Buddhism’s 4 Big Unanswered Questions: A Conversation with Donald S. Lopez

Over decades of research, Buddhist scholars, historians, and translators have uncovered a wealth of information about the early history of the Buddha and his teachings. But students of Buddhism often struggle to reconcile the history of the dharma that’s been told and popularized by Buddhists themselves with the history that’s revealed in other sources, including Buddhist texts.

According to Donald S. Lopez, celebrated scholar of Buddhist and Tibetan studies, there are many questions that continue to perplex those seeking to tell the story of Buddhism in India. Lopez has zeroed in on four questions that are particularly consequential: When did the Buddha live? Why were the Mahayana sutras written? What are the origins of Buddhist tantra? And finally, why did Buddhism disappear from India?

Lopez sits down with Tricycle’s Editor-in-Chief James Shaheen to discuss these questions, offer some possible answers, and consider the larger significance of the investigation itself.


Donald S. Lopez Jr.

Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He specializes in Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, and has written extensively on encounters between Buddhism and the West. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.


  • Date: January 13, 2022
  • Time: 4-5 PM EST
  • Format: Live Zoom Webinar
  • Price: By Donation
  • Watch the Recording