Historians generally agree that Siddhartha Gautama was born in a princely family in northern India about the year 566 B.C.E. As a young man, he gave up life in the palace and set out to escape the cycle of death and rebirth.
After several difficult years of study and practice, he “woke up,” not only to the cause of suffering but to its final cessation. He then wandered the roads of India, gathering together a group of disciples and establishing a pattern of discipline for the Buddhist community. Finally, at about the age of eighty, he lay down and passed gently from the cycle of death and rebirth.
With the simple events of the Buddha’s life as a guide, Buddhists have developed a rich tradition of stories and legends that tell us not only how they have understood the founder of their tradition, but how they have built lives of wisdom and freedom for themselves.