Top 5 Videos for Buddhist Newbies


Understanding is the heartwood of well-spoken words.  ~ Buddha

Just do a search for Buddhism videos, and you are likely to be overwhelmed, which is both a blessing and a hindrance if you are just beginning.

For someone new to Buddhism, or just exploring it, finding the right videos to explain Buddhism can be very helpful.  In this article you will find five videos I recommend to Buddhist newbies to help them not only learn about Buddhism, but also to grow.

The Top 5 Video List

These five videos will be more than enough to get you started in learning about Buddhism, and putting that knowledge into direct practice.  After watching my recommendations, it is highly recommended you find a local temple/teacher to guide you further.  Be sure to check out my “Top 5 Books for Buddhist Newbies” article to help you learn more!

#1:  Buddhism, Explained by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

One of my favorite teachers is Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh.  While you may have only heard about famous Buddhists, such as the Dalai Lama, Ven. Thich Nhaht Hanh is quite famous himself.  Gaining popularity during the Vietnam war where he became friends with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he has become one of the most famous Buddhist teachers worldwide with millions of followers and a plethora of books he wrote (my favorite being this one).

In this short video, he explains quite a few topics in Buddhism such as Nirvana, death & dying, perceptions, freedom of views, fear, meditation, “interbeing”, understanding, and answering the question “is Buddha a god?” (video spoiler: the answer is “no”).

 If you enjoyed this video with Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, you should also check out this interview with him by Oprah (click here). 

#2:  The Life of the Buddha (BBC Documentary)

This has been one of my all time favorite documentaries about the life of the Buddha.  Beautifully filmed, structured, and explained, I am sure you will enjoy it as well.  Included in this video are interviews that help explain the life of the Buddha, and Buddhism itself.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find where this can be purchased online, so the only place you can watch it is on YouTube.

#3:  The Buddha (PBS Documentary)

PBS did a fantastic job of creating this documentary on the Buddha (which you can buy on BluRay or DVD).  Compared to the BBC version above (still one of my favorites), this one uses a mix of animation to explain certain parts of the Buddha’s life and important events, and includes interviews as well (to include the Dalai Lama).  This documentary is about two hours, so you will get a bit more in-depth than the BBC version, however watching both will give you a solid footing on the life of the Buddha, his teachings, and concepts of Buddhism, of which is important when you are first starting out.

#4:  The Death of the Buddha (BBC)

This video is extremely short, but I am including it for a specific reason:  it is entirely about the death of the Buddha.  I enjoyed that you actually get to see, in modern time, the place of the Buddha’s death.  Even more interesting, is how the Buddha felt about dying in this place, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, while others wanted him to die in a place where he could be truly ‘honored’.  Instead, the Buddha found this place to be appropriate.  This is truly a short video to meditate on…how the Buddha died, and his thoughts at that time, are almost as important as how he lived.  Because we all “die”, we can learn from the Buddha himself how he made the final “exit”.

#5:  Alan Watts Buddhism TV Series

Alan Watts (no relation, unfortunately) was an extremely famous western Buddhist who helped bring Buddhism to the West (mainly America) mainly with his 1960’s TV series on KQED San Francisco.  While obviously not a big budget production like we are used to today, Alan gives fantastic insight into many aspects of Buddhism in this series, and is often someone many western Buddhists like to introduce to those who are learning about Buddhism.  Factor in that Alan was explaining this to a western audience and with 1960’s terminology as well (and also, smoking a cigarette at times…).  So the video you see below is actually the entire series (37 videos in total).  you can view a list of them individually by clicking here to see the playlist.  Alan also wrote books (click here to view some).  Enjoy!

Bonus Video:  We Can Be Buddhas, By Robert Thurman (TED Talk)

I always like to leave you with “one more” thing, and that is this video.  Robert Thurman is a writer and academic who talks about Buddhism.  In this TED talk, Robert explains that we can all be Buddha’s through our modern world and how interconnected we are (and realizing that is one step towards becoming a Buddha).   This is a short video, but hopefully one that will get you motivated to become a Buddhist practitioner, and not just a Buddhist couch potato 😉

YouTube Channels

Here are some channels/creators on YouTube you will enjoy related to Buddhism (there are of course many more, but these should get you started):

And here are some YouTube auto-generated topic channels:


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