Mysticism: Holiness East and West

By Denise Lardner Carmody; John Tully Carmody | Go to book overview

3
Buddhism

General Orientation

We have described Buddhism as a challenge to Vedic Hinduism. Along with the Mahavira, who founded Jainism a generation before him, Gautama, the Buddha (perhaps 563-476 B.C.E., perhaps as much as a century later), asked for a reform of the sacrifices and outwardness that characterized the religion of his day. We deal with the enlightenment of Gautama himself in the next section, treating it as the paradigm of Buddhist searches for liberation. Here, the key historical point is that Gautama considered that he had found a better way than that provided by the popular Vedism of his time.

The history of Buddhism is the story of Gautama's way -- how it fared, first in India and then after moving east; how it articulated itself through such pan-Buddhist forms as "the three jewels" (the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha [the community]) and the three principal religious concerns, or "pillars" (meditation, morality, and wisdom); and how from these beginnings and developments it has come down the historical road to present times as "The Middle Way," a graceful humanism almost always poised to become an arresting mysticism.

The Vedic religion to which Gautama objected tended to stress sacrifice to the gods for material or spiritual benefits. The metaphysical foundations that Gautama wanted to overhaul included karma,samsara, and moksha. The (mythical) stories about Gautama's passage to Bud-

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Mysticism: Holiness East and West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Hinduism 28
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Buddhism 60
  • Notes 98
  • 4 - Chinese and Japanese Traditions 101
  • Notes 135
  • 5 - Jewish Traditions 137
  • Notes 183
  • 6 - Christian Traditions 186
  • Notes 225
  • 7 - Muslim Traditions 226
  • Notes 269
  • 8 - Mysticism Among Oral Peoples 272
  • Notes 291
  • 9 - Conclusion 293
  • Notes 312
  • Index 313
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