Persuing the Truth (2) Asceticism
Even though Gautama Buddha was taught "the state of having nothing", which suggested indifference to property, by Alara Kalama, and "the state of trascending non thought/not non-thoughts," by Udraka Ramaptra, those two thinkers' attitudes were rather intellectual, but not so practical. However, because Gautama Buddha had his very practical attitude, he couldn't be satisfied by those two thinkers's opinions, which did not have such a practical earnestness. Therefore Gautama Buddha turned his direction 180 degrees opposite. Now he wanted to try an Ascetic life, which was also popular in Ancient India, that was Asceticism. Gautama Buddha wanted to clarify the problem of life by making his physical conditions painful as much as possible. In the case of Ascetism his attitude and practice were also so sincere that he decreased food and sleep so much that he sometimes fainted. A rumour that "Gautam died !" ran through the woods several times. But Gautama Buddha found the simple fact that as much, and as hard, as he maintained his painful physical body, his mind also withered enormously with his body, and so his mind also became more unstable. In other words, as long as he continued his Ascetic life, his life has became much more unstable day by day. It was a very important experience for him to have, because being very practical, he got a chance to know that Ascetic life can never be useful as an authentic mode of human life at all. If he didn't have such an important experience, there is the possibility that Buddhism could never have been able to deny the value of ascetic life at all.