ISBN 9788121508124,How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings

How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings

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ISBN 9788121508124
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ISBN 9788121508124

Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd

Publication Year 2010

ISBN 9788121508124

ISBN-10 8121508126

Hard Back

Edition 4th
Number of Pages 190 Pages
Language (English)


This book takes a fresh look at the earliest Buddhist texts and offers various suggestions how the teachings in them had developed. Two themes predominate; firstly, it argues that we cannot understand the Buddha unless we understand that he was debating with other religious teachers, notably Brahmins. For example, he denied the existence of a "soul"; but what exactly was he denying? Another chapter suggests that the canonical story of the Buddha's encounter with a brigand who wore a garland of his victims' fingers probably reflects an encounter with a form of ecstatic religion. The other main theme concerns metaphor, allegory and literalism. By taking the words of the texts literally-despite the Buddha's warning not to-successive generations of his disciples created distinctions and developed doctrines far beyond his original intention. One chapter shows how this led to a scholastic categorisation of meditation. Failure to understand a basic metaphor also gave rise to the later argument between the Mahayana and the older tradition. Perhaps most important of all, a combination of literalism with ignorance of the Buddha's allusions to Brahmanism led Buddhists to forget that the Buddha had preached that love, like Christian charity, could itself be directly salvific.