WHO WAS THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA?
Before His Self-Enlightenment, our Lord Buddha was Prince Siddhattha Gautama, who lived sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, in the city of Kapilavastu in Northern India. He took up the religious life when he was 29 years old. It took him six years before he could attain Self-Enlightenment, thereafter he was known as Shakyamuni Buddha, or just The Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha is the primary figure in Buddhism, an Arahant (from the ancient Pali language) which means fully enlightened being, who shared his knowledge and insights to help others. He spent 45 years establishing and propagating Buddhism and as a result, many people were able to attain the different stages of Enlightenment. He taught The Middle Way, between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism which had been common at that time.
Statue of Shayamuni Buddha, Dhammakaya Temple, Thailand
Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later. These form the basis of the Titpitaka (aka Pali Canon) which contains various teachings in different formats.
Much of the Tipitaka can be read online at Access to Insight, an external, and very extensive website that has English translations of many of the original discourses of the Buddha, and associated texts and additional materials from other contributors.
WHO CAN BE A BUDDHA?
Every human being can aspire to Buddhahood. Once an individual resolves to become a Buddha, that person must endeavor to pursue Perfections. When all the Perfections have been pursued to the fullest extent, they will then be able to attain Self-Enlightenment. The name, which is used to call an individual who aspires to Buddhahood, is “Phra Bodhisatta”.