The Buddhism is a religion that has a founder, called Buddha , which means “awake.” For his followers, awakening is the key.
The Buddha figure
Buddhists understand that human beings live as in a dream, from which they have to leave in order to understand the meaning of life. To understand this is to do what they call “entering the current”, a knowledge that leads to the awakening and liberation that they call nirvana.
Therefore, nirvana is the goal of Buddhism: to achieve it is to free oneself from the wheel of rebirth and to understand the supreme and absolute reality, beyond thought and language. Buddha is the one who, having managed to awaken, served as an example to others, teaching this way.
Buddha lived in northern India 2500 years ago; he belonged to a family of warriors and rulers and his name was Sidharta Gautama, also called Sakyamuni, which means “sage of the sakya clan”. It is said that, as he was not satisfied with the fact that in the world there is sickness, pain, injustice and death, he decided to look for a way to escape from so many sufferings.
At the age of 29, he left his home and family, and began to live like an ascetic in the woods, meditating and fasting, until he became skin and bones. But he realized that through this life of deprivation he was not getting what he was looking for. He then proposed that it would be necessary to follow the intermediate path, away from the extremes.
At the age of 36, sitting under a tree in Bodhgaya, near Benares, he arrived through meditation on awakening, enlightenment, which would have led him to understand the true nature of things, and began to preach.
He gave his first speech, Benares’ sermon, at the deer park in Sarnath, near Benares. Buddhists say that the dharma wheel set in motion there, teaching the way for everyone to get rid of suffering and achieve the awakening that flows into nirvana. The dharma is the principle by which the world works, and explained that Buddha realized and that appears reflected in the sacred books of Buddhism, with different meaning from that of Hinduism.
After more than forty years as a walking preacher throughout northern India, he created a small community of followers. He died at the age of 80.
With his death, Buddhism was established in its three fundamental components: Buddha, as an example; dharma, as a way of life; and the sanga, which is the community of Buddhists and which appears as a reference and support.
And what the three refuges call. The most common Buddhist prayer reads: “I seek refuge in the Buddha, I seek refuge in the dharma, I seek refuge in the sanga”.
The skeletal Buddha
This image refers to the period of Buddha’s life when he spent as an ascetic in the woods, when he did not achieve his purpose. It serves as an example of an incorrect behavior, since it supposes an extremism that goes against the intermediate path.
Such drastic fasts are not a correct activity because the person harms himself. Excessive asceticism would make the correct way of life of the noble eightfold path that appears in Benares’ sermon vulnerable.
The wheel between deer
The wheel refers to the episode in the Buddha’s life in which he pronounces Benares’ sermon in the deer park of Sarnath, with which Buddha set in motion the dharma wheel.