释迦牟尼在与苦难的第一次接触后，为了了解这个世界离开了他的宫殿。这被称为佛教历史上的大弃绝。释迦牟尼王子在追寻真理的道路上流浪了许多年，在他的道路上遇到了许多老师、苦行僧和国王，为了找到他所追寻的真理，他进行了许多修行。佛教的主要著作，用佛陀自己的话来表达伟大的启蒙运动是如何产生的。席特哈尔塔坐着冥想，靠的是波罗蜜多或他过去作为菩萨或未来的佛陀所积累的伟大美德。这些美德帮助他冥想(Juergensmeyer, 2011)。这些美德有十种之多，至今仍为各地佛教徒所践行。它们是仁爱、道德、克己、努力、决心或意志力、对每个人的爱、平静和智慧。在他的启蒙阶段，席特哈尔塔写道，他看到了一条生命之流，其中有生有死。这种对佛陀的看法基本上是印度教的转世学说。在印度教中，基本教义也被称为婆罗门，认为轮回是为人类而存在的。佛陀能够通过他的冥想看到的是这种觉悟的状态，理解一种打破轮回和痛苦循环的方法(Badiner, 1990)。
根据佛经，当席特哈尔塔第一次在冥想中获得他所拥有的知识时，他面临着一个困境。在那个年代，僧侣不把他们通过冥想获得的信息传播给他人是很常见的。然而，席特哈尔塔在他的启蒙思想中选择了传播信息。释迦牟尼在他的第一次讲道中，以四道真理来呈现教义之轮。这四个真理是佛教教义的基础。除了在开悟后获得的四圣谛，八正道也被佛陀教导给他的追随者作为活在世上的方式。第一个崇高的真理“苦”是生活中有痛苦和悲伤，认为生活中有幸福是错误的，因为一个人经历的痛苦是无限的。第二个神圣的真理“坦哈”说，哪里有依恋，哪里就有痛苦。第三个崇高的真理“尼罗达”引导人们为了克服痛苦而放弃自我。最后一个崇高的真理是，佛教的生活方式必须以达到“涅槃”为目标。为此，佛陀规定了八正道。根据八正道，一个人必须有正确的观点或理解，必须有正确的抱负，必须有正确的言论，正确的行为，正确的职业或维持的手段，正确的努力，正确的精神控制和专注的形式(Dumoulin, 1993;Juergensmeyer, 2011)。
The Great Renunciation and Enlightenment
Gautama Buddha in his first contact with suffering left his palace in order to understand the world. This is called the Great Renunciation in Buddhism history. Gautama Buddha, the prince in seeking the truth wandered for many years and met with many teachers, ascetics and kings in his way and followed many practices in order to find out the truth he was seeking. The main writings in Buddhism, present in Buddha’s own words how the great enlightenment came to be. Siddhartha sat in meditation sustained by the paramitas or the great virtues that he had gathered in his past life as a bodhisattvas or Buddha-to-be. These virtues helped him in his meditation (Juergensmeyer, 2011). These virtues are ten in number and are practices by Buddhists everywhere till date. They are charity, morality, renunciation, effort, determinations or willpower, love for everybody, equanimity and wisdom. In his enlightenment phase, Siddhartha wrote that he saw a stream of life in which there were births and deaths in succession. This vision of Buddha is basically the doctrine of reincarnation present in Hinduism. In Hinduism, the foundational teaching also called the Brahman argues that reincarnation exists for man. What Buddha was able to see through his meditation was this enlightened state of understanding a way to break the cycle of reincarnation and sufferings (Badiner, 1990).
The Four Truths and the Eight-Fold Path
According to the Buddhist scriptures, when Siddhartha first got the knowledge he was granted with in his meditation, faced a dilemma. In those days it was common for monks to not spread information they got by means of meditation to others. However, Siddhartha in his enlightenment chose to spread the information. In his very first sermon, Gautama Buddha presents the wheel of doctrine with four truths. These four truths were the basics for Buddhist teaching. Apart from the four noble truths that were obtained after enlightenment, the eightfold path was also instructed by Buddha to his followers as way to live in the world. The first noble truth ‘dukkha’ is that life has pain and sorrow in it and to think there is happiness in life would be misleading because the pain one experiences is infinitely more. The second noble truth ‘tanha’ states that where there is attachment then there is suffering. The third noble truth ‘nirodha’ guides people to abandon their self in order to overcome suffering. The final noble truth is that the Buddhist way of life must aim to attain ‘nirvana’. For this an eight-fold path was prescribed by Buddha. According to the eightfold path, a person must have the right view or understanding, must have the right aspirations, must have the right speech, the right conduct, the right vocation or means to sustain, the right efforts, the right form of mind control, and concentration (Dumoulin, 1993; Juergensmeyer, 2011).
The Sangha was formed by Buddha comprising of monks and nuns in order to spread the foundational teachings of Buddhism. Followers or his Bhikkus were then sent to wander forth just like the Buddha did in order to spread his word. The practices and ways towards breaking reincarnation and ending suffering hence became a central value of the religion. Suffering persists in the current world, and in presenting a way and values for ending suffering, Buddhism persists in the present world also handed down by the followers of the religion.