Carved on rocks Shakyamuni Buddha on the way from Xining to Rebkong.
Shakyamuni (other names are Gautama or Siddhartha) was born as an Indian prince more than 2500 years ago. Fortune-tellers predicted that he would be a powerful and famous king if he inherited his father, and that he would become an incomparable master if he renounced the worldly life. As soon as he was born, he made seven steps, pronouncing: “I am superior in this world”. As a prince, he lived a very luxurious life in the palace. He was surrounded by hundreds of servants and he never saw any signs of suffering, such as birth, aging, sickness and death. As he grew older, he became more and more curious about the life outside the palace. At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace and saw a diseased man, an old man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. These depressed him, and he initially strove to overcome ageing, sickness, and death by living the life of an ascetic. Siddhartha spent many years studying from many different Hindu masters. He tried to find enlightenment through deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practising self-mortification. After nearly starving himself to death, he began to reconsider his path. After realizing that meditative jhana was the right path to awakening, but that extreme asceticism didn’t work, Gautama discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way — a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Following this incident, Gautama was seated under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. After 49 days of meditation he has attained Enlightenment or Awakening.