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.
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.
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.
I'm a professor of history of China and expected to learn more about Buddhism, especially its development in China, which is the most important land next to India where Buddhism experienced major growth in thoughts and practice. After 15 lectures on Indian Buddhism, Professor Eckel chooses to first go to Tibet (which accepted Buddhism 500 years later than China) for 3 lectures, then China for only 2 lectures, and then Japan for 3 lectures. I can only say Professor Eckel's choices are baffling and disappointing.After India, China was the land where Buddhism interacted with Chinese intellectual traditions of Daoism and other thoughts to grow into half a dozen of major branches, including the Three-Treatises, the Tantric School, the Flower Adornment School/Huayan, the White Lotus School/Tiantai, Pure Land/Jintu, and Chan (Zen). It was these Chinese versions of Buddhism that found their way to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan where they enjoyed varying degrees of popularity WITHOUT significant developments. Yet, Prof. Eckel render such vast body of Chinese Buddhist teachings, not to mention Buddhist art and poetry, into a mere 2 lectures and spent 3 lectures discussing these Chinese schools of Buddhism in Japan. Chen or Zen, a Chinese invention of Buddhism by combining Chinese Daoism and Buddhist meditation practice, and Chen's practice of Gong-an/Public cases, merits only a few minutes in this course, and the professor chooses, without any intellectual justification, to discuss these how these Chinese Buddhist school were performed in Japan and how the Japanese were practicing Gong-an (or pronounced Ko-an in Japanese).
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.
The author is exactly what every college professor should aim to be - passionate about his subject, knowledge, funny, and interesting to listen to. He goes through the basic tenets of Buddhism and discussed the different types. He even have great reading suggestions. I very much enjoyed learning about a subject that is not well understood in western culture.
I liked both the professor and the lectures. He maps the history and teachings across Asia and America. I recommend this course, I had a great time listening to it
If you ever wondered what Buddhism is and how it has transformed the cultures it has touched this series will fascinate and delight. It may lead the listener to explore the Buddha's philosophy that has enriched many lives over the millennia since he taught in India.
The way it follows the spread of Buddhism showing the power of philosophy and spiritual inquiry to transform human cultures.
Professor Eckel has a direct and at times quirky way of conveying complex and obscure ideas. He brings both drama and humour into his performance.
Buddhism - philosophy or religion? The ideas of the Buddha are entering the mainstream of western society with increasing interest in the benefits of meditation and practical philosophy. How did the teachings of this wandering Indian monk influence the cultures to which they spread? Prepare to be challenged, delighted and intrigued as the story of this great spiritual tradition unfolds.
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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