The Essential Guide to the Buddha

“Buddha” means “one who is awake.” The historical Buddha who lived 2,600 years ago was not a god. He was an ordinary person, named Siddhartha Gautama, whose profound insights inspired the world. Here, Barbara O’Brien, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Ira Sukrungruang, and more look to explore the Buddha’s life and how his teachings can be incredibly helpful to our lives today.

Sculpture of Shakyamuni Buddha sitting and touching the earth.

Who Was the Buddha?

The Buddha who lived 2,600 years ago was not a god. He was an ordinary person, named Siddhartha Gautama, whose teachings on enlightenment and the end of suffering became the basis of the world religion of Buddhism.

The Buddha’s Path to Awakening

The Buddha discovered a path to liberation, and more than two thousand years later people are still following in his footsteps. Heather Sanche unpacks his life, legacy, and essential teachings.

This Is the Practice

When the Buddha tended to a dying monk, he demonstrated how to live, how to die, how to care for others. Vanessa Sasson offers her retelling of that poignant story.

When the Buddha Was a Tree

Trees can show us how to be bodhisattvas. Rafe Jnan Martin draws important lessons from an old tale.

Opening to a Vaster Sense of Buddhist Practice

Brian Lesage reflects on how we can honor past and future generations of Buddhist practitioners by bringing the spirit of offering into our everyday practice.

On Suffering and the End of Suffering

It's an essential truth about life itself: suffering of one kind or another is a natural part of existence. Knowing this truth gives our lives wholeness and peace, as it frees us from the exhausting postures of pretense and denial.