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A Buddhist Bible [Paperback]

Dwight Goddard
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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About the Author

Goddard is a Beacon Press author.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where we all started Nov. 6 2001
I read this anthology for the first time when I was sixteen years old, which is much longer ago than I care to elaborate on. At the time, I thought it was electrifying. The book no doubt was one of my inspirations for taking up Oriental Studies in college.
I lost my original copy years ago, no doubt the victim of a book sale, and I finally purchased another one about five years ago. While I still value the book, I realize now just how eccentric Goddard was in his choice of material that he included. He chopped up many of the pieces that in the book, deleting many portions and rearranging the parts that he left in. A lot of the texts that he did include are not very readable, in my opinion. And why is the Dao De Jing in a book of Buddhist scriptures?
In short, I think that there's a lot of other good stuff out on the market now, and this book has been eclipsed. The would-be Buddhist enthusiast will find little in this book to show her what contemporary Buddhism is like. However, I guess that one has to start somewhere, so perhaps there is still a market for this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buddhist Texts in America May 17 2001
Dwight Goddard's collection of Buddhist Sutras and related texts, first published in 1932, is available in paperback with introductions by Robert Aitken and Houston Smith. The importance of this book lies in its role in the development of American Buddhism as well as, of course, in the texts themselves.
Dwight Goddard, according to Aitken's introduction, was an enigmatic figure with training first as an engineer (where he became wealthy as a result of an invention) and as a Christian minister. In the latter role, he travelled to the East and became interested in Eastern Religions -- a seeker in the true sense of the term. In the 1930s, while in his 60s he produced this collection of texts, many of which he translated himself, which give a broad view of the nature of the teachings of Buddhist schools. The book helped teach Buddhism to Americans beginning in the 1930s.
In the 1950s, Jack Kerouac, then living in San Jose, California discovered Goddard in the public library. He carried the book with him wherever he went and used it as the basis of whatever knowledge of Buddhism he had. The beats in the 1950s were one of the sources leading to the growth of American Buddhism, and Goddard's book was Kerouac's teacher.
The main value of this book, though, is not in its role in Buddhist History in the United States but lies in the texts themselves. Goddard presents in one volume a selection of primary source materials from the Theravada, Manayana, Zen, Tibetan, and and other Buddhist traditions. Many of these texts have been more recently translated, but the translations in this book are readable, at the least and they are all in one volume.
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By Tim
I have to agree with the reviewer below me (even though he stole most of it from the book's introduction). The language the translators use is sometimes less than modern and more often nonstandard, but the sutras just feel right. It's hard to find a better collection of introductory sutras than this. A warning: the texts focus on Mahayana Buddhism (though not exclusively), and even the Tao Te Ching is in here, so old-time Theravadans might feel a little left out, but I think the diversity is a good thing.
Don't take this book as a literal bible--it's too personal to Goddard. It's also not the best intoduction to Buddhist thought out there: if you want a basic intro to Buddhist thought, I'd suggest Rahula's _What the Buddha Taught_. If you like what you've seen elsewhere and want to start delving into the sutras, this is the place to start.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Buddhist Bible Is A Must July 13 2004
I have read "The Buddhist Bible" by Goddard many times and continue to do so often. To me it is a constant and easily availabe source. I believe it is one of the best books out there. Still, it is often hard to follow and seemingly contradictory as the Sutras are themselves at times.It is however, a must, and will take ongoing study throughout a persons life, as most worthwhile books do.Of course, there is also the "little" issue of putting into practice what we "understand".
The reason I am once again looking at this site is to purchase this book again.The cost is cheap, and so is the binding. This is my third or fourth one. They fall apart constantly, and so I am looking and hoping there is a hardback edition available. Perhaps its binding will last longer.
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