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<p class=MsoNormal>The Buddha <span class=GramE>The</span> Buddha was born a
prince of the <span class=SpellE>Shakya</span> province in ancient India on the
Full Moon day of May 563 B.C. (Mahayana school typically uses April 8 for the
birthday celebration). He lived over 500 years before the birth of Jesus
Christ. 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 sufferin
g.
Enlightenment came to him at the age of 35 in the year 528 B.C. He taught to
all for 45 years until his death at the age of 80 in the year 483 B.C. Modern
historians have uncovered information, which states that he may not have been
the son of a king, but rather the son of an elected official. Whichever the
case may be, his father being an elected leader or king, he clearly was of a
privileged birth due to the evidence of life in palaces with many servants. He
was born into a high (warrior) caste, but rejected these hereditary rights and
power for the pursuit to the answers that will lead to the end of suffering.
Archaeological evidence has confirmed the life of the Buddha who was born in <sp
an
class=SpellE>Lumbini</span>, in present day Nepal. The famous King <span
class=SpellE>Ashoka</span> of India erected many stone pillars and edicts
praising the Buddha and marking his sites. Buddhist writings on locations,
culture, and cities have been confirmed in the physical archaeological record.
The information we have about the Buddha and his teachings, like most religions
also come from scriptures. The Theravada-<span class=SpellE>Pali</span>
scriptures are about 20,000 pages in length. Other schools of Buddhism, such as
the Mahayana and <span class=SpellE>Vajrayana</span> (Tibetan) have additional
scriptures, but not as long or detailed as the <span class=SpellE>Pali</span>.
In general, the other schools of Buddhism accept all or nearly all of the
Theravada scriptures and simply have added other writings to be inclusive with
them. The Theravada scriptures are written in <span class=SpellE>Pali</span>,
which is by historical records either the language of the Buddha or the closest
written language to the Buddhas dialect. The Mahayana scriptures are in
Sanskrit that is further removed from the Buddhas language, but a close
relative in linguistic form. Like other religions the Buddhas teachings

remained oral for 150 to 300 years before being written down into scriptures.
The same is true in regard to the scriptures of Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Taoism, etc. The story we hear in the Buddhist scriptures is that the oral
tradition (up until the time it was written) was maintained by enlightened
monks who because of their full-enlightenment had the same insights as the
Buddha and thus, the words and teachings were the same, with no deviation from
truth or the Buddha. The authenticity of religious scriptures strikes great
debates and controversy in every religion. The difference, however, with the
Buddhas teachings is that there is no blind-faith. As we have seen in the
Buddhas quote at the beginning of this chapter, the authenticity is not quite
so important in Buddhism. This is because the Buddhas teachings are a come
and see approach. The Buddha advises us, perhaps even commands us to see for
yourself if the teachings make Page 26 sense, are scientific, are and agreeable
to what is correct and good. Thus, the literal word of each verse has little
meaning or purpose in the Buddhas teachings. The Buddha explains his
philosophy, but in the end it is up to us to discover the truth on our own.</p>
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