Category Archives: Buddhism Resources

Recommended Books on the History, Art and Architecture of Buddhism

In our newest picture collection we organized into one gallery all the covers of the books we recommended so far on the history, art and architecture of Buddhism.  Some of these books give great general introductions to broader topics, but we tried to choose more specific books as well, in the case you would like to deepen your knowledge.

Click here to see the whole gallery!

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Take a look at our previous articles too!

5 Recommended Books on Angkor Wat

What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?

12 Recommended Books on Buddhist Architecture

12 Recommended Books on Buddhism in Southeast Asia

Recommended Books on Southeast Asian Buddhist Sacred Places

Explanation of the Main Branches of Buddhism

Although the roots of Buddhism go back to India, over the centuries the religion spread across the whole of Asia. It’s really easy to get lost between the many different schools and sub-branches of Buddhism, but most commonly it is divided into two main branches: Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia
Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia

Theravāda Buddhism

Years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha, the monastic community split into two mainstream schools called Sthavira and Mahāsanghika, mainly due to some differences in the religious practice and the interpretation of the teaching.

The Theravāda tradition is said to be the continuation of the more orthodox Sthavira school.

The ‘Theravada’ is a Sanskrit expression which means the ‘Doctrine of the Elders’.

The Theravāda is a conservatist current in the sense that the theravādins put great emphasis on the preservation of the doctrine and the tradition in its original and most authentic form.

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What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?

Borobudur: Majestic Mysterious Magnificent

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Author: John N. Miksic, Noerhadi Magetsari, Jan Fontein, Timbul Haryono
Pages: 272
Published: BAB Publishing Indonesia (2011)
ISBN: 978-6029827903

Borobudur

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Author: Louis Frederic
Photographer: Jean-Louis Nou
Pages: 347
Published: Abbeville Press; First Edition edition (1996)
ISBN: 978-0789201348

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12 Recommended Books on Buddhism in Southeast Asia

I. Teachings of Buddhism and general history:

A Concise History of Buddhism

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Author: Andrew Skilton
Pages: 263
Published: Barnes & Noble (2003)
First edition: 1996
ISBN: 9780760748299

What the Buddha Taught

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Author: Walpola Rahula
Pages: 151
Published: Grove Press; Revised edition (1974)
First edition: 1959
ISBN: 9780802130310

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Buddhism in Western Countries – Introduction & Places

Buddhism was almost entirely unknown in western countries until the 19th century. European diplomats and scholars who travelled and lived in Asia collected Buddhist texts to have them translated into English, German and French. Awareness of Buddhism arrived in the United States around the 1840’s when the first Chinese immigrants settled in the western part of the country.

Still, in general Buddhism remained poorly understood in the west until the 1960’s when the first Buddhist teachers started arriving and quickly found thousands of followers – to some degree in harmony with the Hippie movement. However curious westerners without serious study tended to view Buddhism as more of a mystic movement, rather than an encompassing  spirituality involving meditation.

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Upcoming Buddhist Conferences in 2014 and Early 2015

XVIIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies

Venue and date: University of Vienna, Austria, 18-23 August, 2014
Organized by International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS)
More information:
http://iabs2014.univie.ac.at/

Language, Culture, and Values: East and West (International and Interdisciplinary Conference)

Venue and date: Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, 16-18 December, 2014
Organized by the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, (New Delhi, India) Institute of Cultural Studies and Academic Exchange
More information:
https://sites.google.com/a/lclark.edu/sipr/sipr/delhi

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Understanding Buddhism: a Short Introduction

Buddhism. For most people the word Buddhism reflects tranquillity and peace of mind, monks in orange robes and non-violence. But when exactly did Buddhism start? What are the important festivals and celebrations?

Architecture of Buddhism takes a closer look where Buddhism got its origins from.

Quick facts about the history:

The founder of Buddhism was a royal prince named Buddha Shakyamuni also known as Siddhartha Gautama, born some 2500 years ago in Lumbini, a place initially in India but now located in Nepal. The exact birthdate is often debated while many authorities favour 623 BC, others around 400 BC.

The legend says that his father kept him away from the outside of the palace and aiming to not make him aware of the world’s common sufferings: aging, sickness and death.

He had hoped that Shakyamuni would become a great king, despite knowing that his future has been several times prophesied to become great spiritual leader.  Buddha spent the first part of his life fulfilling his duties in the royal palace of the family. When he reached his late 20’s, curiosity of life beyond his palace grew and grew, eventually letting him start to explore the surroundings. He was abruptly confronted with reality when he saw old men and diseased people.

By the age of 29 he embarked on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be overcome. After six years he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree (tree of awakening) where he sat for 49 consecutive days and practiced meditation and fasting.

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Buddha’s enlightenment. Photo by ‘ACIM Explained’ http://bit.ly/1v63pKc

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Buddhist Centres in the UK

New from our research, here’s a mind map showing over 80 Buddhist centres and organizations in the UK, divided into centres in London vs rest of UK, plus Buddhist retreats in the UK, educational organizations, top web resources, and a few shops/bookshops.

Below is the mind map as an image, and to browse in full size with searchable/selectable text, please view the full html list of Buddhist Centres in the UK mind map here.

Mind map of UK Buddhist centres and organizations - click to view full size image
Mind map of UK Buddhist centres and organizations – click to view full size image