William Stoddart’s An Illustrated Outline of Buddhism presents a beautifully illustrated book that explains the basics of Buddhism. Stoddart was born in southern Scotland in 1925. He studied language and later earned a medical degree. He has translated many works into English and was assistant editor to the British journal Studies in Comparative Religion. Soddart is considered one of the most important writers on Perennial Philosophy.
An Illustrated Outline of Buddhismstarts with the very basics of what is religion, what is orthodoxy, and where does Buddhism stand with the other religions of the world. Stoddart makes the comparison that Buddhism rose from Hinduism as Christianity rose from Judaism. Buddhism is a universal religion like Christianity and Islam. It willing takes converts, whereas, for the most part, Hinduism and Judaism are something that you are born into.
A very good history of the Buddha’s life is given and the Four Nobel Truths and The Eight Fold Path, and the Five Precepts are explained. Buddha’s teachings became the Dharma or The Law. From here the book goes on to give a short biography of some early Buddhist figures. Buddhist art is also covered and there are plenty of illustrations in the chapter and throughout the book to show it. From cover to cover the illustrations are amazing.
Basic Buddhist teaching are explained and clarified. Comparisons with other religions are made. Where most religions have a supreme being, Buddhism has a supreme state: Nirvana. Also the divisions and and historical spread of Buddhism are covered. The shortness of my review should not be considered a negative, but just the opposite. An Illustrated Outline of Buddhism is an excellent introduction to Buddhism.