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Buddhaby Karen Armstrong
Synopses & Reviews
We have come to admire Buddhism for being profound but accessible, as much a lifestyle as a religion. The credit for creating Buddhism goes to the Buddha, a figure widely respected across the Western world for his philosophical insight, his teachings of nonviolence, and his practice of meditation. But who was this Buddha, and how did he become the Buddha we know and love today?
Leading historian of Buddhism Donald S. Lopez Jr. tells the story of how various idols carved in stone—variously named Beddou, Codam, Xaca, and Fo—became the man of flesh and blood that we know simply as the Buddha. He reveals that the positive view of the Buddha in Europe and America is rather recent, originating a little more than a hundred and fifty years ago. For centuries, the Buddha was condemned by Western writers as the most dangerous idol of the Orient. He was a demon, the murderer of his mother, a purveyor of idolatry.
Lopez provides an engaging history of depictions of the Buddha from classical accounts and medieval stories to the testimonies of European travelers, diplomats, soldiers, and missionaries. He shows that centuries of hostility toward the Buddha changed dramatically in the nineteenth century, when the teachings of the Buddha, having disappeared from India by the fourteenth century, were read by European scholars newly proficient in Asian languages. At the same time, the traditional view of the Buddha persisted in Asia, where he was revered as much for his supernatural powers as for his philosophical insights. From Stone to Flesh follows the twists and turns of these Eastern and Western notions of the Buddha, leading finally to his triumph as the founder of a world religion.
A blueprint for a life of mindfulness, dedicated to the easing of suffering both for oneself and for others
The story of Shakyamuni Buddhas epic journey to enlightenment is perhaps the most important narrative in the Buddhist tradition. Tenzin Chögyels The Life of the Buddha, composed in the mideighteenth century and now in a vivid new translation, is a masterly storytellers rendition of the twelve acts of the Buddha. Chögyels classical tale seamlessly weaves together the vast and the minute, the earthly and the celestial, reflecting the near-omnipresent aid of the gods alongside the Buddhas moving final reunion with his devoted son, Rahula. The Life of the Buddha has the power to engage people through a deeply human story with cosmic implications.
With such bestsellers as A History of God and Islam, Karen Armstrong has consistently delivered ?penetrating, readable, and prescient? (The New York Times) works that have lucidly engaged a wide range of religions and religious issues. In Buddha she turns to a figure whose thought is still reverberating throughout the world 2,500 years after his death.
Many know the Buddha only from seeing countless serene, iconic images. But what of the man himself and the world he lived in? What did he actually do in his roughly eighty years on earth that spawned one of the greatest religions in world history? Armstrong tackles these questions and more by examining the life and times of the Buddha in this engrossing philosophical biography. Against the tumultuous cultural background of his world, she blends history, philosophy, mythology, and biography to create a compelling and illuminating portrait of a man whose awakening continues to inspire millions.
About the Author
[Armstrong] offers a frequently inspiring look at this exemplary life... Invaluable. (Los Angeles Times)Destined to become the classic source for anyone delving... into the life and teachings of the religious icon. (Christian Science Monitor)
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