Enchanting, powerful, horrific, beautiful, wise, deadly, compassionate, seductive. Women in Buddhist story and image are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the ancient goddess – the lotus, the sacred grove, the serpent, the sacrifice – and uses them in astonishing new ways. Her story is one of suffering and great trials, and through it all an unquenchable longing to be free. This beautifully illustrated work is as layered and subversive as mythology itself. Based directly on authentic Buddhist texts, and informed with insights from psychology and comparative mythology, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been depicted by men and how they have depicted themselves.
Generations of scholars, from the inception of the modern study of Buddhism, have established a long-lasting and relatively stable consensus regarding the texts and history of early Buddhism. While inevitably subject to the usual kinds of uncertainty, incompleteness, and evolution, this consensus has provided a framework for the positive development of our understanding of the Buddha, his teachings, and his community. This consensus has been challenged by the prominent Amercian academic, Gregory Schopen. His essays have been the most influential reassessment in the history of Buddhist studies. Many of his ideas are regarded as virtually canonical in modern academia, and have permeated far beyond the normal reach of Buddhist academic work. However, his arguments are far better regarded among non-specialists than among those who actually study early Buddhism. This essay shows a number of flaws and problems with Schopen’s work on early Buddhism, by implication supporting the traditional consensus.
Does Early Buddhism categorically reject or, on the contrary, tacitly admit the possibility of an intermediate state between two adjacent lives? How can these descriptions and views be used to make sense of research findings on ‘Near Death Experiences’ bring us closer to a more accurate understanding of death and beyond?
The Buddha’s words exemplify peace, teach us peace, and lead to the ultimate peace of Nibbana. It is a sad thing that in the complexities and contradictions of Buddhist history, peace has sometimes been sacrificed on the altar of Buddhist nationalism. By asking the hard questions and accepting the answers fearlessly we can arrive at the essential, the true state of peace, for the sake of which all Buddhist ethics, meditation, and wisdom are taught.
While the Satipaṭṭhana Sutta is often claimed to be the most important of the Buddha’s teachings, close textual analysis reveals that it is a composite text, with substantial differences between the many existing versions. The use of the fundamental term dhamma in fact reveals the text to be part of the early Abhidhamma movement.
It’s time. We need a new paradigm. For 2500 years Buddhism has been constantly changing, adapting, evolving; yet the myths of the schools insist that the Dhamma remains the same.
Through careful attention to the earliest Buddhist teachings, preserved in scriptures in Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit, we can not only come closer to the Buddha’s original message, but can discern the teachings shared among all Buddhist traditions.