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New Light on Siddhartha Gautama 
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Post New Light on Siddhartha Gautama
All of us have heard the beautiful story of how Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha. He was born a prince of the Sakya clan; when he was born, the sage Asita predicted that he would be a great conqueror or an enlightened sage, his father decided to surround him with luxury and pleasures of all nature. One day Siddhartha escaped the confines of the palace and eventually saw an old person, a sick person, and a dead man. Supposedly this produced in him great suffering, and he abandoned his family, wife, and child in order to search for the cause of suffering and the end of suffering. The story continues to tell us how Siddhartha becomes an errant monk and eventually finds Enlightenment under a tree. A nice story, but it lacks a bit of reality.

Prince Siddhartha was born into the Indo-Aryan caste of Kshatriyas or warriors of the Sakhya clan. The Indo-Aryans were a warlike people who had crossed from the north into India probably around 2000 before the common era (BCE). The males of these tribes prided themselves in being warriors, and they started to train in the art of war at a very early age, usually around the age of five years. By the time they were sixteen years of of age, they probably went to their first battles. So it should not surprise us that Siddhartha, already in his late teens or early twenties, had already begun to participate in wars of conquest or defense of his kingdom.

Anybody that has participated in any war knows that war is a very cruel business. Some men become hardened by war, but others never seem to find the fun in it. In the times of Siddhartha those who did not show courage in war were considered cowards, and they were executed. To die in battle was considered an honor. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita we find that Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: "Considering your duty, you should not waver. For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, for it comes as an open gate to swarga's heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your duty and you honor" (Srimad Bhagavad Gita 2:31-33).

I am convinced that Siddhartha went to war not once, but many times. He saw death face to face many times. I am sure that he killed many, and he probably was wounded a few times. He knew the fatigue of battle: he knew what is was to sleep in the cold, in the rain or in the heat, and then to continue the battle the next day. He saw the despair in the face of his men, and many times he faced fear. He was not a coward, but no man goes to war and does not fear.

In the battlefield the sanitary conditions were not the best. Many men died not only of their wounds in battle, but of different ailments. Those who could not stand the stress of battle were branded as coward and executed or they simply committed suicide. In war, death and illness are your constant companions, and suicide is not uncommon. Someone said that war is hell... it still is.

Returning home was no different; it was even worse. Siddhartha would have nightmares. It was hard for him to tend to his wife and son. His mind was not in governing the small kingdom. He had to face orphans and widows of those who fought by his side; he saw the poverty to which many veterans had to turn to. There were no Veteran's Hospitals; every veteran had to face his own demons alone. Some would survive, others never did. Even today many veterans never recover from the suffering of war. Today many warriors returning from war are dignosed with "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD).

I believe that Siddhartha was suffering of PTSD. Nobody knew back then what that was. So the man who would become Lord Buddha went in search of a cure... he went in search for the cause of suffering and for the end of suffering. Here the traditional story probably tells us the truth: Siddhartha went to every known Guru, priest, shaman; he performed all kinds of austerities, he fasted, he shanted all kinds of prayers, he did all kinds of strange meditation and rituals, until he exhausted himself to the point of reaching the doors of death.

Siddhartha finally realized that all the austerities that he had practiced were of no value. It is said that he sat under a large banyan tree and there made a vow to find the solution to suffering. And so it was how the prince known as Siddhartha a Kshatriya of the Sakya clan became Lord Buddha.

Lord Buddha realized that it was not the gods or the demons that had caused His suffering, His suffering was caused in His own mind, by His unfulfilled desires, by understanding the impermanent nature of the world and that there are things that can be changed and others that can not. He reached Nirvana (Enlightenment or Understanding) and His heart was filled with Love and Compassion for all, for He realized that every sentient being suffers.

Siddhartha found peace, and He went out to teach the world how to find the end of suffering, and legends were born about His life. Buddha was a human being, and He taught that all of us can find a solution to our suffering if we make an effort to touch our true nature. Nirvana or Enlightenment is a human experience. We are all potential Buddhas.

A final note: Siddhartha Gautama Buddha eventually returned to His wife and son, and to His kingdom. His wife and son eventually joined Him as monastics of the order that He founded, but He reminded the king (His father) that He was dedicated to a kingdom of Peace.

Hermano Luis
Moriviví Hermitage

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:04 am
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Post Re: New Light on Siddhartha Gautama
Detatchment.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:10 pm
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Post Re: New Light on Siddhartha Gautama
Zen Dog wrote:
Detatchment.


That was one of Buddha's most important medication.

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Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:04 pm
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