(This is a snip bit of another larger post entitled 'Living with Revelation')
I have to admit I love this story.
So, a young man leaves everything he owns. Not just any young man, but a prince. He leaves everything he knows, all of his comforts, all of his familiar things and goes in search for something else. Something spiritual.
He was looking for answers.
It is said that Siddhartha was searching for the ‘ truth and eternal peace’, to ‘subjugate his ego’, to ‘search for the ultimate truth’, ‘for enlightenment’ and for the answer to human suffering.
He wandered into the world and began his search. For years. He tried different methods that were already being taught by other traditions.
What ever it was that Siddhartha was looking for, he didn’t find it following other people. He found it, and this is important, when he gave up the traditions he had been following. He had learnt all there was to learn following those paths, and when he realised he was no closer to the truth for all his searching, he stopped, sat down (under a now famous bodhi tree) and resigned himself.
He stripped himself bare. He had, in a way, given up.
Then, after seeing the futility of his previous struggles, he finally cast away the last of the past, and discovered himself in the ever living moment. And (easy as it sounds) voila – enlightenment!
Now Siddhartha didn’t begin to preach right away. He thought and contemplated and found words to describe what had happened to him. He met a group of his old fellow ascetics, and he spoke to them. He used words they could understand. He spoke to them in the context of their mutual tradition.
Remember that Siddhartha was born a Hindu. He used the language of his forefathers, just as Jesus used the language of the Jews.
He had undergone an experience that had no context. Can you imagine how it must feel? To try to explain something that seems to have no living history?
What did Siddhartha discover?
For me, its important to remember, that they say, Siddhartha's first thought was 'Its impossible to teach this'.
He then tries anyway, and puts his revealed state of understanding into language that UNENLIGHTENED beings can understand.
If you see something, and nobody has seen it before, how will you explain it? Probably in comparison with things they do have previous knowledge of.
So, people undergoing a spiritual revelation, must use concepts we can understand.
And even if its close,its not really the same thing.
For a very simple explanation of what the Buddha taught (and i think simplicity is best in this circumstance) , click here