Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World

2011 ,    »  -   45 Comments
Ratings: 6.48/10 from 23 users.

Seven Wonders of the Buddhist WorldIn this fascinating documentary, historian Bettany Hughes travels to the seven wonders of the Buddhist world and offers a unique insight into one of the most ancient belief systems still practiced today.

Buddhism began 2,500 years ago when one man had an amazing internal revelation underneath a peepul tree in India. Today it is practiced by over 350 million people worldwide, with numbers continuing to grow year on year.

In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the different beliefs and practices that form the core of the Buddhist philosophy and investigate how Buddhism started and where it traveled to, Hughes visits some of the most spectacular monuments built by Buddhists across the globe.

Her journey begins at the Mahabodhi Temple in India, where Buddhism was born; here Hughes examines the foundations of the belief system - the three jewels.

At Nepal's Boudhanath Stupa, she looks deeper into the concept of dharma - the teaching of Buddha, and at the Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka, Bettany explores karma, the idea that our intentional acts will be mirrored in the future.

At Wat Pho Temple in Thailand, Hughes explores samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death that Buddhists seek to end by achieving enlightenment, before traveling to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to learn more about the practice of meditation.

In Hong Kong, Hughes visits the Giant Buddha and looks more closely at Zen, before arriving at the final wonder, the Hsi Lai temple in Los Angeles, to discover more about the ultimate goal for all Buddhists - nirvana.

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45 Comments / User Reviews

  1. NagarjunaRinpoche

    It is incorrect to say that "the ultimate goal for all Buddhists – nirvana."

    Many Buddhists would say it 'mahaparinirvana' , which is nothing like nirvana at all. Nearly all of greater vehicle vows to never achieve nirvana (nirvana locks one out of samsara births, only nirvanic births, which is a huge disadvantage if one is either trying to help suffering beings or become a Buddha).

    Mahaparinirvana is when for the sake of all sentient beings, one gains an entire world of illusion in which beings can be born, one gains infinite freedom and can manifest as ANYTHING, including being many minds or creating minds.

    To remove one's unpleasantness (nirvana), is absolutely NOTHING as a goal compared to achieving Mahaparinirvana or further the "path-of-no-more-learning" (Buddhahood).

  2. adilrye

    YES!!! Finally, I've been waiting AGES for a great documentary on Buddhism on this site, thank you Vlatko.

    This is a great documentary, I'm guessing Buddhists would like it to be a little longer, because you can make a documentary about the Buddha's life that could be over an hour. For the history stretching over 2,500 years, it's very broad. But then, having it based on a "world tour" of the greatest sites in the Buddhist world was a good idea, it was an appetizing description of this fascinating religion. As a Hindu, I see a lot of parallels, and obviously difference with Buddhism, but I can't help shake the feeling that Buddhists are like our religious brothers and sisters :P

  3. Angela Allen

    WATCH "The Buddha"....EXCELLENT documentary!!!

  4. Angela Allen

    Well said!!

  5. Heather

    Thanks for this one Vlatko!
    The Buddha is my favorite religious figure, because he is the only one I have ever seen depicted smiling.

  6. anuragawasthi

    Buddha said that there were many buddha's before him and many more will come after him............The first historical buddha known as 'Saguta Buddha' lived in 1500 B.C and Gautama Buddha went to Bodhi-Gaya to get enlightenment from the birth place of Vishnu-avatar-Buddha.It would have been better if the doc shld have mentioned abt him

  7. stevenbhow

    Haven't watched this yet, but kind of surprised from the description they seemed to have left out Tibet and Japan.

  8. Xercès Des Stèles

    they didn't forget they said tibet monks philosophie is pre much the same as other budhists around the world and that the zen we often associate with japan actually finds its roots into budhism from china ;)))

  9. Matt Kukowski

    Alan Watts popularized Zen Buddhism in the 'West' in the 50's through on to earlier 70's when he died in 1973. He is all over youtube and is probably the smartest man you will ever be lectured by. Alan Watts, look him up.

  10. stevenbhow

    Thanks for the info. I will watch it soon.

  11. gabbledegook

    A decent documentary though i was surprised at the pretty much complete omission of Tibet (one sentence to say that there are many Tibetan refugees in Nepal) and the total omission of the Dalai Lama (i dont usually think about the influence of politics but were the BBC being mindful of not offending the Chinese hmm)

  12. Yavanna

    Ahhh Bettany Hughes.... I am so in love. She could make a 14 hour doc about dog sh1t and I`d be enthralled!

  13. Karenwasherefirst

    They seem as happy as house plants.

  14. Guest

    at 12:40...the buddha has no ears perhaps because the sense of his message was experienced, not explained, as this doc concludes at 1:10.

    Our understanding of spirituality should not be given, taken or argued as it is as personal as a person is, it is a climbing towards self realisation and no one can push you in the back or pull you in the front, you stand alone facing your self in your reality.

    If no one had ever taught or explained the common spiritual beliefs, we would be free to be. as we would give that same freedom to others.


  15. Jamie Megarity

    oooh i already know im going to like this documentary ^^

  16. NagarjunaRinpoche

    I am generally unimpressed by this film. I am not bashing the film maker, as I understand how difficult it is to approach Buddhism as a whole, and more so represent it in a short film. Which might be why the film focuses on buildings. I have been in near full retreat the past 4 years and have achieved a direct realization of emptiness with the subtle mind and glimpsed it with the clear-light mind. I have rooted out the majority of causes for unpleasantness and keep a small portion under reflexive control for the sake of mastering empathy and compassion. According to the Dalia Lama's definition I am an Arya and thus qualified to speak on these matters. I am writing this comment to clear up misapprehension, particularly for those who are even interested in actual application of the teachings.

    I find a lot of misleading information. Some general statements about Buddhist beliefs are incorrect, such as those related to samsara and rebirth. Also, Buddhism does not emphasize or really give a hoot about buildings. Some are intended to inspire contemplatives (if one is even a moderate contemplative, one shouldn't need the cause of some building to inspire oneself, as one should be able to self-build the causes to generate inspiration, or have renounced the need to be inspired as a cause for practice, appropriate behavior, or art et cetera) but most are built for community convenience or political reasons. The Dalia Lama gives a fine example of this when referencing his childhood home, the Potala Palace, says "It's just a building[...]".

    The historian shows she is out of her depth when she uses a made up tenant: "the middle-path, that essential notion that extremes and excess are to be avoided at all costs [...]". It is possible she is parroting what she learned from the PBS film, as this isn't a notion at all. Hardly essential and in fact would go against the extreme and excessive nature of legitimate tantric practices. (the tantras are the de facto only way to achieve actual buddhahood and not just some enlightened fruition. One does this with truly extreme levels of bliss such as kammamudra +tummo (or tummo +clear light +deity yoga +illusory body yoga) and truly extreme bodily fabrication methods such as tummo and breathless samadhis (holy trances), coupled with the most extreme mental fabrications, such arising and illusory body yoga. I am sure a huge percentage of modern medicine and psychology would claim arising and illusory body yoga is dangerous to one's mental health, which it can be if one isn't careful and serious). Bodhisattvas that only follow the sutras and do not study the tantras (the term includes dzogchen and mahamudra for those curious) do not even have the capacity to notice the final three subtle obstacles to buddhahood.
    Stretching the benefit of doubt as far as I can, I assume she is semantically conflating terminology. Through this conflated lens, she is most likely misunderstanding that a category of thought, Madhyamaka (the middle way/path, part of the mahayana 'school') is different then the teaching about 'the middle way', in respect to Siddartha's life and meditation. Specifically the event when he recalls that as a child, how he naturally (naturally as in through the inherited momentum of past-life meditation) applied a non-meditative clear-light technique, and how upon recalling, he intuited it was the FINAL step in his case, to access the path-of-no-more-learning. The term 'the middle way' is used loosely here, relating to the tuning of an instrument, 'not too tight, not too loose', to the required balance between excitation and mental laxity; important for THAT technique and a few hundred others (out of several thousand meditative techniques). Moreover, nirvana is one type of enlightenment; and nearly all are taught it's not good karma to practice specifically for a better future life.
    Further, most of the statements about karma and rebirth are incorrect. Buddhist meditation is really not about "letting thoughts of fear and anger go", as thoughts become reflexive and completely undistracting and can be ceased at will very early on; nearly all Buddhist practices are WELL beyond controlling the silent thinker. The account the historian gave of which schools lasted and which did not out of the ~18 early schools is misleading. As a number of the traditions are still in place but the nomenclature as evolved over time. A number of the schools were developing various aspects of the extremely subtle and WIDE ranging philosophies espoused in what became Mahayana, well before any texts were written. This caused a major categorical divide amongst the varied schools that further caused a very slow consolidation, not in the philosophical or soteriological essence of tenants themselves, but of the names of the schools and some terms. Instead of having a variety of movements with entirely different names, it evolved into only a 'few' schools, with each school having an even larger number of movements within. Compared to the total number of movements to begin with, the number of actual traditions, though now contained in much larger over-arching categories, has quadrupled.
    It is important to remember that both in this film and in the PBS film, there are blanket statements about Buddhism and the Buddha's life that are made that can not be viewed as anything other than incorrect.

    Other bits of information were not incorrect but not particularly informative or represent the typical views. Take dharma in relation to the three precious jewels. It's outer meaning is the teaching of the Buddha, it's inner meaning is sambhogakaya, which is a topic unto itself but in this case focuses more on understanding it as the "buddha-body of perfect resource". The secret meaning (which is the only secret meaning I will reveal without breaking my vows) can be best understood by first understanding dharma means "phenomenon" and means "non-perceptible object", used in certain contexts it means the universe as a whole. In this case the secret meaning refers to the 'great, non-perceptible phenomenon (universe) as a whole', being all one buddhic object, all one great 'NOT-SELF'. The phenomenon being a super intelligent 'organism' or Buddha.
    As far as the Buddhas image or statues, this is a later trend as touched upon in the film, that is not inline with ancient Buddhism of any kind, as all of the ancient schools rejected any images of the Buddha representing him with form or a human body, it was considered completely disrespectful and contrary to the teachings themselves.

    It is important to remember that nearly all Buddhist suttas/sutras/tantras, even the historical account of the Buddha, have an outer, inner, and secret meaning. Often, during both in docs and university classes, only the outer meaning is known and taught, and usually is a muddled and more often then not an incoherent mess of it's original meaning. Most Buddhists spend so much time with only a few dozen texts, if even this much, when Buddhism has more text then all other religions combined (~600,000 surviving texts). Therefor, most attempts at generalized quantification are actually plagued with a type of tunnel vision, concerning, in essence, the limit of that person's knowledge.

    Zen actually is a deteriorated form of Chan. Most modern zen is really only appropriate for those who have already studied the major philosophies of other schools and are decently far on their path. Such as a bodhisattva who is entering the 'stage of meditation'. Other than that they are only offering the most basic of meditative advice and a place to do it.
    Some zen schools are deteriorated rather significantly from original, authentic, chan-like zen and now consider the goal to be samadhi, this is similar to many hindu models and is considered and should be considered extremely flawed. Lastly the meditative techniques passed down from dzogchen and chan to zen in most cases have deteriorated to purely jhanic states.

    If there are any who study, then save this as you will have much trouble finding various subtle points.

    For those who are overly plagued by doubt, check out the western consensus concerning the basic path to an Arhat. (one can achieve Arhat and not achieve nirvana) Check out dharmaaboveground . org, as you will find many people who achieved anything from stream-enterers to arhats, with a few bodhisattvas who lurk.

  17. NagarjunaRinpoche


    I disagree, the sense of buddhas teachings are very well communicated, as Nagarjuna and other Buddhist thinkers put wisdom as much more of a critical enlightening factor over meditative esperi

  18. NagarjunaRinpoche


    experience, excuse my out of control pc,

    If the buddha had not given his spirituality then no one could of taken it, so many people would have no idea actual freedom is possible.

    What if one's spirituality leads one to think there is no self or that everything is not-self, that we are all one and have the same fundamental nature of mind. If this were the case then once one experienced it, one knows the very depths of all other minds too, as the nature is the same. So in this sense it's not personal at all...

    Buddhism considers personhood to be an illusion, consideres everything to be actually interpersonal, with all but like 2 or 3 trances disclosing fully to the rest of the world what is going on in ones mind.

  19. NagarjunaRinpoche

    Lastly @ az it is through argument that Buddhism developed and refined it's most subtle philosophical structures, without argument most of these points would of never been worked out and so many people would not benefit from 2500 years of people uttery destroying their unpleasantness.

    Love you all and hope you achieve freedom before you pass.

  20. Jayarathne Abeydeera

    Dear Anuragawathi, Buddha is not an avatar of anybody and When the era Buddhism was so popular in India, Hindus included Lord Buddha to Vishnu's 10 avatars. Many Hindus still believe in their mythology the ninth incarnation of Vishnu is Lord Buddha. In Bagawath Purana says Lord Vishnu has innumerable avatars.

  21. Hannah Sarpong

    Questions, once you reach nirvana and escape samsara you are no longer reincarnated so then where do you go/become? If there is no concept of heaven/hell then why go through many states of samsara to achieve nirvana if in the end you become nothing?

  22. Hannah Sarpong

    Questions, once you reach nirvana and escape samsara you are no longer reincarnated so then where do you go/become? If there is no concept of heaven/hell then why go through many states of samsara to achieve nirvana if in the end you become nothing? Sorry if this sounds "ignorant" I'm just trying to get more answers...

  23. Hannah Sarpong

    thank you... you have shared a lot of information to clarify misunderstandings of the BBC (pffff) have some serious knowledge on this subject quite rightly...please, one question when reincarnation stops where do you go/become? Why can't you reveal all the secrets...wouldn't it benefit humanity as a whole if we had all the secrets? ok that was three questions ... buddha is not a deity so who do you pray to when your hands are clasped together? why does the dalai lama get involved in politics?

    thank you

  24. Jayarathne Abeydeera

    Dear Hannah, Thank you very much for your two questions. Those two questions are always raising many people who have doubt about nirvana and samsara or cycle of rebirth. According to my knowledge of Buddhism, nirvana is not a special place to go or a special position like a saint or an another Buddha to become. After you attain nirvana It is simply and completely stop your cycle of rebirth in this universe or any other universe. When you die as an arhat (the last and highest position of the Buddhist meditater)you never born again.

    To your 2nd question: it is not necessary to rebirth many lives to attain nirvana and it is depend on your karmic effects and your determination or your will power to reduce worldly attachments,craves and desires. Some believe even in this life you can attain nirvana. Most of the time you can over-power of your karma by your strong determination. Every good and bad things happen to human-beings are not because of karma.In Buddhism, karma is not the sole cause of anything that happens. The following are the "Niyama Dharma" that cause effects.

    Karma Niyama--------Consequences of one's actions
    Dhamma Niyama-----Laws of nature
    Irthu Niyama---------Seasonal changes and climate
    Biija Niyama----------Genetic inheritance
    Chitta Niyama--------Will of mind
    The last four cover "conditions" or "circumstances" in which karmic potentials can ripen as result.
    Dear Hannah,I'm not a Buddhist scholar,but I like to discuss that sort of questions.

  25. tenzin phentok

    hi Jayarathne........thank you so much for the informations you posted on the wall.....As being myself a buddhist I really dont know much about nirvana,samsara and niyamas.........But your information is very helpful and really appreciate your post....thanks once again.....

  26. John

    While this film is interesting enough, it fails to clearly distinguish between the different Buddhist traditions. Most traditions have, some to a minor degree and some to a major degree, taken the original teachings of the Buddha and mixed them with their cultural beliefs and local folk religions, and, sadly, the focus of their "Buddhist" practice is often on that which is their own cultural sensitivities/folk religion, and not what the Buddha actually taught. And most people simply don't know the difference. For example, the Buddha did NOT teach reincarnation or rebirth, and he specifically states in the Pali Canon that we should not waste a single iota of our mental energy being concerned about metaphysical matters. The Buddha, according to the Pali Canon, states that the Dharma is a practice (something you DO, for here and now, NOT a belief) for overcoming suffering and living a moral, wholesome life NOW -- not in some imagined rebirth. I've been studying Buddhism since 1994 and it always saddens me that such a wonderfully profound, practical, pragmatic teaching has been twisted by some cultures into a silly, superstitious wad of nonsense.

  27. NagarjunaRinpoche

    I am very pleased to see a discussion. A comment and then responses to questions asked and points made.

    Buddhist knowledge is in a degenerative phase that has been predicted by quite a few great yogis stretching back; it is generally accepted that there are 5 stages to this degeneration. We crossed into the next stage a number of decades ago, slightly before the Chinese "re-claimed" Tibet.

    During this stage: the Buddhist community splinters; some subtle teachings are lost all together, with the remaining teachings becoming rather disorganized; generally the contemplatives will train poorly and their understanding will be disorganized as well; the lama-ist method deteriorates to a mostly inefficient system that will actually turn many off from the dharma; attempts at controlled rebirth into samsara fail at a much higher rate, even more who rebirth correctly are not properly tracked down and an imposter is mistaken.

    An increasingly large number of mind-streams on earth, by definition, are living "demi-god" lives. When this planet reaches a threshold of such lives, the buddhist teachings in any truly applied way, are essentially dead. The term demi-god is equivalent to the term "titans", which stresses the fact that there is near-constant, ultimately non-beneficial competition and warfare, both subtle and not. The term "pseudo-pleasure being" is also useful.

    The silver lining being a final bright flash before the extinction of real practice concerning certain teachings and methods (such as many of the tantras). Further there will be bodhisattva-mahasattvas (supreme bodhisattvas who have buddhic qualities ripening) who have the blessings and assistance from many buddhas, who will require little to nothing from physical teachers and will extract some of the most subtle and sweet meanings of the teachings for the sake of those beings who yearn to tame-themselves.
    The modern contemplative Dharma Sangha is the finest example of such a mahasattva. In documentary made about him when he was younger, he was called "Buddha Boy".

    It's likely almost every person who will read this is actually living a "demi-god" life and should contemplate that the plethora of information that you have inherited is both a blessing and a curse. As on one hand, one has access to huge portions of the world's progress and culture at one's finger tips, including copious amounts of soteriological texts. On the other hand, a near-endless ocean of data that generally amounts to nothing more than theoretical knowledge, which in turn has little-to-nothing to contribute to one's being/mental health, or most importantly, recognizing one's obligation to tend to and serve other beings (Once one understands one's role in the world, mastering the arts and sciences can become bodhisattva work, as it assists in dispelling doubt in those too fettered to attempt vigorous meditation. It assists in the maturation of their mind-streams as one draws corollaries et cetera). Further, the plethora is often used in a subtly habitual manner to fill in precious "free-time" and cover a subtly unpleasant void that most samsaric mind-streams are dis-eased with.

    The Buddha spoke highly in the pali about understanding the vedas. Moreover, vedic/hindu scholars and Buddhist scholars engaged in debate leading both traditions to became so subtle and beautiful, especially concerning contemplative logic. Kinship indeed!

    -A refutation dealing with various masters or Buddhologists is meaningless to those outside of in-depth Buddhism and removed from legitimate meditative practice. Though I see the humor in it and thank you for pointing that out, it induced fervent chuckling.

    -All questions beyond rhetorical are rooted in ignorance. Ignorance is not inherently 'bad' and further is a cause for the enlightenments. Some of your questions are the same as many Buddhists have asked and debated for thousands of years.

    -There are many different types of hells and heavens in samsara and they are temporary abodes. During and depending on the method of Bardo yoga: one either experiences waking, open-eyed visions of these realms in the place of where the former reality was;visions of both the bardo realm and their former realm being integrated; or one experiences the actual rebirth into the realms themselves through removing the blood supply via the jugular veins (type of suffocation) AFTER one has drawn in prana/chi/qi/rlung (same thing; Ki is the energy of tension and not the same thing, though related) and enters into a breathless samadhi. If one does this correctly, one can stay dead up to an hour while also maintaining protection of the vital organs. If one doesn't have high bodhicitta (the will to become supremely enlightened specifically for the sake of assisting sentient beings) or fails to correctly draw sufficient chi into the central channel, one will not come back and the body will eventually die.
    I don't advise this to anyone. A highly regarded anatomist from the west who has been working with certain groups of monks that include the Dalia Lama, suggests hydrogen sulphide is involved, and the trace amounts found in the blood increase to a certain threshold, which is showing in study to protect vital organs in animals while they lack oxygen.

    -Many teachings and practices should be viewed as medicine, if the wrong medicine is given to someone it sometimes leads to further complications and will not treat their sickness. Such as with the rather extreme version of Bardo yoga discussed above (obviously critical portions are left out, don't attempt) it could help someone and nearly the entire practice is now available to the public, so why not keep it to oneself and let those who train under you or those determined enough to find it themselves receive it. I am sure you see the potential danger of people playing lightly with a technique like that. Remaining generally quiet about such things is applying skillful-means concerning the allocation of medicine.
    Further some practices cause intense bliss that can become rather intoxicating, and for most it can be a truly hindering and addictive force (there is a term "jhanic-junky" sometimes applied to those who get hooked on concentration jhanas, but to be frank the bliss and the potential for hindrance induced from the jhanas isn't much compared to the applied higher tantras) With the disorganization I explained in the opening comment, both portions and full practices that were once kept secret have become available to those who look for or compile the appropriate texts. In most cases it's out of a final attempt to keep those teachings alive, at least for the portion of time people are still seriously applying the practices. Even while this being the case there are dozens and dozens of pith-instructions and secret-meaning teachings that are being held. Some will die out soon and some will be revealed in time.
    Mind you, most of these teachings are already available to those who qualify in the eyes of that particular lineage holder.
    Lastly some techniques can specifically be used to do harmful things to other people. Which is such an issue with some they refuse to pass the technique on altogether.

    -One does not become nothingness; their mind-stream is empty, but not a vacuous emptiness, it is an emptiness indivisible from radiance and awareness regardless of nirvana or samsara.

    -'NIrvana' refers to many things. To name a few:
    From a reboot leading to permanent changes in the mind-stream (this reboot is also called a "fruition", the entire field of experience shuts off for a moment, a non-experience) to zen schools, generally equating it with any standard trance induced through steady concentration (jhanic samadhi). All of the advanced schools
    As I touched on very slightly in the first comment on this page, the general use of the term in relation to rebirth, amongst the advanced teachers who have realized perfection, is when one (generally Arhat or Non-returner) removes one's capacity to rebirth into samsara. One then-after rebirths into one of the many diverse nirvanic pure-realms generated by Buddhas, living there free from general unpleasantness.
    There are at least two methods to the meditation that accomplishes this particular fruition, both entail rather assertive applications of concentration upon the "subtle wind", basically that-which-blows-the-concentration. In other-words, that which causes involuntary shifts from one mind-moment to another.
    The second fruition the term Nirvana would apply to in context would be the experience of subject-object duality dropping away, accompanied by the perception that all is only "such-ness" in flux. One feels like nothing and everything in the same moment. Following immediately, being the intuited knowledge that questions about birth and death don't apply to the structure one is a part of.This uncommonly leads to perpetual nirvanic rebirth, often will lead only to temporary abiding in the pure-realms, depending on the quality of the mind-stream; yet doesn't necessarily destroy the propensity for samsaric birth. Neither fruition is an exalted state of bliss unto itself; both provide rather deep and unique security of being.
    Lastly, nirvana is not considered the end, there generally is considered to be some sort of infinite progression even after one achieves supreme Buddhahood.

    -When the hands are clasped together, a variety of things can be going on. One could actually be praying, often those who practice zazen will just pray', without praying to something specifically. While others practicing a different form of zen will pray to a pure-land buddha. The Buddhas are deities. Some will go into the jhanic state called 'base-of-infinite-space' and make aspirational prayers, for reasons that can be easily found by the diligent.
    Sometimes the hands are clasped together for support for either a physical, breathing, or subtle body practice.

    -The role of the Dalia Lama has evolved in some ways over time. It quickly evolved into a dual-role of both political and spiritual authority and that tradition has been passed to the current. The current being both a political head when Tibet was arguably autonomous and the political head of the government-in-exile. It's important to remember that recently the Dalia Lama rescinded the political portion of a Dalia Lama's duties.

    Thank you for your contribution to the discussion Good Sir. It appears you are falling into varied fallacies.

    -How can the Pali texts be the 'original' or 'authentic' teachings of the Buddha if they were written down hundreds of years after his death by people who never personally witnessed him? What method do you employ to determine if there is a difference in what the Pali texts say and what occurred historically? How can you prove with certainty that over multiple generations, an entirely oral tradition composed of hundreds of thousands of lines (some accounts suggest millions) and decades worth of buddhic teachings were not distorted or lost to some degree, that it did not run up against the obstacle of human error?

    -Can you explain to some subtlety how the order that wrote the Pali texts, several hundred years later, were absolutely exempt from mixing the "[...]original teachings of the Buddha[...]" "[...]with their cultural beliefs and local folk religions[...]"? Absolutely exempt from making "[...]the focus of their "Buddhist" practice on that which is their own cultural sensitivities/folk religion, and not what the Buddha actually taught. [...]"
    How do you tell, concerning any particular point of the suttas, if that point was "actual teaching" or "culture"?

    - If one claims in essence to any of these questions that somehow, primarily, or solely because they were enlightened Arhats, they were capable of no error.
    Beyond not having a single way to authenticate such a claim...Why do Arhats become impassioned in dreams if they make no mistakes? If they are fully enlightened why do they have problematic motivation-tendencies? Why do the vast majority of modern Arhats consider "their bird not fully cooked" and nearly all of them choose to move on to other paths. (check out dharmaoverground dot org for much evidence that will speak for themselves)

    -When one reads the pali canon entirely literally, one runs into serious paradox. Meaning one has to interpret which were provisional texts (more of a specifically tailored prescription for someone) and which were general.
    -By sheer interpretation has one not strayed from the "original" teachings? By interpreting, one is bringing one's mind, one's motivational tendencies, the extent and limit of one's knowledge all to project unto the teachings.
    -How could they remain the "original" once they have crossed the rubicon?

    -If one claims that the Pali Canon is effective or some other positive quality, this is just it, it reflects in no way as to whether or not it's teachings are authentic and fully of the Buddha.

    -Considering the above, one is unable to claim that by 'testing the words like gold' and by not 'following any specific sutta' (both taught in pali canon) one is left one anywhere else but to accept all the great-vehicle canon texts as well as long as they accord with one's fierce diligence.

    -The great-vehicle grew out of in-depth analysis & validity through experience.

    -Explain how "[...]most people simply don't know the difference[...]" and you are endowed with special knowledge concerning [...]what the Buddha actually taught[...]". Please explain how you acquired specifically the knowledge to the "actual" teachings.
    If the knowledge was gained through meditative fruit, explain it phenomenologically, explain the needed causes, explain the similarities from the state that endowed you with this knowledge to the samatha jhanas and or the insight jhanas. As these, as you know, are the primary meditative reference points amongst the ~10,000 suttas that make up the pali canon.

    -Within the Pali Canon (the group of teachings you claim are the "actual") the Buddha teaches over 500 of his past lives. Outside of this, amongst the 10,000 suttas, different classes of beings, karma, and rebirth itself is mentioned well over a thousand times.

    -Within these tales (again within the Pali Canon), the Buddha makes clear he walked a long and giving road throughout his past lives and called himself a Bodhisattva.
    -In the Pali Canon he also makes it clear there is a difference him (tatagata) and his disciples (arhats)

    -It reasonably follows that one either think the Buddha was either the only Bodhisattva possible and no one can be a Tatagata except him or you think it is generally possible for all to be Bodhisattvas.

    -If one thinks the Buddha was the only done, how does one understand the pali canon, when the Buddha compares himself to great enlightened masters of the past and future says they are at least equivalent.

    -Since one is forced to see that all beings can be a bodhisattva and ultimately that a tatagata is different, it stands to follow that since the subtle bodhisattva stories were a description of how the Buddha accomplished his particular position (being the tatagata) is directly relaying a method of operation.

    -Further support to the above when the Buddha talks about the sum total of his knowledge equaling a forest but the leaves in his hand were the knowledge he passed on. He has the monks ask him why only those leaves (teachings), the Buddha explains it is because the other things do not liberate one.

    -Why would the Buddha teach the Bodhisattva stories at all if it wasn't concerned with our liberation and therefor a very valid and important topic, for the the Buddha went out of his way to teach it.

    -Since the Buddha taught the Bodhisattva path with it's clear distinctions to Arhat, it should be important enough to devote sutras in it's understanding. Further anything in any of the greater-vehicle texts that isn't related to ultimate liberation could still be Buddhic knowledge, just not what the Buddha had given with his outstretched hand.

    -The Buddha says a few times not to waste time with metaphysics. Though the Buddha discusses metaphysics at length amongst the ~10,000 texts. Why? Because the Buddha wasn't wasting time at all, he was providing provisional teachings, essentially to mature the minds of sentient beings. Why did he teach his those monks and those brahmins not to waste time on metaphysics? Because he was teaching them the Path of the disciple. Which requires no time spent on metaphysics and as said in the Pali 'the very brightest yogas can accomplish Arhat in a week' .
    The path of the Bodhisattva on the other hand, involves many lives and much time discoursing with sentient beings concerning metaphysics and other expedients.

    -The paths to Buddhahood utilizes skillful-means and conventional language, for example amongst the 10,000 suttas is where another definition of 'dharma' comes. This being 'non-perceptible object'.

    -In the context of all the canons including the Pali, there is an avocation for the elimination of unpleasantness, living a moral life, wholesome life, without specifying specific points in time, as all traditions find eternal "suchness" (nowness) in place of time... Good Sir is presenting a false dichotomy.

    -I am cherry to hear you have been practicing in some capacity since 94'.
    Since you follow the Pali and the most core practice for progressing on the path of the Arhat (disciple). Please share how your first 2nd insight jhana, particularly how it was when you induced the first permanent change. They can be somewhat varied so I am rather curious how your experience went. I am referring the event that leads to the first major change that occurs half way along the insight path to entry-level (stream-entry).
    -If you chose to share the amount of time you have been practicing to stress your contemplative experience, please share your first experience with nirodha samapatti as well. How long can you hold it now?

    Have you decided to stay at Arhat or not there yet, or have you found a post-Arhat path not discussed?

    - Lastly "[...]it always saddens me that such a wonderfully profound, practical, pragmatic teaching has been twisted by some cultures into a silly, superstitious wad of nonsense."

    -Can you cite examples of what specifics you use to contrast between the 'practical' teachings with the 'silly, superstitious wad of nonsense' ones?
    -During the Pali Canon (the canon you are claiming is practical and original) such as the mahaparinibbana sutta, the Buddha teleports, uses the will of serving others to subdue a fatal disease (ultimately for months, until he decides on his own behalf it is a good time to go; to Ananda he explains he could live on earth forever if he chose. Other suttas in the Pali such as when he descends into the heavens for months and upon returning, a student that wasn't aware of the specifics asked him bluntly if he went up there with just his mind or with his body of the elements too...The Buddha says very clearly both, that his physical body literally flew into the sky. How about when the Buddha teaches making a mind-made-body by making a mental body and then making an actual physical body from a mental body, then to 'withdraw it like a sword from sheath'.

    -I am confused by your seeming definition of what practical is, what in the world has to occur for it to be silly or superstitious then (Flying check, teleporting check, immortality check)? Please help me understand your positions!

    Thanks for your post.

    -This post, the last larger post, and the first post have covered or touched on every good point you bring up from a specific tradition. There is a semantic diffusion that applies to the term karma as well.
    -There are definitions that include Niyama Dharma as entirely classified as 'karma' with the last four conditions not only giving cause to karmic potentials but arising from karmic potentials as well. As there is no ultimate dichotomy between cause and effect, or anything else for that matter, all things co-emerge.
    -The refutations on the fact the Arhats are not the top of Buddhist meditation are above, most importantly talk to a series of peers rather than just me at dharmaoverground dot org (my apologies for the mis-link last major post)
    -Thanks again for being extremely helpful to Tenzin Phentok! Happy meditating.

  28. Guest

    "Our understanding of spirituality should not be given, taken or argued as it is as personal as a person is, it is a climbing towards self realisation and no one can push you in the back or pull you in the front, you stand alone facing your self in your reality."

    I should have written wholly given, wholly taken, wholly argued.

    I think your comment exemplifies exactly what i am trying to say with the above sentence. The practice of the buddha was defined by Shakyamuni Siddh?rtha Gautama, it did wonder for him but it is in no way supposed to be identical for anyone else. It is an inspiration to find one's own path.
    You see faults in every parts of this doc but i am sure for this woman it is a step towards her enlightenment and the result of HER many years of searching within the teaching of buddhism and HER search of the meaning of life.
    You say: Also, Buddhism does not emphasize or really give a hoot about buildings. If they didn't the buildings would not exist. I am not saying every buddhist gives a hoot about the buildings but by the millions buddhists do, perhaps you don't and that is your identity.

    A tree, nature, a child, the silence of the night sky, are my replacement of a building but mainly it is in the silence of my own within that i find my equivalence to what the buddha searched and lastly found inside himself.

  29. Binay Kumar

    thanks very nice!!! binay

  30. NagarjunaRinpoche

    Thanks for your clarification and time!

    Changes context by night and day indeed!
    Without the 'wholly', the statement seems to self-refute as one would be saying on one hand it's SO personal it ought not be shared; yet the claim is that it's so impersonal that one can make statements concerning considerable consistency "[...]it is a climbing towards self realisation and no one can push you in the back or pull you in the front, you stand alone facing your self in your reality."

    Beyond the seemingly incomprehensible phrase 'wholly argued', it appears there is a conflation.

    Are you not conflating 'is' and 'ought'? As no one can wholly take or wholly give an experience, let alone wholly take some other person's experience.
    Yet it appears the 'ought' is directed at something that has always been.

    Good Ms., your next few sentences are very ambiguous and seem to rely on floating, rather illusive definitions.
    It isn't clear what practice you are talking about, as the sage Shakyamuni didn't teach a singular practice, nor a singular path. Are you referring to a path not being identical, a goal not being identical, the philosophical tenants not being identical or some combination?
    As very clearly some soteriological and philosophical statements are provisional and meant for a specific mind-stream as he says this outright. at the very same time he makes it clear that other statements, again referring to both philosophical and soteriological statements, are not provisional and apply to everyone.

    The concentration jhanas and insight jhanas are consistent perceptual states with consistent properties and rules that apply to all mind-streams. Be it a hindu, Buddhist, contemplative christian, if one applies one's mind in a specific 'pose' and satisfies various qualifiers, the effect will be categorically the same. Phenomenologically these states are consistent amongst individuals. Nirodha-samapatti for example will always require certain causes, the consistency amongst the causes transcends and overshadows your use of the term identical,which appeared in the context of negation.

    Just like if one contorts one's body in a yogic physical posture, irregardless of one's beliefs, the same groups of muscles are being worked and stretched, leading categorically to the same end results. The results depend on the accruing the causes, nothing related to one's belief. These consistent results occur even though each person's body isn't 'identical'.

    There is a difference between feelings of inspiration, changes in motivational tendencies due to inspiration, and actually acting on either.

    Any claim that the Buddhist philosophical or soteriological tenants are 'solely' or 'mere' inspiration or 'mere' cause to inspiration, is false.

    Can you point me to where I claim that all parts of the documentary are at fault? I am sorry I mislead you; though you say "[...]but i am sure for this woman it is a step towards her enlightenment". Her path and salvation are not part of the documentary, I made no direct reference to her salvation. Regardless of whether it helped her, it doesn't take away or invalidate any of the faults pointed out. The wording you chose appears to imply that you think it does.

    How can you be emphatically sure it was a step towards her enlightenment? It could just as well of solidified her doubts or solidified a false projection of what Buddhism is or represents. Leading her not to practice (further away from enlightenment).

    She is a historian and may not be searching for salvation. This couples with her statements only a few minutes in, when she states she is not a Buddhist, yet when she asks Buddhists she always gets the response that 'one must experience it' to understand. Later on she makes clear she has no meditative experience, implying rather directly that she isn't personally seeking the meaning or most important the application of the meaning.

    She appears to be studying Buddhism from a historical perspective with an inherited lens of humanism. Therefor, it stands with reason, that when she reads the texts she would be trying to gather and understand very different pieces of data. She does not appear to be trying to see if there is soteriological truth in Buddhism, she is trying to understand the historical progression and why people choose to do what they do.

    Where does she make it clear that any part of the documentary or the making of documentary or her study that she is searching for the meaning of life.

    It is very common in the modern academic realm to live from the axiom that life has no intrinsic meaning. It seems even less likely that someone living from this axiom would spend an iota of thought concerning an acquisition of some illusory meaning of life to juxtapose with their convictions. It appears rather likely this applies to your comment about her 'search'.

    "You say: Also, Buddhism does not emphasize or really give a hoot about buildings. If they didn't the buildings would not exist. I am not saying every buddhist gives a hoot about the buildings but by the millions buddhists do, perhaps you don't and that is your identity."

    I am rather confused by this Good Ms.
    You are conflating Buddhism with individuals who label themselves Buddhist.

    Since the buildings exist it proves it's important to Buddhism itself? How?

    So the actions of anyone who claims they are a Buddhist intrinsically reflects on Buddhism as a whole? So if a government or king builds a building for purely political reasons, and the populace uses the building, it impacts and/or reflects Buddhist positions???
    Many use the buildings to be around other Buddhists, many are drawn to places where constant meditation and devotion are occurring. Some are drawn by a 'sacredness', not brought on by the non-existent intrinsic value of a building, but a sacredness brought about through community and meditation.

    How do you figure that millions of Buddhists give a hoot about buildings?

    If a person labels themselves Buddhist and places intrinsic value in a building then they are simply that. Individuals who happen to have a view inconsistent with Buddhist philosophy while simultaneously reserving the self-anointed label of 'Buddhist'.

    If the mind's capacity to identify phenomena with 'self' is removed, how can it be said that one has an identity? For the mental-loop one refers to when one says identity, is utterly destroyed.
    I am unsure how you make claims about 'my identity'. As once the loop is removed, one works on and accomplishes the removal of any sense of agency... all that remains that could be called 'identity' are motivational tendencies. Having a philosophical realization or direct realization of emptiness leads to a state of mind quite contrary to habitually identifying with phenomena.

    Having a direct experience of emptiness with the course-mind leads to the removal of the mental-loop.
    Having a direct experience of emptiness with the subtle-mind leads to the removal of the sense of agency.
    Having a direct experience of emptiness with the subtlest-mind, the clear-light, leads to a purification of the final three obstacles to Buddhahood, which further leads to the purification of those motivational tendencies.

    "A tree, nature, a child, the silence of the night sky, are my replacement of a building but mainly it is in the silence of my own within that i find my equivalence to what the buddha searched and lastly found inside himself."

    Good Ms. this statement also perplexes.

    What concentration jhanas and insight jhanas do you have experience with?

    Your equivalence to what the Buddha found? Are you claiming you have accomplished the same state and that you are a Buddha?

    Are you claiming that all the Buddha accomplished was a quite mind?

    Are you claiming that your peak of mental experience, relative to his supreme Buddhahood, is a silent mind?

    Are you claiming the silence of your mind is qualitatively or phenomenologically similar to his?

    What level of mind are you speaking about? Course mind? Subtle mind? Or subtlest clear-light mind? The Buddha didn't just get to the clear-light, he entirely purified it (plus much more).

    Trees, 'nature', a child, silence of the night sky, and a building are not equivalent to what the Buddha searched for or found.

    A tree, 'nature', a child, the silence of the night sky, and a building can all be objects of meditation. (to clear confusion by example, in sky meditation in the advanced tradition dzogchen, the quality of spaciousness is drawn out by using the sky or by meditating somewhere with a very spacious view. Used to realize aspects of one's mind, but by no stretch is it the object of meditation, as the mind is the object)

    Thanks again for contributing to the discussion Good Ms. Your time is valued and peace stay with you.

  31. Guest

    Good Mr,
    Thank you for your time.

  32. Nooniii2010

    Thank you NagarjunaRinpoche. I promise, so far as nothing else comes to mind, these will be my only question(s), I appreciate you have spent a lot of time responding in detail to many people. Please excuse my ignorance, I'm not doing this to be facetious. In the doc, it mentioned that the first Bhudda requested not to be worshiped before he passed away. This is why I am wondering how the later Bhuddahs have constructed identities as deities. Secondly, and most importantly for me is the issue of "purpose". If actions do not have an ultimate purpose, are they worth doing at all? There are, from what I can gather from other responses, various paths/techniques, various 'canons', in Bhuddism as there are in the three other major world religions. I see the purpose in the other religions, to reach salvation and an eternal abode in a heavenly kingdom (sorry to dumb it down, but you know what I'm getting at!) All I'm asking for, is a simple answer to what is the ultimate purpose of choosing a path of Bhuddism (encompases the following ignorant questions such as: where will I go once I've reached the ultimate state of nirvana, will I meet the other Bhuddas, compete yet again for ultimate Bhuddahood, who runs the many worlds beyond nirvana, are the bhuddas who have passed away living in harmony with each other or is there great contention? Will I get the chance as a woman to marry engage in all other pleasures I missed out on whilst trying to get to nirvana/Bhudahood(est?). How can you prove the path you are on is the correct path say to other bhuddists and where is your path leading to? Basically, what can I get out of Bhuddism? Am I getting into a kingdom of heaven WHICH IS PERMANENT...if I choose not to follow a path, i'll just be confined to the world, possibly come back as anything else but human etc? What's the purpose?

  33. Matthew Letten

    Hello N R, I see you mentioning the DO forum. Have you posted your own meditive experiences there, and if you are willing to share, under what name did you post them?

    With thanks and metta,


  34. laxu

    The Lord Buddha was born in Nepal not India. The Buddha's birth place is Kapilbastu, Lumbini in Nepal. Every curiosity, every life cycle he saw was in Nepal. Only for meditation he went to jungle which is now in India. This is the mistake the narrator/author should correct. If you could correct it then thousands would know the truth.
    Thank You!

  35. Drew

    I dont think Nepal was a country in the days of the Buddha so perhaps this is why the narrator mentioned that he was born in India as he was an Indian prince, he travelled much of India in those days searching searching for somebody to teach him the way and he found it, within himself, to show us that it is possible to be free of all desire,even the desire to be free of desire. shanti.

  36. humberto perez

    the video was removed

  37. DD Rathnayake

    OK! there are few things i have noted... First and foremost it is Lord Buddha...there is reason for it...because he has come end life cycle that we couldn't archive(that sort of idea gives by Lord) & also because he was man who was fulfilled enlightenment that no one could.... professor about Sanskrith saying it three jewels 1 Bhuddha 2 Sanga & 3 Dhamma... not it is Buddha Dhamma & Sanga.... When lord Buddha passed away.. Ven. Ananda Thero asked who would be out teacher(same soft sense)..... what lord Buddha's answer was after me it will be Dhamma i have taught....however like one said here... i don't believe some of them are correct in this documentary....i saw someone is saying it was Nepal, (@laxu) Yes Buddha was born in Nepal but it was India - back then !! Nepal was recently.. that was bit funny... asking Narrotor to correct that... when there are so many other rectification needs to was Maha Bharath back then.....I wish if you could make correction of Samsara into SANSARA...:) Thank you for doing this however!! Well Done!!Appreciate!!

  38. mahonhouse

    Just take them out then, Damn, everytime i finallly find something its been taken out. Back to badly recorded tvland repeats. thanks.

  39. Hans Boer

    Just copy the title and search for it on Youtube It's on there

  40. Jayarathne Abeydeera

    Dear friend, Samsara is a Sanskrit word. I think you're just like me, a Sinhalese. So in Sinhalese you pronounce that word Sansara.In Malaysia they call Sengsara. Some other languages in India call it Sansara like us. Therefor,please don't worry about the so-called pronunciation & spellings & try to escape from Samsara or Sansara or Sengsara or cycle of rebirth. bless you.

  41. devlinwaugh

    They got the basics

  42. Chanu

    36min: Gold has nothing todo with buddhism. considering a single element above others contradicts the whole idea of buddhism which clearly states a value would excist as long as one values it. one should not take a countires culutural practices as fundamentals of buddhism. Buddhism is in Dhamma. not in a Physical place. Singing,dancing,offerings, even worshipping temple of tooth is culture. west needs to grasp this idea of buddhism.if someone needs to learn buddhism its in Dhamma. Apart from that this is a beautiful documentery.

  43. Earvin Barcancel

    I wonder why they did not include the Ellora and Ajanta Buddhist cave carvings in Maharashtra these are ancient Buddhist art works and is considered to be a place of pilgrimage as well.

    BTW, I carry my bowl of hot noodle soup successfully from the kitchen to the 2nd floor w/o spilling a drop. i must be good at water bowl meditation then!:D

  44. Richard

    Rebirth is not reincarnation. There is no being that returns--only processes.

  45. Vishnudas

    As far as the Buddha-Vishnu identity goes, that's not just in hinduism but in buddhism itself as well. In Lankavatara sutra (76) Buddha says that Vishnu, Ishvara, Kapila, Rama or Vyasa are among the countless names of Tathagata (Buddha). In Dasharatha Jataka (#461 in Jataka cannon) he identifies himself with Rama. Amitabha's (jap. Amida) bija mantra is hrim (Hari) and his two-armed form Sho Kannon playing flute, with a peacock feather in hair is identical with Krishna. It is show e.g. on the Great Lantern in Yakushi (Bhaishajya-guru) temple Todaiji in Nara, Japan.

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