Audio: Lecture I.3.4 – Buddhism
No experience can be taught; all that can be taught is the way to an experience. Hence Buddhism is something that is implicit in ourselves and is to be achieved through experience but cannot be delivered to us like a package. No sooner did [the Buddha] have this illumination than the deities themselves came down and they said, “Teach.” So he said, “For the good of man and the gods I will teach.” But what he teaches is not Buddhism; what he teaches is the way to Buddhism; and this is called the Middle Way. —Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell argues that, more than any other religion, Buddhism is a psychological system. Campbell then surveys the Buddha’s life, describing the crisis that led to his illumination under the Bo tree. He directs our attention to fundamental similarities between the mythological symbols of Buddhism and those of Christianity, and explores some of the various ‘ferryboats’ or yanas by which Buddhist teachers have sought to help their followers find nirvāṇa, the extinguishing of the self that brings enlightenment.
Running time: approx. 60 minutes