In this documentary, directed by filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, we learn the Buddha’s story. The story starts 2500 years ago in India where there lived a sage whose story inspired the world’s fourth largest religion. Siddhartha Gautama, the prince of a small Indian kingdom, abandoned a life of luxury and pleasure to seek enlightenment.
After submitting his physical body to extreme—even torturous—conditions, he finally surrendered to the reality that had always been there. In so doing, he obtained the wisdom he sought, and the answer to his question of why human beings suffer or what causes dissatisfaction. He had willingly given up everything to gain his answer, but after six long years he had become the awakened one– the Buddha.
At first, the Buddha wasn’t interested in sharing his findings. He had observed humanity and had concluded that they were too shallow to appreciate the depth of this enlightenment. He was afraid that no one would understand. However, the myth states that God came to him on his knees and begged him to share what he had discovered because people needed it. Thus, he decided to teach. But only because he had understood that when somebody becomes enlightened, this person blooms and has to naturally release the radiance and joy that’s inside.
At age 35, he decided to devote the rest of his life to bringing his teachings into the world. It wasn’t an easy feat, though. His appearance wasn’t unusual or special and many were turned off by his normalcy. The teachers of the time were already talking about meditation and that the self-reflective capacity of the mind can be used to tame the mind and the passions. They taught a form of meditation called yoga, which is actually a spiritual discipline that harnesses the energy of the body to tame the mind.
But what Buddha had to teach was not about being special. It was not about the continual exudation of bliss, but about walking a normal human life doing normal human things. Buddha wanted to show the path to the enlightenment he himself had experienced.
His own friends were disappointed and rejected him because he had abandoned the practice of self-torture as a means to enlightenment. But by the time he was done speaking these very friends received his teachings and became his first disciples.
Buddha spoke from his own experience and now he could answer the question that had provoked his search: human suffering and dissatisfaction. His analysis of suffering came in the form of The Four Noble Truths. First, there is suffering in this world. Secondly, suffering has a cause. Thirdly, you can be free of suffering by understanding the cause of suffering. And in the fourth truth he laid out a set of instructions to lead the mind to enlightenment.
Buddhism teaches that when this is, that is; from the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn’t that isn’t; from the cessation of this comes the cessation of that. Everything and everyone is connected.
Enjoy this thought provoking look into one of the world’s most intriguing religions and influential historical figures by watching The Buddha.