Buddha was born on April 8, in the year 566, 563, or 560 B.C. to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Sakya in present day Nepal. Both of his parents came from the Gautama clan of the royal warrior caste. Maya died one week after Siddhartha was born, and he was raised by her sister, Mahaprajapati.

Buddha grew up in the midst of great luxury. When he was born, prophets had predicted that he would either be a great king or a buddha (truly enlightened one.) He would become a buddha after seeing four signs - an old man, a monk, a corpse, and someone who was ill. Siddhartha's father wanted him to become a king, so he kept him away from all places where he might meet such people. When Buddha was either 16 or 19, he was married to a young woman named Yashodhara. Buddha was apparently somewhat content with the life at his father's palace for the first twenty-nine years of his life, but in his late twenties, he encountered the four signs. He began to think about life in general, and came to the conclusion that all things are changeable. However, instead of acknowledging the one true unchangable God, he sought 'enlightenment' to free him from the cycle of reincarnation which he believed existed. To do this, he left behind his wife, son, and family.

For six years, Siddhartha wandered, begged, starved himself, and tried by other means to find enlightenment. Nothing worked. Finally, he ate a good meal, bathed in a river, and sat down under a tree, later named the Bo-tree, or tree of wisdom, vowing not to leave it until he was enlightened. That night, he passed into a "super-conscious state" and was enlightened. After he came out of the super-conscious state, he danced for seven days and seven nights5. Another account says that he meditated for forty-nine days before being enlightened and does not mention any dancing6.

It was at this time that Buddha received his name, which means 'enlightened one'. He was also known as 'Sakyamuni' (sage of the Sakya clan), Gautama Buddha (since that was his family name), or simply 'Blessed One' 7. He immediately began to tell others of his experience. For the next forty-five years, he traveled, teaching throughout India. The area in which he taught was particularly receptive to the new religion because the former religion had become extremely corrupt.

Call upon the Buddah for help with balance and moderation in all things, joy, inner and world peace, and spiritual growth and understanding.

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