Buddha by Karen Armstrong

Post Reply
runstrails
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2143
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:33 am

Buddha by Karen Armstrong

Post by runstrails » Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:19 pm

http://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Penguin-Li ... 0670891932

This is a wonderful, rigorous, academic (but not dry) biography of the Buddha. Karen Armstrong, as you may know, is a religion scholar and a former catholic nun herself. She's gone back to the original scriptures in Pali and Sanskrit to reconstruct a top notch life story and framework of the Buddha's life and teaching. The chapter on his enlightenment is a wonderful deconstruction of what entailed his 'enlightenment' and will resonate with many of us non-dual types.

I found this paragraph on page 79 particularly interesting:
We do not know how long it took Gotama to recover his health after years of his ascetism. The scriptures speed up the process to make it more dramatic, and give the impression that Gotama was ready for the final struggle with himself after one bowl of junket. This cannot have been true. The effects of mindfulness and cultivation of skillful states takes time. Gotama himself said that it could take at least seven years, and stressed that the new self developed imperceptibly over a long period. "Just as the ocean slopes gradually, falls away gradually, and shelves gradually with no sudden incline" he later warned his disciples "so in this method training, discipline and practice take effect by slow degrees with no sudden perception of the ultimate truth". The texts show Gotama attaining his supreme enlightenment and becoming a Buddha in a single night, because they are less concerned with historical fact than with tracing the general contours of the process of achieving release and inner peace.
This was the first time I had read that the Buddha's enlightenment might have taken years (as opposed to 3 days under the bodhi tree). Makes perfect sense to me--given the Buddhist practices he later taught. Anyway, many other gems await you in this book. Perfect reading for spring break (assuming you get one :wink: )

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6214
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: Buddha by Karen Armstrong

Post by Sighclone » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:31 am

Armstrong is a wonderful writer -- she has a great book on the History of God and others on Muhammad. Thanks for the reminder about this 2004 book -- I'll order it today!

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

Post Reply