The Buddha is everywhere!
Even if you’ve never heard anything about Buddhism, you probably know what the Buddha looks like.
Sitting in meditation, eyes half-closed, a peaceful smile across his lips, the Buddha stands for happiness and contentment. The Buddha represents a life well-lived.
It isn’t only Buddhists who love this image. Go anywhere in the world, and you’ll come across pictures and statues of the Buddha, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and ease.
What’s so special about the Buddha?
This presents us with a bit of a mystery. Why do people love the Buddha so much, even if they aren’t Buddhist? What is it about his mysterious smile, his calm, that people find so compelling?
The Buddha isn’t just a symbol. He was a real person, living in India 2500 years ago. Within his own lifetime, he became famous for his wisdom and kindness, helping countless thousands of people to find freedom from suffering.
To understand why, you’ll need to know a bit about the life of the man himself.
The Buddha’s story
The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Guatama, was born in India 2500 years ago. When he was still a teenager, he left home in search of the meaning of life.
Giving up incredible wealth and privilege, he wandered in the forests of Northern India. He meditated, fasted, and spoke with the most important spiritual teachers of the day. He became famous for his capacity to learn faster and practice harder than anyone else around.
Yet this impressive young man was unable to find what he was looking for. At one point he nearly died trying, starving himself almost to death.
The Buddha’s Enlightenment
Lying in a ditch, weak from hunger, the Buddha knew he had to take a new approach. Pulled to safety by a young woman, he ate a little rice, and took stock.
Unexpectedly, he remembered something from his childhood. One warm, breezy day, he had been watching his father plough a field. He remembered feeling happy, relaxed and calm.
Then, all at once, he knew that this was the secret he’d been searching for. A happy, relaxed mind could let go of craving, the source of human suffering.
The teaching of the Buddha
From that time onwards, the Buddha dedicated his life to teaching others how to be free from suffering. His famous smile and calm face are a reminder of what’s possible for all of us.