An awakened soul is the most precious pearl in a sea filled with jewels and stones. The Buddha was one of the most brilliant pearls. He suffered greatly to become the soul we think we know. His father was a feudal lord, a king. Siddhartha Gautama was an exceptionally handsome person. Imagine, in a world where vast majority of people would nearly do anything to live a life that was offered to him in a prince’s castle but he chose the opposite, the poverty which great number of his countrymen were experiencing. More accurately, he chose to be a truth-seeker and found it. He never claimed any sainthood or prophecy contrary to what some of us would think or preach. He was an enlightened human being, which is more than sufficient to make him an extraordinarily special human being in a world where most choose to sleep or would not even bother to seek truth over a long period of time.
The Great Awakening had arrived. He experienced the state of bliss. Gautama’s being was transformed, and he emerged the Buddha as we know it today. The full awakening event was of cosmic import.
He founded an order of monks, challenged the deadness of Brahmin society, and accepted in return the resentment, queries, and bewilderment his stance provoked.
When the people carried their puzzlement to the Buddha himself, the answer he gave provided an identity for his entire message.
“Are you a god?” they asked.
“An angel?” “No.”
“A saint?” “No.” “Then what are you?”
Buddha answered, “I am awake”
After an arduous ministry of forty-five years, at the age of eighty and around the year 483 B.C., the Buddha died from dysentery after eating a meal of dried boar’s flesh in the home of Cunda the Smith. Two sentences from his valedictory have echoed through the ages. “All compounded things decay. Work out your own salvation with diligence.”
Quotes taken from “Buddhism” by Huston Smith.