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Buddhist Handbook [Paperback]

John Snelling
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 1 1999
The most comprehensive guide to Buddhism and its exponents in the Western world--with fully updated information on Buddhist organizations around the world. 

• A Who's Who of contemporary teachers, writers, and practitioners. 

• Provides thorough summaries of all major Buddhist traditions around the world. 

• An excellent introduction to the fastest-growing religion in the West.

Newly revised and updated, The Buddhist Handbook is the definitive guide to the complete panorama of Buddhist teaching, practice, schools, and history. The fastest-growing religion in the West, Buddhism includes numerous traditions within its scope. The Buddhist Handbook provides a comprehensive and nonsectarian survey of these traditions and their contemporary exponents throughout the world, providing necessary information for those who wish to explore the various traditions thoroughly and find the one best-suited to their needs. For those already practicing in a particular school of Buddhism, it offers illuminating insight into the teachings of other schools, as well as a Who's Who of contemporary teachers, writers, and practitioners. 

The far-reaching range of this book includes chapters on the westward migration of Buddhist thought, contemporary Buddhist activities in North America and around the world, the relationship between Buddhism and psychotherapy, Buddhism and social action, and the role of women in Buddhism.  Updated to include the most recent information about developments in Buddhism throughout the world, The Buddhist Handbook remains an essential work for the library of every aspiring Buddhist. 

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From Library Journal

This book offers a comprehensive worldwide cultural and historical view of Buddhism. The initial chapters detail its spread from India into China, Asia, Tibet, Japan, and adjacent areas. Later chapters deal with Buddhism in Europe since World War II, the history of North American Buddhism, and the influence of Buddhism on psychotherapy. The book is indexed and the appendixes contain a who's who in Buddhism; World Buddhist Festival dates; the addresses of the major North American, European, and world Buddhist societies; and bibliographies for each chapter. The only deficiency is that it's not a good guide to the practical details of meditation--the author believes meditation needs to be practiced under the direction of a teacher. Recommended for large public and college libraries.
- Del Cain, V.A. Medical Ctr. Lib., Bedford, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

... provides a foundation for discriminating among the range of authentic but different teachings being presented in the West today. -- Shambhala Sun

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives Up to Its Subtitle June 3 2001
Format:Paperback
This book really is an excellent, comprehensive guide to Buddhism. It will orient you in the wide array of Buddhist practices going on today, with historical and conceptual background from the Indian roots of Buddhism, through its spread over Asia and into the West, so you can get a clear understanding of what the differences are between Zen, Theravada, the various Tibetan schools, etc. At the end is a "Who's Who" of contemporary teachers a Westerner might meet or want to know about; then a list of useful addresses in the US and Canada; a festival list; a "further reading" list; and an index. I want to keep this book on my shelf for long term reference.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives Up to Its Subtitle June 3 2001
By Elbert D. Porter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book really is an excellent, comprehensive guide to Buddhism. It will orient you in the wide array of Buddhist practices going on today, with historical and conceptual background from the Indian roots of Buddhism, through its spread over Asia and into the West, so you can get a clear understanding of what the differences are between Zen, Theravada, the various Tibetan schools, etc. At the end is a "Who's Who" of contemporary teachers a Westerner might meet or want to know about; then a list of useful addresses in the US and Canada; a festival list; a "further reading" list; and an index. I want to keep this book on my shelf for long term reference.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great history of Buddhism with some deep thought too April 8 2007
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a highly enjoyable book which covers the development & spread of Buddhism from its inception to the late 20th c. It includes all major types of Buddhism, explains a number of terms in each, provides short bios of major participants (up to 1991 or so), addresses of many Buddhist organizations, list of festivals, & some exposition of Buddhist principles. Most of the book is historical rather than explanatory, however. It can serve as a useful reference work (though can be read through) but is not a definitive work on Buddhist theology, philosophy, or psychology. I found much of the historical information fascinating; amazingly, the author shows how many 21st c. arguments/approaches began much earlier--which was unknown to me, but : p. 53: "As the Buddha himself foresaw, even the dharma itself is subject to change & degeneration." Snelling does discuss the ideas of soul, self, sutra/tantra, the roots of Buddhist social activism, the development of a Western brand of Buddhism (lay oriented, with less emphasis on a guru), psychoanalysis & meditation, women in Buddhism, etc. enough to whet one's appetite without satisfying the need. I like his consistently nonsectarian writing as well as his down-to-earth & matter-of-fact approach, esp. to the Westernization of Buddhism. Much has occurred since this book was published (so parts are a bit dated) but these events were, per this book, foreshadowed by what went before. While some updating would be nice (a new addition, hint, hint...) & it's hardly "A Complete Guide to Buddhist Schools, Teaching, Practice, & History" (it's a bit light on the teaching & practice portions), the present volume is still well worth having on one's bookshelf.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, succinct, comprehensive Sept. 18 2006
By Pamela Logan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for a book that will explore Buddhist themes in depth and help you better realize your own daily Buddhist practice, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for a book that gives you brief, authoritative answers to simple questions ("where did Buddhism come from? What is the difference between Mahayana and Himayana and where are they practiced? What are the Four Noble Truths?"), this is a great reference book that will give you the answers without bogging you down in details. It covers all of the major schools and teachings, and doesn't take sides. I have recommended this book to many of my friends.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great companion for Buddhists new and old March 14 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great companion for anyone interested in Buddhism. Features include history and practice as well as suggestions for daily life. Also included is a resource for buddhist organizations worldwide. Easy read, but a complete reference.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERHAPS NOT A "COMPLETE GUIDE," BUT A VERY HELPFUL ONE Aug. 4 2011
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
At the time this book was published in 1991, John Snelling was "a writer and broadcaster on Buddhism and Central Asian affairs and past editor of the Buddhist Society's journal, 'The Middle Way.'"

Here are some quotations from the book:

"It should perhaps be noted by the way that modern Hindus do not regard the Buddha as an outsider to their tradition... The Hindu system certainly derived much from Buddha's teaching, and indeed Buddhism... also derived much from Hinduism. Buddhist Tantra, for instance, has a great deal in common with the Shiva-Shakti tradition of Hindu Tantra." (Pg. 29)
"...we cannot say with certainty of anything that there are the precise words of the Buddha. Buddhism cannot therefore be a 'book' religion in the sense that, say, Islam or Judaism claim to be. It possesses no divinely revealed and hence 'infallible' and ultimately authoritative canon." (Pg. 77)
"...the preceding kind of spiritual individualism was replaced in the Mahayana by a more altruistic orientation... The bodhisattva... seeks to maintain an enlightened quiescence amid the hurly-burly of life." (Pg. 84)
"The success of the new Japanese Nichiren societies in Britain and other parts of Europe in recent years has been striking, and parallels similar success on the other side of the Atlantic. Their lay orientation, unascetic character, and simpler approach to practice tend to widen the base of their appeal." (Pg. 219)
"(Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) writings talk much about commitment. Indeed, one of their strongest criticisms of most other Western lay Buddhist societies is what they regard as their lack of serious commitment to practice of the dharma." (Pg. 231)
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