In the year 624 BC, in Kapilawaththu (Nepal) Siddhartha Gautama was born as a prince. His father was King Suddhodana and his mother was Queen Mahamaya. When he was sixteen he finished his education and he married Princess Yasodara. King Suddhodana handed over his kingdom to his son Siddhartha. They had a baby name Rahula. When king Siddhartha was 29 years old he decided to renounce lay life. Siddhartha left from his kingdom and went to several well-known teachers to study the ultimate nature of reality. But their teachings didn’t satisfy him and he set out to find his own path. Six years later he went to Bodgaya near the Neranjana River and sat under a tree.
Siddhartha’s mind was calm and relaxed. As he sat his concentration deepened and his wisdom grew brighter. In this clear and peaceful state of mind he began to examine the true nature of life. “What is the cause of suffering,” he asked himself, “and what is the path to everlasting joy?” In his mind’s eye he looked far beyond his own country, far beyond his own world. Soon the sun, planets, the stars out in space and distant galaxies of the universe all appeared to him in his meditation. He saw how everything, from the smallest speck of dust to the largest star was linked together in a constantly changing pattern: growing, decaying and growing again. Everything was related. Nothing happened without a cause and every cause had an effect on everything else.
As he realized this, deeper truths appeared to his mind. He looked deeply into himself and discovered that his life as Siddhartha the Prince was but the latest in a series of lifetimes that had no beginning – and that the same was true of everyone. We are born, live and die not one time, but again and again. He saw that death is only the separation of the mind from its present body. After death the importance of Karma is central to the next journey. When one life ends, another begins – and in this way the wheel of death and birth keeps spinning around and around. He also saw one life to the next we are constantly changing and constantly affecting one another. Sometimes we are rich and comfortable; sometimes we are poor and miserable. Occasionally we experience pleasure, but more often we find ourselves with problems. And Siddhartha also saw that as our conditions change, so do our relations with others. We have all been each other’s friend and enemy, mother and father, son and daughter thousands upon thousands of times in the past.
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