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Document Details :
Title: 'An Ideal Paradigm of Countless Buddha's'
Subtitle: A Reflection on Biography in Traditional Asian and Modern Western Buddhism
Author(s): VAN DER VELDE, Paul
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 20 Date: 2010
The life history of the Buddha has always played an important role in Asian Buddhism. Whether the events from Siddhartha Gautama’s life are historical or not seems to be of lesser importance compared to what his life history seems to imply as a paradigm. Asian Buddhists may identify with him, but as his spiritual career in fact consists of many lives, they may also identify with previous births or even with companions of the Buddha, his parents, his main disciples and so on. Once Buddhism came to the west, choices were made about what was considered to be part of ‘main Buddhism’ and what was considered to be religious and therefore often rejected. Many of the life histories therefore shifted to an inferior position. In modern Buddhism though there are life histories as many modern Buddhists consider their personal quest for meaning in life an essential part of their spiritual developments. The encounter with Buddhism is often seen as the result of a long search. In modern Buddhist biographies the person with whom one tries to construct a connection or identification is more often than not the Buddha himself. A last development seems to be the search for the ‘actual embodiment’ of the ideal. The Buddha physically embodies the ideal and so should the modern Buddhist.