Great World Religions: Buddhism

Great World Religions: Buddhism
Course Trailer
Buddhism as a World Religion
1: Buddhism as a World Religion

During its 2,500-year history, Buddhism has grown from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that now spans the globe. This lecture describes its lasting and present influence, the ways it is not a religion, and its practitioners' ultimate goal....

32 min
The Life of the Buddha
2: The Life of the Buddha

This lecture tells the story of the beginnings of Buddhism in India in the 6th century B.C.E., with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. His life has given rise to a rich tradition of stories that tell us not only about Buddhist origins but also about Buddhist aspirations for a life of wisdom, freedom, and peace....

31 min
"All is Suffering"
3: "All is Suffering"

After the Buddha had experienced his awakening, he taught a group of ascetics about it. This event is known as the first "turning of the wheel of Dharma," or teaching. The lecture goes on to show how Buddhism presents a realistic assessment of life's difficulties and how that can lead to a sense of liberation and peace....

30 min
The Path to Nirvana
4: The Path to Nirvana

This lecture describes the Buddha's teachings about suffering and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering: nirvana, which means literally the "extinguishing" of desire. Nirvana marks the definitive end of the cycle of rebirth....

31 min
The Buddhist Community
5: The Buddhist Community

Due to a long and productive teaching career, the Buddha attracted many disciples and laid the foundation for Buddhist monasticism, including orders of monks and nuns, as well as a sophisticated tradition of lay devotion and support. Buddhist art and architecture shows us not only how Buddhists came to view the Buddha himself but how they gave ritual and artistic expression to his teachings....

31 min
Mahayana Buddhism-the Bodhisattva Ideal
6: Mahayana Buddhism-the Bodhisattva Ideal

This lecture describes the movement called the Mahayana, which promotes the ideal of the bodhisattva who does not attempt to achieve nirvana but vows to return again and again to seek the welfare of other living beings. Practitioners of the Mahayana develop the contemplative virtue of wisdom, together with the active virtue of compassion....

30 min
Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
7: Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Along with the human beings who aspired to be the bodhisattva ideal came an array of heavenly beings called the "celestial" Buddhas and bodhisattvas....

31 min
Emptiness
8: Emptiness

This lecture looks at the paradoxical concept of Emptiness in Mahayana texts and doctrines that gave rise to a radically new way of viewing the Buddha. In Tantric Buddhism, the Buddha can be visualized not just as the peaceful figure we know from earlier Buddhist art, but also as a wrathful deity and as the intimate union of male and female....

31 min
Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia
9: Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia

During the reign of the Buddhist king Asoka (c. 268-239 B.C.E.), missionaries left India for Sri Lanka. From this effort grew the Theravada Buddhism that now dominates all the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia except Vietnam. Throughout the history of Theravada Buddhism, there has been a close relationship between the Buddhist Samgha and Buddhist political leaders. This relationship is evident ...

31 min
Buddhism in Tibet
10: Buddhism in Tibet

The early history of Tibetan Buddhism was shaped by models borrowed from India. Eventually, Tibetan Buddhists developed a tradition of four schools, the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, and Geluk, each with is own distinctive characteristics. Today, the Tibetan tradition is best known in the figure of Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his peaceful campa...

31 min
Buddhism in China
11: Buddhism in China

This lecture discusses the spread of Buddhism in China, which began in the 2nd century C.E., when China was suffering from political turmoil and cultural decline. The earliest Buddhist translators used Taoist vocabulary to express Buddhist ideas. Through a long process of interaction with Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese popular religion, Buddhism took on a distinctively Chinese character....

31 min
Buddhism in Japan
12: Buddhism in Japan

Buddhism entered Japan in the 6th century C.E. This lecture describes the founding of the three great Buddhist schools that have dominated Buddhist life in Japan up to the present day....

31 min
Malcolm David Eckel

When I made my course on Buddhism, I had no idea who would be listening my lectures. It has been immensely satisfying to see the course help so many people enjoy the variety, complexity, and depth of this beautiful tradition.

ALMA MATER

Harvard University

INSTITUTION

Boston University

About Malcolm David Eckel

Dr. Malcolm David Eckel is Professor of Religion and Director of the Core Curriculum at Boston University. He holds two bachelor's degrees, one in English from Harvard University and a second in Theology from Oxford University. Professor Eckel earned his master's degree in theology at Oxford University and his Ph.D. in the Study of Comparative Religion at Harvard University. He held teaching positions at Ohio Wesleyan University, Middlebury College in Vermont, and the Harvard Divinity School, where he served as acting director of the Center for the Study of World Religions. At Boston University, Professor Eckel teaches courses on Buddhism, comparative religion, and the religions of Asia. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, the university's highest award for teaching. In addition to writing many articles, Professor Eckel has published two books on Buddhist philosophy: To See the Buddha: A Philosopher's Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness and Buddhism: Origins, Beliefs, Practices, Holy Texts, Sacred Places.

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