The Life Of The Buddha

The Traditional Buddhist View

To read a short version of the standard presentation of the Life Of The Buddha please click here. For video versions please see the links on this page.

The Secular Buddhist View

Due to the fact that nothing about The Buddha’s life was written down until several hundred years after his death 2500 years ago, all the details of his life are in question. Like Jesus, the very fact that he existed at all is impossible to confirm.

If he did, The Buddha was an ordinary man save for his extraordinary accomplishments. The miraculous events of his life are considered to be allegorical. He had no previous lives, such as those detailed in the Jakata Tales. Nor was he born via immaculate conception.

At best it may be accepted that there was a man known as Siddhārtha Gautama, later known as The Buddha, and that he had a life similar in many ways to that described in the legend; that he was born into a wealthy and educated family; that he chose to pursue a life dedicated to spiritual inquiry; that he produced revolutionary insights; that he developed a complete system of thought towards freedom from suffering which he taught for the remainder of his life.

Note: the best historical perspective on the life of The Buddha I have been able to find is presented by Stephen Batchelor in his book “Confession Of A Buddhist Atheist“.

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Posted August 1, 2010 by Rick Bateman