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Buddha: Man, Ideal, Symbol

The word Buddha means many things -- a person from Asian history; an ideal of enlightenment; a symbol of wisdom, compassion and absolute reality. Here is an exploration of the many facets of Buddha.

What's a Buddha?
The Buddha is pictured in many ways, and the word Buddha is used to mean many things. Just who or what is a Buddha?

Life of the Buddha
There are no contemporary records that corroborate the Buddha's biography. Historically accurate or not, the life of the Buddha is one of humanity's greatest and most enduring stories. Its themes resonate through the ages, reflecting the deepest fears and hopes within us all.

The Birth of the Buddha
The story of the Buddha’s birth is rich with mythical symbolism.


The Enlightenment of the Buddha

The Laughing Buddha
When Westerners think of Buddha, usually they picture the short, fat, bald version, not the austere and serious meditating Buddha. Where did the Laughing Buddha come from?

Ten Names for Buddhas
These are the traditional ten titles or epithets for a Buddha.

The Buddha and His Message, Past, Present and Future
A lecture on the Buddha's life and teachings given by by the Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi at the United Nations.

Karen Armstrong: The Life of the Buddha
Karen Armstrong is a popular religious historian whose biography of the Buddha was a best-seller. She discusses the Buddha's life and influence in an interview published in The Atlantic.

The Buddha's Life: Readings From the Pali Canon
A selection of excerpts from the Pali Canon (Tripitaka), the earliest written record of the life of the Buddha.

Life of the Buddha Depicted in Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presents an online gallery of art illustrating the life of the Buddha.

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