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Mothers Dream His mother was Queen Maya. According to Buddhist tradition, before her son was born, the queen had a dream. In the dream, she was carried high over the Himalayas to a silver mountain and set on a silver couch. A white elephant with six tusks walked around her and then struck her in the right side. The king and queen asked the Brahmins, or Hindu priests, to explain her dream. “You are carrying a child who will be a great man,” they told the queen. The Brahmins declared that the prince's future held two possible paths. As a prince, he could rule the universe. But if he left his royal life to see the suffering in the world, he would become the Buddha, one who is enlightened.
Prince Born The queen gave birth to Prince Siddhartha in a garden. Stories say that after the prince's birth, a soft, warm rain of heavenly flowers fell on the baby and his mother. According to Buddhist tradition, the infant prince already looked a few years old and could walk and talk. Siddhartha began his remarkable life by taking a few steps and declaring, “I am the leader of the world and the guide to the world.”
Grows Up In Luxury The king decided to protect his son from all of the horrors of the world. He raised the prince in a world of perfect wealth and beauty. He provided Siddhartha with only the finest gardens, houses, education, and food. Servants took care of the prince's every need, from washing his clothes to playing music for his amusement.
during his journeys, the prince discovered three forms of suffering. On his first trip, the prince and his chariot driver saw a thin man who walked with the aid of a stick. On the second trip, the prince and his driver saw a man lying on the ground and crying out in pain. On the third trip, the prince saw a group of people walking slowly down the road. The group carried a figure wrapped in white cloth.
Siddhartha decided to give up his old life and search for enlightenment. Becoming enlightened would mean finding deep truth and freedom from suffering. One night, the prince asked his driver to take him to the forest. At the edge of the dark woods, Siddhartha removed his royal robes, sandals, and jewels. He cut off his hair with a knife. He put on a simple robe and carried only a small bowl for alms, or gifts of food. Wishing his driver farewell, Siddhartha began his life as an ascetic.
Becomes Buddah According to Buddhist tradition, while Siddhartha was meditating, a wicked god named Mara tried to frighten him. Then Mara sent his three daughters—Discontent (unhappiness), Delight, and Desire—to try to tempt Siddhartha. But Siddhartha resisted them all. He then meditated through the rest of the night about the nature of reality and the way to reach nirvana, or true happiness and peace. During the night, his mind filled with the truths he had been seeking. He saw his past lives and the great cycle of rebirth. He saw the importance of karma. Eventually, he saw how to gain freedom from the continuous cycle, and therefore end all suffering. By morning, the young prince had become the Buddha, the Awakened One. He had reached enlightenment.
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