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Favorite Buddhist Books (not Suttas) And Reference Websites


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Just casting about for good book recommendations. This is not a question of favorite Suttas, but more a modern take on the Dhamma, as it is mutating its way out of Asia. The two favorites that come t

A great personal story of a guy who did the hippy scene and drugs but describes his progress through dhamma and meditation .... http://archive.org/stream/OneNightsShelter/OneNightsShelter-Ven.Rahula_

Intuitive Awareness by Ajahn Sumedho.   https://forestsangha.org/teachings/books/intuitive-awareness?language=English

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I'll recommend four:

 

As mentioned at the beginning of this thread, "What the Buddha Taught," by the Sri Lankan scholar-monk Walpola Rahula is an extremely lucid introduction to Buddhism, drawing from the Pali Canon.

 

Although in general I don't read much by Thich Naht Hahn, his creative biography of the Buddha, "Old Path, White Clouds," is a stunning work of scholarship and imagination. It portrays Gautama not only as the prince who renounced the world and found enlightenment, but as a man dealing with the worldly challenges of building a movement, handling his disciples and followers. A very engaging book.

 

Nalin Swaris's "Buddhism, Human Rights, and Social Renewal," explores Buddhism as Asia's first democratic social movement, a protestant reformation of sorts against the Vedas. In particular, he examines the Buddha's construction of the sangha as a self-regulating institution free of hereditary privilege. These themes resurfaced in 20th Century India with Ambedkhar's conversion to Buddhism and leadership of the Dalit movement.

 

Melford Spiro's "Buddhism: A Great Tradition and its Burmese Vicissitudes," is an extremely important work not only for the explication of Theravada, but to the overall theoretical study of religion. By describing the Theravada as a complex of interconnected systems that sometimes agree and sometimes contradict each other, he makes sense of some of the most vexing problems in understanding Buddhism. When I read Spiro, I feel my brain getting sharper.

 

"Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism," a collection of academic articles edited by Donald Lopez, revisits the West's encounters with Buddism in light of Edward Said's seminal work, "Orientalism." Topics include the story of DT Suzuki and the introduction of Zen to America, the reaction of European art-historians to Gandharan iconography, and the influence of the first generation of foreign scholars on the public's understanding of Tibetan Buddhism.

 

Enjoy!

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On 9/30/2006 at 6:40 AM, rikpa said:

Wow, yes, I have to agree with you. That was one of the first two books on Buddhism I ever bought, along with "The Three Pillars of Zen", by roshi Kapleau.

That slim volume sums up all of the essence of the Dhamma in such a clean and simple style. That was where I first heard of "anatta" and "paticca samuppada", and the "panca khandas", and his lucid explanations of them. Only the beginning, of course. If you live in BKK there is a small bookshop on the far end of Khao San (by all of the fake TOEFL degree and ID vendors) that stocks a good selection of Dhamma books.

There's also a good book shop right next door to Wat Mahatat down that way.  I've bought a lot of books in there. 

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