An ideal introduction to Buddhism for anyone who has unanswered questions about one of the world's largest and most popular religions. A fascinating, short book that challenges us to strip away existing preconceptions we may have about Buddhism Considers questions such as: Can we talk of Buddhism as a unified religion or are there many Buddhisms? Is Buddhism a religion of tolerance and pacifism as many people think? And is Buddhism a religion without god(s), or is it more of a philosophy than a religion? Traces the basic history, beliefs and nature of Buddhism in easy-to-understand language Written by renowned Buddhist scholar, Bernard Faure, it is an ideal introduction for anyone who has unanswered questions about one of the world's largest and most popular religions
Introduction 1 Part I Buddhism in History 5 “Buddhism is both one and many” 7 “The Buddha is only a man who achieved Awakening” 11 “Buddhism is an Indian religion” 18 “Buddhism is the cult of nothingness” 23 “Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion” 27 “All Buddhists are seeking to achieve Awakening” 34 “Buddhism teaches the impermanence of all things” 39 “The belief in karma leads to fatalism” 44 “Buddhism denies the existence of a self” 49 “Buddhism teaches reincarnation” 52 Part II Buddhism and Local Cultures 57 “Buddhism is an atheistic religion” 59 “Buddhism is above all a spirituality” 66 “The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Buddhism” 71 “To be Buddhist is to be Zen” 76 Part III Buddhism and Society 83 “Buddhism is a tolerant religion” 85 “Buddhism teaches compassion” 89 “Buddhism is a peaceful religion” 93 “Buddhism affirms that we are all equal” 99 “Buddhism is compatible with science” 104 “Buddhism is a kind of therapy” 112 “Buddhism advocates a strict vegetarianism” 118 “Buddhism is a universalist teaching” 122 “Buddhism is a religion of monks” 129 Conclusion: Buddhism or Neo-Buddhism? 139 Glossary 143 A Short Bibliography 151 Index 153
Bernard Faure is Kao Professor in Japanese Religion at Columbia University. He has published a number of books in French and English, including: The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism (1991); Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (1993); Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (1996); The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (1998); The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (2003); and Double Exposure (2004). He is presently working on a book on Japanese Gods and Demons.
Can we talk of Buddhism as a unified religion or are there many Buddhisms? Is Buddhism a religion of tolerance and pacifism as many people think? Is Buddhism a religion without god(s)? Or is it more of a philosophy than a religion? Renowned Buddhist scholar Bernard Faure answers these and other questions about the basic history, beliefs and nature of Buddhism in easy-to-understand language. It is an ideal introduction for anyone who has unanswered questions about one of the world’s largest and most popular religions.
"An ideal introduction to the tradition that debunks many of the Orientialist stereotypes by relentlessly highlighting the complexity and diversity of Buddhism in its localized and ritualized forms. It serves as an excellent way for readers to understand the work of one of the leading and groundbreaking scholars of Buddhist studies of this generation." –Steven Heine, Florida International University "Many people know something about Buddhism, but, for interesting historical reasons, much of what they know is wrong. In Unmasking Buddhism, Bernard Faure offers a clear catalogue of these misconceptions and then compassionately dispels the darkness of ignorance." –Donald S. Lopez, University of Michigan
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