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For more than 2,500 years, the wise and compassionate teachings of the Śakyamuni Buddha have been guiding people and civilizations throughout the world. During his lifetime, the Buddha gave hundreds and hundreds of teachings which provide the basis for today's different schools and sects of Buddhism. As Buddhism becomes more well known in the Western World, we see an emergence of many volumes on a single aspect of Buddhist thought, philosophy and teachings. But here you will find, for the very first time, the full range of the teachings and episodes in the life of the historical Buddha. (Note: Also available in paperback.)

Life and teachings of Śakyamuni Buddha across the Mahayana canon


This is a massive anthology of sections from the Buddhist sutras and commentaries. The text follows the life of the Śakyamuni Buddha and records some of the teachings and discourses that he delivered throughout his nearly forty-five years of enlightening the world. The compiling editors pulled from all relevant sections of the Mahayana canon to create this unique volume.

HERE FOLLOW congratulations from luminaries, including the Dalai Lama, on the historic occasion of the publication of the second edition of Buddha-Dharma in 2003.

“I am often asked whether the teachings and techniques of Buddhism continue to be relevant in the present day and age. Like all religions, Buddhism addresses basic human problems. So long as we continue to experience the basic human sufferings of birth, disease, old age, and death, there is no question of whether it is relevant or not. Therefore, I welcome this new English edition of Buddha-Dharma that presents a concise and clear anthology of the Buddha's teachings.”

His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

The New English edition of Buddha-Dharma is an excellent assemblage of the understandings, sayings and doings of Sakyamuni Buddha, drawn in non-sectarian way from both Theravada and Mahayana sources. Reading this book gives one a good introduction to the world of this great enlightened person and his followers, it is a kind of experience of meeting the Buddha, listening to his Dharma, and associating with his Sangha community. I warmly recommend it.

Professor Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Columbia University

The world of English-speaking readers owes deep respect and gratitude to the late Dr. Yehan Numata. It is quite admirable that he dedicated a considerable percentage of his company's profits to the noble cause of propagating the teachings of the Buddha. Along with his grand project of translating and publishing the Taisho Tripitaka in English, Buddha-Dharma is an important part of his selfless legacy. This book is an excellent anthology of Buddhist teachings that will be beneficial for all that would like to deepen their understanding."

Samuel Bercholz, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Shambhala Publications

Due to the generous vows of Rev. Yehan Numata, the life and teachings of the Buddha Sakyamuni are further disseminated to all seekers of the Awakened life. In reading this volume, which draws upon sources from both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions, you will find yourself in the midst of the historical Buddha's lively assembly. And you will recognize in your life the essential humanity of those who practice this intimate Dharma. This volume is an excellent and appealing introduction to Buddha-Dharma.

Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Zen Center of Los Angeles

A much needed, comprehensive presentation of the basic teaching of Buddhism, including important Theravada and Mahayana scriptures. Well organized and very readable, this book should appeal to readers who seek to gain an overview of the Buddhist tradition. Perhaps the closest thing to a Buddhist Bible at the present time.

Dr. Taitetsu Unno, Jill Kerr Conway Professor Professor Emeritus of Religion, Smith College

This gathering of texts called Buddha-Dharma presents just that, the life and actual teachings of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. The greater part of it covers the years of Sakyamuni' s teachings. The account that emerges is inspiring, in its very humanity that the earnest (and sometimes skeptical) laypeople, Bhikkus, Bhikkunis, were vivid people from all walks of life. The Great Teacher himself is constant, profound, patient, sweet, and occasionally vexed by his complicated followers. This is truly the source-story of Buddhism. It takes us back to the roots, which are perennial and incredibly deep, and all the stronger for their familiar quirkiness. This is our own story, to be lived in and by, in a clear and handy volume.

Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer

Drawing from the vast scriptural resources of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, this comprehensive anthology offers representative selections of passages on various topics and aspects of Buddhism. The rich and diverse tradition has produced story, myth, legend, parable, metaphor and teachings through which the student of Buddhism can experience the flavor of the Dharma and its spirit of compassion and wisdom. This volume will be indispensable for the study of Buddhist insight and way oflife. Its glossary, index, and list of textual sources will greatly assist in navigating this text.

Dr. Alfred Bloom, Professor Emeritus, Department of Religion University of Hawaii 


Table of Contents

Preface      xiii
Foreword, by Rev. Kyoshiro Tokunaga, Editor, 1984 edition    xv
Acknowledgements    xix
Gatha     xxiii
Map: The Major Locales of Early Buddhism    xxvi

Book I


Chapter 1. In Search of the Path

  1. A Former Incarnation of the World-Honored One   
  2. The Birth of the Buddha   
  3. Betrothal to a Princess   6
  4. Travelling beyond the Four Gates   7
  5. Leaving Home to Seek the Path   10
  6. Ascetic Practices   14

Chapter 2. Enlightenment

  1. The Conquest of Mara   16
  2. Verses in Praise of Enlightenment   21
  3. Brahma's Entreaty   25

Chapter 3. Dissemination of the Dharma

  1. Turning the Wheel ofthe Dharma   29
  2. The Home-Leaving of Yasa   32
  3. Conversion of the Three Kassapas   34
  4. Bamboo Grove Monastery   36
  5. Sariputta and Moggallana   38
  6. The Teaching at Bamboo Grove Monastery   40

Chapter 4. Sakyamuni in His Native Home

  1. Mahakasyapa and Narada   43
  2. The Verses of Celestial Beings   45 
  3. The World-Honored One Returns to the City   47
  4. Yasodhara   51
  5. Nanda and Rahula   54
  6. The Rich Man, Anathapindika   56 

Book II

Introduction   61 

Chapter 1. In Jeta Grove

  1. The Sermon at Anathapindika Monastery   64
  2. Pasenadi   71
  3. Instructions to Nanda   74
  4. Dialogue of the Bodhisattvas   75

Chapter 2. Rajagaha

  1. Uggasena and Talaputa   82
  2. Pancasikha   84
  3. The Famine in Vesali   86
  4. Sariputta's Sermon   86
  5. Dispute over Irrigation Water   87 
  6. Establishing the Nuns' Sangha   90
  7. The Buddha's Instructions in the Rear Garden    92 

Chapter 3. The Eight Consciousnesses

  1. Queen Khema   95
  2. The Realm of Enlightenment   96
  3. The Eight Consciousnesses   98
  4. Two Perverted Views   101
  5. Not a Word Uttered   105

Chapter 4. The Growth of the Sangha

  1. Relationship between Teacher and Disciples   111
  2. Observance of Regular Meetings and Rainy Season   113
  3. Last Day of the Retreat   115 
  4. Powers   116
  5. The Lion's Roar   117
  6. Sermon in the Tavatimsa Heaven   121
  7. The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination   126
  8. Cinca   129 
  9. Anuruddha   133
  10. The City of Kosambi   134

Book III

Introduction   141

Chapter 1. The Ideal Follower

  1. Ghatikara   143
  2. The Parable ofthe Snake and the Parable of the Raft    145
  3. Matangi     149
  4. The External Origin of Defilements     150
  5. The Circumstances Leading to Enlightenment     158

Chapter 2. Defilements

  1. The Three Poisons    163
  2. Vulture Peak    166
  3. Instructions in the Kingdom of Vajji    167
  4. The Pain of Craving    174

Chapter 3. The Conduct of a Bodhisattva

  1. Sariputta's Discourse on the Dharma   180
  2. The Parable of the Saw   183
  3. Hatthaka, the Wealthy   185
  4. Homage to the Six Directions   187
  5. Punna and Sariputta   190
  6. The World-Honored One and Various Gods   193
  7. Sudhana   195
  8. A Brahmin in Ascetic Practice   200
  9. Ratridevata   209
  10. Bodhisattvas Maitreya and Samantabhadra   211

Book IV

Introduction      217

Chapter 1. The Essence of the Buddha's Mind

  1. The Wisdom of the Buddha     220
  2. Dialogues with Non-Buddhist Teachers    224
  3. The Universal Monarch    230
  4. The Practice of Samantabhadra     234
  5. The Actions of the Body and of the Mind    245

Chapter 2. Absolute Wisdom

  1. Emptiness    253
  2. The Enlightenment of Non-Abiding     255
  3. The Essence of Absolute Wisdom      257
  4. The Bodhisattva Sadaprarudita's Search for the Path    257

Chapter 3. The Transference of Merit

  1. The Three Kinds of Teachers   268
  2. Four Dangers   274
  3. The Path of a Sovereign   280
  4. The Transference of Merit   283
  5. The Five Virtues of the Buddha   289

Chapter 4. The Degrees of Enlightenment

  1. Rahula   293
  2. The Ten Stages   294
  3. Vimalakirti   299

Book V

Introduction    319

Chapter 1. Education

  1. The Right Teacher and the Wrong Teacher    321
  2. The Demons in the Wild Plains     324
  3. Family Lineage    327
  4. The Question of Self   331
  5. The Prince with Five Weapons      339
  6. Ratthapala     345

Chapter 2. Organization of the Order

  1. The Ten Major and Forty-Eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts   349
  2. Disharmony in the Order   358
  3. Lessons on the Journey    366
  4. The White Hair    372

Chapter 3. Wisdom and Ignorance

  1. Nanda and Rahula   375
  2. The Ignorant and the Wise   377
  3. Angulimala, the Transgressor   379
  4. The Origin of Society   384
  5. The Two Wheels of a Cart   387
  6. The Thicket of Human Nature   390

Chapter 4. The Four Noble Truths

  1. Becoming Free of the Defilements   393
  2. Maha-Kaccayana    396
  3. The Seat of the Four Noble Truths   399
  4. Indebtedness to One's Parents     401
  5. The Mind and the World     404

Book VI

Introduction    411

Chapter 1. Knowing the Dharma

  1. Karma   414
  2. The Brahmin Called Deer Head   418
  3. Discarding Greed, Anger, and Ignorance   422
  4. Endeavor and Its Incentive   424
  5. Dhammapada   428

Chapter 2. Amitayus Buddha's Primal Vow and Salvation

  1. Bodhisattva Dharmakara   451
  2. Buddha of Infinite Life   455
  3. Awakening of Faith   457
  4. Reality of Life and the Teaching   461
  5. Seeing Amitayus Buddha   470

Chapter 3. The Significance of Tathagata

  1. A Life of Reverence   472
  2. Indra   473
  3. The Hunter's Bait   475
  4. Queen Srimala   476
  5. The Three Great Vows   478

Chapter 4. To Realize the Path of Emancipation

  1. Moggallana and Punna    483
  2. Potaliya   485
  3. To Realize the Path of Emancipation   488
  4. The Allegory of the Arrow   490
  5. Rajakarama-The Temple of the King   493
  6. Leaves in the Hand   498

Book VII

Introduction   501

Chapter 1. The Wondrous Dharma Is Revealed

  1. The One Vehicle Teaching   504
  2. The Parable of the Burning House   511
  3. The Mind of Faith   517
  4. The Attainment of Buddhahood by the Daughter of the Naga King   526
  5. The Life Span of the Buddha   532
  6. Thinking   540

Chapter 2. The Tragedy at Rajagriha

  1. The Defection of Devadatta     544
  2. Ajatasatru's Usurpation ofthe Throne   550
  3. Vaidehi    552
  4. The Agony of Ajatasatru   558
  5. Expounding of the Dharma by the World-Honored One   567

Chapter 3. Devotion to the Path

  1. To Give Oneself to the Path      570
  2. Prince Bodhi      577
  3. The Wealthy Citta      579
  4. Parables      582
  5. The Anthill      597

Chapter 4. The Stupa

  1. The Death of Nigantha Nataputta      600
  2. Vassakara      603
  3. Bhaddiya      605
  4. The Last Years of King Pasenadi      607
  5. The Fall of Kapilavatthu      610
  6. The Land of Sukhavati      614

Book VIII 

Introduction   619

Chapter 1. The Prophecy of the Buddha's Great Demise

  1. The Seven Principles of Well-being   622
  2. The Mirror of Truth   624
  3. Amrapali, the Courtesan   628
  4. The Demise of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana   634
  5. The Buddha's Admonition Prior to His Demise   637

Chapter 2. The Golden Light

  1. The Three Bodies of the Buddha   642
  2. The Land of the True Dharma   646
  3. Giving His Flesh to the Starving Tigress   648
  4. The Mind of Enlightenment, Great Compassion, and Skillful Means   653

Chapter 3. Tathagata-garbha

  1. Farewell   658
  2. The Buddha Nature   664
  3. The Offering of Cunda   677
  4. Three Types of Incurably III Persons   680
  5. The Price of Half a Verse   684
  6. The Four Boundless Minds   687

Chapter 4. The Great Demise

  1. The Path of the Bodhisattva   691
  2. The Great Nirvana   694
  3. lllness of the World-Honored One   697
  4. The Metaphor of the Treasure Mountain   699
  5. The Four Holy Places   704
  6. The Last Instruction   711
  7. The Rising Smoke   717
  8. Sequel to the Buddha's Demise   722

Glossary   731
Scriptural Sources   765
Pali and Sanskrit Words   781
Suggested Readings   793
The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism   797
Index    799