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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 hardcover.)

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
    4. Travelling beyond the Four Gates
    5. Leaving Home to Seek the Path
    6. Ascetic Practices
Chapter 2. Enlightenment
    1. The Conquest of Mara
    2. Verses in Praise of Enlightenment
    3. Brahma's Entreaty
Chapter 3. Dissemination of the Dharma
    1. Turning the Wheel ofthe Dharma
    2. The Home-Leaving ofYasa
    3. Conversion of the Three Kassapas
    4. Bamboo Grove Monastery
    5. Sariputta and Moggallana
    6. The Teaching at Bamboo Grove Monastery
Chapter 4. Sakyamuni in His Native Home
    1. Mahakasyapa and Narada
    2. The Verses of Celestial Beings
    3. The World-Honored One Returns to the City
    4. Yasodhara
    5. Nanda and Rahula
    6. The Rich Man, Anathapindika

Book II


Chapter 1. In Jeta Grove
    1. The Sermon at Anathapindika Monastery
    2. Pasenadi
    3. Instructions to Nanda
    4. Dialogue of the Bodhisattvas
Chapter 2. Rajagaha
    1. Uggasena and Talaputa
    2. Pancasikha
    3. The Famine in Vesali
    4. Sariputta's Sermon
    5. Dispute over Irrigation Water
    6. Establishing the Nuns' Sangha
    7. The Buddha's Instructions in the Rear Garden
Chapter 3. The Eight Consciousnesses
    1. Queen Khema
    2. The Realm of Enlightenment
    3. The Eight Consciousnesses
    4. Two Perverted Views
    5. Not a Word Uttered
Chapter 4. The Growth of the Sangha
    1. Relationship between Teacher and Disciples
    2. Observance of Regular Meetings and Rainy Season
    3. Last Day of the Retreat
    4. Powers
    5. The Lion's Roar
    6. Sermon in the Tavatimsa Heaven
    7. The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
    8. Cinca
    9. Anuruddha
    10. The City of Kosambi

Book III


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
    2. The Parable of the Saw
    3. Hatthaka, the Wealthy
    4. Homage to the Six Directions
    5. Punna and Sariputta
    6. The World-Honored One and Various Gods
    7. Sudhana
    8. A Brahmin in Ascetic Practice
    9. Ratridevata
    10. Bodhisattvas Maitreya and Samantabhadra

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
    2. Four Dangers
    3. The Path of a Sovereign
    4. The Transference of Merit
    5. The Five Virtues of the Buddha
Chapter 4. The Degrees of Enlightenment
    1. Rahula
    2. The Ten Stages
    3. Vimalakirti

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


Chapter 1. Knowing the Dharma
    1. Karma
    2. The Brahmin Called Deer Head
    3. Discarding Greed, Anger, and Ignorance
    4. Endeavor and Its Incentive
    5. Dhammapada
Chapter 2. Amitayus Buddha's Primal Vow and Salvation
    1. Bodhisattva Dharmakara
    2. Buddha of Infinite Life
    3. Awakening of Faith
    4. Reality of Life and the Teaching
    5. Seeing Amitayus Buddha
Chapter 3. The Significance of Tathagata
    1. A Life of Reverence
    2. Indra
    3. The Hunter's Bait
    4. Queen Srimala
    5. The Three Great Vows
Chapter 4. To Realize the Path of Emancipation
    1. Moggallana and Punna
    2. Potaliya
    3. To Realize the Path of Emancipation
    4. The Allegory of the Arrow
    5. Rajakarama-The Temple of the King
    6. Leaves in the Hand

Book VII


Chapter 1. The Wondrous Dharma Is Revealed
    1. The One Vehicle Teaching
    2. The Parable of the Burning House
    3. The Mind of Faith
    4. The Attainment of Buddhahood by the Daughter of the Naga King
    5. The Life Span of the Buddha
    6. Thinking
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



Chapter 1. The Prophecy of the Buddha's Great Demise
    1. The Seven Principles of Well-being
    2. The Mirror of Truth
    3. Amrapali, the Courtesan
    4. The Demise of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana
    5. The Buddha's Admonition Prior to His Demise
Chapter 2. The Golden Light
    1. The Three Bodies of the Buddha
    2. The Land of the True Dharma
    3. Giving His Flesh to the Starving Tigress
    4. The Mind of Enlightenment, Great Compassion, and Skillful Means
Chapter 3. Tathagata-garbha
    1. Farewell
    2. The Buddha Nature
    3. The Offering ofCunda
    4. Three Types of Incurably III Persons
    5. The Price of Half a Verse
    6. The Four Boundless Minds
Chapter 4. The Great Demise
    1. The Path of the Bodhisattva
    2. The Great Nirvana
    3. lllness of the World-Honored One
    4. The Metaphor of the Treasure Mountain
    5. The Four Holy Places
    6. The Last Instruction
    7. The Rising Smoke
    8. Sequel to the Buddha's Demise

Scriptural Sources
Pali and Sanskrit Words
Suggested Readings
The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism