Thursday, November 20, 2008
JINANANDA: The Middle Way - the Story of Buddhism
General interest in Buddhism has never been higher. The story and teachings of a man who lived 2500 years ago have a special resonance for us today, perhaps because he taught a way of life that was not based on belief in a creator god but rather on personal experience. 'Test my words for yourself,' he said.
But what lies behind those distinctive images of the Buddha, seated with unshakeable poise, with eyes half-closed and a slight smile? How did Buddhism develop, from the austere style which governed the life of the yellow-robed monks in ancient India to the more colourful, even magical expression of Tibet? And where does Zen fit in?
In The Middle Way. Jinananda. a Western-born Buddhist, divides the subject into The Three Jewels - The Buddha (a life of the historical figure), The Dharma (an account of the fundamental teachings) and The Sangha (the disciples, both lay and monastic throughout the world). With extracts from some of main sutras, Jinananda explains the key concepts that lie behind a system of thought and behaviour which, like the universe itself, is continuously expanding.