Recently I am fascinated by the accounts of Gautama Buddha and of Buddhism, after having read The Story of Buddha within the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I am led to want to ask this question as I am unsure whether this is an adaptation made original by Manson, further I wish to know the true original source of The Story of Buddha as it relates to Buddhism and without interpretation. Is anyone able to provide me with additional insight?

2 Answers 2


The story of the Buddha's life from the Pali Canon can be found here: A Sketch of the Buddha's Life: Readings from the Pali Canon.

It contains these sections:

  • The Bodhisatta (Buddha-to-be)
  • The Awakening
  • After the Awakening
  • Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion
  • Forty-five years of teaching
  • The Buddha's last days

What's in that retelling is a gross misinterpretation of Buddhism. You could write volumes on how wildly off that story is. While many of the "facts" are basically correct, I think it loses the essence of the Buddha's search and eventual enlightenment.

The Buddha didn't just run away and embrace suffering. He actually left his home to study with the great spiritual teachers of his day in hopes of finding liberation from suffering. Ultimately, after a six years of practice, the Buddha-to-be arrived at an understanding of the nature of suffering, its causes, and its cessation. What the Buddha laid down in his teaching aren't ideas or concepts but rather the practices and guiding principles governing that practice which leads to the end of suffering.

Manson also seems to confuse the idea of suffering with pain. Pain is a necessary part of the human existence. Suffering (the world the Buddha used is dukkha - better translated as anguish) is not inevitable. By following the path laid down by the Buddha, we can change our relationship with the world. While we always still experience pain and negative states, our relationship with them vastly alters and become progressively less characterized by anguish. It doesn't seem like Manson quite grasps what really amounts to a basic Buddhist idea.

Regarding the full story, the gloss given in Ruben's answer is pretty good. If you are interested in reading more, I would also suggest MN 26.

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