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About 10,000 years ago, the early Hindu philosophers were also wrestling with life’s most basic questions. Their revelations were first recorded in poems and hymns in the Veda.

The doctrine of transmigration (the ancient concept of reincarnation) – that life is a continuous stream which flows ceaselessly, without beginning and without end – initially seemed to explain much of what plagued India. With the prospect of many lives, it was reasoned, a man had just as many opportunities to achieve self-knowledge.

But such a belief offered little succor to the multitudes of impoverished. And so, as that misery continued to spread, concerned religious leaders began to challenge traditional doctrine.

Siddhartha Gautama, son of a wealthy Hindu rajah, declared that man is a spiritual being who can achieve an entirely new state of awareness which he termed bodhi. For this reason, he is remembered today as the Buddha, revered for civilizing most of Asia. Unfortunately, however, he left no real means for others to actually attain those states of which he spoke.


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