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10 years ago  ::  Jul 26, 2008 - 2:03AM #1
Posts: 2,319

I'm looking for a good description of the different forms of Buddhism practiced today, including the origin of each school and the basic teachings. What distinguishes one from another? Perhaps there is a very good book, but not too dry? Or a well-organized website?

I've been reading quite a bit about the subject, but there are so many variations I really can't keep track of them in my head. I believe Gautama Buddha hit the nail on the head when he rediscovered The Four Noble Truths. And the Eightfold Path is clearly an excellent means of reducing suffering in the world. I'm trying to incorporate his teachings into my everyday life. Does this make me a Buddhist? Can I just call myself a Buddhist and study on my own? Or should I select specific school and focus on it? What do others do?

I was originally drawn to Zen Buddhism, but I object to certain features. More recently, I've been listening to Dharma Talks presented by Gil Fronsdal and, much to my surprise, find Theravadan Buddhism interesting, especially because it appears to reject dependence on a teacher and encourages the practioner to take refuge in him- or herself. There also seems to be an enormous emphasis on reason vs. faith in Theravadan Buddhism.

Thank you for your help.
"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know it's my own damn fault."

Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville)
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10 years ago  ::  Jul 26, 2008 - 4:56PM #2
Posts: 136
Hi, the website is a good website. The book Buddhism by Houston Smith and Philip Novak is, in my opinion, a decent book. Hope this helps.
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10 years ago  ::  Jul 27, 2008 - 4:14PM #3
Posts: 1,420
Probably the best organized site with information about Buddhism is Wikipedia. Buddhanet is also good.

Understanding the many schools of Buddhism that have existed at various times in the history of Buddhism is a big job. In addition, there's the school as it existed in India, and the school as it was understood in Tibet or China, and those are often different. Plus, Tibet and East Asia developed their own schools.

Your best bet is a recent history of Buddhism. Older histories are OK, but recent research has changed our understanding of many schools.
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