shakyamuni buddha: a life retold

  • Wake Up, Episode Five Paid Member

    In the deer park Isipatana, sat the five mendicant ascetics with whom he'd spent those futile six years in the Forest of Mortification. They saw him coming, slowly, his eyes cast down with circumspection and modesty a plough's length along the ground as if he was ploughing and planting the Ambrosial crop of the law as he went. They scoffed. "There comes Gotama who broke his first vow by giving up ascetic practices and mortification. Don't rise in salutation, give him an offhand greeting, don't offer him the customary refreshments when he comes." More »
  • The Finger Bone Path of Angulimala Paid Member

    One morning when the Buddha entered Savatthi, all doors were bolted shut. No one was on the streets. The Buddha stood in front of a home where he normally received food offerings. The door opened a crack, and the owner hastily ran out and invited him to enter. Once inside, the owner latched the door and suggested that the Buddha remain to eat his meal inside the house. He said, "Lord, it is very dangerous to go outdoors today. The murderer Angulimala has been seen in these parts. They say he has killed many people in other cities. Every time he kills someone, he cuts off one of their fingers and adds it to a string he wears around his neck. They say that once he has killed a hundred people and has a talisman of a hundred fingers hanging around his neck, he will gain even more terrible, evil powers. More »
  • Rolling the Wheel Paid Member

    This episode of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, as retold by Nikkyo Niwano, starts in Bodh-gaya following the Buddha's enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The decision to turn the dharma wheel initiates a teaching mission that lasted over forty years and took the Great Sage back and forth across the breadth of northern India. More »
  • Wake Up Paid Member

    In this, the third of nine installments of Jack Kerouac's previously unpublished life of the Buddha, we pick up the story after Prince Siddhartha has left his father's palace, adopted the homeless life, and taken a seat under the bodhi tree, vowing not to rise from the spot "until, freed from clinging, my mind attains deliverance from all sorrow." The complete manuscript of Wake Up will appear in a volume entitled Some of the Dharma, due out from Viking Penguin in 1995. Note: All of Kerouac's original spellings and usage have been retained. More »
  • The Austerities of the Bodhisattva Paid Member

    THE PRINCE WHO WAS to become the historical Buddha has generally been referred to as the Bodhisattva when spoken of during the period of quest and religious disciplines following his great renunciation and up until his enlightenment. A bodhisattva has been described as one who "seeks upward for bodhi [wisdom]" and "teaches downward to all beings," that is, one who on the one hand perfects himself by aiming at the attainment of enlightenment, but on the other hand also descends to the level of the unenlightened in order to save them. (In the simplest Mahayana Buddhist terms, a bodhisattva is one who devotes himself to attaining enlightenment not only for himself but for all sentient beings.) More »
  • The Buddha-charita Paid Member

    This passage is from the Buddha-charita, the first complete biography of the Buddha, written by the poet Ashvaghosha, probably in the first century C.E. The Buddha-charita is made up of twenty-eight songs recounting events in Shakyamuni Buddha’s life up to the time of his great awakening. These verses speak of Shakyamuni's family and the events that surrounded the birth of the historical Buddha. Original spellings and usages from this 1893 translation by Edward B. Cowell have been retained throughout. This installment marks the first in a series of excerpts from The Buddha-Karita or Life of Buddha, reprinted with permission from Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, India.  More »