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 mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
Buddha (Penguin Lives Biographies) Paperback – Deckle Edge, September 28, 2004
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Books on Buddhism may overflow the shelves, but the life story of the Buddha himself has remained obscure despite over 2,500 years of influence on millions of people around the world. In an attempt to rectify this, and to make the Buddha and Buddhism accessible to Westerners, the beloved scholar and author of such sweeping religious studies as A History of God has written a readable, sophisticated, and somewhat unconventional biography of one of the most influential people of all time. Buddha himself fought against the cult of personality, and the Buddhist scriptures were faithful, giving few details of his life and personality. Karen Armstrong mines these early scriptures, as well as later biographies, then fleshes the story out with an explanation of the cultural landscape of the 6th century B.C., creating a deft blend of biography, history, philosophy, and mythology.
At the age of 29, Siddhartha Gautama walked away from the insulated pleasure palace that had been his home and joined a growing force of wandering monks searching for spiritual enlightenment during an age of upheaval. Armstrong traces Gautama's journey through yoga and asceticism and grounds it in the varied religious teachings of the time. In many parts of the world during this so-called axial age, new religions were developing as a response to growing urbanization and market forces. Yet each shared a common impulse--they placed faith increasingly on the individual who was to seek inner depth rather than magical control. Taoism and Confucianism, Hinduism, monotheism in the Middle East and Iran, and Greek rationalism were all emerging as Gautama made his determined way towards enlightenment under the boddhi tree and during the next 45 years that he spent teaching along the banks of the Ganges. Armstrong, in her intelligent and clarifying style, is quick to point out the Buddha's relevance to our own time of transition, struggle, and spiritual void in both his approach--which was based on skepticism and empiricism--and his teachings.
Despite the lack of typical historical documentation, Armstrong has written a rich and revealing description of both a unique time in history and an unusual man. Buddha is a terrific primer for those interested in the origins and fundamentals of Buddhism. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Armstrong's esteemed works, including such standards as A History of God and The Battle for God, have primarily focused on the monotheism of the Middle East. Now she turns farther eastward to craft this short biography for the Penguin Lives series. Armstrong carefully ties the Buddha's time to our own and champions his spiritual discoveries with an understated dignity that even the Buddha might bless. While exercising a scholar's restraint, she reveals a detectable compassion for Sidhatta Gotama, the radical who walked away from a pleasure palace because he refused to "remain locked in an undeveloped version" [of himself]. Armstrong overcame peculiar challenges to write about this historical figure who became "a type rather than an individual," as his personality and life particulars evaporated into the power of his selflessness. She turned this lack of details for a conventional biography to our advantage, opting to enhance Gotama's story with the broad canvas of his time and culture, thus making him accessibly human. This handsome and solid portrait is sure to become a classic; it is a refined and readable biography of a pivotal character in human history. It is likely true that when the 80-year-old Buddha died he had, as the sutra says, "gone beyond the power of words," but in this thoughtful and revealing study, Armstrong has come near to proving the scriptures wrong. (Feb.) Forecast: Despite the plethora of Buddhist books on the market, few recent Buddha biographies have been written for a general audience. Armstrong's superb reputation should help sales, and Viking plans a six-city author tour and national publicity.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
I am perplexed at some of the negative review and comments here. I guess it boils down to what touches a particular person or not, or what a person is ripe to hear or not. To me this is a great book. I rarely give 5 stars.
The review entitled "not a book for Buddhists" is simply not true at all. It not only gives you some glimpse into the Buddha's life (albeit limited due to the lack of material), it also gives you a clear picture of portions of the practice, and there are numerous nuggets of wisdom that clarified for me some of the dharma. Certainly not complete in itself (as if any one book could be!), but it was not meant to be that kind of dharma book.
One reviewer complained in angry tones that Armstrong just wanted to go on a diatribe against Christianity as a former nun, and used this platform to do so. This reviewer must either be mad (and I don't mean "angry") or is just a closed minded Christian who has the deluded belief that Christianity is the only relevant religion worth writing about and thus was angry she would do so. There was not one negative thing in this book about Christianity! Maybe they read another book altogether?
All in all, I think Karen Armstrong understands the dharma and did a wonderful job in the creation of this excellent work. I highly recommend it.
-The book is written in a very straightforward manner.
-The author makes an honest attempt to do what she set out to do, which is cover the historical life of Gotama
-I enjoyed certain parts more than others.
-The author does not have much understanding of deeper meditative states, which of course is essential to a deeper understanding of Buddhism. This book is about the Buddha, not Buddhism, but the core of Buddhism _is_ the man who became the Buddha.
-The author's background seems to bias her a little against some of the things attributed to Gotama (and I don't even mean the more outlandish ones). However, as I said, she does seem to try to overcome that bias and reserves an amount of detached interest.
-There simply is not a lot of historical information available to form a biography, as the author herself points out.
In the end this book did give a basic overview of how things are thought to have gone in Gotama's life. If you were, say, writing a report for school about him, this might be a good book to read through (it's pretty short too). Or if you're just curious and want an introduction to the historical figure, again this is a good book. Just know that it's about the man and not attaining enlightenment (though in some sense, one might say everything is about that). In short, I enjoyed this book enough to have book glad to read it and I'm glad the author seems to have treated the subject to the best of her abilities.