Profile for Stefan > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Stefan
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,664,478
Helpful Votes: 49

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by

Page: 1
The Bodhicaryavatara: A Guide to the Buddhist Path to Awakening (Oxford World's Classics)
The Bodhicaryavatara: A Guide to the Buddhist Path to Awakening (Oxford World's Classics)
by Santideva
Edition: Paperback

4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A jewel of wisdom, but where's the Sanskrit text?, 24 Nov 2002
You might remember Andrew Skilton from 'A Concise History of Buddhism'. Well, if you don't, then you should really read the translation and the additional information preceding the chapters of the BCA. That is written in a sober and clear style, betraying some of the enthousiastic involvement the translators had doing their job.
And if you do, then you know what you can expect from Skilton (as far my feeling goes about his History of Buddhism): a sober exposition with an unsatisfactory elaboration which eventually leaves you 'unsaturated'. But let this not sound too harsh: the format of his and Kate Crosby's BCA allows to be sober and 'digestive'. And that's what makes this book a good one.
For afficionados having some background in Sanskrit, though, a Sanskrit transliteration would have completed this translationof the BCA to semi-perfection.

Introduction to Pali
Introduction to Pali
by A.K. Warder
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for Pali, 2 Oct 2002
This review is from: Introduction to Pali (Paperback)
Just like Coulson's 'Teach Yourself Sanskrit' is used in several universities to learn/teach Sanskrit, so is this Warder's 'Introduction to Pali.'
It's a very thorough work, covering 30 lessons, from +- 20 pages per lesson (pp. 10-374.) There's a part dealing with 'Principal Parts of Verbs' (pp. 375-381), a bibliography with interesting references (pp. 382-285), a Pali-English vocabulary (pp. 386-414), a English-Pali vocabulary (pp. 415-448), Abbreviations (p. 449), a Grammatical Index (pp. 450-458), Addenda (p. 459) and an Appendix (p. 460.)
Warder's writing style invites one to read and study further than one's physical capacities would allow: a clear, sit-back-relax-style without pushing and a smooth gradual build-up. The pages look very inviting (eventhough the font may be a little bit dated) and one has the feeling of very quick advancement, eventhough the lessons 'pro capita' contain relatively little information. Of course, having finished the course book, one realizes what wealth of knowledge one has achieved. This is different from Coulson's 'TY Sanskrit' where one is bombarded with information (too dense) each lesson, eventhough his style is also to be appreciated. One also acquires a lot of information, but the processing takes longer.
Warder also deals only with canonical texts and says he knows from experience that 'extensive reading is the easiest way to learn a language' (p. ix.) Therefore, a lot of reading exercises are included with a gradual build-up in difficulty level.
Eventhough the build-up is gradual, the book is not advisable for students lacking a linguistic background in ancient Indo-European languages (flexion, many tenses,...) For them, the book might be rather difficult (as can be said of Rune Johanssons' 'Pali Buddhist Texts').

Buddhist Texts Through the Ages
Buddhist Texts Through the Ages
by I.B. Horner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 34.45

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent selection, but some additions would improve it., 2 Oct 2002
Edward Conze, I.B. Horner, David Snellgrove and Arthur Waley are big names in Buddhology. As scholars they each represent a specific age and development in the history of Buddhist Thought.
Horner, member of the Pali Text Society, which publishes primary and secondary sources of Early Buddhism, takes her share with 'Part 1. The Teaching of the Elders.' This part deals with canonical texts from the Theravada tradition and aims to sketch a picture of the Buddha by collecting small 'crucial' fragments from the suttas. The main emphasis falls on the Samgha, though, as this was Horner's largest occupation. She also includes post-canonical works as the 'Milindapanha' (Questions of Milinda) and Buddhaghosa's 'Visuddhimagga' (Path of Purity.)
In the 'Second Part. The Mahayana' Edward Conze (Mahayana specialist) presents his selection of important Mahayana scriptures. Following the same theme as Horner, he too tries to 'reconstruct' the person of the Buddha, but, understandably, emphasising the symbolic function of the Buddha, proper to Mahayana exegesis. But he does more: he presents some of his own translations of the Ashtasahasrika-Prajnaparamita or 'Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines.' He also includes seminal texts of the Saddharmapundarika, more popularly known as the Lotus Sutra, and a biographical text of the Buddha called the Lalitavistara ('Played Verses'), both considered as early Mahayana texts. Other texts are, the Prajnaparamitasutra ('Perfection of Wisdom ') and the Sukhavativyuha ('Description of the Place of happiness'), all very important texts for the development of later Mahayanist philosophies as Madhyamaka and Yogacara.
In the 'Third Part. The Tantras' David Snellgrove ((Tibetan) Tantric Buddhism specialist) gives his overview of Tantric Buddhism (often mistakenly linked in the West with solely sexual practices.) Starting with a selection of Aryadeva, the foremost disciple of Nagarjuna (Madhyamaka), he proceeds with the very interesting 'Saraha's Treasury of Songs.' Other texts revolve primarily on practice and instruction. Not to forget Milarepa (11th-12th c.), the founder of the Kagyu-order.
In the last 'Part Four. Texts from China and Japan', Arthur Waley gives us an interesting selection of texts that originated in India, were lost, but still exist in Chinese translations, of which I take the Yogacara Bhumi Sutra as an example. Text 208 tells an interesting story of a Hinayana sext in China. We have some texts of the 'Dhyana-sect' (p. 295, = Zen) en Japanese Tendai-school (Ch. T'ien-t'ai.) To finish, we have a glossary of Sanskrit terms and a list of abbreviations.
So, what can we say about this book? It's an interesting selection of the vast quantity of Buddhist texts of (most) schools. We have all the 'phases' covered in Buddhist history starting from Pali, over Sanskrit to Chinese and Japanese. The bibliography is moderately impressive and it's admittedly a great task to make a good selection from the texts. To make a selection in only 306 pages urges one to be selective, and that's where some texts unfortunately didn't make in the selection: for example, a selection of the Mahavamsa (historical material) would have enriched Part One. Some verses in the Second Part from the Nagarjuna's 'Mulamadhyamakakarika' (seminal text of Madhyamaka) would have been nice to 'embellish' the change in philosophical ideas on the Dharma. There are too many Yogacara texts in my opinion.
Part Three's Saraha's Treasury could have been a little bit more modest, now covering too many pages (15.) Part Four could have been so much richer if there were some texts from the Blue Cliff Record. Also texts from esoteric Chinese en Japanese Buddhist traditions like Hua-yen would have fitted nicely, not to mention Nichiren Buddhism. Also the terminology is a little bit outdated, showing the influence of Western (Christian) interpretatory models, like 'The Buddhist Apocalypse' on page 45 (Don't forget it's a reprint from 1953.)
Students of Buddhology would also profit from it greatly if the compilers had added some explanatory footnotes, like the historical background, political situation, implicit references, and the like. Now the reader is left to interpret himself. Some guidance would help the reader a long way.
One last thing is that the texts are arranged in such a way that one might get the impression that we are talking about a historical evolution of Buddhist thought. This is not the case. Of course there is some chronology, but it cannot be sustained to claim the after one tradition the other one emerged. That is wrong. They existed, to some extent, simultaneous, represented in different schools and localities.
All criticism aside, general readers will be fascinated by the richness of the Buddhist tradition, the shifting and developing of the meaning of the Dharma, the sometimes stunning interpretations done by later teachers,... It is a possible starting point for an introduction to primary sources and could serve, although critically, as a textbook for courses of Buddhism. But if you just like a good selection of texts to get an impression of what Buddhism is all about, then this bundle of wisdom will surely do.

Long Discourses of the Buddha: Translation of the "Digha-Nikaya" (Teachings of the Buddha)
Long Discourses of the Buddha: Translation of the "Digha-Nikaya" (Teachings of the Buddha)
by Maurice O'C. Walshe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 21.76

8 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding acchievement, 27 Oct 1999
This superbly prepared translation will set a new standard in new publications of the Dhamma. Forget boring translations of the PTS and inspire yourself this crisp edition of the Majjhima-Nikaya.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2012 12:46 PM GMT

Page: 1