Buddhist Scriptures (Anglais) Broché – 30 juillet 1959
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Présentation de l'éditeur
While Buddhism has no central text comparable to the Bible or Koran, there is a powerful body of scripture from across Asia that encompasses the dharma, or the teachings of the Buddha. In this rich anthology, eminent scholar Donald S. Lopez, Jr. brings together works from a broad historical and geographical range, and from such languages as Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese. There are tales of the Buddha's past lives, a discussion of qualities and qualifications for a monk, and an exploration of the many meanings of enlightenment. Together they provide a vivid picture of the Buddha and of the vast and profound nature of the Buddhist tradition.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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The strength of this book is that it keeps external commentaries to a minimum and lets the sutras and scriptures speak for themselves. Where Conze interposes is where the book is weakest, eg in his summary of the "Morality" passages where his own moral standards ultimately impinge on the translation.
Conze is also a good guide to some of the main scriptures and his selection covers a sufficiently wide enough array of topics to provide any reader with a good starting point for understanding Buddhist teachings.
What I found most invaluable was the introduction, which mapped out roughly the timeline of the past and future Buddhas. I have not seen this elsewhere, and here Conze does a good job of putting the historical Sakyamuni Buddha in perspective of the buddhas of the past, in particular Dipankara, and the next Buddha Maitreya.
The selections of the Past Lives and Birth Stories also gives a good overview to the historical Buddha Sakyamuni's past incarnations and his life story, which include many fantastical details which the Western writer has often obliterated in order to make the Buddha more believable to readers, at the expense of His true magnificence (sadly, even our Asian writeups on the Buddha Sakyamuni in English often sidestep the more supernatural aspects of the Buddha and in this way has led to much ignorance even amongst Asians of the greatness of the Buddha's powers). Reading these chapters was thus a real eye-opener.
Also very interesting were the chapters on Doctrinal Disputes, which give some perspective into how the differences in schools have been tackled in a positive way.
The sections on Meditation are perhaps a bit too brief, as is the section on Other Worlds, but there is enough here to entice the reader to delve deeper into the scriptures, for which a book such as this will necessarily serve mainly as a taster.
This does not mean, however, that the contents do not have substance. Conze does a good job of extracting the pith from the scriptures he offers, so that the core messages from the scriptures come through pretty complete. And that is why this book is an invaluable companion to anyone interested in Buddhism.
The only aspect that could do with some improvement is the referencing of sources, which could be more detailed. For example, when Conze tells us that he extracted from Ashvaghosa, there is nothing in the book to tell us which edition, the exact title, bibliography etc, so that hunting down the exact text has been a challenge.
Otherwise, Buddhist Scriptures is both essential reading and a good spiritual companion.
The "newer version" of this item IS NOT THE SAME BOOK AT ALL!
AMAZON claims that "There is a newer edition of this item:
Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin Classics) Buddhist Scriptures (Penguin Classics) 4.4 out of 5 stars (7)" - IT IS NOT!
That so-called "newer edition of this item" is a completely different collection based on different organizing principals. It is by Donald Lopez (Editor). It is a very worthy book - with excellent new translations placed in a rather useful but limited context - (it has a faint overtone of a a "fairy-tales collection" approach).
Conze's "Buddhist Scriptures" is intended to counterbalance the "philosophy" approach of his classic "Buddhist Texts through the Ages" with a presentation of "Buddhism as a religious life" approach. This "popular Buddhism angle" is the similarity of these 2 texts, one edited by Conze, the greatest translator of 'Perfection of Wisdom Texts' in our century, one edited by Dr. Lopez, a competent very well respected academic. The first half of his "The Heart Sutra Explained" (Suny Series in Buddhist Studies) was of especial interest to me because later commentaries in Tibet and China often present that text within there-own new context for those ideas.