Buddha

Karen Armstrong

Published by Thorndike Press
ISBN 10: 0786234288 / ISBN 13: 9780786234288
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Good clean copy with no missing pages might be an ex library copy; Possibly may have minor marginal notes and or highlighting. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: A world-renowned religious thinker contemplates one of the world's most sacred figures.

Karen Armstrong has been acclaimed for her scholarship and vision, in works The New York Times Book Review calls "penetrating, readable and prescient." Her rich, timely, highly original portrait of the Buddha explores both the archetypal religious icon and Buddha the man. Armstrong follows the Buddha-born Siddhama Gotama-as he leaves his wife, his young child, and his prominent caste position for a life of spiritual enlightenment.

Following his quest from renunciation to revelation to a wellspring of wisdom, Buddha expands the focus to meditate on its place in the spiritual history of humanity and its special relevance to our own society, as we again face a crisis of faith. It is a profound blend of biography, religion, history, and philosophy that will engage an audience that continues to be fascinated by Buddhism.

Review: Books on Buddhism may overflow the shelves, but the life story of the Buddha himself has remained obscure despite over 2,500 years of influence on millions of people around the world. In an attempt to rectify this, and to make the Buddha and Buddhism accessible to Westerners, the beloved scholar and author of such sweeping religious studies as A History of God has written a readable, sophisticated, and somewhat unconventional biography of one of the most influential people of all time. Buddha himself fought against the cult of personality, and the Buddhist scriptures were faithful, giving few details of his life and personality. Karen Armstrong mines these early scriptures, as well as later biographies, then fleshes the story out with an explanation of the cultural landscape of the 6th century B.C., creating a deft blend of biography, history, philosophy, and mythology.

At the age of 29, Siddhartha Gautama walked away from the insulated pleasure palace that had been his home and joined a growing force of wandering monks searching for spiritual enlightenment during an age of upheaval. Armstrong traces Gautama's journey through yoga and asceticism and grounds it in the varied religious teachings of the time. In many parts of the world during this so-called axial age, new religions were developing as a response to growing urbanization and market forces. Yet each shared a common impulse--they placed faith increasingly on the individual who was to seek inner depth rather than magical control. Taoism and Confucianism, Hinduism, monotheism in the Middle East and Iran, and Greek rationalism were all emerging as Gautama made his determined way towards enlightenment under the boddhi tree and during the next 45 years that he spent teaching along the banks of the Ganges. Armstrong, in her intelligent and clarifying style, is quick to point out the Buddha's relevance to our own time of transition, struggle, and spiritual void in both his approach--which was based on skepticism and empiricism--and his teachings.

Despite the lack of typical historical documentation, Armstrong has written a rich and revealing description of both a unique time in history and an unusual man. Buddha is a terrific primer for those interested in the origins and fundamentals of Buddhism. --Lesley Reed

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Title: Buddha
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: GOOD

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