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The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to Its History & Teachings

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  173 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
This engaging introduction to Buddhism by leading Buddhist scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr. offers an expert but lucid account that demystifies Buddhism and explains its practices, teachings, and schools. Blending penetrating analysis with engaging storytelling, Lopez makes Buddhism accessible and compelling as he reveals the commonalities and differences among the major tradit ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2001 by HarperOne (first published 2001)
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Danial Tanvir
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i really did like this book a lot.
it is a very well written book written about buddhism and i bought it from a book shop in bangkok,thailand some time ago.
it took me over 2 to 3 days to read it,
it is the best book written on this topic.
it starts off my talking about the buddha and his life.
in the start the author starts by saying that there is no beginning or start to the universe.
he goes on to say that the buddha was born in what is called southern nepal.

it talks about how the buddha left every
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a non-Buddhist American living in Asia, I have found the various Buddhist traditions that I have encountered in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, China and Japan equally fascinating and hard to reconcile with each other or with the historical teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama (as described in a typical Wikipedia page or, for instance, in the PBS special "The Buddha").

This book is helpful on that front - the author is clearly extremely knowledgeable on the MANY diverse Buddhist traditions and their hi
Robin Friedman
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Scholar's Introduction To Buddhism

Donald Lopez, professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, is one of the best scholars who attempt to present a balanced, accurate picture of Buddhism as it has been practiced over the generations. His book "The Story of Buddhism" considers the actual practice of Buddhism, in all its diverse forms, in Asia, superstitions, magic, idiosyncracies, and all. In this way, it differs from most books that present Buddhism to Americans. whic
Unlike many other books on Buddhism, this one dives straight into Buddhist conceptions of : (a) the universe (b) the Buddha (c) Dharma (d) monastic life (e) common practises (f) enlightenment. Lopez makes a great effort to clarify essentially difficult topics like "emptiness", "enlgihtenment" etc., At its heart, as per my understanding, Buddhism relies on the idea of a "non-self". Unlike one of the important strands of Hinduism, wherein at the height of its epistemological subtleties, the self ( ...more
Christopher Smith
Donald Lopez’s The Story of Buddhism is a concise, readable introduction to the intellectual history of Buddhism. Lopez reveals the incredible diversity of Buddhist teaching and practice over the course of its history and the regions to which it spread. He also describes important differences between lay-Buddhism and Buddhism as taught and practiced by monks and philosophers. These distinctions may seem confusing or unimportant to readers looking for an idiot's guide to Buddhist spirituality, bu ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly well-written, well-researched, and thorough - a highly accessible book that anyone curious about Buddhism should read.
J.J. Rodeo
May 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
As this book says, there are four main concepts in Buddhism: 1- Life equals suffering; 2- This suffering is caused by misconducts in our past lives (karma), and we are trapped in a the cycle of rebirth; 3- There is an escape from rebirth, called Nirvana; 4- Buddhism can lead us to that scape, through meditation and understanding that there is no self (i.e. we do not exist).

There is also a shitload of local superstitions for each region of the Buddhist world.

One of my problems with Buddhism is t
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea where I bought this book, nor if there are better sources on Buddhism out there...but I found this book very readable (dense but useful), dissecting all the various types/countries of Buddhism, and tracing the history of The Buddha, The Dharma, rituals of monastic life, lay practice, and achieving enlightenment. My interest is Japanese Buddhism, the Kannon Bodhisattva and trying to understand how it was brought to Japan and the United States, This book answers these questions very ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good survey of Buddhist practices, history and major texts, which means that it's not for everyone. Others might not care about the differences between the numerous sutras, and the odd doctrinal quarrels of Hiniyana sects. Having dabbled in Buddhism for years, I found it well presented and provocative in presenting Buddhism as a dis-unified set of traditions. Sections on what Buddhism means for ordinary people are also worthwhile.

On subjects of interest, I like to switch between general works
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does a good job with his subject, including differentiating among the various Buddhist traditions. His style is occasionally dense, but that's probably to be expected in any discussion of some of the more esoteric topics--no-self, for instance. The book is for a reader who is serious about understanding the history and key concepts of Buddhism, not for someone with only a passing interest.
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best introduction to Buddhism out there. Lopez manages to approach the controversial topic of the origins of Buddhism with the same critical lense that he uses in all of his work, but at the same time writes in a way that feels like a friendly monk telling you the story by candlelight. I recommend this for anyone who wants an introduction to Buddhism that doesn't take any particular view of the Buddha at face value
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked how this book exhibited the differences within Buddhism from country to country, and even speculated about how these could have been born. It was a very intriguing way to read the history of Buddhism and I would certainly recommend this book to others who wish to comprehend Buddhism, and a great reminder that we are still trying to comprehend it.
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book presents a coherent introduction to Buddhism and its schools and practices in Asia. At times it generalises and lacks nuance, and it is completely out of date (or dismissive) with regard to the study of women in Buddhism and feminist scholarship. I would recommend this book, but only alongside a supplementary text.
Matt Cavedon
May 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Excellent account of Buddhist practice, with a critical treatment of doctrinal history. Needed more on contemporary Buddhists, Zen, interactions with other traditions, and missionary spread. Strong Mahayana and tantric focus to detriment of Theravada. Insufficient treatment of ethics, even for an introduction.
Jonathan Spencer
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lopez's work provides insight into the history and meaning behind many practices of many sects of Buddhism. I feel like I understand a lot more about Buddhists than I did before, but I do not yet know enough about the specific sects to pick one for myself.
Hunter Marston
A decent overview for a beginner, but it's too scattered.
Mar 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overview of the history of Buddhism. Presents its origins in an interesting, story-like format which keeps your attention.
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit meandering, but an excellent overview.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am reading this book for my Buddhist Arts of Asia class, I shall report back when I am done.
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
Some parts of this book are very interesting while other parts are boring and difficult to comprehend.
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty dry. Not very beautiful. Informative however.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent academic insight on that which is called "Buddhism", and as the book reminds us.. we are still discovering what "that" is..^_~
Cameron Nielsen
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly thorough, informative, even enlightening!
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Donald Sewell Lopez, Jr. (born 1952) is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.

Son of the deputy director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Donald S. Lopez.
More about Donald S. Lopez Jr....

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“Only the ignorant would believe that things exist in the way that they appear.” 4 likes
“To seek the self, one must first have a clear idea of what one is looking for. Thus, some meditation manuals advise actively cultivating the sense of self, despite the fact that this sense is the target of the analysis. Our sense of identity is often vaguely felt. Sometimes, for example, we identify with the body, saying, "I am sick." At other times, one is the owner of the body, "My stomach hurts." It is said that by imagining a moment of great pride or imagining a false accusation, a strong and palpable sense of the "I" appears in the center [of] the chest: "I did it," or, "I did not do that." This sense of self is to be carefully cultivated, until one is convinced of its reality. One then sets out to find this self, reasoning that, if it exists, it must be located somewhere in the mind or the body.” 2 likes
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