Saturday, August 08, 2009

Book Review "Unmasking Buddhism" by Bernard Faure

Lucidly accomplishes its stated aim.

Bernard Faure is a renowned Buddhist scholar and the author of a number of excellent Buddhist studies, including the landmark, "Chan Insights and Oversights."

This book sets out to present the basic elements of Buddhist history, doctrines, beliefs, and practices. In this slim volume (159 pages), Professor Faure lucidly and succinctly provides readers with a remarkably extensive overview of the fundamental characteristics of Buddhism in plain English (where Buddhist "jargon" is unavoidable, Faure offers succinct, straightforward explanations).

While furnishing the average reader with an excellent grasp of Buddhist basics, Bernard Faure also applys his sword to some of the common, widespread misunderstandings concerning Buddhism.

The book is divided into three parts: I - Buddhism in History - II Buddhism in Local Cultures - III Buddhism and Society.

Some of the issues dealt with in Part I include: the diversity of Buddhist schools (or sects), the "human" nature of the Buddha, Buddhism and "nothingness", Karma, and the teaching of reincarnation. Part II includes discussions on: Buddhism as atheistic, Buddhism as "spiritual", the role of the Dalai Lama, and the place of "Zen" in the Buddhist realm. Part III discusses, among other topics: Buddhism and tolerance, Buddhist violence, Buddhism's relation to science, Buddhism and vegetarianism.

The book is rounded off with a thought provoking and insightful "Conclusion." It also includes a great little Glossary, a Biblography, and a very good index. Bottom Line: A great book for beginners that want to get a solid grasp of Buddhist basics.

Recommended for every Buddhist who has ever been asked by their non Buddhist friends, "What does Buddhism teach anyway?"

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At September 21, 2009, Blogger naomie76 said...

Karma is always an interesting subject. As a person who is not Buddhist, I often feel as though there are points taken for granted by the community because they are an innate part of Buddhism. The bluntness of the book could offer additional insight.


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