Tag Archives: Buddhism

Book Review: Buton’s History of Buddhism in India and Its Spread to Tibet: A Treasury of Priceless Scripture

Buton’s History of Buddhism in India and Its Spread to Tibet: A Treasury of Priceless Scripture by Buton Richen Drup is a bit of an unexpected read. The author is a 14th Century Tibetan Buddhist leader and the 11th abbot of Shalu Monastery. In addition to running the monastery, he also cataloged 4,569 religious and philosophical works in writing The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet. 

To start, as a history it is not what is expected. There is no date by date structure or mention of dates. There also is no cultural study or even how Buddhism spread to Tibet. Rather it is a collection of Buddhists texts . The first section of the book is a detailed study of Buddhism as it was taught at the time . That is followed up with two hundred pages of Buddhist text as history. Finally, there is a a short section on Buddhist history in Tibet. 

The writing is mostly ancient texts and the reading is very educational. This book is a great reference and a worthwhile read for those who want a very detailed study on Buddhism or the serious student or disciple. This book goes far beyond the Eight-fold Path and the Four Noble Truths. For Westerners the book may be compared to Leviticus opposed to the Ten Commandments. Most people can name a couple commandments but few can give a detailed accounts of the laws in Leviticus; the same with The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet. 

The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet is a difficult book to review because it is mostly religious texts. It is difficult to critique something written 700 years ago from texts that are even older. If Buddhism is something that interests you in a deep or scholarly way, by all means read this book; it is an excellent study. If you have a passing interest in Buddhism or just starting out, come back for it when you are ready.

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Book Review: An Illustrated Outline of Buddhism

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.

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