David Eckel: Buddhism 7-8 of 24

David Eckel Buddhism

The seventh and eighth lectures by Prof David Eckel on Buddhism look at the Buddhist monastic community and Buddhist art and architecture.

Course Notes:

David Eckel on Buddhism 7

According to Buddhist tradition, the small group of friends who made up the audience of the Buddha’s first sermon became the first of many converts who formed the early Buddhist samgha, or “community.”

Over the course of a long and productive teaching career, the Buddha laid the foundation for Buddhist monasticism, including both monks and nuns, as well as a sophisticated tradition of lay devotion and support.

After the Buddha’s death, attention shifted from the Buddha himself to the teachings and moral principles embodied in his dharma. His followers convened a council to recite his teaching, forming the nucleus of a canon of Buddhist scripture, while disputes in the early community anticipated the sectarian divisions of later Buddhist schools.

 

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Course Notes:

David Eckel on Buddhism 8

Religious traditions do not communicate merely through words; they also use the language of image, space, and form. In the centuries after the death of the Buddha, Buddhists developed distinctive artistic and architectural styles to express their understanding of the Buddha’s teaching and to serve as the focus of worship and veneration.

The earliest images were made in a so-called “aniconic” style, representing the Buddha by his symbols or by his absence. In later centuries, under the influence of Hellenistic and indigenous Indian traditions, Buddhists used the classic Gupta style to represent the image of the Buddha. This style served as the source and inspiration for Buddhist art throughout the rest of Asia.

 

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