Before Siddartha Gotama's birth, his mother dreamt of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower. 

 

 

At a palace festival, the young prince sat down under a tree and was soon lost in meditation. It is said that though the shadows of all the trees had lengthened, the shadow of the tree under which he sat had not moved.

 

 

During an excursion outside the palace gates, Prince Siddartha encountered four images: old age, sickness, death, and an ascetic spiritual seeker.

 

 

The future Buddha bid farewell to his wife, Princess Yasodhara and new son, Rahula, before renouncing the householder's life to seek an end to suffering. 

 

Far from the palace, Prince Siddartha exchanged his fine clothes for rags and cut his long hair.

 

The young ascetic practiced extreme self-mortification for six years in the hopes of discovering Truth. It is said he ate little more than a single sesame seed or grain of rice each day. After these six years he determined to continue his quest in a new manner. He would practice a Middle Way between self-mortification and self- indulgence.

 

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