The Buddha

Over 2,500 years ago nestled in a fertile valley along the border between India and Nepal a child was born who was to become The Buddha. The stories say that before his birth his mother, the Queen of a small Indian kingdom had a dream. In this dream of hers she is said to have come across a beautiful white elephant who offered her a lotus flower, after doing so then quickly entered the side of her body. When sages were asked to interpret the dream they predicted that the Queen would give birth to a son destined to become either a great ruler or a holy man.

In this film directed by award-winning film maker David Grubin we learn of the Buddha’s life. It features some spectacular work created by the world’s greatest artists and sculptors whom across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity.

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  • zenqi

    As a practicing Buddhist, I find this documentary to be a mixed bag of diluted truth and tired old fictional legends presented as truth. The first 20 minutes or so is pretty much crap, as is a great portion of the film. They trot out the myths and legends that arose from the fanatical, primitive thinking people who, against the stern warnings of the Buddha not to do so, made a religion out of his teachings. Most of this came out hundreds of years after the buddha’s time and obfuscate the beauty and simplicity of what he awakened to.

    At about the 25 minute mark there begins a semi-decent representation of his awakening and towards the last third of the film there is some fair ground covered. However, with the lone exception of Mark Epstein, the people they picked to tell this story are obviously arm chair Buddhists or history buffs who haven’t grasped the essence of what the Buddha actually taught.

    Overall, it’s pretty feeble and does more to confuse that educate, but I suppose most people who watch this are doing so for entertainment rather than seeking some kind of spiritual awareness, so oh well.

    • chicagoborn

      on the contrary, I was set to watch this documentary as I have become very interested in what I assume is the theme of Budhissm. After reading your’ review I am puzzled. How does one learn about this peace inspired body of work if there is only this type of information available to us?

      • Soul Analyse

        On the Soul Analyse website there is a post about Buddhist principles that are still relevant today – if you are learning about Buddhism you may find it interesting http://soulanalyse.com/2016/07/01/buddhist-principles-relevant-today/

      • zenqi

        chicagoborn, I didn’t intend to discourage someone from watching this documentary, I was simply pointing out that if one wants to know about something, go to someone who knows firsthand about it. It’s very easy to get lost in fact and fiction and miss the entire point. If one wants to understand what the Buddha taught, don’t mix his teachings with other spiritual teachings otherwise it isn;t the Buddha’s message anymore.

        For instance, Brahmanism and Jainism were the dominant religions in his lifetime. Much of what they practiced wasn’t terribly far off the mark, but enough that awakening was elusive and frustrating. It was when the Buddha boiled everything down to the lowest common denominators was he able to see the big picture. Here is a brief synopsis:

        The young man Siddhartha Gautama had existential angst and needed answers.
        He shaved his head and left the dusty household life.
        He devoted his entire being to learning to practice forms of deep meditation and contemplation to reach liberation from dukkha (suffering).
        Having known indulgence, he also engaged in extreme asceticism.
        He learned and mastered the deep meditations of the jhanas.
        All of his efforts and all of his methods left him short.
        He remembered the rose apple tree.
        Could the key be in having joy in being ok with the situation no matter what that was, that it was so much simpler that he was making it out to be?
        He diverted his attention towards logically assimilating everything he could think of, everything he had ever learned.
        Every step had another.
        Every mental state had a drive behind it.
        Even through all of the deepest jhanas (absorptions meditations) there was a grasping.
        When he let go of everything, there was a realization.
        What arises, passes away.
        Everything. Everything. Everything.
        His final conclusion was…
        The only way to experience anything is through the 5 aggregates.
        Yet, those same aggregates are prone to desire for what isn’t and desire for things to be different.
        They are also extremely deceptive.
        And they so easily look like there is a permanent being behind them, a soul.
        Letting go of the belief in an inherent self is key.
        But to be alive is via the 5 aggregates, they never go away, that is how he knew that he existed.
        He had no choice but to live in the world; in his body, with his feelings, perceptions, inclinations, and consciousness.
        But he looked on with full knowledge and awareness of how they worked.
        He didn’t get fooled by them.
        He didn’t get enchanted by them.
        He didn’t relate as a permanent entity in them.
        He saw the all, the big picture: knowing and understanding.
        The craving, ignorance and belief in a permanent self was extinguished.
        Life could be experienced with full joy and benevolence.
        He could be fully human living in the world.

        He taught for 40 years to show the way for others to realize this. His teachings and methods are actually quite simple. I didn’t say easy. Or quick. But they are easily available for anyone right here, right now. He spelled things out crystal clear, step by step. Yet he always said to not take his word for it out of blind faith, but see for yourself. He showed how to establish mindfulness, what to watch out for as hindrances, how to develop faculties to help on the path and what to expect to happen as experience and understanding unfolds. With diligent practice, perspective widens, possibilities open up and liberation from the confines of a narrow mind is gradually known.

        I love all of the sciences, psychology, art. But by far, the most interesting thing I have ever done is sit down, close my eyes and observe the workings of my mind. Thanks to the Buddha for showing me the way!

        Try this eight part series for a much better history of the life of the Buddha:
        http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/talk/13468/

        • chicagoborn

          Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my bewilderment. I will access the link and take the step toward the knowledge that I am seeking.