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Thread: Looking for a book on the History of Buddhism (something that goes beyond the myth)

  1. #1
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Looking for a book on the History of Buddhism (something that goes beyond the myth)

    Hi guys,

    I was wondering if someone could recommend a book on the History of Buddhism as it traveled from place to place. Recently, I was reading a reddit thread where they were talking about the history of Buddhism and it struck me as a little too perfect. All the sects were started in India and they didn't really change that much (I'm paraphrasing.) Any who, I became curious as to what current historians believe (not that they all will I'm sure) about the history of Buddhism.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks,

    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki

  2. #2
    Hi Hoseki

    I found this covered the basics for me, although is twenty years old now!

    A Concise History of Buddhism

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  3. #3
    I have been looking for something similar for quite a while. Scanning my Goodreads list, I didn't really see anything other than Skilton's "A Concise History of Buddhism", which Kokuu recommended. I listened to it as an audiobook a few years ago. It provides a basic understanding of how the various threads weave in and out. If you already have some background in the various schools, it will probably be better than when I read it coming in nearly 100% ignorant of Buddhism.

    What I'd love to find is something that similar to "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years", but for Buddhism.

    Looking forward to recommendations from others.

    Sat today. Gassho.


    No merit. Vast emptiness; nothing holy. I don't know.

  4. #4
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Hoseki

    I found this covered the basics for me, although is twenty years old now!

    A Concise History of Buddhism

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Awesome! Thanks!

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    There is many suggestions on the Suggested Books Thread:

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...REELEAF-SANGHA

    Also books by Paul Williams and Richard Gombrich can be good material.

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Hoseki

    I found this covered the basics for me, although is twenty years old now!

    A Concise History of Buddhism

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    My only comment, glancing at the table of contents (I have not read it) is that it gives only a few pages to anything outside of India and South Asia (the vast majority of the book). China and Japan together (9 pages and 6 pages respectively) have only a few pages for all the many kinds of Buddhism and history in those two countries).

    I read the following years ago, and while it may be a little dated now (there are later editions), the basic story has not changed too much. A bit more space is dedicated to Mahayana/China/Japan than in "Concise History". Used copies seem pretty cheap. Reviews seem good. The later edition does seem to have some new, worthwhile material, but is a bit pricey (maybe cheaper ones if you look around online). There are portions online that you may wish to look at before purchasing.

    The Buddhist religion: A historical introduction by Richard H Robinson
    https://www.amazon.com/Buddhist-reli...gateway&sr=8-2

    and

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Buddhist-Re.../dp/0534558585

    Here is a review of that one ...

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-r...SIN=0822101939

    If you are looking for something with even more meat (no offence to vegetarian Buddhists), I recommend to pick up a couple of used copies of Paul Williams' "Buddhist Thought, A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition" (which covers mostly the early tradition) and "Mahayana Buddhism, the Doctrinal Foundations" (get the 1st edition cheap if you want, because the changes in the 2nd edition seem minor). However, these are both like college level text books, and cover in depth the development of Buddhist ideas more than general social history or "Buddhism on the ground" (how it is lived in actuality by average people). Be prepared for a lot of detail on the development of the vast varieties of Buddhist ideas and practices.

    If you want something shorter, and that is more a very basic introduction to Buddhism in its many flavors, this is actually not too bad despite the silly title.

    • Buddhism For Dummies by Jonathan Landaw & Stephan Bodian (Jundo: I have been looking for a very long time for a book for people very new to Buddhism who want to know basic information and all the many flavors of Buddhist schools, their beliefs and practices. Despite the silly title, this is a very smart, well written, comprehensive and detailed yet easy (and fun) to read, humorous and serious guide, covers most of the major bases and in quite some detail, gives fair treatment to the many flavors of Buddhism, is very down to earth about the more magical aspects of Buddhism (it tries to present a more psychological than literal take on Karma and Rebirth, for example) .... and it covers everything and the kitchen sink. I learned a thing or two. I just wish they would change the title. If I have one criticism, I wish they had done a better job in contrasting the various approaches of Zen. I recommend this book primarily for people very new to Buddhism in general.)
    Please write a review for us after you read them.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-10-2019 at 12:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    I found this to be quite useful when I was starting out on the path. It's general though and concentrates mainly on the m
    Mahayana if I remember rightly.
    https://www.amazon.com/Foundations-B...r=8-1-fkmrnull

    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  8. #8
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions everybody! Iím going to order one of them the weekend. Which is now I guess.


    Gassho
    Sattoday
    Hoseki


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