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A Dictionary of Buddhism (Oxford Paperback Reference) Paperback – 26 Aug 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (26 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192800620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192800626
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 801,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Damien Keown is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Chair Professor at Geumgang University, Korea. His research interests centre on the study of contemporary moral problems from a Buddhist perspective. He is co-founder of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and the author of the best-selling 'Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction' and 'Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction', both from Oxford University Press and available on Amazon.

Product Description


"Oxford's dictionary becomes a new standard for dictionaries devoted to Buddhism....Highly Recommended."--Choice

About the Author

Damien Keown is Senior Lecturer in Indian Religion, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. His books include Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr Konrad Schneckenhauer on 26 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
If you have any interest in Buddhism at all, you really ought to own this book. It's thorough, accurate, very interesting and informative, extremely well cross-referenced, and compellingly interesting to dip into - one of those books where you look something up and emerge twenty minutes later having followed cross-references, looked at several other articles, and forgotten about the passage of time. Strongly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tariki on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I ordered this for my Kindle but found it impossible to navigate. Is it just me? I am not a technobuff so I may well be missing something. But there is no index, therefore no way that I could see to actually determine just what words were defined. Nor how to get to any particular entry without clicking through the pages. Cross references were impossible, as the only way I could see to look them up was to put the word into the "Search this book" feature, which then brought up a whole load of pages where the word was mentioned, but NOT the main entry.

Sorry, just not formatted for the Kindle at all. Unless others know better?

Now have a refund.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Maher on 18 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm not really sure you can do a review of a dictionary, but here goes. . . . .

It does exactly what it says on the tin, you hear or read a word relating to Buddhism and you will (more than likely) find it in here. The expanations of the words are clear and informative.

I have referred to it on numerous occasions and its been very useful.

What more can I say!?!
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By R Thorne on 23 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Another good Buddhist dictionary 12 Mar. 2004
By Kim Boykin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For many years, "The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen" has been the best Buddhist dictionary in English. It now has a worthy competitor in Damien Keown's "Dictionary of Buddhism."

Keown's dictionary includes over 2,000 entries, as compared with the Shambhala dictionary's 1,500+, and is more up-to-date. Keown includes long and helpful entries on the history of Buddhism in particular places (e.g., Sri Lanka, Japan, Britain) and entries for issues like abortion, cloning, diet, and reincarnation. And Keown has more extensive coverage than Shambhala of Western Buddhism (including entries on, e.g., Alan Watts, Christmas Humphreys, the Buddhist Churches of America, and Naropa University).

But the coverage of Zen isn't as extensive in Keown as in Shambhala. E.g., Keown doesn't include entries for oryoki, rakusu, mokugyo, or tenzo--all in Shambhala. And Keown includes only the more prominent Zen teachers. E.g., there are no entries for two of Dogen's teachers (Myozen and T'ien-t'ung Ju-ching) or one of Hui-neng's two main successors (Ch'ing-yuan)--all in Shambhala. The Shambhala dictionary also includes a Ch'an/Zen lineage chart.

Keown includes many more cross-listings than Shambhala from English terms to their Sanskrit equivalents (e.g., if you look up "emptiness" in Shambhala, you'll find nothing, not even a cross-listing to the entry for "sunyata"; in Keown there's a cross-listing). Keown also includes a helpful chronology of important events in Buddhist history and a listing of the major Buddhist scriptures in the Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan canons. Keown's pronunciation guide is not nearly as helpful as Shambhala's and offers no help at all for Chinese terms.

Overall, I think the Keown dictionary is a bit better, but if you're particularly interested in Zen, you may want the Shambhala dictionary instead or in addition. Both are very good dictionaries, but I'm still wishing for one that combines the virtues of each and is even more comprehensive than either.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2,000 brief yet illuminated entries 19 Oct. 2003
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Compiled and edited Damien Keown (Senior Lecturer in Indian Religion, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London), the Dictionary Of Buddhism is a straightforward, alphabetically arranged, "user friendly" reference filled cover to cover with succinct entries regarding people, places, religious terms, figures of history, meditative states, English translations of terms occurring in connection with Buddhism (such as "upasika", a female lay Buddhist). The 2,000 brief yet illuminated entries make Dictionary Of Buddhism a highly recommended consulting resource for studying about this ancient and honorable religion -- and an essential part of any personal, academic, or community library Buddhist Studies reference and resource collection.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A "mini" English Dictionary of Buddhism for every library 20 Dec. 2004
By Let it Be - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am of the opinion that this contemporary dictionary is the yet the most concise, comprehensive, updated and historically accurate work about Buddhism written in English.

At first impression, this dictionary may appear to be a book fully dedicated to a religious topic and written with an intention to reach a limited audience.

On close inspection,however, I am convinced that the author has done a marvelous job in this well researched work to qualify this dictionary as a must-have reference book and mini English dictionary on Buddhism for Buddhist readers, academics, students and researchers in Asian studies.

The book is concisely written and could be read as a little encyclopedia with topics arranged in alphabetical order.

The author has not only successfully dealt with a subject which may otherwise appeal only to interested readers with a religious, spiritual and philosophical background. But interestingly, the author has also nicely done it from a secular and historically accurately perspective for the layman who wishes to acquire more knowledge about Buddhism.

I have used this book for more than 1 year and have managed to find every Buddhist terminologies, historical characters, notes on practices, ceremonies,listed in English which I have encountered in other English and Chinese books on Buddhism.

This dictionary could be used as an INDEX and starting point to studies and readings into more detailed areas of Buddhism.

The book also a very international outlook as even Buddhist societies in America and United Kingdom and their brief history was entered into the 2000+ entries.

To add and make things more interesting to the average readers, the dictionary include concise history of the development of Buddhism in the countries which Buddhism is widely practised or has left its footprints.

Interested readers could find themselves read this book like a mini encyclopedia reference written in English in alphabetical order. Just to let off a secret, section "Q" has only 2 rather meaningless entries and cross references to other topic but it took only 1 page as a formality.

There is also a wealth of commentaries by the author in the book from what I would see as from a historical researcher's perspective.

I strongly believe that the author has done painstaking and extensive if not exhaustive research before putting every entries into his work.

Finally,this book could be easily updated and expanded into an encyclopedia comprising several volumes if most of the mainstream Buddhist sutra are to be included (in English) with interpretation. If so, this would be a challenging task for any author, an <Encyclopedia of Buddhism> in English.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Good for secular reference 10 Dec. 2004
By Metta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
From the viewpoint of a Buddhist practitioner, some of the entries were disappointing. For example, the entries for Ksitigarbha and Kuan Yin were not as good as the entries in Shambala Dictionary. Oxford is obviously more updated and includes terms that Shambala doesn't. This is the only advantage it has over the Shambala dictionary (I'd love to see how Shambala would present them). If you're looking for secular reference information the Oxford dictionary is suitable. If you're looking for non-secular information that is commonly agreed upon by most Buddhist practitioners, Shambala is a better choice.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Review of Kindle Edition 30 Aug. 2011
By Groff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This review is for the format of the Kindle edition. If this had been set up like the Oxford dictionary it would be a lot easier to find the entries. Why isn't there a word list or any links? Sometimes, with only the Kindle index to use, it can take a really long time to find the word. I should have bought the book instead.
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