- Paperback: 434 pages
- Publisher: Shambhala; Revised, Updated, Subsequent edition (July 7, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0877736316
- ISBN-13: 978-0877736318
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America Paperback – July 7, 1992
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"If there is a lake, the swans would go there."
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
Rick Fields is the author of several books, including Chop Wood, Carry Water and The Code of the Warrior. He was formerly the editor of The Vajradhatu Sun, an international journal of Buddhism, and is currently the editor-at-large of Tricycle: A Buddhist Review.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
People who have followed religions find difficult to abandon adherence to mystical ideas as fantasies were instilled into their growing brains by shrewd preachers.
Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, & Laos’s people follow Pali Teaching. The rest of the Buddhists follow Sanskrit Teaching, and it may have been tainted with Hindu religion; this is a Dhamma older than over 2500 years. Various things added, for various reasons, by various individuals, with different motives, in different times, transferring the deshana (Teaching) from the line of descent from trainer to disciple, with the influence of various religions, various rituals, various offerings and worships, and cultural habits have entered the practice; the original pristine Dhamma declared by the Buddha is not seen in the prevailing system. It is not necessary to continue on dwelling in it, because it had happened that way. Sad to notice that some of the people especially women who followed the Sanskrit Teaching ended up being screwed up by the quasi teachers and some unfortunately ended up dying of Venereal diseases!
The dukkha (un-satisfactoriness) would never end by the worship of various things, by going after a range of things, worship of trees rocks, veneration of sun moon, or making offerings & rituals, and having devoutness to gods, or by undertaking vows or contract with deities. Dukkha (un-satisfactoriness) is within us positively. Reason for dukkha is tanha (desires). The Buddha had taught the five ascetics that dukkha will end at the destruction of tanha, and this was the second truth the Buddha had unveiled - It means the cause of dukkha is tanha.
Then, the development of Saddha leads one towards Nibbana. Saddha is not trust, devotion, or rituals! Saddha is the coherence, clarity, certainty that appears in the Citta. Lucidity, illumination, clearness that appears in Citta on practice is Saddha. That is why the word “Saddha” does not exist in other religions. Why? Because they are religions, they are devotions they are beliefs! They require acceptances cannot question. There is no place for belief in Buddhism. Buddhism advocates taking action only after careful investigation, questioning, and careful analysis with intelligence. That is the reason for calling it Saddha. Saddha is not trust. It is the clarity, sereneness, lucidity, and illumination.
Therefore, resolve to listen to this dhamma (Buddha's Teaching) a little better and obtain the benefit out of it. Remember this as an Indriya (Sense faculties) Dhamma, a Bala (power) Dhamma that needed to be developed, and no blessing will help us to experience Nibbana.
Author is wrong to blame Anagarika Dharmapala for his anger as he developed revulsion towards colonizing people after him-himself becoming a victim of Christian missionaries. I get the impression that the author seems to be dimly praising Sanskrit Teaching while condemning Pali Teaching by using words such as "no sense" in talking about the Teaching - recommend him to pay a visit to Metta Forest Monastery in San Diego, CA where many good American monks are practicing persistently.
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.
"Book Two" begins with the 1905-1945 period, covering the establishment of the first Zen Community in America, the London Buddhist Society and English expatriates like Alan Watts, the American Buddhist Brotherhood, etc. The "Beat Zen" period of the 1950s is covered in particular detail, as well as the more substantive movements of the 1960s (e.g., Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi, Philip Kapleau, Richard Baker and the San Francisco Zen Center). Another chapter is devoted to the forced emigration of the Dalal Lama from Tibet, and the emergence of Tibetan Buddhist scholars such as Chogyam Trungpa and Tarthang Tulku.
The final chapters cover more recent figures such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn, and the changes made as a result of the various sexual and financial scandals involving prominent figures in American Buddhism, as well as the rise of a more indigenous "American Buddhism," influenced by feminism, psychotherapy, and social action. Fields does not flinch from reporting "messy" details (such as the AIDS that Chogyam Trungpa's successor died of), to his credit.
If you are interested in Buddhism, American Buddhism, or contemporary spirituality in general, Fields' book is essential reading.