David Eckel: Buddhism 1-2 of 24

David Eckel Buddhism 23 24.jpg

Today I begin posting a series of lectures on Buddhist teaching, history and art by Prof. David Eckel. They come in half hour segments, and I will post two on a Friday every week for the next twelve weeks.

This is an excellent series, giving a broad overview of the subject, and David Eckel is a good and engaging speaker, mixing solid and well-researched information with some anecdotal materials, which keeps the lectures lively and interesting.

I would really encourage anyone wanting a good background to the study of Buddhist thought and history to watch the series, and although some of it might be regarded as introductory, there is something for everyone to learn here.

The first two lectures posted today give a course overview and a look at the background to the society the Buddha was born into. I will quote from the course notes to summarise the videos that follow.

Course Notes:

David Eckel on Buddhism 1

In its 2,500-year history, from the time of the Buddha to the present day, Buddhism has grown from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that now spans the globe.

It has shaped the development of civilization in India and Southeast Asia; has had major influence on the civilizations of China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan; and today has become a major part of the multi-religious world of Europe and North America.

Through all of its many changes, what is Buddhism, and how should we study it? These lectures will explore the Buddhist tradition as the unfolding of a story.

It is the story of the Buddha himself and the story of generations of people who have used the model of the Buddha’s life to shape not only their own lives but the societies in which they live.


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Course Notes:

David Eckel on Buddhism 2

The story of Buddhism begins in India in the sixth century B.C.E. with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who was known as the “Awakened One,” or Buddha.

What was the Buddha’s religious and cultural background? What problems did he inherit? Why did he respond to them in the way he did?

To answer these questions, we begin our study of Buddhism by looking back into the Vedas, the earliest surviving scriptures of the Hindu tradition.

The Vedas tell us about the lives of Indian sages and about an Indian quest for wisdom about the nature of the world and the self.

When Siddhartha Gautama “woke up” to the truth and became the Buddha, this distinctive insight made him one of the most eminent and influential of these Indian sages.


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