Right Exertion(सम्मा-वयम samma-vayam), exertion to remove the existing evil thoughts, to keep the mind free from being polluted by fresh evil thoughts and to preserve and increase the good thoughts;
Right Mindfulness(सम्मा-सती samma-sati),mindfulness of all that is happening within the body and mind including feelings, and being observant of the things of the world, at the same time suppressing covetousness and avoiding mental depression;
Right Meditation (सम्मा-समाधी samma-samadhi), realisation of four noble truths;
The final two, based on knowledge( प्रज्ञा prajna) are:
Right Resolution (सम्मा-संकल्प samma-sankalpa), resolution for renunciation, and resolution for refraining from hatred and injury to other beings;
Right Vision(सम्मा-दिट्ठी / दृष्टि samma-ditthi/drishthi), realisation of the truth that worldly existence is misery, and its root, its end and its path all lead to an end in such misery;