As he nursed himself back to health, Siddhartha became very conscious of his movements in the world and paid close attention to how he reacted to his environment, watching his thoughts as they passed through his mind. He became aware of the movements he made while he ate, slept, and walked. Siddhartha slowly became mindful of his every gesture and thought. Mindfulness is the process of bringing attention to the present moment, away from thoughts of the future or the past or judgments about the present. It's making contact with the lived experience of now. Mindfulness made Siddhartha aware of every craving that passed through him and of how transitory these cravings were. Everything changed: everything came and everything passed.
He began to notice that all things were interrelated. The fruit was attached to the tree that was attached to the earth that received nutrients from the sky when it rained. The earth nourished the insects and animals, which ate the berries that came from the trees that came from the earth that were nourished by the sky. The animals died, the plants died, and so would Siddhartha. Life was filled with interconnectedness and change. And impermanence. Everything that existed would die. He would die, his thoughts would die, and his desires would die. The moment would die, and another would be born in its place.
Whether or not he worried about loss, loss was inevitable as change was inevitable. With change came fear. And with fear came dukkha. This word has no direct equivalent in English. It is most commonly translated as “suffering,” like the kind of suffering that Siddhartha saw outside the palace — sickness, old age, and death. Dukkha also refers to something more thoroughgoing and can also be translated as “pervasive dissatisfaction” or a sense of things “being off center,” “out of kilter,” or “awry.” Sometimes it is translated as “stress.”
Siddhartha is known by many names, including: Siddhartha Gautama (in Pali his name is Siddhattha Gotoma), his birth and family name; Shakyamuni, Sage of the Shakya Clan; Buddha, the Fully Awakened One; and Tathagata, the Thus-Perfected One or the One Who Has Found the Truth.
The pipal tree — the tree under which Buddha sat — comes from the Asiatic fig tree, and became known as Bodhi Tree, the tree of “awakening.” One sacred bodhi tree in Sri Lanka is thought to be 2,200 years old! Today, a descendant of the original Bodhi Tree sits just where Buddha sat approximately 2,500 years ago. Followers of Buddhism visit the tree and meditate, hoping to achieve an enlightened mind just like Buddha.