kirtu wrote:gregkavarnos wrote:Of course Westerners can become Buddhists. Look at the Greeks. They sent 40,000 monks to the inauguration of the Ratnamali Mahathupa of Sri Lanka. They taught Indian Buddhists Buddhist art and incorporated Indic philosophy, science etc... into their indigenous philosophical systems. Westerners have been Buddhists since 350 BC. S where is the problem?
A history of the re-introduction of the Dharma to the West "How the Swans Came to the Lake" . Rick Fields, was written in the 90's. So basically we need a history of Western involvement in early Buddhism (which exists of course in separate texts, but something typing together Bactira, Gandhara, King Nagasena, etc. I knew there were Greek monks but didn't know about the 40,000 - were these from Greece itself or Greek and Greek related kingdoms in Asia?).
There was a book published several years back called The Shape of Ancient Thought by a cultural historian named Thomas McEvilly. It's a big book that draws on the entire corpus of Greek and Indian philosophy to argue that the influences via the Silk Road between the two were profound and deep. I don't think the book is at all well known in academic Buddhist studies, but it is well written and worth reading. The in-depth comparisons of various aspects of Platonist and Indian philosophy are particularly interesting. (See a brief video introduction by him here)
There is also a school of thought that the Greek school called Pyrrhonism was basically a form of Madhyamika that hd been brought back to Greece by Pyrrho of Elis after he had journeyed to India (probably Greater Gandhara) during the Alexandran empire. This is touched on in McEvilly's book and explored in greater depth in another book called Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism by Adam Kuzminski (although the theory goes back a fair way).