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Eastern Philosophy For Beginners Paperback – August 21, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: For Beginners (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934389072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934389072
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Powell lives in Santa Barbara, California where he enjoys surfing, writing, playing piano, and painting. His other books include Mandalas: The Dynamics of Vedic Symbolism, Energy and Eros, The Tao of Symbolism, Eastern Philosophy For Beginners, Derrida For Beginners, and Postmodernism For Beginners. Jim has a Master's Degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Sanskrit and Indology. His thesis was on Vedic mythology. He also holds a Master's Degree in English Literature and wrote a thesis on Mark Twain's relationship with the Mississippi River..

Joe Lee is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, and clown. With a degree from Indiana University centering on Medieval History, Joe is also a graduate of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey's Clown College. He worked for some years as a circus clown. He is the illustrator of a baker's dozen of For Beginners books including, Barack Obama, [Howard] Zinn, Shakespeare, Postmodernism, Deconstruction, Eastern Philosophy, and Global Warming among others. Joe lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife Mary Bess, son Brandon, cat George, and the terriers (or rather terrors) Max and Jack.

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Customer Reviews

This is a fine, clearly written and insightful book.
Mickey Dora
An excellent introductory read for those new to the study of Eastern Philosophy as well as those who fancy they know something about this vast field.
Lina Garcia
This book made me aware of how much I do not know about Eastern philosophies and religious systems.
Peter Stember

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lina Garcia on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Jim Powell, who also seems to be the author of Derrida for Beginners as well as Postmodernism for Beginners, has written an introduction that is lucid, well-written and insightful. Most scholars of religions tend to feel that categories such as Hinduism, Buddhism etc. are almost meaningless abstractions, because they are too broad. One of the nice things about this book is that it shows how the various traditions changed over time and were deeply influenced by other traditions. For instance, Powell notes the influence of Christianity on modern Hinduism, and the influence of MTV in contemporary China. The poetry of Powell's descriptions is often quite nice, for instance his description of Shiva. An excellent introductory read for those new to the study of Eastern Philosophy as well as those who fancy they know something about this vast field. Though it IS introductory, it is nevertheless brimming with a major insight in every section.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mickey Dora on January 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book gave me some good ideas for my Religious Studies paper. Actually, it gave me more good ideas than the books assigned by my professor! Also, the many illustrations, especially the 19th century engravings, made me feel as if I was walking through ancient India and China. My favorite section was "The Incredible Lightness of Beijing."
The books approaches Asian Religions historically, with the major focus being on India and China.
This is a fine, clearly written and insightful book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter Stember on January 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
I liked this book because it will push almost everyone's buttons. First of all, Indians don't like to hear that their Vedic culture had its origins outside of India. Powell shows that it did. Hindus don't like to admit that vegetarianism came from outside of Hinduism. Powell shows that it came from Jainism. As an aside, Powell's contention that the Hindu Goddesses such as Saraswati are not central in Hindu theology is correct. The Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are central. Powell's point is that before the patriarchal Aryan influence, India may have had a form of Goddess worship in which a Goddess was central, as in some other cultures. They are not central, however, in Hinduism. Although there is much attention given to Goddess worship in India, it is nevertheless a culture, as Powell points out, in which widows were expected to jump into the funeral fire to join their deceased husbands. Some of these husbands were rajas and some of them had hundreds or even thousands of wives. If Goddess worship were central in India would women need to prove their purity and sanctity by burning themselves to death in their husbands funeral pyres?
Powell is irreverent and informative. His approach is mainly historico-comical. However, he leaves most of the humor up to the illustrator and focuses instead on systematically presenting rather complex ideas. Furthermore, the illustrations imply that the entire narrative (in the form of a conversation between the Hookah-Smlking Caterpillar and Alice in Worderland) is just a pipe dream--that any representation of the Orient--including this one--is fated to be just a representation--not the Orient.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zachary on November 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I appreciate the format this book attempts to use and the audience it is working to reach. It covers a wide range of religious thought and non-religious philosophy, even some minor schools of thought, with an appreciable lack of bias. However, I have a few serious gripes. The first is the massive number of formatting errors and total lack of continuous, fluid formatting. The font is ugly and oftentimes words spill out of their designated boxes and into images. The second is the way attention is paid to minor matters, such as legends and myths surrounding people, and horded when it comes to technical explanations and historical descriptions. This is worst when the author goes on speels about female anatomy and sexuality. He will spend a page describing, in cliché "Oriental" terms such as "jade stalk" and "lush valley" the process of lovemaking, then fail to explain what Taoists believe. These shortcomings were enough to force my decision to find a better introduction to Eastern philosophy, despite having read this entire book through - just in case there was anything worthwhile. There wasn't, unless all books on this subject are so bad.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Stember on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book made me aware of how much I do not know about Eastern philosophies and religious systems. For, instance, I had thought that vegetarianism originated with the Hindus. In fact, as Powell points out, the Hindus adopted it from the Jains. This book packs a lot of insight into a deceptively facile genre.
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