Early Buddhism flourished because it was able to take up the challenge represented by buoyant economic conditions and the need for cultural uniformity in the newly emergent states in north-eastern India from the fifth century BCE onwards. This book begins with the apparent inconsistency of Buddhism, a renunciant movement, surviving within a strong urban environment, and draws out the implications of this. In spite of the Buddhist ascetic imperative, the Buddha and other celebrated monks moved easily through various levels of society and fitted into the urban landscape they inhabited. The Sociology of Early Buddhism tells how and why the early monks were able to exploit the social and political conditions of mid-first millennium north-eastern India in such a way as to ensure the growth of Buddhism into a major world religion. Its readership lies both within Buddhist studies and more widely among historians, sociologists and anthropologists of religion.
Author: David L. McMahan
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2008-11-14
A great deal of Buddhist literature and scholarly writing about Buddhism of the past 150 years reflects, and indeed constructs, a historically unique modern Buddhism, even while purporting to represent ancient tradition, timeless teaching, or the "essentials" of Buddhism. This literature, Asian as well as Western, weaves together the strands of different traditions to create a novel hybrid that brings Buddhism into alignment with many of the ideologies and sensibilities of the post-Enlightenment West. In this book, David McMahan charts the development of this "Buddhist modernism." McMahan examines and analyzes a wide range of popular and scholarly writings produced by Buddhists around the globe. He focuses on ideological and imaginative encounters between Buddhism and modernity, for example in the realms of science, mythology, literature, art, psychology, and religious pluralism. He shows how certain themes cut across cultural and geographical contexts, and how this form of Buddhism has been created by multiple agents in a variety of times and places. His position is critical but empathetic: while he presents Buddhist modernism as a construction of numerous parties with varying interests, he does not reduce it to a mistake, a misrepresentation, or fabrication. Rather, he presents it as a complex historical process constituted by a variety of responses -- sometimes trivial, often profound -- to some of the most important concerns of the modern era.
Author: Reginald A. Ray
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 1999-09-30
The issue of saints is a difficult and complicated problem in Buddhology. In this magisterial work, Ray offers the first comprehensive examination of the figure of the Buddhist saint in a wide range of Indian Buddhist evidence. Drawing on an extensive variety of sources, Ray seeks to identify the "classical type" of the Buddhist saint, as it provides the presupposition for, and informs, the different major Buddhist saintly types and subtypes. Discussing the nature, dynamics, and history of Buddhist hagiography, he surveys the ascetic codes, conventions and traditions of Buddhist saints, and the cults both of living saints and of those who have "passed beyond." Ray traces the role of the saints in Indian Buddhist history, examining the beginnings of Buddhism and the origin of Mahayana Buddhism.
Author: Keren Arbel
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Release Date: 2017-03-16
This book offers a new interpretation of the relationship between 'insight practice' (satipatthana) and the attainment of the four jhànas (i.e., right samàdhi), a key problem in the study of Buddhist meditation. The author challenges the traditional Buddhist understanding of the four jhànas as states of absorption, and shows how these states are the actualization and embodiment of insight (vipassanà). It proposes that the four jhànas and what we call 'vipassanà' are integral dimensions of a single process that leads to awakening. Current literature on the phenomenology of the four jhànas and their relationship with the 'practice of insight' has mostly repeated traditional Theravàda interpretations. No one to date has offered a comprehensive analysis of the fourfold jhàna model independently from traditional interpretations. This book offers such an analysis. It presents a model which speaks in the Nikàyas' distinct voice. It demonstrates that the distinction between the 'practice of serenity' (samatha-bhàvanà) and the 'practice of insight' (vipassanà-bhàvanà) – a fundamental distinction in Buddhist meditation theory – is not applicable to early Buddhist understanding of the meditative path. It seeks to show that the common interpretation of the jhànas as 'altered states of consciousness', absorptions that do not reveal anything about the nature of phenomena, is incompatible with the teachings of the Pàli Nikàyas. By carefully analyzing the descriptions of the four jhànas in the early Buddhist texts in Pàli, their contexts, associations and meanings within the conceptual framework of early Buddhism, the relationship between this central element in the Buddhist path and 'insight meditation' becomes revealed in all its power. Early Buddhist Meditation will be of interest to scholars of Buddhist studies, Asian philosophies and religions, as well as Buddhist practitioners with a serious interest in the process of insight meditation.
Ireland and Buddhism have a long history. Shaped by colonialism, contested borders, religious wars, empire and massive diasporas, Irish people have encountered Asian Buddhism in many ways over 14 centuries. From the thrill of travellers' tales in far-off lands to a religious alternative to Christianity, from the potential of anti-colonial solidarity to fears of "going native", and from recent immigration to the secular spread of Buddhist meditation, Buddhism has meant many different things to people in Ireland. Knowledge of Buddhist Asia reached Ireland by the 7th century, with the first personal contact in the 14th - a tale remembered for 500 years. The first Irish Buddhists appeared in the political and cultural crisis of the 19th century, in Dublin and the rural West, but also in Burma and Japan. Over the next hundred years, Buddhism competed with esoteric movements to become the alternative to mainstream religion. Since the 1960s, Buddhism has exploded to become Ireland's third-largest religion. Buddhism and Ireland is the first history of its subject, a rich and exciting story of extraordinary individuals and the journey of ideas across Europe and Asia.
Author: Steven Collins
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 1990-11-29
This book explains the Buddhist doctrine of annattá ("not-self"), which denies the existence of any self, soul, or enduring essence in man. The author relates this doctrine to its cultural and historical context, particularly to its Brahman background. He shows how the Theravada Buddhist tradition has constructed a philosophical and psychological account of personal identity on the apparently impossible basis of the denial of self. Although the emphasis of the book is firmly philosophical, Dr. Collins makes use of a number of academic disciplines, particularly those of anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and comparative religion, in an attempt to discover the "deep structure" of Buddhist culture and imagination, and to make these doctrines comprehensible in terms of the western history of ideas.
Author: Michael Jerryson
Publisher: OUP USA
Release Date: 2010-01-08
This book offers eight essays examining the dark side of a tradition often regarded as the religion of peace. The authors note the conflict between the Buddhist norms of non-violence and the prohibition of the killing of sentient beings and acts of state violence supported by the Buddhist community (sangha), acts of civil violence in which monks participate, and Buddhist intersectarian violence.
Author: Himanshu Prabha Ray
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Release Date: 2017-08-31
This book traces the archaeological trajectory of the expansion of Buddhism and its regional variations in South Asia. Focusing on the multireligious context of the subcontinent in the first millennium BCE, the volume breaks from conventional studies that pose Buddhism as a counter to the Vedic tradition to understanding the religion more integrally in terms of dhamma (teachings of the Buddha), d?na (practice of cultivating generosity) and the engagement with the written word. The work underlines that relic and image worship were important features in the spread of Buddhism in the region and were instrumental in bringing the monastics and the laity together. Further, the author examines the significance of the histories of monastic complexes (viharas, stupas, caityas) and also religious travel and pilgrimage that provided connections across the subcontinent and the seas. An interdisciplinary study, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars in South Asian studies, religion, especially Buddhist studies, history and archaeology.
Why did people in North India from the 5th century BC choose to leave the world and join the sect of the Buddha? This is the first book to apply the insights of social psychology in order to understand the religious motivation of the people who constituted the early Buddhist community. It also addresses the more general and theoretically controversial question of how world religions come into being, by focusing on the conversion process of the individual believer.
Recent decades have seen a groundswell in the Buddhist world, a transnational agitation for better opportunities for Buddhist women. Many of the main players in the transnational nuns movement self-identify as feminists but other participants in this movement may not know or use the language of feminism. In fact, many ordained Buddhist women say they seek higher ordination so that they might be better Buddhist practitioners, not for the sake of gender equality. Eschewing the backward projection of secular liberal feminist categories, this book describes the basic features of the Buddhist discourse of the female body, held more or less in common across sectarian lines, and still pertinent to ordained Buddhist women today. The textual focus of the study is an early-first-millennium Sanskrit Buddhist work, "Descent into the Womb scripture" or Garbh?vakr?nti-s?tra. Drawing out the implications of this text, the author offers innovative arguments about the significance of childbirth and fertility in Buddhism, namely that birth is a master metaphor in Indian Buddhism; that Buddhist gender constructions are centrally shaped by Buddhist birth discourse; and that, by undermining the religious importance of female fertility, the Buddhist construction of an inauspicious, chronically impure, and disgusting femininity constituted a portal to a new, liberated, feminine life for Buddhist monastic women. Thus, this study of the Buddhist discourse of birth is also a genealogy of gender in middle period Indian Buddhism. Offering a new critical perspective on the issues of gender, bodies and suffering, this book will be of interest to an interdisciplinary audience, including researchers in the field of Buddhism, South Asian history and religion, gender and religion, theory and method in the study of religion, and Buddhist medicine.
Author: Floyd H Ross
Release Date: 2013-05-13
Originally published in 1952. This volume, by discussing significant insights of Hinduism and Buddhism, answers the question "What is the meaning of life?" It illustrates the importance of Buddhist and Hindu teachings and their relevance to the West, as well as clarifying some of the religious and philosophical problems Western readers must grapple with.
Author: Ronald Green
Release Date: 2013-12-04
Buddhism Goes to the Movies: Introduction to Buddhist Thought and Practice explains the basics of Buddhist philosophy and practice through a number of dramatic films from around the world. This book introduces readers in a dynamic way to the major traditions of Buddhism: the Theravāda, and various interrelated Mahāyāna divisions including Zen, Pure Land and Tantric Buddhism. Students can use Ronald Green’s book to gain insights into classic Buddhist themes, including Buddhist awakening, the importance of the theory of dependent origination, the notion of no-self, and Buddhist ideas about life, death and why we are here. Contemporary developments are also explored, including the Socially Engaged Buddhism demonstrated by such figures as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung San Suu Kyi, and other Buddhist activists. Finally, comparisons between filmic expressions of Buddhism and more traditional artistic expressions of Buddhism—such as mandala drawings—are also drawn. An important addition to any introduction to Buddhist philosophy and practice, Buddhism Goes to the Movies is an excellent way to bring Buddhist thought, history, and activity to the uninitiated and interested reader.
Author: Carl B. Becker
Publisher: SIU Press
Release Date: 1993
In this much-needed examination of Buddhist views of death and the afterlife, Carl B. Becker bridges the gap between books on death in the West and books on Buddhism in the East. Other Western writers have addressed the mysteries surrounding death and the afterlife, but few have approached the topic from a Buddhist perspective. Here, Becker resolves questions that have troubled scholars since the beginning of Buddhism: How can Buddhism reconcile its belief in karma and rebirth with its denial of a permanent soul? What is reborn? And when, exactly, is the moment of death? By systematically tracing Buddhism’s migration from India through China, Japan, and Tibet, Becker demonstrates how culture and environment affect Buddhist religious tradition. In addition to discussing historical Buddhism, Becker shows how Buddhism resolves controversial current issues as well. In the face of modern medicine’s trend toward depersonalization, traditional Buddhist practices imbue the dying process with respect and dignity. At the same time, Buddhist tradition offers documented precedents for decision making in cases of suicide and euthanasia.