“This volume invites readers to understand what it can mean to be Buddhist in manifold ways. Rather than approaching Buddhism as an abstract entity by means of investigating ideas and practices that form a coherent and fixed system, these humanistic accounts enable one to situate and to comprehend various ways in which people have actually LIVED and thereby impacted Buddhist tradition. One comes away from reading this book with a knowledge of how Buddhism is a force that is fluid, diverse, and distinctive in its countless iterations.” John Holt, Bowdoin College “I know of no other book in Buddhists Studies quite like this, and it should make fascinating reading for those who really want to understand what makes Buddhists and Buddhism ‘tick’, not as a collection of abstract ideas but as an actual lived way of being in the world and looking forward to the world(s) to come. Great stuff – this book is highly recommended!” Paul Williams, University of Bristol, and author of Mahâyâna Buddhism: The doctrinal foundations (Routledge)
From the Back Cover
Traditional understandings of Buddhism have often been drawn from the perspective of the minority spiritual and philosophical elite. Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Believers redresses this imbalance by exploring a fascinating series of life histories of individuals whose lives are far more representative of the ways in which Buddhists throughout time have embodied the tradition. This text brings together a wide–ranging and representative collection of biographies featuring both historical and modern Buddhists, many written by leading scholars, linking their beliefs and practices to the development of Buddhism in their time and place. This series of compelling biographies of householder practitioners, as well as prominent monastics, is designed for easy comparison; the book provides a unique and fascinating perspective from which to understand Buddhism ′on the ground′. Each section is introduced by the editor, himself a leading Buddhist scholar, who skillfully locates it within Buddhist history, belief and sociology. The case studies have been carefully chosen to cover a range of Asian and modern Western Buddhists, as well as a range of historical periods, gender, and class, to provide an overview uniquely rich in diversity, texture, and educational value.