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The New Buddhism Paperback – June 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 2nd edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312295189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312295189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Brazier is a man on a mission. In The New Buddhism Brazier sets out to save Buddhism from complacent navel-gazers who would rather meld with the infinite than take Buddhism into society where it belongs. Brazier is erudite and engages some complex issues in historical and contemporary Buddhism, largely centering on the self-styled Critical Buddhists, who attempt to cleanse Buddhism of infections from popular religion, specifically Chinese Taoism. Brazier begins with a history of early Buddhism, showing that the Buddha began a social movement that tended to go astray when institutionalized. His main theme is that monism, whether philosophical or social, is anathema to Buddhism and ends in stagnancy and tyranny. Brazier is strongest when summarizing scholarship and referring to specific authors or texts. But when his argument requires details he turns vague, when philosophical terms demand clarity he glosses over, and when rival theories deserve charity he chooses polemics. Despite these drawbacks, The New Buddhism, like Peter Hershock's solid Liberating Intimacy and several recent Engaged Buddhism titles, is a welcome call to a Buddhist communitarian ethic. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

Palgrave offers The New Buddhism, a manifesto for a socially engaged Buddhism. David Brazier argues in favor of "liberation Buddhism," which seeks to free the world from oppression, over "extinction Buddhism," which attempts to release the practitioner from the world. It's unfortunate that Brazier's book shares its title with James William Coleman's recent study of Buddhism in the West
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Bring an open mind to this read.
thaiguy
That may not be a bad way to be these days, but it seems to skip over a lot of tough questions about Buddhism and about us.
calmly
This is spelt out as clearly as possible, although Pali is short on words of one syllable.
Laurie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James S. Taylor on August 7, 2002
This is both an intellectually stimulating and entertaining book by a revisionist author who is attempting to forge a new Buddhism for modern Western consumption. It certainly resonates with the Critical Buddhism movement that has been largely erupting in Japan over the last couple decades, and as such shares its strengths and weakness. See Hubbard's Pruning The Bodhi Tree for an overview of this. Being attached to this outlook, Brazier turns a rather skeptical eye to the history and doctrines that have been historically associated with Buddhism, overturning and casting out anything that doesn't fit into his agenda of socially engaged Buddhism. In the process, he turfs many positions that great numbers of Buddhists would think of as being core issues in Buddhist faith. To think that they can be as breezilly dismissed as Brazier handles them is a mistake. How much can be cut out before it's Buddhism in name only? In fact, which of the eight very different views of enlightenment he presents is really ultimate when they each claim to be and shoot down some or all of the others? And if there's so much allowable diversity, why not allow a New Buddhism, even if it comes close to being a Buddhist Brazierism? These are all questions worth hard thought, particularly for a religion without canon or (allegedly) dogma. Given that the Buddha welcomed all questions, however, and preached critical analysis, even of his own views, Brazier has stirred up a tasty pot of issues for thinking Buddhists. Whether you end up agreeing or disagreeing with him, this is one of the most provocative books about Buddhism around.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By calmly on July 9, 2002
There's a lot of excitement in this book. There might be in "The New Christianity" too if Brazier gets around to presenting the image of Jesus as social activist as he has done with Buddha. Human society certainly could use changing. Social activism can use all the spiritual teachers it can get.
Good things about this book: questioning a religion, how and authority shapes the teachings. The lineage system seems an easy target but a worthwhile one. Showing how enlightenment has been interpreted in so many ways. Speculating just why Buddha left the palace and just why people back then became enlightened so quickly.
Not so good things about this book: it seemed at least twice the length it needed to be. I began skimming thru the 2nd half, hearing the same exhortations to save the world that the first half is full of. Not a bad message but it becomes a drumming. Brazier warns early this is not an academic book and it isn't. Footnotes and credits are scarce. The style and confidence is that of a college sophomore sermonizing to exhort us to save ourselves. That may not be a bad way to be these days, but it seems to skip over a lot of tough questions about Buddhism and about us. Once the cheerleading stops, where are we? If it continues, where are we? Following Buddha or Brazier? Perhaps Brazier would be happy if we were following our hearts.
There might be four books inside this one: 1) Brazier's image of what a social activist should be and why one should be one 2) Brazier's Buddha as the ideal 3) Specific and shared problems with each of the branches of Buddhism 4)One or more utopian visions (e.g. as Pure Lands) that seem unbelievable but wouldn't they be very nice.
This is a provocative read. I'll probably change my view of it a number of times.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By reader on May 15, 2006
After finishing this book I found myself deeply frustrated and annoyed. I had picked this book to read because of what I thought was extremely relevant to modern studies, namely "socially engaged Buddhism". While I couldn't agree more with the majority of Brazier's ideas, I found them horribly developed, opinionated, and almost egotistical.

The central theme of this book is the attack on modern "extinction Buddhism", which I agree is very important. Brazier attacks many of the metaphysical concepts that have come to define modern Buddhism and the problems that they introduce. He does this by appealing to the Buddha's views and the passages that support a more engaged form of spiritual practice.

And that is where the positives end and the negatives begin. Because several other reviewers have elaborated many criticisms of the work, I want to focus on some of the more important problems that I have with the book.

The first criticism is that the critiques are extremely underdeveloped. Brazier admits that he doesn't want to make this an academic work and I am fine with that. However, if you want your book to stand up to any kind of assessment, there is a certain amount of "academic" work that needs to be done. His sources and referencing are very obscure and lacking in number, and thus it is very obvious from the start that this is merely Brazier's opinions on certain matters. He uses passages from Buddha almost always without context. I am not extremely familiar with Buddhist scripture so I will not say he uses these passages out-of-context, but everyone knows how easy it is to misrepresent a position by referring to one specific quote.
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