As a seeker after what is good (kim kusalagavesi) searching for the unsurpassed peaceful state most excellent, he approached Alara Kalama an ascetic of repute, and speedily learnt his doctrine and developed the seventh Arupa Jhana, the Realm of Nothingness, (Akincannayatana), an advanced stage of concentration.
The un-envious teacher, delighted to hear of the success of his distinguished pupil, honored him by placing him on a level with himself and admiringly said:
"Happy, friend, are we; yea, extremely happy, in that we look up to a respected ascetic like you! The doctrine, which I know, that also do you know; and the doctrine, which you know, that I know also. As I am, so are you; as you are, so am I. Come, friend, let both of us lead the company of ascetics."
The ascetic Gotama was not satisfied with mere mental concentration and an ordinary system, which did not lead to Nibbána. Dissatisfied with Kalama’s system, he left him, and approached one Uddaka Ramaputta, who readily admitted him as a pupil.
Before long the intelligent ascetic Gotama mastered his doctrine and attained the final stage of mental concentration, The Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-perception - Neva sañña nasannayatana. This is the highest stage in worldly concentration when consciousness becomes so subtle and refined that it cannot be said that a consciousness either exists or not. Ancient sages could not proceed any further in mental development.
His teacher then honored the ascetic Gotama further by inviting him to take full charge of all disciples as their teacher. He said:
"Happy, friend, are we; yea, extremely happy in that we see such a venerable ascetic as you! The doctrine, which Rama knew, you know; the doctrine, which you know, Rama knew. As was Rama, so are you; as you are, so was Rama. Come, friend, henceforth you shall lead this company of ascetics."
Still he felt that his quest of life was not achieved. He was seeking Nibbána, the complete cessation of suffering. Dissatisfied with Ramapuna’s system too, he departed. He found that nobody was competent to teach him what he sought as all were enmeshed in ignorance. He gave up seeking external help, for Truth and Peace are to be found within.