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Stuff You Should Know

Selects: Nirvana: Not The Band

Sat Jul 22 2023
BuddhismHinduismEnlightenmentSiddhartha GautamaFour Noble TruthsNoble Eightfold Path


The episode explores the origins of Buddhism as an offshoot of Hinduism, focusing on Siddhartha Gautama's journey to becoming the Buddha. It delves into the teachings of Buddhism, including the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. The episode also compares Buddhism with Hinduism, highlighting their similarities and differences. Additionally, it discusses spiritual practices and beliefs in Hinduism, such as the importance of wealth and the concept of Moksha.


Buddhism: A Path to Enlightenment

The episode provides a comprehensive overview of Buddhism, tracing its origins and teachings, and exploring the journey of Siddhartha Gautama to becoming the Buddha.

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path

The four noble truths, which revolve around the concept of suffering and its cessation, are discussed in detail. The noble eightfold path, consisting of ethical conduct and concentration, is also explored as a means to achieve enlightenment.

Comparison between Buddhism and Hinduism

The episode highlights the similarities and differences between Buddhism and Hinduism, particularly in terms of their beliefs about Nirvana and Moksha, the caste system, and the concept of Dharma.


  1. Introduction to Buddhism
  2. Siddhartha's Journey to Enlightenment
  3. The Path to Enlightenment
  4. Buddhist Teachings and Practices
  5. Comparison with Hinduism
  6. Spiritual Practices and Beliefs in Hinduism

Introduction to Buddhism

00:00 - 06:55

  • Nirvana podcast episode from August 27th, 2015
  • Researching Nirvana was calming and appealing
  • Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism
  • Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, was born into a Hindu family
  • He decided to explore other ways and founded Buddhism in the 5th century BC
  • Buddhism originated in Asia
  • You can become a Buddha, but not the Buddha

Siddhartha's Journey to Enlightenment

06:34 - 13:30

  • Siddhartha's journey to becoming the Buddha begins with his dissatisfaction with his pampered life as a rich man.
  • He sees an old man, a diseased man, and a corpse, which leads him to leave his possessions and go on a quest for the true nature of life.
  • Siddhartha initially becomes a poverty-stricken hermit but realizes extreme poverty does not lead to enlightenment.
  • He takes a meal from a stranger and realizes that the middle road is the way to achieve enlightenment.
  • Siddhartha sits under a tree and achieves Nirvana, experiencing three stages of omniscience.
  • He gains a perfect understanding of the law and cycle of birth and death in Nirvana.

The Path to Enlightenment

13:02 - 20:41

  • The Buddha couldn't put into words a description of his enlightenment experience, but people trusted him and followed his teachings.
  • Nirvana in Sanskrit means to extinguish suffering, hatred, and ignorance.
  • The Buddha's path to enlightenment and his teachings are discussed.
  • Achieving Nirvana breaks the cycle of reincarnation known as Samsara.
  • Karma plays a role in determining one's current life based on past actions in earlier lives.
  • The law of karma is similar to Newton's law of motion - every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
  • When you achieve Nirvana, you stop accruing bad karma but still need to work off the karmic debt already accrued.
  • After achieving Nirvana, one enters another dimension or realm outside of space-time and becomes one with the universe.
  • Nirvana Day is celebrated on February 15th with meditation, reflection, and food preparation.

Buddhist Teachings and Practices

20:23 - 27:56

  • Buddhist monks achieve Nirvana and become Buddhas
  • A Buddha can guide others to Nirvana as a junior Buddha or arhitt
  • The Buddha taught the four noble truths for 45 years of his life
  • The four noble truths are: life is suffering, suffering is caused by ignorance, suffering can be ended, and the noble eightfold path leads to the end of suffering
  • The noble eightfold path consists of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation
  • Ethical conduct includes right speech, right action, and right livelihood
  • Concentration includes right effort, right-mindedness, and right contemplation

Comparison with Hinduism

27:29 - 34:52

  • Nirvana and Moksha are similar concepts in Buddhism and Hinduism
  • In Hindu cosmology, Krishna is the source of all things
  • Hinduism believes in reincarnation through different species before becoming human
  • The caste system in Hinduism is hierarchical and based on karma
  • There is debate about the relevance of the caste system in modern Hinduism
  • Gandhi was thrown out of his caste for championing the rights of lower castes
  • The highest class in Hinduism is the Brahmin class, focused on achieving enlightenment
  • Buddhism rejects the caste system and believes anyone can achieve enlightenment
  • Dharma is a responsibility to society's rules and one's own calling in life

Spiritual Practices and Beliefs in Hinduism

34:29 - 40:28

  • In Hinduism, there is a belief that one should not be super rich or poor.
  • Having money allows freedom from worrying about basic needs and enables contemplation towards enlightenment.
  • Fulfilling desires, including sexual desires, is important but there are taboos and constraints in Hinduism.
  • Moksha is the state of being free from earthly desires and realizing the connection to Krishna.