Buddhism wasn’t even started by someone who set out to found a religion. Instead, it started with an ordinary person’s search for understanding. That cultivation of understanding, awareness and compassion which characterizes Buddhism all began in India in 400-500 B.C.E. with Siddhartha Guatama, who came to be known as the Buddha and the founder of the Buddhist tradition. Apparently Buddhism may be the fourth largest religion in the world with over 250-500 million adherents. This illuminates the power of an idea. The main theme of Buddhism is the idea of awakening, waking up or showing up. In terms of Dzogchen philosophy in Buddhism, the main theme, is cultivating self-aware presence.
Its fascinating to learn Buddhism through the stories of Buddhist people in India and Tibet. The most widely known is that of the Buddha himself. This is a story that has been told in different ways. Some Buddhists regard the Buddha as a divine being, others regard the Buddha as a human being, a philosopher and spiritual seeker. As with all the diversity within Buddhism, each account of the Buddha’s highlights different principles emphasized by the traditions that tell the story.
Much about his life is not known because written records of his life from that time have not been found. However the oral tradition that developed recorded his life in terms of its major philosophical themes. These themes highlight his privileged youth and elite education, his leaving behind his kingdom in search of answers to the big questions about life, his training in yoga and meditation. Finally, his life story concludes with his insight into the cause of suffering and how to eliminate it.
This video describes the time of the Buddha’s spiritual journey. Comparable to our modern day spiritual supermarket, at the time of the Buddha there were many spiritual seekers, diverse philosophies and religious ideals. On the one had there was the more rigid, orthodox practice of the Brahmins and on the other hand the esoteric religious movements of the sramanas, the people who left behind ordinary society to pursue spiritual insight. The Buddha encountered these practices but kept finding that most of the practices of his time fell short of what he searched for. For example, leading him to altered states, rather than leading him into the unaltered state, the most fundamental nature of what it is to be awake and alive. His teaching came to be known as the “middle way,” because it was not the extreme ascetism, nor self-indulgence, but instead a middle way…