We headed straight north up the road along the east side of Siem Reap River until we got to Wat Bo. Wat Bo is one of the oldest temples which makes a nice contrast between the old roof of the main pagoda, a classical Khmer design and French style arches with Thai Buddhist details. Along the temple old wall there are paintings depicting scenes from the life of Siddhartha Gautama or Buddha, the one who founded one of the first world religion fallowed today by over 400 million people, a religion where meditation is used to reach a state of complete peace and happiness.
Siddhartha Gautama was born about 583 BC (Before Christ)in Lumbine or Lumpinee in or near what is now Nepal. His father, King Suddhodana, was leader of a large clan called the Shakya. His mother, Queen Maya, died shortly after his birth.
One night, Queen Mayadevi Buddha's mother dreamed that a white elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared and went round her three times, entering her womb. Maya Devi, his mother, gave birth to the child on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha while taking rest in Lumbini under a Sal tree. The beauty of Lumbini is described in Pali and Sanskrit literature. Maya Devi it is said was spellbound to see the natural grandeur of Lumbini. While she was standing, she felt labour pains and catching hold of a drooping branch of a Sal tree, the baby, the future Buddha, was born.
The paint relief depicts Maya Devi with her right hand holding on to a branch of a Sal tree with a newborn child standing upright on a lotus petal, shedding an oval halo, around his head, while two celestial figures pour water and lotuses from vessels of heaven as indicated by the delineation of clouds.
When the king saw the child he felt as if all his wishes had been fulfilled and he named the young prince “Siddhartha.” He invited a Brahmin seer to make predictions about the prince’s future. The seer examined the child with his clairvoyance and told the king, “There are signs that the boy could become either a Great King, a ruler of the entire world, or a fully enlightened Buddha.
He grew up in a Palace surrounded by luxury.
Buddhas's father noticed that his child was an exceptional boy very skillful at any sport discipline.
King Suddhodana preferred the first outcome and prepared his son accordingly. He raised the boy in great luxury and shielded him from knowledge of religion and human suffering. The King had him early married to a charming Princess Yasodhara. The Prince reached the age of 29 with little experience of the world outside the walls of his opulent palaces.
King Suddhodana preferred his son become a powerful world king rather than an spiritual leader, thus he made his best to keep his son, Buddha, in the palace surounded by luxuries.
One day, overcome with curiosity, Prince Siddhartha asked a charioteer to take him on a series of rides through the countryside. On these journeys he was shocked by the sight of an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse. The stark realities of old age, disease, and death seized and sickened the Prince. Finally, he saw a wandering ascetic. The charioteer explained that the ascetic was one who had renounced the world pleasures and sought release from fear of death and suffering.
For a time the Prince returned to palace life, but he took no pleasure in it. Even the news that his wife had given birth to a son did not please him. The child was called Rahula, which means "fetter."
Buddha abandon his father's palace, he gave up everything to get ultimate wisdom; what is really worthwhile having.
After abandoning the palace and being alone, at his own he shaved his head, and changed his prince's clothes for a beggar's robe. Then he began his quest for enlightenment.
Siddhartha began by seeking out renowned teachers, who taught him about the many religious philosophies of his day as well as how to meditate. However, his doubts and questions still remained. So, he and Five Disciples left to find enlightenment by themselves.
He attempted to find release from suffering through physical discipline--enduring pain, holding their breath, fasting nearly to starvation. Yet Siddhartha was still unsatisfied. It occurred to him that in renouncing pleasure he had grasped pleasure's opposite--pain and self-mortification. Now Siddhartha considered a Middle Way between those two extremes.
Buddha was about to die from starvation and he realized that instead of starvation, he needed nourishment to build up his strength for the effort. But when he accepted a bowl of rice milk from a young girl, Visakha. His companions assumed he had given up the quest and abandoned him.
According to the tradition a young girl approached him as he was about to die and feed him with rice.
The work of Siddhartha's mind came to be mythologized as a great battle with Mara (Demon). Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him. Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself roared the seat of enlightenment belonged to Buddha. Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.
Siddhartha sat beneath a sacred fig known ever after as the Bodhi Tree, and settled into meditation.
After his enlightenment, he went to teach the five companions who had abandoned him, and to them he preached his first sermon. This sermon has been preserved as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta and centers on the Four Noble Truths. Instead of teaching doctrines about enlightenment, the Buddha chose to prescribe a path of practice through which people can realize enlightenment for themselves
The Buddha devoted himself to teaching, attracting hundreds of followers. Eventually he became reconciled with his father, King Suddhodana.
Buddha came back home just for a short period of time and there his wife, the devoted Yasodhara, became a nun and disciple.
Rahula, his son, became a novice monk at the age of 7 and spent the rest of his life with his father.
The Buddha tirelessly traveled and taught until his death at age 80. His last words to his followers:
"Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation."
The tradition states that Buddha died from simple poisoned food.
Finally, Buddhist has been adopted by many different cultures and countries thus there are many interpretation on the Buddha’s philosophy. Some people states that Buddhism is not a religion but a science of mind.
Unlike other religions, Buddhism which centers on the mind, fallows the teaching of the enlightened, the Buddha or the awaken one rather than of any god.