Shakyamuni Buddha was born a prince of the Shakya tribe in India. His father was so full of joy at his birth, that he named him Siddhartha, which means “Every Wish Fulfilled.” He was given all that he desired and was shielded from the outside world. One day, he secretly left the palace to explore the city. There he witnessed poverty, sickness, and death. He was deeply distressed by all the problems of human existence. Being a very sensitive and compassionate person, he began to search for an answer to the question, “How can I eliminate suffering?” At the age of 29 he left his home and devoted himself to liberating all human beings from suffering and guide them all to a truly meaningful way of living. In pursuit of this goal, he lived as a nomad, monk, and as an ascetic. At this point he had experienced both a life of excess and of extreme self-denial. He knew that living to either extreme was fruitless. He saw that the Middle Path was one of balance and harmony. Still searching for more answers, he began to meditate. It was during this meditation that he achieved enlightenment.
He realized that all sentient beings are endowed with wisdom and light, and it is only because of delusion and attachment that they do not see the truth. Having this deep insight, he understood the Universal Truth (Dharma) that is applicable for everyone, in whatever time and space.