I watched a PBS documentary last night on Buddha, called simply The Buddha. While I don’t subscribe to Buddhism I felt very at peace watching this documentary. There’s the standard kooky New Age lady making Buddhists look back, but they tell the story of Buddhism’s beginning in a real engaging way with beautiful artwork and succinct informative narration. I feel like I came away from it learning much more about Buddhism and India in general. I’d read bits and pieces of the story of Buddha in a number of books but it was very helpful to learn all of it at once.
I also found it notable that both Buddha and Jesus Christ’s teachings grew out of a disgust for the local preachers obsession with tradition, and inferences that connection with a higher power could only be done through them.
The part that interested me the most was that Buddha lived and teaching around 500 BC, but the first written records of him didn’t appear till 500 years later…right around the birth of Christ. The first written records of Christ’s ministry wouldn’t be written till 50 years later, but I wonder what was going on during that 50 year period.
That boggled my mind too that I’d never learned that. I had no idea that the story of Buddha was an oral tradition for 500 years before it’s writing, much like The Old Testament.
The part of Buddha’s teachings that really boggled me was that a life after death and a higher power were not meaningful. It was about understanding human suffering and conquering desire.
It made me think of a point the Belgian director of Mr. Nobody made. The universe is expanding, and thus cigarette smoke always leaves the cigarette and never goes back in. Time always continues. It is natural for everything to separate.
In the movie they showed a breaking pot repeatedly. In The Buddha different Buddhist teachers reflected that Buddha would see a glass as perfect, in how it reflected light, solidly held the water, and had a good weight. Knowing that it would break one day made you recognize your moments with it.
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