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Buddha’s Previous Lifetime

Gautama Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni) was a Buddhist ascetic, religious leader, and teacher who lived in ancient India (c. 6th to 5th century BCE or c. 5th to 4th century BCE).

He is considered the founder of Buddhism, and Buddhists regard him as an enlightened being who rediscovered an old road to liberation from ignorance, craving, and the cycle of reincarnation and misery. The Buddha sayings on karma from Reneturrek is a good source to know his wisdom.

According to one common mythology, many eons ago, a Brahman named (in some accounts) Sumedha realized that life is marred by misery, so he set out to find a paradise beyond death. While floating through the air, he noticed a large crowd gathered around a teacher, later confirmed to be the buddha Dipamkara. In his last lifetime, he also foretold Sumedha’s name (Gautama), the names of his parents and primary disciples, and the tree beneath which the future Buddha would sit on the night of his enlightenment.

After his death as Prince Vessantara, he was reborn in the Tusita Heaven, where he searched the earth for a suitable spot for his ultimate birth. Maya’s dream foreshadowed the birth of the Buddha, marble relief from Nagarjunikonda, Andhra Pradesh, India, Amaravati school, c. The prince lived a lavish life, with his father shielding him from the world’s misfortunes, such as old age, sickness, and death, and providing him magnificent summer, winter, and rainy-season palaces, as well as all manner of pleasures (including in some accounts 40,000 female attendants).

He was also told that he was not the only old man in the world; everyone, including the prince, his father, his wife, and his relatives, would get old at some point. He sought the monarch for permission to leave the city and retire to the forest after being exposed to the manifold miseries of human life and the existence of people who seek a state beyond them. The prince requested that his father guarantee that he would never die, fall ill, age, or lose his money. The prince, unmoved by the women, vowed that night to seek a state beyond birth and death. “A fetter has developed,” he said after learning seven days ago that his wife had given birth to a son.

Rahula, which means “fetter,” was the name given to the child. The prince walked into his wife’s chamber to see his sleeping wife and young son before leaving the palace. He met Bimbisara, the monarch of Magadha and eventual patron of the Buddha, early in his wanderings, who, upon finding that the ascetic was a royal, urged him to share his realm. The prince studied meditation for the following six years, learning to achieve deep levels of blissful focus. The prince, now alone and without a teacher, vowed to sit under a tree and not rise until he had discovered the state beyond birth and death.

The prince sat in the meditation posture, then put out his right hand and touched the soil in a tableau that would become the most famous image of the Buddha in Asian art. By touching the dirt, he was requesting confirmation from the goddess of the earth that a significant gift he had made in his past life as Prince Vessantara had won him the right to sit beneath the tree. A high-relief sculpture from Gandhara depicting Buddha being assailed by Mara and his demon army; in the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, Netherlands.

Throughout the night, the prince sat in meditation. The historical Buddha, right before his enlightenment, at Bodh Gaya, basalt sculpture from Bihar, eastern India, Pala dynasty, early 12th century; at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. That night’s experience was so powerful that the prince, who would later become the Buddha, lingered beside the tree for seven weeks, relishing his enlightenment. The serpent king came and spread his hood above the Buddha to protect him from the storm during one of those weeks, an event represented frequently in Buddhist art.

As a result, the Buddha decided that his first meditation teachers would be the most suited students, but he was informed by a divinity that they had perished. Despite their agreement to avoid the Buddha since he had abandoned self-mortification, his appeal forced them to stand and greet him. The Buddha established the doctrine of no-self (anatman) a few days after the first discourse, at which point the five ascetics became arhats, individuals who had attained reborn liberation and will enter nirvana at death.

When the Buddha’s father learned that his son had not perished but had become a Buddha as a result of his great renunciation, the monarch sent nine emissaries to his son, inviting him to return to Kapilavastu. Rahula, their little boy, was sent to his father to ask for his inheritance, and the Buddha responded by ordaining him as a monk.

This alarmed the Buddha’s father, who told the Buddha about the profound anguish he had suffered when his son had rejected the world. The Buddha spent the 45 years following his enlightenment traveling across northeastern India with a group of disciples, teaching the dharma to all who would listen, occasionally debating with (and always defeating, according to Buddhist sources) masters from other sects, and gaining followers from all social classes.

The Buddha dd the same thing: he examined the globe with his omniscient eye every day and night, looking for those who he could help, and he often traveled to them using his supernormal abilities. The Buddha and his monks are reported to have traveled in all seasons in the beginning but eventually settled down to stay in one area during the rainy season (in northern India, mid-July to mid-October). Mara then appeared and reminded the Buddha of his vow to pass into nirvana when his teaching was completed, which he made shortly after his enlightenment.

Ananda pleaded wth him not to, but the Buddha replied that the time for such requests was gone and that if he had requested sooner, the Buddha would have agreed. Finally, the Buddha asked the 500 gathering disciples if they had any final questions or doubts. He then opened his robe and instructed, according to one account.