Accounts of the Life of the Buddha Are Too Unrealistic to Contain Any Truth.

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Traditional stories surrounding the life of the Buddha are shrouded in myth but Damien Keown in, 'Buddhism, A Very Short History' states that, 'myths are stories which have a compelling force by nature of their ability to work simultaneously on several levels.' In this essay I wish to explore the possibility of both historical and spiritual truths. Scholars agree that we know very little of the historical Buddha but they do argue that it is reasonable to suppose that Siddhartha was a real person. R. Gethin in, 'The foundations on Buddhism', argues that we can form quite a clear picture of the kind of person the Buddha was and the main events in his life. Where and roughly when. It is estimated that the Buddha was probably born in the early fifth century BCE. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude which stories are truth or myth. Sceptics would look to the birth and say that a new born baby could not possibly walk in four directions, North, South, East and West, as the teachings describe. However, Buddhists would argue that this symbolised the Buddha's spread of teaching and that he would be of great importance. Therefore, this story could be called untrue historically but it is spiritually truth for Buddhists. Similarly, the story of the 4 signs, it is most probable that the Buddha had seen death, illness and old age before his trip out of the palace because it is almost impossible to avoid all of these things. Assuming this is untrue, Buddhists could argue that this was a teaching designed to make them understand that we must first notice suffering to overcome it to achieve the ultimate Buddhist goal of enlightenment. On the other hand, some of the accounts of the Buddha may be historically true such as his renunciation, it is quite possible and probable that Siddhartha did leave his family, adopted the life of a wandering ascetic (sramana) and cut

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