The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha, was born around 2,500 years ago into a royal family of a small kingdom on the Indian-Nepalese border. He was a human being who had a sheltered and privileged upbringing until, at the age of 29, he saw for the first time old age, sickness and death. He was so deeply moved by this experience that he left the comfort and luxury of his palace and became a wandering holy man in search of the answer to birth, death and suffering.
For the next 6 years Siddhartha Gautama, under the guidance of various teachers, took up meditation and ascetic practices in order to find the answer but nearly ended up starving to death. After this he abandoned his ascetic practice, sat beneath a Bodhi tree in meditation posture and vowed to stay there until he attained perfect enlightenment. On the full moon morning of May, a week before he turned 35, he came to full realisation. All separation disappeared, time and space, past, present and future, answering the question of birth, death and suffering. He became the Buddha, the awakened one.
For the rest of his life he traveled through India teaching others, encouraging them to practice meditation, to take the posture of zazen, and confirm for themselves through their own experience the truth of his teachings.