Buddhism has captivated many millions of people around the world, its vitality and adaptability enabling it to transform the civilizations of India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan, and also become a lively component in the cultures of Europe, Australia, and the Americas. But have you ever wondered how a religion that doesn't even have a god could have accomplished this?
Now you have the opportunity to have your questions answered, as this series of 24 lectures by an award-winning teacher traces the history, principles, and evolution of a theology that is both familiar and foreign.
You'll learn the astonishing story of Siddhartha Gautama - who was to become the Buddha, or "enlightened one" - the Indian prince who abandoned wife, son, and a privileged life to seek the meaning of life and death, and whose "awakening" and subsequent teachings have since impacted the world as few others have.
And you'll learn what happened after his death, as his followers began to share his teachings about the "Four Noble Truths" and the "Path" to Enlightenment. You'll see how Buddhist beliefs underwent significant and even radical change, with different varieties of Buddhism having to take shape as those beliefs spread across India, Central Asia, China, Japan, and virtually every corner of the Western world, such as becoming more respectful of one's duties to family and ancestors in China or becoming reconciled with local deities in Japan.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
This a really good introduction to the subject. The narrator has a clear skill in making some of the complex cencepts of Buddhism (at least to a western mind) understandable. He is passionate about the subject, speaks clearly and his lectures have a good balance between 'story telling' and theory. I will be keeping this audiobook in my library to listen to again.
As a Buddhist, it solidified the process of the dissemination from India to China and Japan and the philosophical concepts were well explained.
The presentation was well-paced and not rushed.
Professor Eckel's knowledge and enthusiasm for the topic is evident in his presentation.
If you are curious about Buddhism this is a good survey course that will leave you with a solid foundation for further exploration.
This series of essays did a fantastic job of highlighting the differences between the various forms of Buddhism practiced today. As someone who came into these lectures with only a superficial knowledge of Buddhism, I was struck by just how many different interpretations of Buddhist teaching there are in the world. It makes the Protestant/Catholic divide look more like a small ditch in comparison.
The bits on Vajrayāna Buddhism were certainly the most memorable parts of the lecture, primarily due to the tradition's enigmatical style of teaching . Contrasting the esoteric tendencies of Vajrayāna with the relative simplicity of Zen is almost like comparing apples and oranges, but it's this rich diversity that I found to be the most compelling aspect of the study.
Professor Eckel's love of the subject shone through my speakers. He approached the lecture with a zest that I wish more of the Great Courses lecturers possessed. His diction is equal parts scholastic and conversational, with a genial loquaciousness that wouldn't sound out of place coming from the mouth of a Hotei statue.
Very informative lectures. The balance between being high level and providing too much information is well maintained. The author is clearly an expert on the subject, he draws from personal experience and tells us many anecdotes about his personal experience with Buddhism.
Informal and relaxed lecture style; very easy to listen to. I highly recommend this lecture series.
He is very passionate about the subject.
Some of the early chapters satisfied my desire to understand the philosophy and perspective of Buddhism. But then it became what seemed to me a celebration of idiosyncratic sects. I don't care who walked clockwise or counterclockwise or how interesting or important that is. Or what miracle someone said someone performed and how that caused a rift .. For a theologian, this is rich material. It's very well informed and very well told but I was looking for something more practical -- it's called "modern Buddhism," I learned, stripped of supernatural faith. This course is something else: the complicated, confused, imaginative backstory -- a bit boring to me but masterfully delivered. If you want a history of Buddhism, this is it. Practical, philosophical? Not as much.
I really enjoyed this course. The professor has a variety of engaging and interesting personal anecdotes that he adds to the lectures. This was a great introduction, so if you are looking for something really in depth, you probably won't like this as much. But great for someone who doesn't know much about Buddhism.
A solid foundational lecture on the history of Buddhism. The audio is good with a few minor volume issues but an overall sound performance.
"Wonderful, scholarly and entertaining overview of Buddhist tradition and its development."
This is a wonderful overview of the Buddhist tradition from the early traditions that gave rise to Buddhism in India right through to Buddhism in the US in the twentieth centuries.
It is not able to give in depth overview of every aspect of such a vast tradition in just 22 glad hour sessions but does focus on certain key periods. Early Buddhism in India, the development of separate schools, and more in depth on the Tibetan and Mahayana schools.
I really enjoyed the lecturers style, knowledgeable always, but also with a sense of lightness and humour. He clearly has a great deal of passion for his subject and some personal experience.
Can't recommend more for anybody confused by the myriad traditions, schools snd histories of Buddhism. That was definitely me and I have a much clearer understanding of the history and development now.
"A brisk romp through every facet of Buddhism"
This is a break-neck tour of the history of Buddhism in all its guises. Professor Eckel is very engaging, and talks briefly on just about every topic from art to all the variations practised today, in a factual though entertaining manner. For someone like me, looking for a more spiritual introduction, it wasn't ideal since it didn't go into any depth about the essential teachings of the Buddha. I much preferred "Buddhism for Beginners" by Jack Kornfield also available here.
"Detailed, knowledgeable and interesting"
An engaging lecturer who clearly knows his subject in great depth. Too much to absorb at one listen, I will be playing this one again.
Very informative and very insightful. Excellent if you want to gain a good understanding of the fundamentals of Buddhism.
A genuine and good overview of not only the history of Buddhism but also a brief overview of 'emptiness'.
Clear, cohesive, comprehensive and just the right level of challenge!
Great course, thoroughly enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it.
Absolutely deserves it's sub title of a 'Great Course' - an astounding breath of knowledge shared in a truly accessible way. I hope there will be more...
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