We simply don’t know what the Buddha looked like. No likenesses of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, were made during his lifetime, and the earliest depictions of him appeared centuries after his death. What might he have looked like? Scientists today are trying to trace ancient… Read More »What did the Buddha look like?
In a famous story from early Buddhist scripture, a man asked the Buddha if he was a god. No, he said. “Then what are you?” the questioner asked. “I am awake,” the Buddha said. Today, Buddhists often point to this story to explain that, no, they don’t worship… Read More »Was the Buddha a god?
The Buddha is thought to have been born in the 5th century BCE in what is now Lumbini, Nepal, and raised nearby in the ancient city of Kapilavastu, situated south of the Himalaya mountains, not far from what is now the border of India. Tradition says… Read More »What was the Buddha’s world like?
Because early representations in wood could not be preserved and many later works have been destroyed over time, we have no way of knowing how many images have been created over time of the Buddha. The ones we do know—created in stone or wood, on… Read More »Why are there so many different kinds of images of the Buddha?
Did he ever—and they function as core teaching stories in the Buddhist scriptures. According to Buddhist teaching, all beings cycle continually through one lifetime after another before developing to the point where they can reach enlightenment. The Buddha was no different, although the stories of… Read More »If Buddhists believe in rebirth, does that mean the Buddha had past lives, too?
In Buddhist scriptures, legends, and art, we see many buddhas besides the one we probably think of as the Buddha. The term buddha means “awake” or “awakened,” so it can refer to any number of beings that are believed to be fully enlightened, not just the historical Buddha. It… Read More »Are there other Buddhas?
At the age of 80, after 45 years of teaching, the Buddha died, surrounded by a large group of his disciples. That event is known as the parinirvana—a term that refers to the death of someone who has attained nirvana, or enlightenment, during their lifetime and… Read More »What happened after the Buddha died?
According to Buddhist tradition, the first people the Buddha taught were five spiritual seekers who had been his companions and who practiced with him the form of extreme self-denial that he himself later abandoned. When they first encountered the Buddha after his enlightenment, in a… Read More »Who were the Buddha’s first disciples?
After the Buddha became a spiritual seeker, he spent six years practicing with different teachers and subjecting himself to extreme austerities until he came to the realization that what he was doing wasn’t going to get him where he wanted to go. Lasting freedom from… Read More »How did the Buddha get enlightened? And what does that mean, anyway?