Buddhism and Christianity Today

Buddhism and Christianity Today

Dr. Jim Denison

Historical background:

Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.) is the founder of Buddhism. He lived in nobility and wealth until he was 29 when, shortly after the birth of his son, he came to despair the meaninglessness of his life. And so he renounced his life of royalty and lived the life of a wandering seeker for some six years.

First he tried Hindu metaphysics, then adopted the life of an extreme ascetic. But neither provided the answers he was seeking. Finally Gautama admitted to himself that he was a defeated man; in this moment, he later claimed, he experienced his “enlightenment.” This caused him later to be called the “Buddha” (“the Enlightened One”). This was his experience of “nirvana” or deliverance.

Following his enlightenment, he chose to become a missionary to others. He gave seven weeks to preparation, then traveled to Sarnath, near Benares, the sacred city of the Hindus. Here he preached his first sermon and began his career of disciple-making which would last until his death in 483 B.C.