a) Search for Enlightenment
Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) was born into a ruling family of Northern India, today Napal, in 620 B.C. As a young man he lived a comfortable life but soon was faced with the disturbing reality of old age, suffering and death.
One day he met an ascetic beggar who was terrified by "birth and death" and who desired liberation. The question that troubled Gautama was: Why must man suffer and die and be reborn again to suffer and die?
So at the age of 29 he left his family and became a wandering ascetic under the direction a famous master. His continual fasting reduced him to skin and bone but still he had not found the answer.
Perhaps, he thought, I might find the answer through meditation. He sat under a fig tree determined not to move until he had found the answer. During these days he suffered temptations lust, anger, fear, etc. that in the stories are personified by the demon Mara. Finally, one night after a week of meditation he became enlightened and because there was nobody to witness this, he pointed to the earth to bear witness. From that day the fig tree under which he sat became known as the Bo tree "tree of wisdom".
b) Meaning of Enlightenment
The Buddhists have chosen the lotus to illustrate enlightenment because it grows out of muddy waters and opens its flower to the light of the sun.
What was Buddha's experience?
He experienced a liberation from craving, selfish desires and possessive loves and the sufferings this engenders in this life and rebirth (Nirvana). At the same time peace and joy flooded his soul and realizing the interdependence of all of creatures and felt compassion toward its sufferings.
About 500 years after Buddha Christ was born enlightened. He said,
"I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."
World View and Christ