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
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