In one of his previous states of existence, at a time in the past so unimaginably remote that only the merest suggestion of its remoteness is conveyed by the statement that it was four periods of time of incalculable length and a hundred thousand cycles of time in addition in the past, the future Buddha performed a work of merit and formed the High Resolve thereby to attain Enlightenment, to become a Buddha. After he had fulfilled the Ten Perfections and the Ten Minor Perfections and the Ten Major Perfections, making in all Thirty Perfections, he was reborn as Vessantara. In his existence as Vessantara he bestowed alms so generously that the earth trembled and quaked, and in that existence also he renounced both wife and children. When the term of life allotted to him was come to an end, he was reborn in heaven; and when he had remained in this state of existence during the term of life allotted to him, the deities of the Ten Thousand Worlds assembled together and thus addressed him:

"The time is at hand, valiant hero; descend into the womb of your mother;
Deliver the worlds of men and gods; reveal the Region of the Deathless."

"Thereupon he made the Five Great Observations, and passing from that state of existence, received a new existence in the royal household of the Sakiyas, as the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Maya. In this royal household he was brought up amid wealth and splendor, and in the course of time attained auspicious youth. He spent his youth in three mansions appropriate to the three seasons of the year, enjoying splendor and majesty of sovereignty comparable to the splendor of the World of the Gods. In the course of time it came to pass that, as he proceeded on four successive days to the garden to disport himself, he beheld the Four Heavenly Messengers: an Old Man, a Sick Man, a Corpse, and a Monk. Thereupon he resolved to become a monk. In the evening, as he entered the city, his cousin Kisa Gotami thus saluted him:

"Blessed indeed is that mother, blessed indeed is that father,
Blessed indeed is that wife, whose husband is such a one as he!"

"Renouncing son and wife, he adopted the Religious Life, and for six years engaged in prolonged fasts and other austerities, hoping thereby to win mastery over self and attain Supreme Enlightenment. While thus engaged, he was tempted by the Evil One. But the future Buddha rebuked the Evil One, and he departed for a season. At the end of this period of austerities, called the Great Struggle, he seated himself cross-legged in Mahavana Grove, and spent the day in the various degrees of Ecstatic Meditation. In the evening he ascended the Throne of Enlightenment and formed the following resolution: 'I will not abandon this posture until I have ceased utterly to crave the things of this world, and my heart is rid of the Depravities.'

"Thereupon he seated himself under a banyan-tree, facing the east, and before the sun had set, overcame the host of the Evil One. In the first watch he beheld the entire course of his past lives. In the second watch he beheld the fate after death of all living beings. At the conclusion of the third and last watch, he came to understand that the cause of human suffering is Craving for worldly pleasures and life and riches; that if this Craving be uprooted, rebirth and suffering will come to an end; that this Craving can be uprooted by right belief, right living, and the practice of meditation. And thus he became Buddha, the Awakened, the Enlightened. Thereupon he breathed forth the Song of Triumph of All the Buddhas:

"Through a round of countless existences have I run to no purpose, Seeking the Builder of the House. Repeated existences involve suffering. I see thee, Builder of the House! Thou shalt not build the House again! Broken are all thy rafters! Shattered is thy ridge-pole! The heart, at rest in Nirvana, has attained Extinction of Cravings."