1 Nov 2022


The Life of Buddha: A Timeline

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A Brief History of Buddhism 

In almost all Asian countries, Buddhism is the most significant religion. The doctrine of Buddhism was first developed by Siddhartha Gautama in the late 6 th century. However, over the years, Buddhism has been developed into different faiths. In each of these doctrines, Buddhism employs the life experiences, teachings, and the spirit of Buddha (dharma) as a foundation for leading a religious life (Vail, 2018) . However, as of today, Buddhism encompasses various traditions, beliefs, and practices. 

History of Buddha 

The historical Buddha who founded the religion of Buddhism (Gautama) was born in the early 6 th century into a small clan known as the Shakyas in Lumbini, Nepal as it is known today. Gautama’s father ruled the Shakyas tribe while the mother died seven days after giving birth to him. However, as foretold by a religious person, Gautama accomplished greater deeds and became a spiritual leader (The Biography, 2018) . From the time he was born till his marriage, his father prevented him from ever coming into contact with the suffering that human beings endured in the world. Gautama was thus raised in extravagance riches in their palace and was further prevented from ever knowing the miseries that befell humans in addition to the religion that humans turned to for consolation. However, at the time he ventured outside the palace walls in his late 20s, the harsh reality of human frailty was revealed to him. When Gautama discovered the suffering of the world outside his palace, he left his wife, son and kingdom to live a life of solitude. Henceforth, Gautama vowed to find a solution to the universal sufferings that humans were enduring (The Biography, 2018) . Gautama, therefore, made it his lifelong dedication to study ing various religious teachings and practices. After continuously struggling spiritually, he received divine enlightenment and was later reborn as Buddha, meaning, "he who is awake." Gautama thus exploited his remaining life on earth by traveling to all corners of Asia and preaching the Dharma to lead other individuals towards the path of enlightenment. 

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Teachings of Buddhism 

Just as other religions in the universe have various traditions which share universal lessons, so does Buddhism. Gautama taught those who followed him the truths of compassion and suffering. Gautama explained the crucial doctrines of Buddhism which include: 

Three Marks of Reality 

The three marks of reality consist of: 

Anicca, also known as, impermanence mainly states that even though every accustomed universal thing comes to an end, in the long run, they are unstable. In other words, everything that comes into being, afterward cease to exist (Coseru, 2012)

Dukkha , also known as, unsatisfactoriness fundamentally states that anything that is found in the physical world or even the psychological realm often allows one a sense of permanent deep satisfaction (Coseru, 2012)

Anatta further termed as, no-self predominantly states that all things in this world have permanent self’s, regardless of whether they are matters that concern the physical body or the cosmos in general. Additionally, they may also involve any mental intrigues that are not permanent (Coseru, 2012)

The Four Noble Truths 

The first Noble Truth as taught by Buddha indicates life as a continuous cycle of suffering. In other words, humans’ constantly live a life that is full of pleasure, and the pains of the body and mind (Vail, 2018) . According to Buddha, pleasures are not representations of permanent happiness since they are inevitably in connection with human suffering, even though we continuously endure wanting them. 

The second Noble Truth predominantly specifies that as human beings continuously want earthly things, they end up suffering since their sense of desires and the stuff they receive often do not match. In short, human beings consistently refuse to accept life as it is. 

The third Noble Truth mainly specifies there is an end to suffering. The fourth Noble truth, on the other hand, offers the means to an end of all human sufferings (Vail, 2018)

The Eight-Fold Path 

The Eight-Fold Path is mainly represented by the eight-spoked wheel (wheel of dharma). It consists of the Four Noble Truths, Right of Intention, Right to Speech, Right of Action, Right to Livelihood, Right to Endeavour, Right of Mindfulness and Right of Concentration (Vail, 2018) . Consequently, it is identified by the principle of the middle way as indicated in the life of Buddha. 

Major Buddhist Traditions and their development from the Early Buddhism Teachings 

Buddhism mainly consists of three primary schools, the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Theravada is the old people’s way which is predominantly associated with a conservative nature while Mahayana allows human beings to attain Nirvana through helping other individuals to save themselves (Vail, 2018) . Moreover, Vajrayana is constituted by the Mahayana tradition. Predominantly, it incorporates chants and rituals in religion to attain supernormal powers and is consequently a part of obstinate. However, both Vajrayana and Mahayana are similar since they both combine their meditating religious ceremonies with emblematic items such as candles, bells, images, hand gestures and visual exercises. 

All the three branches of Buddhism trace back their lineage to the original teachings that were developed by Buddha and additionally share all the three realities. The Four Noble Truths consequently are the fundamental concepts of having an understanding of human life. Although the three branches of Buddhism practice the worship of Buddha differently, it is the Eight-Fold Path that is the way to achieve Nirvana (Vail, 2018) . While each of these branches of Buddhism is different, they all draw their history and beliefs from Buddha and his consistent pursuit of Nirvana. 


Coseru, C. (2012, Oct 3). Mind in Indian Buddhist Philosophy. Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-indian-buddhism/ 

The Biography. (2018, March 19). Buddha Biography. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from The Biography.com: https://www.biography.com/people/buddha-9230587 

Vail, F. L. (2018). The Origins of Buddhism. Retrieved May 2018, from Asia Society: https://asiasociety.org/education/origins-buddhism 

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