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Great World Religions: Buddhism

Get an overview of the history and practice of a highly influential religion in this concise and accurate course taught by an award-winning professor.
Great World Religions: Buddhism is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 50.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Skip this and watch Eckel's other course. The title of this course is *Great World Religions: Buddhism*; however, the Teaching Company has another course (taught by the same professor) simply titled *Buddhism.* That course is clearer, better organized, and more instructive. Overall, I have some issues with Malcolm David Eckel's teaching style but, leaving those issues aside, I think you'll find *Buddhism* to be a far superior course.
Date published: 2022-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A really fine lecturer The lecturer really made the evolution of Buddhism come alive. For a little amount of lecture time Professor Eckel provided a comprehensive overview of the buddhistic traditions, and hinted at relationships and contrasts with other great religions. He also incorporated humor at a nice level.
Date published: 2022-02-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Offensive The teacher keeps saying how weird Buddhism is and making up his own hackneyed analogies. He’s teaching from the perspective of a mocking outsider. It’s all “they, they, they.” How about getting an actual Buddhist to teach the course?
Date published: 2021-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well organized and well presented. Dr. Eckel is an excellent teacher. This course is well worth the time.
Date published: 2021-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction to Buddhism I enjoyed this course very much. I feel I have a good basic understanding of the various forms or "secs" of Buddhism. Considering how rich and detailed Buddhism is I felt this course and instructor gave a great foundation to understand this Religion. Definitely worth my time.
Date published: 2021-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from INTERESTING CLASS BUT A LITTLE COMPLEX While I enjoyed this class I thought the topic was not broken down well in the 30 minute lectures. I was not very knowledgable on this subject and even after 24 lectures I can say I learned as much. The professor was a little dry and at times he almost sounded like a tour guide more than a educator.
Date published: 2020-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worthwhile This is one of the series of five comparative world religion courses called Great World Religions. This series is worthwhile for anyone seeking to understand how religions, in general, influence world history and current events and how these religions compare and contrast with each other. This series succeeds in its objective. Note that this course is only 12 lectures long. The course starts with the historical development of Buddhism starting with the Buddha himself, proceeding through his disciples, and ultimately to various branches of Buddhism. The course explains how Buddhism varies somewhat among China, Southeast Asia, Tibet, and Japan. The course explains the basic tenets of Buddhism. It always projects a healthy but detached respect. I respect Dr. Eckel’s understanding of the subject and how he explains it without selling it. I used the audio version. I believe that the video would not have added much.
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I thought I was getting Did not explain anything about what Buddhism believed, only about some praqctices
Date published: 2019-10-17
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Overview

In its 2,500-year history, Buddhism has expanded from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that now spans the globe. Buddhism is your opportunity to trace the history, principles, and evolution of a theology that is both familiar and foreign. These lectures are a historical survey of Buddhism, from its origin in India in the 6th century B.C.E. to its present status as a major world faith. Professor Malcolm David Eckel introduces you to the astonishing vitality and adaptability of a tradition that has transformed civilizations.

About

Malcolm David Eckel

When I made my course on Buddhism, I had no idea who would be listening my lectures. It has been immensely satisfying to see the course help so many people enjoy the variety, complexity, and depth of this beautiful tradition.

INSTITUTION

Boston University

Dr. Malcolm David Eckel is Professor of Religion and Director of the Core Curriculum at Boston University. He holds two bachelor's degrees, one in English from Harvard University and a second in Theology from Oxford University. Professor Eckel earned his master's degree in theology at Oxford University and his Ph.D. in the Study of Comparative Religion at Harvard University. He held teaching positions at Ohio Wesleyan University, Middlebury College in Vermont, and the Harvard Divinity School, where he served as acting director of the Center for the Study of World Religions. At Boston University, Professor Eckel teaches courses on Buddhism, comparative religion, and the religions of Asia. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, the university's highest award for teaching. In addition to writing many articles, Professor Eckel has published two books on Buddhist philosophy: To See the Buddha: A Philosopher's Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness and Buddhism: Origins, Beliefs, Practices, Holy Texts, Sacred Places.

By This Professor

Buddhism
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Great World Religions: Buddhism
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Great World Religions: Buddhism

Trailer

Buddhism as a World Religion

01: Buddhism as a World Religion

During its 2,500-year history, Buddhism has grown from a tiny religious community in northern India into a movement that now spans the globe. This lecture describes its lasting and present influence, the ways it is not a religion, and its practitioners' ultimate goal....

32 min
The Life of the Buddha

02: The Life of the Buddha

This lecture tells the story of the beginnings of Buddhism in India in the 6th century B.C.E., with the birth of Siddhartha Gautama. His life has given rise to a rich tradition of stories that tell us not only about Buddhist origins but also about Buddhist aspirations for a life of wisdom, freedom, and peace....

31 min

03: "All is Suffering"

After the Buddha had experienced his awakening, he taught a group of ascetics about it. This event is known as the first "turning of the wheel of Dharma," or teaching. The lecture goes on to show how Buddhism presents a realistic assessment of life's difficulties and how that can lead to a sense of liberation and peace....

30 min
The Path to Nirvana

04: The Path to Nirvana

This lecture describes the Buddha's teachings about suffering and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering: nirvana, which means literally the "extinguishing" of desire. Nirvana marks the definitive end of the cycle of rebirth....

31 min
The Buddhist Community

05: The Buddhist Community

Due to a long and productive teaching career, the Buddha attracted many disciples and laid the foundation for Buddhist monasticism, including orders of monks and nuns, as well as a sophisticated tradition of lay devotion and support. Buddhist art and architecture shows us not only how Buddhists came to view the Buddha himself but how they gave ritual and artistic expression to his teachings....

31 min
Mahayana Buddhism-the Bodhisattva Ideal

06: Mahayana Buddhism-the Bodhisattva Ideal

This lecture describes the movement called the Mahayana, which promotes the ideal of the bodhisattva who does not attempt to achieve nirvana but vows to return again and again to seek the welfare of other living beings. Practitioners of the Mahayana develop the contemplative virtue of wisdom, together with the active virtue of compassion....

30 min
Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

07: Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Along with the human beings who aspired to be the bodhisattva ideal came an array of heavenly beings called the "celestial" Buddhas and bodhisattvas....

31 min
Emptiness

08: Emptiness

This lecture looks at the paradoxical concept of Emptiness in Mahayana texts and doctrines that gave rise to a radically new way of viewing the Buddha. In Tantric Buddhism, the Buddha can be visualized not just as the peaceful figure we know from earlier Buddhist art, but also as a wrathful deity and as the intimate union of male and female....

31 min
Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia

09: Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia

During the reign of the Buddhist king Asoka (c. 268-239 B.C.E.), missionaries left India for Sri Lanka. From this effort grew the Theravada Buddhism that now dominates all the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia except Vietnam. Throughout the history of Theravada Buddhism, there has been a close relationship between the Buddhist Samgha and Buddhist political leaders. This relationship is evident ...

31 min
Buddhism in Tibet

10: Buddhism in Tibet

The early history of Tibetan Buddhism was shaped by models borrowed from India. Eventually, Tibetan Buddhists developed a tradition of four schools, the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, and Geluk, each with is own distinctive characteristics. Today, the Tibetan tradition is best known in the figure of Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his peaceful campa...

31 min
Buddhism in China

11: Buddhism in China

This lecture discusses the spread of Buddhism in China, which began in the 2nd century C.E., when China was suffering from political turmoil and cultural decline. The earliest Buddhist translators used Taoist vocabulary to express Buddhist ideas. Through a long process of interaction with Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese popular religion, Buddhism took on a distinctively Chinese character....

31 min
Buddhism in Japan

12: Buddhism in Japan

Buddhism entered Japan in the 6th century C.E. This lecture describes the founding of the three great Buddhist schools that have dominated Buddhist life in Japan up to the present day....

31 min