The Buddha, a two-hour documentary from Emmy Award-winner David Grubin, traces the spiritual journey of the Indian sage who attained enlightenment as he sat beneath a fig tree two and a half millennia ago.
The story begins in the shadow of the Himalayas in southern Nepal where the Buddha was born. Called Siddhartha, he was the son of a king and grew up with every imaginable luxury. For 29 years, he lived sheltered from the sorrows of the world when he was suddenly overwhelmed by encounters with old age, sickness, and death. His life upended, profoundly troubled, he abandoned the palace and its pleasures, leaving behind his wife and child, and set out to comprehend the nature of suffering. After an arduous six-year struggle, he found the ultimate wisdom, and spent the rest of his life teaching others what he had learned. The Buddha never claimed to be God, or his emissary on earth.
He said only that he was a human being who, in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, had found a serenity which others could find too.
Why do human beings suffer?
What constitutes ethical behaviour?
How is it possible to find peace and serenity?
These were questions that the Buddha asked, and that the film explores by giving an account of his spiritual awakening. This documentary is woven through with animation and draws upon paintings and sculptures across two millennia by some of the world's greatest artists, as well as fragments of the Buddha's world still present in India today.
The testimony of contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin and his Holiness the Dalai Lama, provide insight into the ancient narrative. The Buddha imagined that his message would disappear after his death. His teachings, he believed, were as transient as everything else - no more enduring than thoughts flickering through the mind. But his life and teachings have come to serve as an inspiration to others. To tell his story is to understand his teaching, and to understand his teaching is to gain new insight into what it is to be human. 120 minutes
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