We're going to move to The Life of the Buddha and His Teachings. Let's begin with the shared history of Buddhism across Asia and to the West. The life of the Buddha and his teachings are a source of inspiration to practitioners and non-practitioners alike. He was born some five centuries before Christ in a period of immense intellectual creativity, which the German philosopher Karl Jaspers has called the Axial Age. This included, after we see these magnificent pictures of the Buddha's life, which are all throughout Asia, we can connect this moment to the Axial Age, namely Socrates and Plato in Greece. We have Isaiah and Jeremiah in Israel, Zoroaster in Persia, Confucius and Mencius in China, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, also in China. This plethora of these traditions that come down and have formed all the major religions on the planet today is a remarkable moment. The Buddha was said to have lived in Northeast India in the 6th-5th centuries. His dates are still being debated, but some date his life approximately from 563-483 Before the Common Era. While there are some disputes on the particulars of his life, there's agreement on its overall trajectory. Some of the main sources for his life range from the Buddhacharita, the Acts of the Buddha, of Aśvaghoṣa, in the early second century, Sarvastivada biography in the third century, the MahaVastu completed in the fourth century, and the Buddhaghosa's Account in the fifth century. The basic outline is as follows. Buddha was born into a noble family of Kshatriyas and was given various names over his life. Siddhartha Gautama at birth, Shakyamuni, a sage of the Sakya clan, his own clan, and the Enlightened One, after his enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Legend has it that his own experiences led to his principle teachings. He lived a sheltered life, but wished to venture out of the luxurious surroundings of his palace, so as to discover life's deeper meaning. This he did at around age 29, against his father's wishes to protect him from life's harsher side. He had several significant encounters as he rode out with his charioteer, as the legend tells us. And as this picture depicts. First with an aged man who also he later sees as a sick person, and then with a dead person, and finally with an ascetic. Now, story tells us that each one of these encounters happens successfully in succession and not all at the same time. But as he began to realize the suffering dimensions of life, he came to examine: what was an ascetic life? He began to realize then the inevitable dimensions of life in facing aging, sickness, and death. But in his fourth trip out, he encountered a wandering ascetic, whom he was told was trying to find an answer to the suffering that life presented. He became fascinated with the life of the ascetic. He resolved to become such a person, a mendicant, a wanderer, in search of truth and to learn from others practicing fasting and austerities. For some six years he practiced extreme asceticism. These are present day ascetics in India, still on that type of a path. However, finally, he realized that a middle way. Here he is fasting. And you can see the bones even of his chest, many pictures of the Buddha like this. But he eventually realized that a middle way was preferable. He had given up the luxuries of his home life and embraced self-denial, but ultimately he came to follow a more balanced path. After many years of spiritual practice and meditation, he finally attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, as we have seen earlier. He was unsure though, of whether he was meant to teach or not teach, to preach or remain silent. His insights we're not easily put into words. Would people understand them, or not? His great doubt was eventually concluded when he resolved this dilemma and decided he would teach. We're all the beneficiaries. After some further deliberation, he went to Sarnoff near Banaras in North India on the Ganges River, and at the Deer Park there, he gave his first sermon. This has been depicted many times again disciples, the Deer Park, serene river, these magnificent flowering trees. So what is it that he began to preach in this Deer Park? First he wanted us to understand all humans. What is the problem that we're dealing with? He had an analysis of the problem in this Four Noble Truths. The universality of suffering or dukha. It's inescapable for all of us. But the origin of suffering and desire was one of his great insights, tanha. Inappropriate desire, we could say, because we all desire happiness, we desire a fulfilling life and so on. But he was trying to say those desires that agitate the mind and lead to dis-ease, tanha, grasping. We need then to eliminate desire. But how? We would love to be able to do this, and he gives us an Eight Fold Path. And for the Buddha, this was a sense of the solution through wisdom, through ethics, and through meditation. We look first at the wisdom part of the Eight Fold Path, prajna is the term used in Sanskrit. The Buddha suggested that right views, if we orient our mind in the right way, the perspective that we take, we'll put us in the right direction for everything else we would do. That means right intentions, we have to have a resolve. It's both views and intentions a perspective and a resolve. Then ethics or sila are indispensable. We have to be careful of our speech, right speech, against lying or slander, talking ill of others. Right action, against taking life or stealing or sexual misconduct. Right livelihood, work that does not harm other living beings, that includes harming animals as well. Right livelihood was picked up by Schumacher, who wrote a book called "Small Is Beautiful," to say how we live our life is absolutely critical. That is an ongoing movement with Schumacher and others seeking a new economics of right livelihood. In addition, we have meditation as the third part of this Eight Fold Path, moving towards samadhi, the deepest form of inner consciousness and serenity. How do we do this? Right efforts, abandoning all harmful thoughts, words, and deeds. There are many techniques throughout Buddhism to do this, including the early Buddhist meditation to just remove thought and keep a centering sensibility. Right mindfulness, awareness, putting away greed or even worldly distress, the distresses of the world come upon us continually, especially with the news of the day. But the Buddha was suggesting a mindfulness, a sense of awareness and concentration on everything that we're doing, how we're eating, how we're walking, how we're interacting with other people. We keep that centering and perspective alive. Finally, right concentration, equanimity, mindfulness, and ultimately samadhi. All of the Buddhist schools from the Theravada through Mahayana and Vajrayana, have elaborate techniques of meditation. Some on objects, some on mandalas, some on nothing, like Zen, getting rid of all thoughts and desires and so on, which we will talk about later in this course. These, then, are the fundamental teachings, of the Four Noble Truths in the Eight Fold Path. The Buddha intended to bring together this path of wisdom, of ethics, and meditation. For some, this may be for personal peace and inner enlightenment. For others, it is a way of being of service to the world. In its best forms Buddhism does help humans to decenter from their ego and re-center amidst the interconnectedness of things and reconnect with those who are suffering. That's its ecological sensibility. And it's why it is a profound religious cosmology and ecology which we will discuss next. One might say, this is the ongoing challenge that Buddhist presents us with, especially in its contemporary form of engaged Buddhism, which struggles with the question of how to maintain detachment from, and yet responsiveness to the sufferings of the world?