Buddha (Penguin Lives Biographies)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
With such bestsellers as A History of God and Islam, Karen Armstrong has consistently delivered ?penetrating, readable, and prescient? (The New York Times) works that have lucidly engaged a wide range of religions and religious issues. In Buddha she turns to a figure whose thought is still reverberating throughout the world 2,500 years after his death.
Many know the Buddha only from seeing countless serene, iconic images. But what of the man himself and the world he lived in? What did he actually do in his roughly eighty years on earth that spawned one of the greatest religions in world history? Armstrong tackles these questions and more by examining the life and times of the Buddha in this engrossing philosophical biography. Against the tumultuous cultural background of his world, she blends history, philosophy, mythology, and biography to create a compelling and illuminating portrait of a man whose awakening continues to inspire millions.
remarkably contemporaneous. Moreover, the type of culture developed by the Aryans in India, for example, bore no relation to the creativity of the Axial Age. By 1000 B.C.E., the Aryan tribesmen had settled down and established agricultural communities in most regions of the subcontinent. They dominated India society to such an extent that we now know almost nothing about the indigenous, pre-Aryan civilization of the Indus valley. Despite the dynamism of its origins, however, Aryan India was
spirituality sought security in a reality that was timeless and changeless. It was completely different from the new Axial ethos. One need only think of Socrates, who was never content to accept traditional certainties as final, however august they might be. He believed that instead of receiving knowledge from outside, like the sruti Vedas, each person must find the truth within his own being. Socrates questioned everything, infecting his interlocutors with his own perplexity, since confusion was
written account of yoga until long after Gotama’s lifetime. The classical texts were composed in the second or third century C.E. and based on the teachings of a mystic called Patanjali, who lived in the second century B.C.E. Patanjali’s methods of contemplation and concentration were based on the philosophy of Samkhya but started at the point where Samkhya breaks off. His aim was not to propound a metaphysical theory but to cultivate a different mode of consciousness which can truly enter into
its metaphysical acuity or its scientific accuracy, but by the extent to which it works. The truths claim to bring suffering to an end, not because people subscribe to a salvific creed and to certain beliefs, but because they adopt Gotama’s program or way of life. Over the centuries, men and women have indeed found that this regimen has brought them a measure of peace and insight. The Buddha’s claim, echoed by all the other great sages of the Axial Age, was that by reaching beyond themselves to a
which were essential for release from the smoldering cycle of “birth, old age and death, with sorrow, mourning, pain, grief and despair.” A bhikkhu must, therefore, become dispassionate. The art of mindfulness would teach him to become detached from his five khandha and douse the flames. Then he would experience the liberation and peace of Nibbana. The Fire Sermon was a brilliant critique of the Vedic system. Its sacred symbol, fire, was an image of everything the Buddha felt to be wrong with