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Introduction to Imagery in the EBTs

This is part 1 of a course going through the similes and metaphors of the Buddha.

Illustration by Ayya Vimalayani aka "Ven Yodha"

Buddhism has many symbols representing different layers of historical development.

An Introduction to the Buddha’s Pyrotechnics

The fire of passion being “extinguished” gives us the term “Nibbāna (nirvāna)” and the “fire” of samādhi (meditation) is an enduring image in Buddhist text and art. As we roll back in time to the Buddha’s India, let us gaze a little closer into the flames:

  • Bhikkhu Analayo explains some of the stories of the Buddha’s miracles, and how a close reading of the texts can reveal the evolution of the legend.
Mythology as Meditation: From the Mahāsudassana Sutta to the Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra – Rupert Gethin (.pdf) (.pdf)
  • Traditional Buddhists, however, read their myths less as history than as guides to the spiritual journey.
  • Finally, rewinding the clock all the way back to the Buddha’s own day, we learn how the Buddha played with ancient Vedic fire imagery to create his own creation myth.

Optional Reading

  • Ajahn Geoff explores the symbolism of extinguishment in the context of ancient Indian physics to give us another take on this central image of Buddhist soteriology.


After each lesson we’ll include a few reflection questions to test your comprehension of the lesson’s material. You can find this lesson’s quiz on Google Forms here