Buddhisms: An Introduction represents a novel way of presenting the whole of the Buddhist tradition in its unity and multiplicity. Clear in its explanations, replete with tables and suggestions for further reading, it should appeal to students, yet also be of interest to scholars for some of its ways of viewing the Buddha, his teachings, and the Buddhist community through the ages.
The volume begins with an overview-introduction to the many aspects of Buddhism by surveying the modern-day temples that exist in Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace. It then recounts not only the story of the Buddha’s life, but the ways in which subsequent Buddhist traditions sought to overcome the absence of the Buddha, after his death. Turning to Buddhist Doctrine, it expands the notion of the Middle Way to depict the manner in which Buddhism both avoided or incorporated the extreme teachings extant in India in its time. It then goes on to show how the theme of the Middle Way also helps us understand the transition to later schools of Buddhist thought. Finally, it examines the establishment and nature of Buddhist community life before going on to show its development in the very different environments of Thailand, Japan, and Tibet.
Throughout, the author does not hesitate to lace his explanations with personal anecdotes and insights gathered during over forty years of studying Buddhism and travelling and living in Buddhist countries.
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