The stages of Enlightenment for Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family. There are many stories about his miraculous birth e.g a Sage (wise man) named Asita examined his birthmarks and said he would be a Buddha!
Siddarthas' Father was very controlling. He wanted to protect his Son from suffering, so didn't tell him about old age or sickness and death.
Enlightenment This Way
After getting married and have a Son, at the age of 29, Siddartha went outside the palace and met 'The Four Passing Sights - a sick person, an aged person, a corpse & a calm holy man'
THE MIDDLE WAY
He realised suffering existed. So left the palace & his wealth, power & pleasures, to find the truth about suffering & how to cope with it, as he realised it was inevitable for humans. This is known as the Great Renunciation.
The Great Renunciation
He met an Indian ascetic, who encouraged him to live like a monk. Over the next 5/6 years, along with his 5 companions, he tortured himself, held his breath and fasted until his ribs stuck out. Yet, he still couldn't find enlightenment.
He remembered as a boy sitting under a rose apple tree & feeling great bliss as he entered deep medatation - a 'dyhana'. Siddhartha realised the path to awakening was a 'Middle Way' between self denial and self indulgence.
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