Prince Siddhattha, now an ascetic, roamed from place to place, sleeping mostly in forests or thick jungles and eating only what was offered him by the common people. He visited several spiritual teachers for instruction and discussion, but soon found their knowledge to be either imperfect or wrong. He knew that such knowledge could never lead him to the Ultimate Truth. Notable among these teachers, however, were Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta who taught Siddhattha the first seven and the eighth Absorptions, respectively. Such were considered great achievements in those days, but even these were not the right way to enlightenment that Siddhattha was searching for.
He therefore began to make experiments on his own. Self-mortification was a popular practice in those days, generally believed to help man to attain salvation. He tried the most difficult practices of self-mortification and almost died in the process, yet the result was not better than the past experiences. But he did not give in. Instead, he began to re-examine his past efforts to find new and better method that would finally overcome the spiritual ills of
the world. All these expriments and practices took six long years.
During this period of austerities and hardships. Siddhattha was attended to by a group of five ascetics, headed by Kondanna who had, in the former’s infancy, singularly predicted that he would definitely become a Buddha. They all believed that through severe self-mortification the prince ascetic would certainly achieve the goal of enlightenment. They also hoped that if Siddhattha attained enlightenment, they would then be the first to learn the right way from him.
Seeing, however, that he had finally given up the practice of self-mortification and turned instead to the experimentation of pure meditation practice, the lost faith in him and decided to part company, leaving the determined Bodhisatta all alone by himself in the midst of wilderness and jungle beasts.
Then, one Visakha night, as he was seated under a Bodhi tree on the bank of River Neranjara in Bodh-Gaya (Buddha-Gaya) meditating with his mind concentrated and purified, he finally developed the supranormal knowledge that ultimately destroyed all kinds of passions and mental defile-ments in him and gave him pentrative insight into all phenomena in their true state. The Bodhisatta at last became fully enlightened. He had become the Supreme Lord Buddha.
To attain enlightenment means to destory all mental impurities so one’s mind becomes perfectly pure and free from all traces of evil and to gain the special intuitive insight into all realities.
With enlightenment, Siddhattha became the Buddha, the Enlightened One (or the Awakened One), a man far superior to all other beings in wisdom and spiritual attainments. The day of enlightenment was the Visakha fullmoon. He was then exactly thirty-five years old