Higher Education

The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations, 3rd Edition

  • John S. Strong Bates College
  • ISBN-10: 0495094862  |  ISBN-13: 9780495094869
  • 432 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2002, 1995
  • © 2008 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $109.50



Part of the "Religious Life in History Series," this comprehensive anthology provides translations of texts illustrative of Buddhist philosophy and doctrine as well as descriptive, concrete accounts of Buddhist practices, rituals, and experiences. Author John Strong gives careful consideration to many key aspects of the religion in a wide range of geographic and cultural arenas, from Asia to the United States, and gives students a sense of Buddhism's historical evolution in each area. In addition, this new edition of THE EXPERIENCE OF BUDDHISM uniquely offers students a list of pertinent bibliographic suggestions after each reading, giving them the opportunity to both enhance their understanding of the material and streamline their research and paper-writing process.

Features and Benefits

  • The anthology is extensively cross-referenced to the text, BUDDHIST RELIGIONS: A HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION by Richard H. Robinson, Willard L. Johnson, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu (also published by Wadsworth). The books can be used independently or as a set.
  • Strong presents well-balanced coverage of all aspects of Buddhism, giving the instructor the freedom to choose what he or she wishes to emphasize in the classroom.
  • Detailed, yet simple descriptions of Buddhist rituals and experiences bring Buddhism to life for students previously unfamiliar with its practice.
  • An entire chapter (Chapter 10) is devoted to Buddhism in the West, giving students a fuller understanding of how Buddhism is practiced in the United States.
  • The text covers the development of Buddhism in a wide variety of geographical and cultural areas (India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan), and gives a sense of the historical evolution of the tradition in these areas to help students visualize the evolving nature of religion and the forces that shape religious practice.

Table of Contents

1. The Life Story of the Buddha and Its Ramifications.
The Eight Commemorative Shrines. A Royal Pilgrim Retraces the Life of the Buddha. Ānanda Recounts the Birth of The Buddha. Signs of Suffering. The Great Departure: Two Versions. Awakening Achieved. Remembering Past Lives. Viewing the Cosmos. Realizing the Four Noble Truths. The Death and Parinirvāna of The Buddha. The Distribution of the Relics. A Story of a Buddha Image. The Future Buddha Maitreya.
2. The Experience of the Sangha.
Tales of Conversion. Rites of Passage. The Regulation of the Sangha. Sangha Situations. Buddhism and the State: The King and the Community.
3. The Dharma: Some Perspectives of Mainstream Buddhism.
Preliminaries: The Loss and Preservation of the Dharma. Suffering, Impermanence, and No-Self. The Arising of Suffering. The Cessation of Suffering. The Path. Doctrinal Issues.
4. The Dharma: Some Mahyna Perspectives.
Preliminary: The Parable of the Burning House. Basic Perspectives: The Perfection of Wisdom. Philosophical Formulations. The Bodhisattva Path.
5. Saviors and Siddhas: The Mahyna Pantheon and Tantric Buddhism.
The Life Span of the Tathgata. Savior Bodhisattvas. Savior Texts. Savior Buddhas and Pure Lands. Tantric Buddhism or the Vajrayna.
Part Two: The Development of Buddhism Outside India.
6. Buddhists and the Practice of Buddhism: Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
Mythic Histories. Divisional Issues. Regulation and Reform: The Efforts of King Parkramabhu. Rituals and Festivals. Meditational Endeavors: Visualizing the Victor's Cage. Women and the Sangha: A Twentieth-Century Case. Sangha and Society.
7. Buddhists and the Practice of Buddhism: The Tibetan Cultural Area.
Mythic History: Subduing the Demons of Tibet. Divisional Issues: Sudden versus Gradual Enlightenment. Regulation and Reform: The Efforts of At¥ßa. Rituals and Festivals. Meditational Endeavors: Milarepa's Quest. Women and the Sangha: The Abbess of Samding and Ani Lochen. Sangha and Society.
8. Buddhists and the Practice of Buddhism: China.
Mythic History: Chinese and Japanese Legends. Divisional Issues: Do All Being Have the Buddha-Nature? Regulation and Reform: An Apocryphal Monastic Code. Rituals and Festivals: Ordination at Pao-hua Shan. Meditational Endeavors. Women and the Sangha. Sangha and Society: The Commercialization of Services.
9. Buddhists and the Practice of Buddhism: Japan.
Mythic History: The Legend of Prince ShØtoku. Divisional Issues: The Recitation of Amida's Name�Once or Many Times? Regulation and Reform: SaichØ's Deathbed Admonitions. Rituals and Festivals: Rites in Tenth-Century Japan. Meditational Endeavors. Women and the Sangha: Nichiren on Chanting and Menstruation. Sangha and Society.
10. Buddhists and the Practice of Buddhism: The West.
Mythic Histories: Smokey the Bear Sūtra. Divisional Issues: The Veneration of Relics. Regulation and Reform: Toward an Androgynous Reconstruction of Buddhism. Rituals and Festivals: The Buddha's Birthday in Los Angeles. Meditational Endeavors. Women and the Sangha: Living as a Nun in the West. Sangha and Society: Engaged Buddhists in California.
A Guide to the Transliteration and Pronunciation of Buddhist Terms.
Bibliography of Works Cited.
Subject Index.
Text and Author Index.

What's New

  • New readings include Routinization (Chapter 2), The Six Relationships for Laypersons (Chapter 3), and Kukai's Visualization of the Letter "A" (Chapter 9).
  • An expanded section on the life of the Buddha (Chapter 1) features new readings that include Ânanda Recounts the Birth of the Buddha, Signs of Suffering, The Great Departure: Two Versions (Part A), A Still Earlier Past Life as a Princess, The Bodhisattva Feeds a Tigress, and The Distribution of Relics.
  • New "Further Exploration" sections after each reading offer students bibliographic suggestions pertinent to what they have just read, providing them with a valuable research tool as well as ideas for paper topics.

Meet the Author

Author Bio

John S. Strong

John S. Strong is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion at Bates College. He received an M.A. from Hartford Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research and teaching focuses on the History of Religions, Asian Religions, and Buddhist Studies.