Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

7. What is the Role of Narrative in Buddhism?

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Brian Black [+-]
University of Lancaster
BRIAN BLACK is Senior Teaching Associate in the Department of Religious Studies at Lancaster University. His research and teaching interests include Indian religions, comparative philosophy, and gender and religion. He is author of the book The Character of the Self in Ancient India: Priests, Kings, and Women in the Early Upaniṣads.


Narrative is an integral part of Buddhism. Although many textbooks focus on core teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination, emptiness, or the ideal of the bodhisattva, stories are one of the main ways that Buddhists through the centuries have communicated and explored their ideas, beliefs, and values. Narratives create a shared Buddhist world among its followers and ground otherwise abstract teachings in the relatable experiences of everyday life. They also demand an engagement from their audiences and remain open to a variety of different readings and interpretations. Additionally, stories are memorable, often engaging audiences on an emotional as well as an intellectual level.

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Black, Brian. 7. What is the Role of Narrative in Buddhism?. Buddhism in Five Minutes. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 35-39 Oct 2021. ISBN 9781800500907. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40744. Date accessed: 18 Apr 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40744. Oct 2021

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