The Buddha (563–483 bce), also known as Siddhartha Gautama, was one of the greatest philosophers of the world. He was born a prince of the Shakya clan of Kapilavastu in present-day Nepal in sixth century bce. While leading a life of luxury and comfort, he was shocked to see the universality of suffering. He renounced his family, rank, and material possessions at the age of twenty-nine to search for deliverance from old age, illness, and death. He led the life of an ascetic for many years and attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five and became the Buddha. He believed that desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. As a spiritual teacher, the Buddha developed a pragmatic middle path. He preached selflessness, non-violence, righteousness, and right living to liberate the soul from an endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth in order to attain salvation or Nirvana. He did not speak of gods or rituals and preached a non-theistic way of life. The Buddha’s teachings—mainly the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths—form the basis of the Buddhist tradition and are followed by people across the world.
Edited by Nanditha Krishna, ‘See Things As They Are’ brings together the Buddha’s core teachings.