The Buddha's Search: Introduction

John begins by telling the traditional story of the Buddha. We'll see that there is much we can learn about Buddhist concepts from the tale of prince Siddhartha and his quest to find an end to suffering.

Unit 1

Overview: The Buddha's Search

These overviews offer a summary of each video. They are included in each unit's downloadable workbook.

We're going to begin our exploration of Buddhism by recounting the life of the Buddha. We'll learn about the early part of his life, when he was prince Siddhartha. Despite his life of great privilege, Siddhartha discovered a fundamental dissatisfaction underlying the human condition. In search of a way to resolve this dissatisfaction, he became a spiritual seeker and encountered various philosophies and styles of practice.

  • Some of these philosophies claimed that the fundamental problem is physical, and must be overcome through means that "purify" the body: starvation, exposure to extreme heat, and so on. 
  • Other philosophies proposed that we have an inner essence that is trapped in the body. In this view, spiritual freedom can be found by going deeply inward and dissociating our consciousness from a material world that is incapable of providing satisfaction.

Neither of these approaches worked. Nonetheless, Siddhartha reaches a place where he feels ready to resolve the problem of the human condition for himself. In doing so, he realizes that there isn't any inner essence. In fact, it is the notion that such an essence exists that is the fundamental problem that leads to dissatisfaction and suffering.