The Life of the Buddha According to the Sutras
with Venerable Losang Gendun

The Buddha sometimes called his teachings a handful of leaves compared to the forest of his knowledge and refused to teach anything that would not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation and the stilling of all that leads to dissatisfaction and suffering, to direct knowledge, and to self-awakening.

The various traditions that sprang from the fountain of the Buddha’s words explored the personal, societal, and universal significance of his appearance in the world. Yet much that the sutras have to say about the Buddha as a person – his world, the early monastic and lay communities, and the reasons behind his rather pragmatic approach – remain largely unexplored.

However, modern historical, philological, and archaeological studies allow us to reach back in time to try to encounter the Buddha in his own circumstances and environment. During our journey we will look at the oldest of the sutras still to be found in the Tibetan and Pali canon. We will meet the Buddha and his disciples and consider the challenges they faced, explore how it must have felt to live amongst them and hear them speak, often quite intimately and disarmingly, about their personal experiences.

We will meet kings, brahmins and barbers and examine the social, political, and economic changes, that were the backdrop to the success of the teachings of a path to freedom by a band of disheveled ascetics. Teachings that later spread first across Asia, then across the globe and finally into our own lives.

Additional Materials


About the Teacher

Buddhist teacher Ven. Losang Gendun is a Dutch monk.

He previously worked in IT, refugee organisations and commercial management. After having practiced mainly Theravada Buddhism for twenty years, he became a monk in the Tibetan tradition in 2006.

At Nalanda monastery in France, he studied Buddhist philosophy for nine years, and practised under the guidance of several teachers, such as H.H. the Dalai Lama, Geshe Losang Jamphal, Ganden Tripa Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. In total, Ven. Gendun spent over four years in retreat, and he specialises in Tibetan Lojong and Mahamudra methods, alongside Vipassana-shamatha meditation as taught in the Theravada Forest Tradition.

Ven. Losang Gendun has been teaching for fifteen years in the Netherlands, France, Monaco, the US and UK. He is active in the area of interreligious communication, and collaborates closely with a number of Benedictine monasteries and a Turkish Mevlânâ Sufi organization.

His main aim is the translation of traditional methods in contemporary terms, to make them accessible for a Western audience. For that purpose, he founded The Buddha Project, an initiative to provide meditators with personal guidance and long-term support, in collaboration with a group of international researchers to investigate perceptional and semiotic evolution induced by contemplative practices. 

Currently, he is the resident teacher at the Maitreya Institute Amsterdam and visiting teacher of Jamyang Buddhist Centre Leeds.