7. What is the Role of Narrative in Buddhism?
Brian Black [+]
University of Lancaster
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.