shakyamuni buddha: a life retold

  • The Buddha-charita Paid Member

    This installment is the second in a series of excerpts from The Buddha-charita or Life of Buddha, the first complete biography of Shakyamuni 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 the Buddha’s life up to the time of his great awakening. The previous installment described Shakyamuni’s family and the events that surrounded his birth. In this episode we hear Shakyamuni’s first words and witness the arrival of Asita, the great seer, who pronounces the Buddha’s fate. This excerpt was adapted from Edward B. Cowell’s 1893 translation (Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, India). Original spellings, usages, and punctuation have been retained throughout. More »
  • Wake Up Paid Member

    The Buddha, studying the person and then teaching the law, perceived that the King and his proud consort were men who had wealth and power but had come to see him because of a considerable doubt that it could do them any good in the end. Truly enlightened, he showed them that there was no individual in the matter of either wealth or poverty, of either enlightenment or ignorance, nay, in either being alive or being dead. He taught them that a man is but a heap of composites. "After a stronghold has been made of the bones, it is covered with flesh and blood, and there dwell in it old age and death, pride and deceit. "Look at this dressed up lump, covered with wounds, joined together, sickly, full of many a scheme, but which has no strength, no hold. More »
  • Wake Up, Episode Two Paid Member

    In the first installment of Jack Kerouac's previously unpublished life of the Buddha (Vol. I/, No.4), we learned of Siddhartha's protected upbringing within the palace walls, his marriage at age sixteen to Yasodhara, and the birth of his son, Rahula. We also learned that at the age of twenty-nine, after encountering suffering in the form of old age, sickness, and death, he bid farewell to his wife and son, saddled his horse in the middle of the night, and left the palace in pursuit of a spiritual life. In this, the second of nine episodes to be published in Tricycle, we pick up the story after the young prince has shorn his hair, traded his clothes for those of a beggar, and vowed homelessness. The full manuscript will be published in Some of the Dharma by Viking Penguin in 1995. Note: All of Kerouac's original spellings and usage have been retained. More »
  • A Prince Indeed Paid Member

    Nowhere at all Jambudvipa (India) were the midsummer festivities gayer, more joyous, than in Kapilavastu, the chief city of the tiny Sakyan kingdom nestled in the rolling foothills of [the] Himalaya[s], the abode of snows whence arose the little river Rohini which wound its sinuous way through the city. The Sakyas were ruled in those days by King Suddhodana Gautama, whose two wives were sisters, the older named Maya and the younger Prajapati. Now, Queen Maya had taken vows of abstinence and chastity. More »
  • Law and Order Paid Member

    As the son of a raja, Siddhattha had grown up in a household where political and legal questions were daily topics. He had attended dozens of sessions in the assembly and had been present at numerous trials. Thus he had gained a considerable knowledge of legal matters. Although politics and jurisprudence were not central to his thinking, which was essentially concerned with philosophical matters, nevertheless he was more proficient in law than the other leading teachers of his time, and this knowledge was of great assistance to him for the consolidation of his Order. There were two legal areas in which it was necessary to establish regulations: the relation of the Sangha to the state and society, and the internal law of the Order, which sets up a code of behavior for monks and nuns and stipulates the penalties for misconduct. More »