'An exemplary introduction ... persuasive and intelligently critical'
Times Educational Supplement
BORIN VAN LOON
Jane Hope • BorinVan Loon
Edited by Richard Appignanesi
Icon Books UK
Totem Books USA
This edition published in the UK in 2005 by Icon Books Ltd., The Old Dairy, Brook Road,Thriplow, Royston SG8 7RG email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.iconbooks.co.uk Sold in the UK, Europe, South Africa and Asia by Faber and Faber Ltd., 3 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AU or their agents Distributed in the UK, Europe, South Africa and Asia by TBS Ltd., Frating Distribution Centre, Colchester Road, Frating Green, Colchester C07 7DW This edition published in Australia in 2005 by Allen and UnwinPty. Ltd., PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, NSW 2065 Previously published in the UK in 1994 and Australia in 1995 under the title Buddha for Beginners and in 1999 under the current title Reprinted 1995, 1996, 1998 2000, 2002
This edition published in the USA in 2005 by Totem Books Inquiries to: Icon Books Ltd., The Old Dairy, Brook Road, Thriplow, Royston SG8 7RG, UK Distributedto the trade in the USA by National Book Network Inc., 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Maryland 20706 Distributed in Canada by Penguin Books Canada, 10 Alcom Avenue, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M4V 3B2 ISBN 1 84046 633 2
Text copyright © 1994 Jane Hope Illustrations copyright © 1994 Borin Van Loon The author and artist have asserted their moral rights. Originating editor: Richard Appignanesi No part ofthis book may be reproduced in any form, or by any means, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Printed and bound in Singapore by Tien Wan Press Ltd.
There is much misunderstanding about who or what the Buddha was. The word Buddha literally means "awakened one".
Nevertheless, there was a historical figure, whose family name was SiddharthaGautama, and who has become known as the Buddha for this age. He was also known as Sakyamuni Buddha, the sage of the Sakyas. The life and teachings of the historical Buddha are a milestone in human understanding, but the Buddha himself was an ordinary man with no claims to divine origin. Belief in a creator God has no part in the Buddhist reliqion.
In the Buddhist lineage, knowledge is nothanded down like an antique. One teacher experiences the truth of the teachings and hands it down as inspiration to his students. That inspiration wakens the student who passes it on further. The teachings are seen as always up to date, they are not thought of as "ancient wisdom"
WAS THE BUDDHAAN HISTORICAL
The Buddhist experience relies on experiencing the truth foroneself, and ultimately it does not really matter whether or not there was an historical Buddha. However, the traditions and legends that surround the life of the Buddha contain in allegorical form, the precise nature and form of the spiritual journey. The early stories and teachings of the Buddha were not written down until several centuries after his death. They were not seen as the "authorizedversion". The Buddha encouraged his followers to put everything he said to the test, and therefore, through the ages, followers of the Buddha have trusted their own wisdom, rather than trying to interpret what might have been meant in old texts.
THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA
Prince Siddartha was born around 560BC in a small kingdom just below the Himalayan foothills. His father was a kingof the Sakya clan. His mother, Queen Maya was said to be so radiant and alluring that even the gods envied her. She was called Mayadevi "Goddess of Illusion" because her body was so beautiful as to be unbelievable. On the night of the Buddha's conception, Queen Maya dreamed that a white elephant had entered her womb. The dream revealed to her that the child would be special.