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Favorite Buddhist Books (not Suttas) And Reference Websites

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Thanks for the info. I already have it on my computer and read some bits of it, but prefer a hardcopy book. You might be right that it could be hard to find a printed copy. I tried emailing them, but so far no reply yet.

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The term 'abhidhamma' can be rendered literally as higher or special teaching of the Buddha. Abhidhamma is in fact a profounder treatment of the Teaching of the Buddha, dealing with ultimate realities, namely, mind (citta), mental concomitants (cetasika), matter or Corporeality (rupa), and Nibbana. Of these four, the first three are compounded and conditioned. Nibbana is the only ultimate reality which is uncompounded and unconditioned.

Abhidhamma-oriented publications:

Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification) Buddhaghosa (First 90pages only)

Introduction to Dhammasangani (First book of the Abhdhamma)

Satipatthana sutta

Right View Sammaditthi sutta and commentary

Commentary to Satipatthana sutta translated by Soma Thera

A Treatise on Paramis (Perfections leading to Enlightenment) Dhammapala

Selected suttas on various topics

Books and Articles by Sujin Boriharnwanaket

Survey of Paramattha Dhammas (in pdf form. The file takes several minutes to download. Acrobat reader 5.0 can be downloaded from the web to read this)

Pali Fonts for the following books (Install the fonts, then copy and paste the book into a word file. Then select all and change the font to pCharter )

Deeds of Merit Part I Part II Part III Part IV Notes

Realities and Concepts: the Buddha’s explanation of the world Part I and II Part III

A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas preface Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 pali font


Books and Articles by Nina van Gorkom

Buddhism In Daily Life Part 1 Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII

Abhidhamma and Practice

Understanding Reality 6 page article giving a concise and easily understood explanation of what reality is in the Buddhist sense

The conditionality of Life: An outline of the 24 conditions of the Abhidhamma Part II Part III

Introduction to the Buddhist Scriptures Part I Part II

India (Pilgrimage)

Letters from Nina Part I Part II Part III

Generosity: The Inward Dimension Chapter from The Practice of Giving : Selected essays edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi The Wheel Publication No. 367/369

Abhidhamma in Daily Life A truly excellent introduction to the Abhidhamma – suitable for all levels. (24 chapters plus glossary).

The Perfections Leading to Enlightenment

Interview with Nina van Gorkom brief interview with the Buddhist writer

The Buddhist Teaching on Physical Phenomena Part 1 Part II

Articles by students of Sujin Boriharnwanaket

Be Here Now Bhikkhu Dhammadharo

Introduction to the Abhidhamma Jill Jordan and Richard Giles

Other writers

Abhidhamma and Vipassana by Sitagu sayadaw. A pithy and readable explanation of the link between vipassana and Abhidhamma. Includes a brief explanation of the origins of Abhidhamma.

The Abhidhamma Nyanaponika Thera

Word of the Buddha by Nyantiloka Thera. A good book for beginners with many passages from the Tipitaka.

Banner of the Arahants by Bhikkhu Khantipalo. Life as a Buddhist monk.

Kalama sutta short essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi on this oft-cited sutta

From Views to Vision essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Dhamma Theory: Philosophical Cornerstone of the Abhidhamma by Y. Karunadasa

Life of Sariputta
Maha Kaccana: Master of Doctrinal Exposition

Biography of Mahakassapa

Pali and Dhammaduta U Sein Tun, (inspiring article about learning Pali)

from http://www.abhidhamma.org/#et_page_13

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Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists

reviews:

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/22/entertainment/la-ca-kay-larson-20120722

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/books/where-the-heart-beats-john-cage-biography-by-kay-larson.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Where the Heart Beats” is a book about a man learning to use and trust the void. It’s a kind of love story about overcoming the need for love.

Written by Kay Larson, who for 14 years was the art critic for New York magazine, it describes John Cage’s philosophical awakening through Zen Buddhism, which changed not only the sort of music he composed but, seemingly, everything he did and said. Cage’s music and his interactions have been documented in many other books, but what makes “Where the Heart Beats” different is that it centers first on the ideas behind the work: why he sought them, when he came upon them, and where and how he used them. Only secondarily is it about his notated and copyrighted scores, and Cage’s place within the history of music (if indeed that is the place he ought to occupy).

For more than 40 years — from the time of his 1951 talks at the Club, a loft space on East Eighth Street in Manhattan opened by the sculptor Philip Pavia, until his death in 1992 — Cage often found himself around devoted scribes and live microphones. He was an apothegm slinger; he was unstoppable. “I have to get out of here,” the sculptor Richard Lippold, Cage’s neighbor in a run-down Lower East Side building during the early 1950s, told the composer Morton Feldman. “John is just too persuasive.”

In his filmed and recorded interviews you almost always encounter a man who seems born into supreme contentment: he listened, asked questions and had a good, hard, helpless laugh. But in his writings he could sometimes be bizarrely dogmatic, even in his opposition to dogma, and Ms. Larson portrays the younger Cage more this way: agitated, uncool, a walking emergency.

In the late 1930s and early ‘40s he was a young composer who favored rhythm over harmony and the chaotic promise of random, atmospheric noise over the grammar of Western classical music with its “endless arrangements of the old sounds.” But he hadn’t, in either case, completely figured out why. He was unhappy in his work and otherwise; the words “crisis” and “suffering” come up often in the first half of Ms. Larson’s account.

The book relates Cage’s solutions for all the disjunctions in his life, including what Ms. Larson, treading lightly, portrays as his acceptance of his homosexuality. (He was married to Xenia Kashevaroff, the daughter of a Russian priest, for 10 years; he worked with the choreographer Merce Cunningham from the 1940s on and lived with him starting in 1971, though he rarely spoke on the record about it.) He sought to release himself from self-expression in his art and even from emotional expression in his life. “I discovered,” he said in a late-period interview, “that those who seldom dwell on their emotions know better than anyone else just what an emotion is.”

In any case, learning the Zen mind was Cage’s major solution. Daisetz T. Suzuki, the Japanese writer and scholar, came to North America in 1950 on a tour sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, and Cage attended some of Suzuki’s lectures in New York. The lessons he absorbed — particularly one on the ego and the outside world, reconstructed and well narrated by Ms. Larson — solidified notions he’d already been swimming toward through his early studies in harmony with Arnold Schoenberg; his interest in the ideas of noise and anti-art taken from Futurism and Dada; and his readings of Christian and Hindu mystics. What he learned from Suzuki forms this book’s core, and even its structure.

Ms. Larson is on sure ground discussing Cage’s aesthetic world, particularly his connection with New York visual artists from the ’40s and ’50s. But she is also a practicing Buddhist, and she presents Cage almost as a figure in a parable.

The book is meticulous about dates, encounters and critical receptions. Still, there is no mistaking this for a straightforward biography. It concentrates on the most important period of Cage’s philosophical discoveries and starts drawing to a close in the early 1960s, when the composer still had more than a third of his life and work ahead of him.

Much of Ms. Larson’s story takes place inside Cage’s head, so she often has to speculate, with recourse to his interviews and writings, on what he may have been thinking. She imagines him picking up Suzuki’s “Essays in Zen Buddhism: First Series” and reading its first sentence. “How could he not instantly turn the page?” she writes. “From then on, throughout the introduction — and how could Cage not have seen it? — Suzuki seems to be reading Cage’s mind and speaking into his ear.”

Ms. Larson’s speculative soul reading is useful but perilous — not so much because it risks misrepresenting Cage’s thinking, but because it can sometimes generate homely, overempathetic prose. (“The heart-issues that Cage had never resolved were now beating like the undead on the locked doors of his awareness.”) It creates a solid heroic narrative around an awful lot of aesthetic and spiritual information. (This is the third of three excellent books on Cage to appear in less than two years; the other two are Kenneth Silverman’s traditional biography, “Begin Again,” and “No Such Thing as Silence,” by the music critic Kyle Gann, focused entirely on the creation and significance of the piece “4’33.” ”)

After an early interest in counterpoint and tone rows Cage became less interested in a fixed outcome for his music, instead creating structures in which he radically yielded control. The title of Ms. Larson’s book, taken from an essay Cage wrote in the late 1950s, refers to the blood pumping we inevitably hear when we try to experience what we call silence. He called that condition “zero”; for him it was similar to the Buddhist notion of shunyata, which Suzuki characterized as the “Absolute Void.”

Cage wanted to capture the void in his music. Within zero he found chance and indeterminacy, which guided such key works as “Music of Changes,” composed according to hundreds of decisions made with the I Ching; “Imaginary Landscape No. 4,” played by 24 performers on 12 radios, a piece whose output depends on what the airwaves are producing; and the notorious silent piece “4’33,” ” written for a pianist who never touches the keys.

He loved maxims, anecdotes, lessons and manifestoes. You encounter a lot of them here, and they are not breezed over: Ms. Larson writes elaborately on the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, the “Huang Po Doctrine of Universal Mind,” the ancient Flower Garland Sutra and Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. These can slow down a reader who’s more interested in the foreground than the background, but the author stays gentle; she shows you explicitly how their ideas echoed through his work.

There’s plenty of fascinating paradox in this book. It’s about music that implicitly criticizes “music” and silence that isn’t “silent”; it’s also about creating the intention to move toward non-intention. “We really do need a structure,” Cage wrote in his “Lecture on Nothing,” “so we can see we are nowhere.”

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INTRODUCTION

For many Westerners Tibet is wrapped in an atmosphere of mystery. The "Land of

Snows" is for them the country of the unknown, the fantastic and the impossible. What

superhuman powers have not been ascribed to the various kinds of lames, magicians,

sorcerers, necromancers and practitioners of the occult who inhabit those high tablelands,

and whom both nature and their own deliberate purpose have so splendidly isolated from

the rest of the world? And how readily are the strangest legends about them accepted as

indisputable truths! In that country plants, animals and human beings seem to divert to

their own purposes the best established laws of physics chemistry, physiology and even

plain common sense.

It is therefore quite natural that scholars accustomed to the strict discipline of

experimental method should have paid to these stories merely the condescending and

amused attention that is usually given to fairy tales.

Such was my own state of mind up to the day when I had the good fortune to make the

acquaintance of Madame Alexandra David-Neel.

This well-known and courageous explorer of Tibet unites in herself all the physical, moral

and intellectual qualities that could be desired in one who is to observe and examine a

subject of this kind. I must insist on saying this, however much her modesty may suffer.

Madame David-Neel understands, writes and speaks fluently all the dialects of Tibet. She

has spent fourteen consecutive years in the country and the neighbouring regions. She is a

professed Buddhist, and so has been able to gain the confidence of the most important

Lamas. Her adopted son is an ordained lame; and she herself has undergone the psychic

exercises of which she speaks. Madame David-Neel has in fact become, as she herself

says, a complete Asiatic, and, what is still more important for an explorer of a country

hitherto inaccessible to foreign travelers, she is recognized as such by those among whom

she has lived.

This Easterner, this complete Tibetan, has nevertheless remained a Westerner, a disciple

of Descartes and of Claude Bernard, practicing the philosophic scepticism of the former

which, according to the latter, should be the constant ally of the scientific observer.

Unencumbered by any preconceived theory, and unbiased by any doctrine or dogma,

Madame David-Neel has observed everything in Tibet in a free and impartial spirit.

In the lectures which, in my capacity as professor of the College de France, succeeding

my master Claude Bernard, I asked her to deliver, Madame David-Neel sums up her

conclusions in these words:

" Everything that relates, whether closely or more distantly, to psychic phenomena and to

the action of psychic forces in general, should be studied just like any other science. There

is nothing miraculous or supernatural in them, nothing that should engender or keep alive

superstition. Psychic training, rationally and scientifically conducted, can lead to desirable

results. That is why the information gained about such training - even though it is

practiced empirically and based on theories to which we cannot always give assent -

constitutes useful documentary evidence worthy of our attention."

Here, it is clear, is a true scientific determinism, as far removed from scepticism as from

blind credulity.

The studies of Madame David-Neel will be of interest to Orientalists, psychologists and

physiologists alike.

DOCTEUR A. D'ARSONVAL

This was the introduction to a book by Alexandra David-Neel, Magic and mystery in Tibet.

It gives an interesting view in the life and mindset of Tibetans about 100 years ago. The belief in all kinds of ghosts, demons and spirits is not ridiculed as pure nonsense but the writer tries to understand the how and why. The Buddhist path towards enlightenment is seen as a gradual overcoming the idea that ghosts are beings living an independent life in the outside world to the understanding that ghosts are our own creation, a projection of our fears in the outside world. But there is a little bit more: beyond the duality of existence or not-existence of ghosts, beyond eternalism and nihilism, there can be an other understanding of these phenomena, namely that ghosts actually have a certain reality in the outside world if you belief in them. There seem to be very subtle energy processes at work which also play a role in the bardostate, the state in between two lives. What we ordinarily call immaterial processes may actually be very fine material/energy processes, not (yet) accessible and demonstrably by ordinary science. The writer is sometimes digging quite deep into these questions.

An online version of the book can be read here .

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Paul Breiter's One Monk, Many Masters: The Wanderings of A Simple Buddhist Traveler is quite an enjoyable read. It's essentially a prequel and sequel to his cult classic, Venerable Father. Unfortunately, Breiter is never as intimate with the Zen and Tibetan masters as he is with Ajahn Chah and the Forest Tradition monks, so the book feels a little uneven. Also, all his life Breiter seems to have done what Ajahn Chah warned against: going from teacher to teacher in search of more insight. Nevertheless, he seems to have had an interesting life and there is a gap in the record from 1995 to 2010, so maybe there will be yet another sequel.

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I have been recommended a book and I tried to get it from Amazon but it cannot be posted to a Thai address.

I wonder if anyone know if this book can be bought either in Thailand or from some on line company who will post to Thailand.

The book is:

The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding.' by Longchenpa Rabjam.

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I've lost my copy of my favourite book, so if anyone knows where I can get it again I'd be grateful

What the Buddha taught by Walpola Rahula

the best book ever written on Buddhism, untainted by modern egos and hysterics, just plain and simple.

biggrin.gif

I agree fully! Best no nonsense explanation of the Dhamma I know of.

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Stephen Bachelor's new book was published yesterday: After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age.

Zen teacher Batchelor (Confession of a Buddhist Atheist) argues that both sanitized and orthodox approaches to Buddhism undermine the ethical practices and intellectual rigor of what he considers to be the core of the religion. Batchelor sets out to delineate a “systematic theology” of Buddhism, whereby he reorients the emphasis away from nirvanic, enlightened transcendence and toward pragmatic living based on the dharma. He argues that through canonization and the passage of time, Buddhism became subject to orthodox viewpoints that only served to mystify and obscure its otherwise highly accessible ethics. Batchelor returns to the roots by examining the portraits of minor Buddhist characters, such as King Pasenadi and the traitorous Sunakhatta. By reconstructing their lives, his rationalist and logical approach reveals that the Buddha’s world was vulnerable, tragic, and impermanent. Batchelor argues that for these characters, the Buddha’s dharma teaching was primarily one concerned with “task-based ethics” rather than “truth-based metaphysics.”

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-300-20518-3

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Stephen Bachelor's new book was published yesterday: After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age.

Zen teacher Batchelor (Confession of a Buddhist Atheist) argues that both sanitized and orthodox approaches to Buddhism undermine the ethical practices and intellectual rigor of what he considers to be the core of the religion. Batchelor sets out to delineate a “systematic theology” of Buddhism, whereby he reorients the emphasis away from nirvanic, enlightened transcendence and toward pragmatic living based on the dharma. He argues that through canonization and the passage of time, Buddhism became subject to orthodox viewpoints that only served to mystify and obscure its otherwise highly accessible ethics. Batchelor returns to the roots by examining the portraits of minor Buddhist characters, such as King Pasenadi and the traitorous Sunakhatta. By reconstructing their lives, his rationalist and logical approach reveals that the Buddha’s world was vulnerable, tragic, and impermanent. Batchelor argues that for these characters, the Buddha’s dharma teaching was primarily one concerned with “task-based ethics” rather than “truth-based metaphysics.”

Source: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-300-20518-3

couldnt the same be said of Buddhadassa?

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Probably. Although they came at it from different directions. Buddhadasa was saying (primarily to Thais): "You've bought into the metaphysical side of Buddhism at the expense of the practical side. Now it's time to change." Bachelor is saying (primarily to Westerners): "You don't have to buy into the traditional, metaphysical side of Buddhism to get the benefits." IMO.

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Buddhism Explained by Laurence-Khantipalo Mills - Silkworm Books - ISBN 974-7100-85-1.

IMO an excellent, concise and easily readable introduction and source of reference.

Edited by piersbeckett

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“The Buddha Said…” Osho. London. Watkins. 2008. (454 pp.)

Osho was formerly known as the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, the leader of the infamous “Orange People”, who were (under the sway of his lieutenants) the first biochemical terrorists in the United States. This is not a good CV for an author of a book on the Sutra of 42 Chapters, a 7th century Chinese text used as a teaching manual for one of the Emperors and his court. However, the book is surprisingly good – easy to read, apparently well informed and with lots of instructive humour.

Osho was clearly a very good teacher, but I suspect he was something of an innocent abroad and easily manipulated once he had a large following. After returning to India he seems to have become respectable once again and is now perhaps mainstream. He died in 1990.

The book is not so much a written text as a series of lectures to his students/disciples given over an unstated period on the Sutra of 42 Chapters. This gives the writing a more conversational form, though I suspect the lectures were thoroughly prepared, or the jokes and stories (he draws a lot on the Mulla(h) Nasruddi/en corpus and updates them) were inserted later. Whatever, the text is very engaging and easy to follow and the stories are delightful.

Osho is not in fact a Buddhist teacher. His own background is Jain, but he draws on the religious tradition of India in particular, only referring to Islam, Judaism and Christianity for comparison and contrast. However, he clearly has a great regard for the Buddha, who he sees as the pinnacle of human attainment and the greatest of teachers. One better versed than I in Buddhist teaching can say whether Osho’s interpretations are valid, but they seem so to me.

At times, however, he seems to contradict himself and at times he perhaps paints himself into a corner. For example he says that in Buddhism there is no sin, only errors (39-40), but I understand the law of Karma to be a moral law, in which, although sin may be a product of ignorance, it is sin nevertheless, not just error. One could be in error, but not sin as a result.

He also exhorts us to be more open, more trusting, to “doubt less”. This is consistent with the Christian view that one should begin with critical belief before moving to critical doubt – that a hermeneutic of trust should precede one of suspicion. I don’t know what the Buddhist view is. However, later in the book, Osho advise us to doubt, that “doubt is better than belief” (436). To be fair, though, he may not be inconsistent if he is saying that we need to be open, not closed to new possibilities; however, we should not adopt one or another alternative as a “belief” and cling to it, becoming fearful of doubt as a danger to our beliefs.

Osho says that he, like the Buddha, is not worried about contradictions. What might be “true” for one is not for another (“truth is subjectivity”) and a great teacher provides “truths” to people according to their ability to grasp. I don’t know if the Buddha regarded truth as subjective, unless we are thinking of truth as the American Pragmatists did, in terms of its “cash value” (its utility or practical value).

Osho says good things about the value of liberating oneself from an attachment to any set of “truths” or beliefs and about the inauthenticity of beliefs that one can’t actually experience or that one has to discipline oneself to accept and maintain. I think he is saying (and he is basing all his instructional propositions on his interpretations of the Buddha’s teaching in these sutras) that what is true is blindingly obvious if only one will let go of what one may have been taught or expected to believe and accept one’s experience and direct interpretation as authentic. There’s much of phenomenological philosophy in Osho (and in Buddha) in demanding that we try to really see things as they are, not in terms of the categories that we have been taught and bring to any interpretation of phenomena we experience.

Perhaps Osho goes beyond what is reasonable (and he’s a great advocate of “reasonableness” as opposed to “reason”) in suggesting that we have to aspire to a stage at which we are no longer attached to a set of views or methods, but are not attached to non-attachment either. We simply accept and are, without categories, without views, without methods. But it seems to me that this could lead to infinite regress. We become non-attached to attachment, and non-attached to non-attachment, and non-attached to non-attachment to non-attachment, and so on ad infinitum. But perhaps I’m being “unreasonable” in seeing things this way. What would be the Middle Way?

Just found your post of seven years ago interesting; shortly before Osho died, I owned and ran a vegetarian restaurant in London, England where I employed a chef, Susan Hayles I think her name was, who was an Orange person. She wore a real fur coat to the interview for the job and had been given the name of Ashesha. She insisted that she be allowed to play her 'chanting' tapes whist working and it became apparent that she wasn't a strict vegetarian.

One day she informed me with obvious delight that the Baghwan had declared (possibly in his last annual statement) that Orange people could have sex with anyone in that it was alright with him, his teaching permitted 'free love'.

I seem to remember that it had been reported in the national press that he, the Baghwan, owned fifty two Rolls Royce cars which were all gifts and that either shortly before he died or in a written statement released after his death recanted his entire teachings to his followers. Until reading your post that's the last I'd heard of him!

I'm somewhat relieved to read that you don't dismiss him - Ashesha was a good chef.

Edited by piersbeckett

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