Siddhartha was inspired by an ascetic who was on the path to spiritual liberation. At 29 years old, he left his palace, his wife and his child to find out how to overcome suffering, or duhkha. He practiced different forms of meditation and underwent fasts with not even water drink.
After arriving at Bodh Gaya, Siddhartha sat under a fig tree and decided to remain there until his questions were answered. After several days of deep concentration, fasting and mindful meditation, Siddhartha found the answer. He understood how to relieve suffering.
Upon attaining enlightenment when he was 35 years old, Siddhartha came to be known as Buddha. The tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment is called the Bodhi tree.
Following his enlightenment, Buddha came up with and preached the Four Noble Truths to his disciples:
- The truth of suffering
- The truth of the cause of suffering
- The truth of the end of suffering
- The truth of the path leading to the end of suffering
This fourth truth refers to the Noble Eightfold Path, which is considered the heart of Buddhist practice. It is also referred to as the middle path. To achieve enlightenment, one must follow these eight disciplines:
- Right understanding
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
Buddhism and yoga are similar in many ways. Both aim at developing compassion, spiritual enlightenment and liberation. Both consider dharma to be the fundamental law of the universe. Both perceive karma as the cause behind a human's rebirth. They also both work to liberate the practitioner from struggle and worldly suffering. For this reason, yogic practitioners follow the path of Buddha and some Buddhists practice yoga.