Buddhism: A Short History by Edward Conze

By Edward Conze

Publish 12 months note: First released in 1980

In this authoritative advisor, one of many world's such a lot extraordinary students of Buddhism offers a compact precis of the tradition's improvement, from the time of the Buddha to the twentieth century exile of the Dalai Lama.

Covering all of the Buddhist colleges from Maháyána to Zen, this complete, concise examine is generally stated because the vintage advent to the historical past of the Buddhist culture, excellent for college kids and readers alike. Edward Conze studied Indian and comparative philosophy on the universities of Bonn and Hamburg.

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In consequence he evolved the pan-realistic theory, which became the peculiar thesis of the Sarvástivádins. It avoided the difficulties mentioned above only to introduce many others in their stead and a vast superstructure of auxiliary hypotheses was required to make it tenable. In spite of their addiction to a rather tortuous scholasticism, the Sarvástivádins became the most significant school on the Indian subcontinent. 41 As the result of the emergence of an interest in philosophical questions we have the first instance of a whole class of canonical literature being created to meet a new situation.

If the truth be told, all that we have described so far as constituting the doctrine of the Maháyána is just “skill in means” and nothing more. It is a series of fictions elaborated to further the salvation of beings. In actual fact there are no Buddhas, no Bodhisattvas, no perfections, and no stages. All these are products of our imagination, just expedients, concessions to the needs of ignorant people, designed to ferry them across to the Beyond. Everything apart from the One, also called “Emptiness” or “Suchness”, is devoid of real existence, and whatever may be said about it is ultimately untrue, false and nugatory.

It may be that the doctrine on this subject was not fully developed before the third century. It may also be, however, that this was regarded as a particularly sacred, and therefore secret, subject, which could be explained only orally to those who were spiritually qualified to hear of it, while the remainder had to content themselves with a few vague hints. It is likely that the continuous decline of which we spoke before (p. x) was accompanied by an increasing profanization of the doctrine. In early times, as we saw (p.

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