Buddha, The Enlightened One

Siddhartha Gotama was a prince in India around 2600 years ago. He was brought up with all the luxuries imaginable and was constantly surrounded by beauty, he knew no other life. It is believed that Siddhartha was about 30 years old when he first stepped outside the containment of his family's beautiful palace gates. He saw old people and suffering for the first time, as well as poverty and hunger. He quickly realized that he was not living a real life being in the bounds of the royal family, so he stripped himself of all his riches, threw on a robe and walked away.

He sought meaning and reason for suffering, he found teachers of discipline and meditation along the way. He soon started gaining his own students and developed an original teaching of the 'four noble truths'.

The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. The Second seeks to determine the cause of suffering; desire and ignorance are believed to be the root of all suffering. Desire means craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never truly be satisfied, as once they are fulfilled, you will always want more. The Third Noble Truth is realization of the end of suffering; meaning, the acceptance of what is and the disentanglement from desires. The Fourth is the path toward eliminating all attachments to reach the state of Nirvana.

This means, you are truly happy and free when you want nothing. These truths, once lived through provide a means to end a person's karmic cycle and to advance into a higher realm in the next life, in another dimension.

A Buddha means 'Enlightened One', is an individual who has achieved Enlightenment and is free from the karmic cycle. A Bodhisattva is a person who has also achieved Enlightenment, but has vowed to return to this world to teach the four noble truths.

Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world today, mostly in Asian countries, but has picking up in the Western world over the last few hundred years.

Thousands of temples and ashrams all over the world have been built to house these beliefs, and the one thing you will find in all of them is a statue of the Buddha. In Indian Buddhism, the Buddha is thin and looks peaceful; this is the traditional Buddha, or Siddhartha.

The Chinese believe that Buddha later reincarnated and their interpretation of the statue is the 'fat laughing Buddha', who's stomach they rub for good luck.

You will also notice that the Monks in these temples usually put food out in front of the statues, this is a representation of gratitude, or reciprocation of the teachings Buddha had given them.

Another symbol strongly associated with Buddhism is the lotus flower. It is a water lily that grows in murky ponds and takes its roots in the black soil. Just as the striking lotus blossom grows from the mud, human beings can also detach themselves from suffering, to rise above and blossom as Buddhas.

This is a beautiful reminder that we are all born with the seed of Buddha inside.