A Sketch of the Buddha's Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

13,055 words

This modest selection of excerpts from the Pali Canon provides a rough sketch of the life of the Buddha. I hope you will find enough in this rather sparse selection to gain at least an inkling both of the range of the Buddhas teachings and of the sweeping trajectory of his extraordinary life....

At Age Twenty-nine

The Young Prince Goes Forth Into Homelessness

[Date: -51 BCE]

"Before my Awakening, when I was still an un awakened Bodhisattva, the thought occurred to me: the household life is crowded, a dusty road. Life gone forth is the open air. It isnt easy, living in a home, to lead the holy life that is totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair and beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the home life into homelessness?

"So at a later time, when I was still young, black haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life, having shaved off my hair and beard -- though my parents wished otherwise and were grieving with tears on their faces -- I put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home life into homelessness."

[MN 36]

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