This page is intended to be a series of articles covering the life and teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. They are the results of my years of researching, reading, studying, pondering and practicing Buddhism, both on my own and with many good friends and mentors. As far as texts and scriptures are concerned, I primarily relied upon the Pali Canon and the Buddhacarita of Ashvaghosa as the framework for my understanding of the historical Buddha’s life and teachings with occasional references to Mahayana sutras and works. I do acknowledge that the Buddhacarita is not canonical and includes much that is fanciful and that there are strata within even the Pali Canon (let alone the Mahayana) that go beyond what the historical Buddha probably said or did – but my concern here is not to search for some ephemeral Buddha of history. My intent here is to arrive at a personal understanding of the Buddha’s life and teachings as I have encountered them and what they mean to me. I hope that these articles and notes will help the reader meet the Buddha that I have met and perhaps inspire their own personal encounter with Buddha.
1. The Path of the World Honored One – The life of the Buddha up to his awakening beneath the Bodhi Tree.
2. The Formation of the Sangha - After the Buddha’s awakening he set out to share the Dharma. The following articles recount the first six years after the Buddha’s awakening and how the Sangha was established.
3. The Deer Park: The First Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma - The first discourse the Buddha gave was to the five ascetics in the Deer Park, in which he taught the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path.
4. The Human Condition: The First and Second Noble Truths - After the Deer Park discourse the Buddha taught two very important discourses concerning the human condition that are important follow-ups to the teaching of the Four Noble Truths that elaborate on the first two of the noble truths.
5. Dependent Origination - The Buddha’s insight into the causal nature of reality was at the heart of his teachings. He taught it in terms of Dependent Origination, often using the image of a 12-fold chain that binds people to the cycle of birth and death.
6. Nirvana: The Third Noble Truth – To realize nirvana is to extinguish the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion and to know for oneself the bliss of the unborn and deathless nature of the unconditioned.
7. Emptiness: No Self-Nature Anywhere - The teachings concerning emptiness are found in both the Pāli canon and the Mahāyāna sūtras. They deal with the lack of self-nature in either conditioned phenomena or nirvāna, the unconditioned.
8. Following the Path: The Fourth Noble Truth – The way to realize nirvana is by following in the Buddha’s footsteps.
9. The Buddha’s Teachings on Right Speech – How to speak (and write) in a wholesome manner.
10. The Buddha’s Guidance for Daily Life – The Buddha did not teach only monks and nuns, but also householders. In this discourse to the young householder Sigalaka, the Buddha provides guidance for how to live a sane, responsible, prosperous, and happy life if one has a secular job and a family.
11. The Buddha’s Teachings on Karma and Rebirth - this is a very long article on what the Buddha taught in the Pali Canon in regard to karma (i.e. the law of cause and effect) and rebirth, so I have split it up into a series of articles with its own page.
12. The Nature of the Buddha - Buddha was not a god or the son of a god or a prophet sent by a god, but neither was he an ordinary human being. What was it that made him different? This article is also broken down into a series of articles with its own page.
13. What is the Buddha Dharma? – This article deals with the the nature of the Dharma taught by the Buddha. It is not easily pigeonholed into a category like religion, philosophy, or psychology. This article includes the Buddha’s discourse to the Kalama’s, the Buddha’s views on God, miracles, the afterlife, and speculative philosophy. As with the above articles I have broken this down into a series of articles with its own page.
14. The Quarrel at Kosambi - In the ninth year of the Buddha’s teaching a quarrel arose between two factions of monks at Kosambi, the capital of the kingdom of Vamsa. This series of articles are about that dispute and how the Buddha dealt with it and how it was resolved.
15. The Serial Killer Who Became A Saint – the Angulimala Story - In the 20th year of the Buddha’s teaching a serial killer named Angulimala began his quest to collect 1,000 finger bones to string into a garland as a gift for an evil guru. This is the story of how the Buddha stopped him, brought him into the Sangha and how Angulimala subsequently became an arhat liberated from birth and death and even capable of miraculously saving the lives of others.
16. Incorrigible Evildoers: The Story of Devadatta and Ajatashatru - In the 37th year of the Buddha’s teaching his cousin Devadatta, in collusion with Prince Ajatashatru, schemed to take over the Sangha and set in motion many tragic events. This series of articles tells that story.
17. The Passing of the Buddha – These articles recount the events of the last year of the Buddha’s life and the teachings he gave to make sure the Buddha Dharma would be transmitted to future generations.
Mahayana: Below are articles dealing specifically with Mahayana teachings and themes though some might begin with the roots of those teachings found in the Pali Canon.
Miscellany: Below are some other articles that I hope are helpful in understanding the historical transmission of the Buddha’s teachings:
Ryuei’s Buddhist Study Program – Here is what you should be reading if you want to study the Dharma in the context of practice.