Buddhist Syllabus

A forum for those wishing to discuss Buddhist history and teachings in the Western academic manner, referencing appropriate sources.
Post Reply
User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 7947
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Buddhist Syllabus

Post by Queequeg » Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:10 pm

What would be a good reading list for someone just starting to explore Mahayana Buddhism?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Miroku
Global Moderator
Posts: 1438
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:18 am

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by Miroku » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:41 pm

Well, for common mahayana I'd definetly suggest the Bodhisattvacharyavatara and its commentaries and The Heart Sutra and its commentaries. For vajrayana I'd go for Gampopa's The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Patrul Rinpoche's Words of my Perfect Teacher and maybe some Lamrim book, it depends on the school one follows.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

User avatar
Wayfarer
Former staff member
Posts: 4838
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:31 am

If they're coming from a secular western background, I would recommend some of the standard University-level texts that explain the development of Buddhism and provides an introduction to Mahayana in that context. I'm thinking of books like Rupert Gethin Foundations of Buddhism and Conze's Buddhism its Essence and Development.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

User avatar
passel
Posts: 585
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:30 am

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by passel » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:02 am

Paul Williams' "Mahayana Buddhism"

https://www.amazon.com/Mahayana-Buddhis ... 447&sr=8-1

You can probably find it cheaper if you dig around. I'm guessing there's a free pdf out there.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7365
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by Astus » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:38 pm

For a general overview:

Buddhist Teaching in India by Johannes Bronkhorst
Mahayana Buddhism by Paul Williams
Inquiry Into the Origin of Humanity by Peter N. Gregory
Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

jake
Global Moderator
Posts: 289
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by jake » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:05 pm

For about a year I helped out with a "Buddhist study group" that met in a local public library once a month. The club read through Williams' Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. It seemed to help some folks but others found the book overly academic.

I was later told of the article: Stephen C. Berkwitz (2016) Textbook Buddhism: introductory books on the Buddhist religion. I found it to be a helpful review of existing Buddhist 101-style textbooks. https://www.academia.edu/24957142/Textb ... t_Religion

Abstract: Text books on Buddhism comprise a large,varied genre and have long been used to introduce the religion to students in academic settings. This review essay examines ten text books on the subject, noting their distinctive features, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as the types of courses that are well suited to each work. Additional information from a survey on Buddhism text books conducted by the author is used to supplement our understanding of which sources are regularly used in Buddhism courses and why. Unresolved tensions over whether to stress the coherence or diversity of Buddhism, and how comprehensive a text book should be, are noted. Arguing that ‘Textbook Buddhism,’ as a product of scholarly imagination, is a distinctive form of the tradition, it behooves specialists to be more reflective about their use of text books and to be more intentional in helping students to read them critically.

He reviews:

Cantwell, Cathy. 2010. Buddhism: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Gethin, Rupert. 1998. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harvey, Peter. 2013 [1990]. An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, Todd, ed. 2014. Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism Through the Lives of Practitioners. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Mitchell, Donald W., and Sarah H. Jacoby. 2014 [2002]. Buddhism: Introducing theBuddhist Experience. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Prebish, Charles S., and Damien Keown. 2010 [2006]. Introducing Buddhism. 2nded. London: Routledge.

Robinson, Richard H., Willard L. Johnson, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu. 2005 [1970]. Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/ Thomson Learning.

Strong, John S. 2015. Buddhisms: An Introduction. London: One world Publications.

Trainor, Kevin, ed. 2004 [2001]. Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide. 2nd ed. Oxford:Oxford University Press.

Wynne, Alexander. 2014. Buddhism: An Introduction. London: I.B. Tauris.

thomaslaw
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:00 am
Location: Australia

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by thomaslaw » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:51 am

The following book may be useful for studying both early Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism:

Choong Mun-keat. The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyukta-agama (Series: Beitrage zur Indologie Band 32; Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000).
:buddha1:

thomaslaw
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:00 am
Location: Australia

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by thomaslaw » Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:59 am

thomaslaw wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:51 am
The following book may be useful for studying both early Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism:

Choong Mun-keat. The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyukta-agama (Series: Beitrage zur Indologie Band 32; Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2000).
:buddha1:
One of the reasons regarding why the above mentioned book may be useful for studying Mahayana Buddhism is that the sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya (SN) and the Chinese Samyukta-agama (SA) is connected with the sūtra-mātṛkā (sūtra matrix) in "the Vastu-saṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra" (Chinese version T30, no.1579, 772c-868b; Peking edition of Tibetan Tripiṭaka, vol. 111, text no. 5540). The sūtra-mātṛkā is essentially a commentary on a portion of SA/SN. The Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra belongs to the Mahayana Yogacara tradition.

User avatar
如傑優婆塞
Posts: 279
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:47 pm

Re: Buddhist Syllabus

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:31 pm

Perhaps, for those exploring General Chinese Mahāyāna in particular, these are some for starters: 1 2 3

Post Reply

Return to “Academic Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests