Most current non-scholarly reviews of the life of the Buddha repeat the mythological attributions that are contained in the Suttas and Commentaries, which has some value. This review is an attempt to describe the life of this remarkable person in a way that is de-mythologized, attempting to provide a cultural context for his life and the revolutionary concepts that were developed to create what we call Buddhism. The Intention is to make his life and teachings more understandable and applicable to current life circumstances, with the hope that this will inspire more commitment to train the mind to deal more effectively with the stresses of contemporary life. Future talks will review the development of the various schools of Buddhism over the centuries following his death, the discovery of Buddhism by Westerners and its introduction into 20th century cultures, and finally the more recent neuropsychological and sociological research of the last 25 years regarding the beneficial effects of mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation, with the implications for our lives going forward.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Early Buddhist Life
As mentioned above, next week’s talk will focus on the development of the various Buddhist schools over several centuries and on several continents.