Abstract This paper is about Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha. The main focus of this paper is to describe the change that took place in his life, and the man that emerged after finally completing his quest for enlightenment. After the Buddha gained enlightenment, he spent the remainder of his life sharing his teachings about compassion and duty. He totally revolutionized the former thinking of the caste system, which was accepted in India. The caste system pretty much said that certain people were put in certain positions as human beings due to something they had done in their past lives. The Buddha taught that all people were equal and could become enlightened beings and obtain nirvana. This is one main reason why I think that he played such a crucial role with social justice in the world. His teachings live on today, and even though he is not among us, his spirit lives on in the lives of his followers. If the Buddha were here today I know that he would be very much involved with issues that we are facing, and make every effort to bring about positive change.
Around 563 BCE in Northern India, a prince was born whose life would reshape the Eastern world of religious thought. The noble prince was Siddhartha Gautama--also known as Sakyamuni [Sage of the Sakyas]--was born an auspicious birth by Queen Maya. Before giving birth to Siddhartha, Queen Maya had a dream about a white elephant entering the side of her abdomen. The child was destined to be a great spiritual leader. The prince was given ever luxury imaginable at that time by his father, in hopes that his life of ease would lead him to become a great ruler instead of a great spiritual teacher, as was prophesied by a yogi at his birth. His father, the powerful Lord Suddhodana saw his son as a potential ruler, and as such he had plans of his own in how this prince was to be raised. He prevented his son from leaving the palace for any reason, and by so doing, prevented him from seeing any type of painful human experiences. After all, if Siddhartha were never to become aware of human suffering then what reason would he have to become a spiritual teacher? At age 16 Siddhartha was married to princess Yashodhara, his cousin, and soon after they fell in love. She bore him a child, which would be a great source of happiness as well as grounding for him to this world. Life was good for the prince, and he had everything he needed in order to fulfill the expectations of a member of the Kshatriya caste. However, at 19 years of age, his life of pleasure and ease took a drastic turn. He decided he wanted to venture outside the walls of his palace and see if there was more to life than what he knew. On separate occasions, the prince encountered four sights that would change the course of his life. The first sight was an old man, which lead the prince to discover that all men grow old. The second sight was a sick person, which showed that sickness and suffering are a part of human existence. The third sight was a corpse, which signified that death befalls us all. With all of these thoughts on his mind, he made his way to the fourth sight, which was a wandering Ascetic. Asceticism in his mind was the only way to deal with the sufferings of humanity, which is why Siddhartha decided that he needed to become an Ascetic himself. Siddhartha's father tried to distract his son from this newly discovered reality of human suffering, but he couldn't shake it. He was too preoccupied with the truth of human suffering and felt obligated to do something besides remain in his life of pleasure and ease. These four sights were the starting point of his quest for enlightenment. Siddhartha could no longer find comfort in the palace and decided to leave in the night in order to seek release from the wheel of rebirth. He shaved his head, put on clothes of a wandering ascetic, and made his way to a cave where he met two Brahmin yogis, who became