Biography of the Buddha

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sattva
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Biography of the Buddha

Postby sattva » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:12 pm

I have a friend who would like to know more about Buddha's life. She is looking for something fairly accurate, but a good read. It has been so long since i have read any that i don't know which one would be a good recommendation. Any suggestions?
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tiltbillings
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:30 pm

    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

alan
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby alan » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:08 am

Karen Armstrong has an Ok attempt; concise and short, informative. But she has her own theories of history. TNH was at his poetic best in "Old path white clouds", but he has a viewpoint to sell.
I'd say a fair-minded person who reads both these books would have a good idea of whether or not to continue exploring. Whatever you do, avoid that awful BBC documentary!

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Paul Davy
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby Paul Davy » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:14 am

Greetings,

Without a second's hesitation, I recommend...

The Life Of The Buddha According To The Pali Canon by Bhikkhu Nanamoli
http://www.amazon.com/Life-Buddha-Accor ... 1928706126

... possibly cheaper direct from the publisher BPS.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)

alan
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby alan » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:26 am

I've been thinking about reading that one, but thought Is it just a recitation of the suttas that talk about his life. Is there more information?

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Paul Davy
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby Paul Davy » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:31 am

Greetings Alan,

It's modelled around the suttas, but as best as is possible, they're sequential in the story they tell, and where relevant they are supported by commentary (but the commentarial additions are clearly designated as such). Its strength lies of in the use of multiple "narrator" modes... from memory, one suttanta, one Mahavihara, one something else (possibly non-sectarian historian?).

Sorry if I'm a bit sketchy, it's been a while, but to put it in context, I read this after reading the Majjhima and Samyutta Nikayas and still found much benefit from it and it would be my first port of call if there was some aspect of the Buddha's life I wanted to revisit.

The Amazon customer comments as linked to above are bound to contain additional information.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)

alan
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby alan » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:49 am

Thanks Retro! Your recommendation sells it for me.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:47 am

This is chaper 12 of Ven Nanamoli's book: http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/bt-1.htm
    >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
    -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

sattva
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby sattva » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:29 pm

Thanks all for the links and the suggestions! :anjali:
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IanAnd
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Re: Biography of the Buddha

Postby IanAnd » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:15 am

While I have a copy of The Life Of The Buddha According To The Pali Canon by Bhikkhu Nanamoli, and it's very good, for people not used to reading large extracts from the suttas, it may be a bit dry (although I personally didn't find it so).

As far as good biographical tomes go, one which might be a bit more entertaining to read in addition to insightful in its presentation, there is Hans W. Schumann's treatment published in 1982 and translated from German in 1989 titled The Historical Buddha, The Times, Life and Teachings of the Founder of Buddhism.

A more recent treatment that is surprisingly well written and thought out as well as entertaining and insightful in that it is taken from the same source material (the Pali discourses) as the first book mentioned above is Vishvapani Blomfield's Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One. Although the author uses Sanskrit spellings, his source material was from the Pali scriptures, which he stuck to assiduously as his reliance for authority.
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