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Arts & Culture

The Buddha

Reclining Buddha at Wat Boworn, Thailand.
Luca Tettoni
Reclining Buddha at Wat Boworn, Thailand.

Airs Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Head of the Buddha, Thailand.
Courtesy of Luca Tettoni
Head of the Buddha, Thailand.

Two and a half millennia ago, a new religion was born in northern India, generated from the ideas of a single man, the Buddha. He was a mysterious Indian sage who famously gained enlightenment while he sat under a big, shapely fig tree.

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 kind of serenity that others could find too.

Award-winning filmmaker David Grubin tells the story of the Buddha's life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion.

This documentary draws upon the work of some of the world's greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia have depicted the Buddha's life in art rich in beauty and complexity.

His biography is also tracked geographically across the sweeping landscapes of northern India. The testimony of contemporary Buddhists -- including Pulitzer prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama -- provides insight into the ancient narrative.

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. Richard Gere narrates the film.

Are you wondering how the Buddha's teachings can resonate in your life? Explore the articles, interviews, stories, and images to learn more and share your story of discovery with us!

This program originally aired in 2010.

The Buddha: Meditation
Preview: The Buddha
The Buddha: Interview with David Grubin, Mark Epstein, M.D., & Metteyya Sakyaputta