Shakyamuni Buddha

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Exemplars of bodhisattva Shakyamuni (continued)

Francis of Assisi

A more traditional kinship to the Siddhartha archetype is apparent in the life of Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth-century Christian saint. Francis was an ordinary youth, who enjoyed fine clothes, frivolity, and sensual indulgence. As a soldier he was captured and shaken from complacency by prison and a resulting illness. After a series of religious experiences, Francis gave away his fine clothing and some of his family fortune to beggars and to the church, much to his father's displeasure. In his early twenties Francis, like Siddhartha, abandoned his upper-class position and his family's material wealth to dedicate his life to spiritual practice.

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.

Like Siddhartha, Saint Francis followed ascetic practices and fasting in the wilds of nature, maintaining his austere lifestyle even after his religious awakening. Like Shakyamuni, he shared his realization by founding an important order of monks and an order of nuns. Francis's order stressed a lifestyle of simplicity, poverty, and contemplation; Shakyamuni and his order followed a simple mendicant life with periods of intensive meditation. Saint Francis continues to be a great inspiration to many, thanks to his joyful sincerity, sweetness, and loving relationship with birds and animals.

Other Shakyamunis?

Who can you think of that in some way embodies the Shakyamuni bodhisattva archetype? Which public figures have chosen spiritual over worldly pursuits or given up wealth or comfort for the sake of others? Who do you know personally that has done so?


Shakyamuni and you

How might you embody the bodhisattva qualities of Shakyamuni?