We know Shakyamuni was a prince and had all the lavish life a prince should have. He was isolated from every pain and suffering as we are told. As he traveled countryside he began to feel pain and suffering in others and witnessed death. He could have been ignorant or at most have donated some of his wealth to the commoners, but he didn't. He left the life he had, and set out to seek the ultimate truth of life. At Gaya, he meditated and got enlightened and became a buddha as most of us are told.

OK, above mentioned is what we all know. Problem is, what if he had not decided to leave the prince-hood? What if he didn't have that curiosity? Isn't the first step he took by leaving his old life behind, a sign of becoming buddha? I believe that step as the sprout of enlightenment.

Please, explain if I am wrong.

2 Answers 2


When he left the lay life, he didn't have any attainment(Nibbana) yet. Thinking to leave the lay life is called Nekkhamma Sankappa. It's a part of Samma Sankappa, the right thought of the noble eight fold path.

Even ordinary people can get Nekkhamma thoughts from time to time. But those are often not strong enough to make them give up the lay life.

The common understanding is that the Buddha attained all stages of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree on the same morning he became the Buddha.

  • Considering your answer, "the right thought of the noble eight fold path", I can consider the step Shakyamuni took by leaving his lavish life, as a first step towards becoming buddha. That justified my thought.
    – kiran
    Feb 3, 2016 at 5:35
  • If you meant in that sense, the first step would be when he determined to become a Buddha in the future many eons ago. Feb 3, 2016 at 10:15
  • Did Shakyamuni really decide to become Buddha in his previous life?
    – kiran
    Feb 3, 2016 at 11:27
  • Ok, it seems every Buddha predict future Buddha, on time when people forget Dharma completely. Is it the time now for Maitri Buddha, to reincarnate, as I can feel people not believing anymore on the Dharma?
    – kiran
    Feb 4, 2016 at 6:05

[unconfirmed, proceed with caution] since in his previous lives he already was a bodhisatta and so a noble disciple, becoming awakened was only a matter of time since according to the Dhamma after attainment of the sotapatti noble level (the 1st of the four) nibbana is to be attained within 7 lives at the most.

thus the Buddha was predestined to become one. even he himself couldn't change that. it's only that all his previous practice and wholesome kamma ripened in that particular life 2500 years ago

until the awakening he was not a buddha, but an unawakened bodhisatta

before my Awakening, when I was an unawakened bodhisatta

Ariyapariyesana sutta (MN 26) by Ven Thanissaro Bhikkhu

  • QUOTE: He didn't attain Sotapanna in a previous life. It all happened under the Bodhi tree sequentially in the same night/morning – Sankha Kulathantille 28 mins ago~~~~~ RESPONSE: @Sankha Kulathantille this is an interesting question which requires further research, unless i'm referred to doctrinal sources confirming that explicitly and unequivocally Feb 2, 2016 at 15:38
  • It's technically impossible for him to be a Sothapanna and toture himself for 6 years in search of Nibbana. Because once you become Sothapanna you give up sīlabbata-parāmāsa. Which means he knows that the noble eight fold path is the only way to attain Nibbana. Feb 2, 2016 at 15:42
  • i'm not sure that his austerities fall into the category of sīlabbata-parāmāsa, i'm not saying i disagree, but still in doubt Feb 2, 2016 at 15:56
  • It does! He wasn't torturing himself out of boredom. He believed it would lead to end of suffering. Feb 2, 2016 at 16:45
  • Isn't the person who became bodhisatta, not supposed to rebirth again, unless he wishes to?
    – kiran
    Feb 3, 2016 at 5:41

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