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Thread: Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

    Hi all,
    I was wondering if there were any recommendations for books dealing with the history of Buddhism and/or Zen? At one point I was a history student, and still find the subject interesting. I'd be more specific in what I'm looking for, but I'm not really sure what that is. :shock:

    Thanks,
    Chris

  2. #2

    Re: Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

    Hi.

    Here are some...

    A Concise History of Buddhism, Andrew Skilton
    Basic Buddhist Concepts, Kogen Mizuno
    Buddhism, Its Essence and Development, Edward Conze
    Buddhist Thought in India, Edward Conze
    Buddha, Karen Armstrong
    An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World, pankaj mishra
    What the Buddha Taught, Rahula Walpola
    The Beginnings of Buddhism, Kogen Mizuno
    Mahayana Buddhism, the doctrinal foundation, Paul Williams
    A History of Indian Buddhism, Hirakawa Akira, trans. Paul Groner
    Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey. Ch’en, Kenneth

    Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism, Peter Gregory
    Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and their Teachings, Andy Ferguson
    Seeing through Zen: Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, John R. McRae
    How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China, Morten Schlütter
    Fathering Your Father, The Zen of Fabrication in Tang Buddhism, Alan Cole
    Zen Buddhism: A History—India and China. Dumoulin, Heinrich.

    History of Zen and Buddhism in the West?
    Zen Master Who?, James Ford
    Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America
    How the Swans Came to the Lake, Rick Fields
    Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center, Michael Downing
    Sanbôkyôdan Zen and the Way of the New Religions by Robert H. Sharf
    Once Born, Twice Born Zen, Conrad Hyers

    LIFE OF THE BUDDHA?
    The Life of the Buddha, H. Saddhatissa
    The Life of the Buddha, Bikkhu Nanamoli
    The Way of Siddhartha, David Kalupahana
    Old Path; White Clouds, Thich Nhat Hanh
    The Buddha, Michael Carrithers
    The Beginnings of Buddhism, Kogen Mizuno

    The Bold ones are good to start with for beginners, some of these are "hefty".
    For the italics, life of buddha is quite nice, jundo's in zen master who, and schlütters books isn't that bad although a lot of notes to keep track on...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3

    Re: Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

    Hi Chris
    I recently asked the same question. I am in the process of purchasing: Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition by Paul Williams and Anthony J. Tribe. It's available through Amazon in paperback for about 28 bucks new. Good Luck gassho Shogen

  4. #4

    Re: Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

    Quote Originally Posted by zak
    Hi Chris
    I recently asked the same question. I am in the process of purchasing: Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition by Paul Williams and Anthony J. Tribe. It's available through Amazon in paperback for about 28 bucks new. Good Luck gassho Shogen
    Yes, thank you Zak. I wanted to shorten Filur's very comprehensive list a bit, for practicality!

    I recommend two very good surveys by the same author mentioned, although in the first the writing is sometimes very disjointed, while in the second it is very readable.

    • Buddhist Thought, A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition, Paul Williams and Anthony Tribe. Although meant as an introductory textbook, it is still wonderfully detailed ... although the writing is poor in places.

    http://www.amazon.com/Buddhist-Thought- ... ap_title_0

    This should be followed with ...

    • Mahayana Buddhism, The Doctrinal Foundations, by Paul Williams
    He recently came out with a new (2008) second edition, largely redone in parts based on the latest research, which I have not read (I have only read the 1st edition). However, the first 1989 addition is still wonderful and you can grab a good used copy of either edition.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/041535 ... -1&seller=

    Here is a great place for used books ...

    http://www.bookfinder.com/

    It is interesting, but Prof. Williams recently returned to Christianity, and has written a book about why he is disheartened with Buddhism. However, I have found that it has not had a negative effect on the balance or detail of his writings. Highly recommended.

    The Heinrich Dumoulin histories are excellent, although seen now as a little dated and "romantic". Historical research (including clear understanding of the fact that many legends of Buddhist history were just that ... legends) has progressed much since then. For example, How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China, Morten Schlütter is an excellent (although narrowly focused) study on "what really happened" during the "split" between "Just Sitting" and "Kanna Koan focused" Zazen.

    Zen Master Who? by James Ford is an EXCELLENT survey of and guide to all the different flavors, lineages and teachers of Chan/Zen found in the West, although maybe too much just on North America (and I am mentioned in there somewhere). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED even to beginners. Get it!

    Anyway, that should keep you busy and reading for awhile. You read those books, and many aspects of our practice will be much clearer to you (I believe).

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: Book Suggestions re: buddhist history/monasticism

    Thanks! I'm grateful for the comprehensive list as well and the focused suggestions. Gives me somewhere to start and somewhere to head after that. Time to get reading

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