Thursday, August 22, 2013

Handbook for Mankind - Index

This is an index for my posts covering Handbook for Mankind by Buddhadasa BhikkhuHandbook for Mankind explains the core principles of Buddhism in a simple and straightforward manner, so it's great for people looking for an overview of what Buddhism is really about, at least according to Buddhadasa.  These posts will sum up Buddhadasa's words chapter-by-chapter, and then discuss my perspective on the teaching.  :-)

I'll be posting on this book at a rate of roughly every other week.  The links below will be made as the posts go up.


  1. Sabio, from the Triangulations blog sent in this comment:

    Hey TWF,

    As I mentioned before, I was going to give you a heads up:

    Buddhism in the West has been largely sanitized, sterilize with protestant flavors and Romanticized with German idealism -- Thus Buddhism in the West is largely unrecognizable from Buddhism on-the-ground in the rest of the world.

    You were right to say, " an overview of what Buddhism is really about, at least according to Buddhadasa." [my emphasis]

    Buddhadasa was a large player in that process. If you are interested, see David Chapman here and search the page for Buddhadas's name.

    Thought you like to know you are going to summarize one of many types of Buddhism -- there are tons of Buddhism and no real core -- though Buddhists would disagree, just as Christians would disagree that "real" Christianity all shares a core -- and they'd be wrong.

    We can easily see variety in our own tradition but don't in others -- probably cause we just want simpler stories. The world is so damn complicated, isn't it?

    Thought you'd enjoy the link. I really recommend McMahan's book, as I earlier mentioned.

  2. Sabio,

    While I'm sure Buddhadasa's teachings had some influence in what is "Western Buddhism" today, the scope of this book is straight-up Eastern and based on the scripture. By David Chapman's assessment, these teachings would be a form of Protestant Buddhism, in that it is open to all, not just to monks, and other factors. However, if I am reading Chapman's views correctly, this book covers the good things about that Protestant Buddhism without neglecting foundational orthodox teachings. There's little sanitizing from what I can tell.

    I disagree about the philosophy of a core. To say that there is no core is to say that nothing would come to mind if said "Christianity" or "Buddhism" because it is too diverse to define. That's not the case. Clearly there is a ton of diversity, but there is a core to it.

    Even Chapman would seem to agree with me, using phrases like "mainstream traditional Buddhism" and "That is not what mindfulness meditation was designed for. Exactly the opposite! It was meant to break your connections with the world, which was supposedly a mass of suffering.".

    Or perhaps a better way to put it, instead of "core" would be like a tree. There is a trunk, and then there are branches from that trunk. The Bible is the trunk of Christianity, with branches coming off for different doctrinal interpretations. No matter how many branches there are, there is still a trunk.

    Similarly, there is a trunk of Buddhism. I think the scope of this book primarily covers that trunk. Surely there are a plethora of Buddhisms, many which undoubtedly ignore the trunk, but that doesn't mean that it's not there.

    Yet, I am under no delusion that Buddhadasa's teachings are the only "Gospel truth" about Buddhism. ;-)