Are you interested in knowing who the Buddha really was? Do you want to get underneath the myths and legends to understand his personality and life story? It can be hard to find truly historical treatments of the Buddha, but that's what you'll find in this course. It will contain:
• Twenty-nine video lectures.
• Among these will be four sutta-study videos, that will reveal to you what the Buddha might really have been like at different times in his life, through a deep dive into the suttas themselves.
• Downloadable notes to each lecture which you can print out, keep, and refer to.
• Sections for comments, questions, and discussion with each video lecture.
• A certificate of completion that you can download and keep on completion of the course.
This course will help you to understand:
• What the Buddha might really have been like.
• What got the Buddha started on the path.
• How the Buddha's teachings developed over time.
• How the saṅgha of monastics began, and how it matured.
• What controversies dogged the Buddha's later life, and why.
• How and why the dharma was preserved.
• What happened to Buddhism in the aftermath of the Buddha's death.
I found the course 'The Buddha’s Life' interesting and enlightening and the references useful. Using your saying, I wish you well Doug and look forward to further courses.
- John Shaw
That was an absolutely fantastic course! It did exactly what it said on the box. It gave me an understanding of the Buddha as a person that was quite different from the Buddha of stories and legends that I have been reading and hearing all my life. The person presented in this course is considerably more interesting and more compelling than the sanctified, hagiographic Buddha.
On top of that, the course was interesting as a piece of history. I felt I had a bit of a sense of the context of these events. You also repeatedly addressed questions that you raised with an engaging delay. I'd find myself with questions like, "But how did they go about memorizing these texts?" or "Doesn't denying soldiers entry raise a moral question?" only to have the issue addressed later. I'm sure that was no accident. That sort of skillful narrative technique drew my through the course so that I never lost interest.
And I'm a hard sell. Many people are strongly interested in questions of authenticity and literalism but I am not. To my mind, Buddhist theories and practices have utility, first and foremost, in their predictive power and practical results, regardless of who laid them out, and how and when that happened. I see them as know-how or, if you like, technology. Who said exactly what when has, to me, no more bearing on liberation than Lord Kelvin's lab notes have on the value of absolute zero. My interest in this course was really about curiosity. So it is all the more impressive that the course actually deepened or even changed my view of the teachings. There were things that came clear and things that I had never considered.
I really would not change this course in any way but if you were doing another one that was also historically focused, a graphical timeline and some maps might be nice at the beginning, Separately, you might have mentioned in the first lecture that there was this discussion section at the bottom but I didn't notice it until this last lecture where you mentioned it at the end. It might be worth reminding people that this is here a few times at different places in the course.
Thanks again. I know more today than I did a few weeks ago, and that's a nice feeling!
- Martin Cross
You may have seen Doug's popular YouTube videos at Doug's Dharma. He is a contributor to the Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and the Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has many years of practice in the Zen and Insight traditions. As well as being the Founder and Director of the Online Dharma Institute, he is also Study Director at the Secular Buddhist Association.
PreviewLecture 1: Introduction to the Course (11:11)
StartLecture 2: The Mythic Buddha (14:36)
StartLecture 3: Sutta Study, Incredible and Amazing (16:48)
StartLecture 4: Was There a Historical Buddha? (20:46)
StartLecture 5: Historical Background and Environment I, the Vedas (19:10)
StartLecture 6: Historical Background and Environment II, Ferment (15:49)
StartLecture 7: Youth (9:54)
StartLecture 8: Sutta Study, A Delicate Lifestyle (16:50)
StartLecture 9: Life as a Bodhisatta I, Leaving Home (19:12)
StartLecture 10: Life as a Bodhisatta II, Routes to Awakening (14:22)
StartLecture 11: Life as a Bodhisatta III, Brahminic Meditation (22:07)
StartLecture 12: Life as a Bodhisatta IV, Asceticism (11:03)
StartLecture 13: Awakening (15:29)
StartLecture 14: the First Sermon (19:49)
StartLecture 15: Sutta Study, the Buddha's First Sermon (24:27)
StartLecture 16: The Second and Third Sermons (18:37)
StartLecture 17: Other Early Teachings, Sutta Nipāta I (15:45)
StartLecture 18: Other Early Teachings, Sutta Nipāta II (20:50)
Frequently Asked Questions
Come and get to know who the Buddha really was!