Read The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to Its HistoryTeachings by Donald S. Lopez Jr. Online


This engaging introduction to Buddhism by leading Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr. offers an expert but lucid account that demystifies Buddhism and explains its practices, teachings, and schools. Blending penetrating analysis with engaging storytelling, Lopez makes Buddhism accessible and compelling as he reveals the commonalities and differences among the major traditThis engaging introduction to Buddhism by leading Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr. offers an expert but lucid account that demystifies Buddhism and explains its practices, teachings, and schools. Blending penetrating analysis with engaging storytelling, Lopez makes Buddhism accessible and compelling as he reveals the commonalities and differences among the major traditions. The Story of Buddhism focuses on actual lived practice and shows why Buddhism has been so appealing and helpful through many centuries and many cultures, including our own.Lopez begins with the creation and structure of the Buddhist universe and then tells the story of the life of the Buddha, weaving a tapestry of history, legend, and doctrine (a traditional approach in Buddhist literature). He explores important concepts such as dharma -- including devotional practices and techniques of meditation -- and sangha -- the communities of monks, nuns, and laypeople who follow the teachings of the Buddha. Finally, the author probes the meaning of enlightenment as a path to the realization of one's true nature and freedom from suffering.Complete with a glossary, detailed index, and comprehensive bibliography, The Story of Buddhism is a rich presentation of the Buddhist tradition. Whether you are a practicing Buddhist, a student of world religions, or both, this concise, accessible introduction to the teachings, practices, and historical development of Buddhism is an invaluable guide that will set the standard for years to come....

Title : The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to Its HistoryTeachings
Author :
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ISBN : 9780060699765
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to Its HistoryTeachings Reviews

  • Danial Tanvir
    2018-10-17 14:00

    i really did like this book a is a very well written book written about buddhism and i bought it from a book shop in bangkok,thailand some time took me over 2 to 3 days to read it,it is the best book written on this starts off my talking about the buddha and his the start the author starts by saying that there is no beginning or start to the universe.he goes on to say that the buddha was born in what is called southern talks about how the buddha left every thing to become a was not that long a book but i enjoyed reading it and in the end the author gives a conclusion and thats how the book ends.i would like to read more book by this writer and would like to meet him!.

  • Ben
    2018-10-13 19:12

    As a non-Buddhist American living in Asia, I have found the various Buddhist traditions that I have encountered in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, China and Japan equally fascinating and hard to reconcile with each other or with the historical teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama (as described in a typical Wikipedia page or, for instance, in the PBS special "The Buddha"). This book is helpful on that front - the author is clearly extremely knowledgeable on the MANY diverse Buddhist traditions and their historical relationship with each other. I can now get my "hands around" the various traditions and schools of Buddhism to a degree that I was not able to prior to reading this book.Having said that, the text is dense, the author's writing style is more than a little discursive and the heuristic devices that he uses to organize the book (e.g., "Monastic Life," "Tantra," "Pilgrimage") sometimes feel arbitrary and repetitive of each other.Still, this has been the most objectively educational (and least proselytizing) of Buddhist books I've read. For that, I'll give it 4 stars.

  • Robin Friedman
    2018-10-01 18:19

    A Scholar's Introduction To BuddhismDonald Lopez, professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, is one of the best scholars who attempt to present a balanced, accurate picture of Buddhism as it has been practiced over the generations. His book "The Story of Buddhism" considers the actual practice of Buddhism, in all its diverse forms, in Asia, superstitions, magic, idiosyncracies, and all. In this way, it differs from most books that present Buddhism to Americans. which typically focus on meditation, on the liberating, non-theistic character of the Buddha's teaching, and of Buddhism as a guide to life in the difficulties of secular 20th and 21st century America. Such works are valuable and important, but they fail to give the reader a historical sense of Buddhism.Lopez's book opens with a short treatment of Buddhist cosmology, including its picture of the universe, the earth, and the heavens and hells. There is an all-to-brief discussion of the key Buddhist teaching of Dependent Origination.The chapter on cosmology is followed by a discussion of the life of the Buddha, taken from a wide variety of textual sources, of the Dharma, Monasticism, Lay Life, and Enlightenment.The focus of the book is on the various schools of Mahayana Buddhism and on the Buddhism of Tibet. I found surprisingly little discussion of Theravada Buddhism, (practiced historically in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand) which is likely the earliest version of Buddhism we have today. Lopez describes well how various Mahayana thinkers broke away from earlier teachings but doesn't tell us much about these early teachings themselves.There is a great deal of emphasis in the book on how the Buddha's teaching was applied and modified over the years. Most of lay practice, Lopez informs us, was devoted to the accumulation of merit by the practice of good deeds. A regular meditation practice, much less textual study of the Sutras, was simply unavailable to most people who have over the generations called themselves Buddhists, either laity or monastic.Lopez describes well the ritualistic practices of any number of Buddhist schools, emphasizing matters such as relic worship, ancestor worship, fortune-telling and horoscopes, miracle cures, magic, mandalas, and what the modern reader is likely to view as superstition. He briefly describes for the reader a number of Buddhist schools and practices, including Tantric Buddhism, the Pure Land School, and Zen, and their different paths to enlightenment. There is a wonderfully detailed picture of a ritual involving the Heart Sutra, repeated many times, with the use of icons and statues.This book is a welcome, clear-minded corrective to those who approach Buddhism ahistorically. But there is, indeed, more to the story than this, as Professor Lopez realizes. For all his scholarly distance, Lopez understands the power of the Buddha's message which has attracted many people over the ages, including modern Americans. This is most clearly indicated in the final paragraph of Professor Lopez's book. He writes: " But there is also another challenge, the challenge provided by the dharma, which makes the remarkable claim that it is possible to live a life untainted by what are called the eight worldly concerns: gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, happiness and sorrow."This is a worthwhile critical introduction to an endlessly fascinating teaching.Robin Friedman

  • Keerthik
    2018-10-07 21:11

    Unlike many other books on Buddhism, this one dives straight into Buddhist conceptions of : (a) the universe (b) the Buddha (c) Dharma (d) monastic life (e) common practises (f) enlightenment. Lopez makes a great effort to clarify essentially difficult topics like "emptiness", "enlgihtenment" etc., At its heart, as per my understanding, Buddhism relies on the idea of a "non-self". Unlike one of the important strands of Hinduism, wherein at the height of its epistemological subtleties, the self ("Atman") is understood to be no different than the Universe ("the Brahman") -- Buddhism denies this duality. It claims that all suffering is due to the recognition/perception of this notion of Self. Instead, it is only upon recognizing the 'emptiness' behind all such constructs can one liberate oneself. Predictably, much of these writings were done in the centuries after the death of the Buddha -- perhaps most importantly by Nagarjuna. What was a revelation, of a negative kind, was the sheer misogyny involved in the social structure that is endorsed by the Buddhist Sanghas. It remains confusing to me that on one hand there is such stress on seeing the emptiness of false distinctions, while on the other it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate on basis of gender. Unlike Reza Aslan's "No God, But God" -- Lopez makes no argument that perhaps the socio-economic environment might have affected the evolution of the Buddhist Sanghas -- rather than the Buddha himself. I enjoyed reading it, even if occasionally, I was lost...

  • Christopher Smith
    2018-10-03 17:03

    Donald Lopez’s The Story of Buddhism is a concise, readable introduction to the intellectual history of Buddhism. Lopez reveals the incredible diversity of Buddhist teaching and practice over the course of its history and the regions to which it spread. He also describes important differences between lay-Buddhism and Buddhism as taught and practiced by monks and philosophers. These distinctions may seem confusing or unimportant to readers looking for an idiot's guide to Buddhist spirituality, but they are very useful for conceptualizing Buddhism as a complex, living religious tradition on the scale of Christianity or Islam. Many of the controversies and trajectories of Buddhist thought will be strikingly familiar to readers who know the intellectual history of another major religious tradition, because at the end of the day we're all just human beings with the same kinds of needs, asking the same kinds of questions, and coming up with the same kinds of answers.

  • Rebecca
    2018-10-08 19:13

    Incredibly well-written, well-researched, and thorough - a highly accessible book that anyone curious about Buddhism should read.

  • J.J. Rodeo
    2018-09-22 18:07

    As this book says, there are four main concepts in Buddhism: 1- Life equals suffering; 2- This suffering is caused by misconducts in our past lives (karma), and we are trapped in a the cycle of rebirth; 3- There is an escape from rebirth, called Nirvana; 4- Buddhism can lead us to that scape, through meditation and understanding that there is no self (i.e. we do not exist).There is also a shitload of local superstitions for each region of the Buddhist world. One of my problems with Buddhism is the self-contradictory ideas of rebirth and no-self. If we do not really exist even in our current life, then who is the person who is experiencing the rebirth, and why do we suffer for what that imaginary person did in a another life?The idea of rebirth is very fundamental to the Buddhist philosophy, because if there is no rebirth, the most rational solution to the problem of suffering would be suicide, and this act is not recommended by this philosophy.Another discouraging fact about Buddhism is that it aspires to deaden our feelings. An ideal Buddhist is freed from feelings like happiness, sorrow, love, anger, and so on. Well, as I believe that I am going to live only once, I prefer to fully experience my life and savor the beautiful emotions that are available to me.About the book:'The Story of Buddhism' was not supposed to be a reference book and it just wanted to provide a deep report on the development and practice of Buddhism throughout Asia. It was full of stories and detailed description of stupid acts and rituals performed by Buddhists. It became a little boring toward the end of the book, and I skipped some passages.Overall, the book helped me to correct my previous fantasies about Buddhism, and it showed me its true face as another testimony of the stupidity of our ancestors.

  • Lydia
    2018-09-30 15:13

    I have no idea where I bought this book, nor if there are better sources on Buddhism out there...but I found this book very readable (dense but useful), dissecting all the various types/countries of Buddhism, and tracing the history of The Buddha, The Dharma, rituals of monastic life, lay practice, and achieving enlightenment. My interest is Japanese Buddhism, the Kannon Bodhisattva and trying to understand how it was brought to Japan and the United States, This book answers these questions very well. It also answers questions about karma, tantric practices, sutras, pilgrimages, nuns v. priests, death, and how the religion has developed over 2500+ years-- when Buddhists were illiterate to now. Each chapter includes a suggested reading list, and there is a bibliography of 100+ works for more reading. Thank you Mr. Lopez!

  • Evan
    2018-10-04 16:05

    A good survey of Buddhist practices, history and major texts, which means that it's not for everyone. Others might not care about the differences between the numerous sutras, and the odd doctrinal quarrels of Hiniyana sects. Having dabbled in Buddhism for years, I found it well presented and provocative in presenting Buddhism as a dis-unified set of traditions. Sections on what Buddhism means for ordinary people are also worthwhile. On subjects of interest, I like to switch between general works like this and others that are more specialized. Lopez's book is just the sort of work I enjoy for that macrocosmic perspective. Makes me want to go and read the Diamond, Heart and Lotus sutras and commentaries.

  • Clara
    2018-10-02 16:05

    The author does a good job with his subject, including differentiating among the various Buddhist traditions. His style is occasionally dense, but that's probably to be expected in any discussion of some of the more esoteric topics--no-self, for instance. The book is for a reader who is serious about understanding the history and key concepts of Buddhism, not for someone with only a passing interest.

  • Ian
    2018-10-07 20:27

    This is the best introduction to Buddhism out there. Lopez manages to approach the controversial topic of the origins of Buddhism with the same critical lense that he uses in all of his work, but at the same time writes in a way that feels like a friendly monk telling you the story by candlelight. I recommend this for anyone who wants an introduction to Buddhism that doesn't take any particular view of the Buddha at face value

  • Marian
    2018-10-17 16:03

    I really liked how this book exhibited the differences within Buddhism from country to country, and even speculated about how these could have been born. It was a very intriguing way to read the history of Buddhism and I would certainly recommend this book to others who wish to comprehend Buddhism, and a great reminder that we are still trying to comprehend it.

  • Carolyn
    2018-10-17 14:12

    This book presents a coherent introduction to Buddhism and its schools and practices in Asia. At times it generalises and lacks nuance, and it is completely out of date (or dismissive) with regard to the study of women in Buddhism and feminist scholarship. I would recommend this book, but only alongside a supplementary text.

  • Matt Cavedon
    2018-10-07 20:26

    Excellent account of Buddhist practice, with a critical treatment of doctrinal history. Needed more on contemporary Buddhists, Zen, interactions with other traditions, and missionary spread. Strong Mahayana and tantric focus to detriment of Theravada. Insufficient treatment of ethics, even for an introduction.

  • Jonathan Spencer
    2018-10-17 15:29

    Lopez's work provides insight into the history and meaning behind many practices of many sects of Buddhism. I feel like I understand a lot more about Buddhists than I did before, but I do not yet know enough about the specific sects to pick one for myself.

  • Hunter Marston
    2018-09-25 15:04

    A decent overview for a beginner, but it's too scattered.

  • Susie
    2018-10-04 22:00

    Good overview of the history of Buddhism. Presents its origins in an interesting, story-like format which keeps your attention.

  • Jay
    2018-10-20 16:06

    A bit meandering, but an excellent overview.

  • Dhattūra
    2018-10-22 14:07

    I am reading this book for my Buddhist Arts of Asia class, I shall report back when I am done.

  • Amal
    2018-10-09 19:23

    Some parts of this book are very interesting while other parts are boring and difficult to comprehend.

  • Jonathan
    2018-10-20 17:03

    Pretty dry. Not very beautiful. Informative however.

  • Psykeactiv1
    2018-10-15 16:18

    Excellent academic insight on that which is called "Buddhism", and as the book reminds us.. we are still discovering what "that" is..^_~

  • Cameron Nielsen
    2018-10-21 18:15

    Amazingly thorough, informative, even enlightening!