Spreading the Dharma
Sharing our Practice
Connecting our Community Worldwide
This is the final part of our celebrations to mark the launch of Gautama Buddha, a major new series of talks by Vishvapani available now on Free Buddhist Audio with specially selected excerpts from the talks available below.
Read Part 1 and Part 2. [links]
It’s fitting that this companion series of talks to ‘Gautama Buddha – The Life And Teachings Of The Awakened One’ (Quercus, 2011) can be heard in the context of their source material and also of the great Indian oral tradition that remembered and reverenced Gautama over millennia. Everything we know about the Buddha has survived as a result of being passed on in that way, from person to person, and Free Buddhist Audio seeks to continue this essential work. This fresh re-imagining of the Buddha by Vishvapani is an ideal place to start for anyone who has ever wondered what Buddhism was all about or simply wished to listen for how one person’s quest after truth can resonate with their own, often in unexpected ways.
In talk 1, ‘Searching for the Buddha’, Vishvapani explores the presence of nature in the Pali suttas, exploring its significance in the texts, in our own contemporary mental landscapes and in the imaginative life of a country and its people. Ancient India comes alive as we wander with the Buddha, facing his fears amongst the ghosts of the jungle.
“There is value in seeing the Buddha as different from us, of unearthing the society and the culture in which he lived, that shows us things of actual meaning and significance: the value of changing our states of mind, and how that creates a whole world view, and the value of facing even the most difficult and dangerous fearful aspects of our experience.”
Listen to 'Hidden Treasures of the Pali Canon' FBA Dharmabyte:
In his second talk, ‘Imagining Gautama’, Vishvapani traces his own relationship to the Buddha, from early family connections arising out of the turmoil of war to his experience of writing the book itself. In doing so he explores the tricky work of trying to engage with the imagination constrained and disciplined by the historical evidence. What emerges from his work with the Pali texts is a portrait of the Buddha and his world where it's impossible to miss the vital sense of a man questing for a coherent vision of reality.
Listen to a 'Reading Of The Attadanda Sutta':
‘The Buddha’s Personality’, the third in the series, takes us past the traditional narrative and drama to ask what the Buddha was actually like. Great artists have tried and failed to grasp the essence of the Buddha's character, and beyond the veils of history, legend and the texts themselves we encounter a vivid, felt sense of the Buddha's personality. In a series of beautifully observed close-up drawings from the Pali Canon we are left with a portrait of spiritual genius that is both enigmatically distant and thoroughly human.
'What Kind of Person Was the Buddha?'
‘The Buddha and Society’ - in this wide-ranging, riveting talk Vishvapani gives us the Buddha as a radical, as a holy man, as pragmatist, as tamer of demons, as visionary - all these and more, and all in relation to the society Gautama took part in. Some provocative words and questions from the Buddha and from our speaker as we try to get to grips with a world vastly different from our own. What was the Buddha's social vision, and what can we learn from it? This is essential listening and holds some surprising insights into the life and times of a great sage in and out of his own culture and history.
FBA Dharmabyte: 'The Spirit World & The Taming of Mara'
‘The Buddha’s Vision’: A fitting conclusion to a wonderfully insightful series. When the Buddha finally sat down under the Bodhi tree and saw deeply into the nature of things, what had brought him to that point? And what happened next? In his final take on the Buddha's journey of the heart and mind, Vishvapani focuses in on the Buddha's experience before, during and after Enlightenment, bringing his nuanced, perceptive reading to the words the Buddha himself is said to have employed in order to best evoke his experiences as he struggled to give voice to them.
Listen to: 'Insight Into The Nature of Mind'
Join the FBA Community!
Subscribe to a weekly Dharma talk with our FBA Podcast along with our brand new Dharmabytes to hear more on this fascinating series.
FBA needs your support! Become a Supporting Friend to Free Buddhist Audio, dedicated to providing free access to Dharma talks.
Vishvapani will be broadcasting on Thought for the Day on May 17 (for Wesak), May 25 and June 2 at around 7.48 am GMT. These will be available as a podcast and on the Thought for the Day Website. He will be a panelist on the BBC1 ethical debate programme 'The Big Questions' at 10.00 am on Sunday 15th May, available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.