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Over the course of the past century, many scholars have published historical biographies of the Buddha, attempting to present a simplified, chronological narrative. But according to Bernard Faure, these attempts to uncover the historical Buddha neglect the rich literary, mythological, and ritual elements of the story. Faure, a professor of Japanese religion at Columbia University, believes that the Buddha’s biography is one of the great myths of modern times. In his new book, The Thousand and One Lives of the Buddha, he traces how the life story of the Buddha has been told across cultures, from early Buddhist texts to contemporary art forms of manga and science fiction.

In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s editor in chief, James Shaheen, sits down with Faure to discuss his favorite myths about the Buddha’s life, the risks of searching for a historical Buddha, and the creativity of the Buddhist tradition.

Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world. You can listen to more Tricycle Talks on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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