Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
How the Swans Came to the Lake Paperback – July 7, 1992
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
So said the 16th Karmapa when asked why he visited America in 1976. Of course, the Karmapa wasn't the first swan to go to the lake. In a book of immense scope, Rick Fields surveys the history of Buddhism in America from the quasi-legendary Fu-sang in the sixth century to Asian immigrant communities to the latest trends in American Buddhism. Writing as a storyteller as much as a historian, Fields takes us back to the earliest European contacts with Buddhism, most notably, Sir William Jones, who was just about to go to America on the recommendation of Ben Franklin, when at the last minute, fortunately, he chose India. His work would influence the American Transcendentalists and eventually the great Theosophist and first American convert to Buddhism, Henry Steel Olcott. A sympathetic writer, Fields is also meticulously inclusive. Besides the obvious transmitters, like D.T. Suzuki and Philip Kapleau, Fields traces the forgotten influences of Paul Carus, Ernest Fenollosa, and Dharmapala. One memorable story is of the ex-Navy submarine mechanic Heng Ju, who walked, three steps then a kowtow, over and over, all the way from San Francisco to Seattle for a berry pie. Fields has countless other stories that make How the Swans Came to the Lake a priceless contribution not only to Buddhism in America but to Buddhism itself. --Brian Bruya
About the Author
More About the AuthorsDiscover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.
Top Customer Reviews
I found the work to be a well told story. The detail of the common threads and relationships is fascinating. I really think this book is an important piece for anyone interested in how this wonderful flowering of the Dharma in the West was planted and fed.
Fields begins with a very helpful survey of Buddhism (including the life of Siddhartha Gautama; the migration of Buddhism from India to China, Japan, etc.), to its early days in England and this country, led by men like Sir William Jones (1746-1794), the founder of the Asiatic Society. The influence of Buddhism upon the Transcendentalist thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott is covered in an entire chapter. The immigration of Chinese and Japanese immigrants to this country (to build the railroads, etc.)---along with the religion they brought with them---is covered in sympathetic detail. Then (perhaps somewhat surprisingly), Fields covers the rise of the Theosophical Society and its unique (and quite heterodox) version of "Esoteric Buddhism"; Theosophy, however, was a very influential factor if making Buddhism better-known in this country. Of course, the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 is surveyed, along with figures such as Paul Carus and particularly the Zen authority D.T. Suzuki.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an outstanding read. Very well written, researched and interesting throughout. I have waited for years for this to come out for Kindle and I am happy to own it... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Michael Dale Harrison
perhaps more detail than I was looking for - but one can always skim ahead to another chapter! Covers Buddhism from Buddha himself to the many ways that Buddhists arrived in the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Roger Petrich
I am only about halfway through this book but can already say that it is an excellent read and very informative. Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Kieran Fox
I don't know of any other books that tries to put together a complete picture of how Buddhism came to America starting from far BEFORE the mid 20th century, as is the common... Read morePublished on August 18, 2006 by Eduardo Neecha
I was in my university bookstore when I saw a sign "Faculty Recommend" in front of this book. I decided to check it out. Read morePublished on July 5, 2006 by M. Tran
This is indeed an ecyclopedic view of Buddhism in America, but I feel the author is a bit too uncritical in drawing from some of his sources. Read morePublished on June 2, 2003 by J. Kowalski
Though this book is currently out of print, I recommend it to all Buddhists; it is the best history book I've read about the Western Sangha and fills in alot of gaps between the... Read morePublished on April 16, 1999