Middleway Press
Buddhism, The First Millennium

Buddhism, the First Millennium
Author:  Daisaku Ikeda
Translator:  Burton Watson
ISBN:  978-9779245-3-0

About the Book
About the Author
Reviews
Table of Contents

Award-Winning Finalist in the
Religion: Buddhism category of the “2011 International Book Awards”

2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Finalist - Religious Non-Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Beginning with the events immediately following the dark days after the death of Shakyamuni and continuing over a period of 1,000 years, this dynamic tome covers a vast and complex series of events and developments in the history of Buddhism. Through a thorough examination of its early development in India, a new light is cast on little-known aspects of Buddhist history and its relevance to the understanding of Buddhism today. Topics include the formation of the Buddhist canon, the cultural exchange between the East and West, and the spirit of the Lotus Sutra.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Daisaku Ikeda is the author and co-author of more than sixty books on a wide range of topics including the history of Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, dialogues with world leaders, poetry, novels and books for children.  He is the founding president and leader of the Soka Gakkai International, one of the largest lay Buddhist organizations in the world today with members in more than 190 countries and territories.  He is the recipient of the United Nations Peace Award, the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award and the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:
Burton Watson is a widely known and respected translator of Chinese and Japanese literature.  A former professor at Columbia, Stanford and Kyoto Universities, his translations include The Lotus Sutra, The Vimalakirti Sutra, Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, Mo Tzu:  Basic Writings, RyokanZen Monk-Poet of Japan and Saigyo:  Poems of a Mountain Home among others.  He received the PEN Translation Prize in 1981.

REVIEWS:

NONFICTION

Buddhism, the First Millennium
Daisaku Ikeda. Middleway, $14.95 (208p) ISBN 9780977924530

Drawing on Japanese scholarship as well as close reading of Buddhist scriptures, Ikeda analyzes how a movement in turmoil after the death of the Buddha began to codify its teachings and split into two streams, the Theravada (“Teaching of the Elders”) and the Mahayana (“Great Vehicle”). He acknowledges the speculative nature of this task due to the “fragmentary bits of information” that have survived, but draws conclusions about the complex development of Buddhist thought by examining historical evidence and classic texts like the Vimalakirti Sutra. Ikeda shows how Mahayana philosophy emerged as a reform movement that followers believed was closer than Theravada to the true wisdom of the Buddha. Founder and president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a world-wide lay organization based on teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, Ikeda draws attention to Mahayana’s emergence as a lay movement and to the importance of the Lotus Sutra. This thoughtful if sectarian introduction to Buddhism’s origins describes how a movement interprets its founder’s teachings, determines them to be authentic, and attempts to remain true to those ideals. An earlier version of this translation by scholar Burton Watson was published in 1977. (Aug.)

on the web 7/13/09

Marcia Z. Nelson
Publishers Weekly Religion Reviews Editor
1118 Garfield
Aurora, IL 60506
630-892-9265

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

 

Editor's Note

ix

 

Preface

xi

 

Translator's Note

xv

1.

THE FORMATION OF THE BUDDHIST CANON

1

 

The First Council

1

 

The Recitation of the Words of the Buddha

6

 

The Teachings of Great Religious Leaders

13

2.

THE THERAVADA AND THE MAHASAMGHIKA

17

 

The Background of the Second Council

17

 

The Origins of the Schism

21

 

The Movement to Restore the Original Meaning of Buddhism

27

3.

KING ASHOKA

33

 

The King of Monarchs

33

 

Absolute Pacifism in Government

37

 

Relations Between the State and Religion

42

4.

QUESTIONS OF KING MILINDA

47

 

A Greek Philosopher-King

47

 

The Wisdom of Nagasena

51

 

The Debate of Wise Men and of Kings

58

5.

CULTURAL EXCHANGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

63

 

The Turning Point in East-West Relations

63

 

Buddhism and Christianity

67

 

The Conditions for a World Religion

71

6.

THE RISE OF MAHAYANA BUDDHISM

77

 

Origins of the Mahayana Movement

77

 

Differences Between the Mahayana and Hinayana Schools

83

 

The Buddhist Renaissance

90

7.

VIMALAKIRTI AND THE IDEAL OF THE LAY BELIEVER

95

 

Vimalakirti

95

 

The Building of a Buddha Land

99

 

How the Bodhisattva Benefits Others

104

 

The Doctrine of the Mysterious

108

8.

THE FORMATION OF THE LOTUS SUTRA

113

 

The Preaching of the Dharma on Eagle Peak

113

 

The Voice-hearer Disciple and the Mahayana Bodhisattva

119

 

The Spread of Buddhism After Shakyamuni's Death

123

9.

THE SPIRIT OF THE LOTUS SUTRA

129

 

Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra

129

 

The Spirit of the Mahayana Buddhists

131

 

The Concept of the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra

136

10.

NAGARJUNA AND VASUBANDHU

141

 

Nagarjuna's Search for the Mahayana

141

 

The Theories of the Middle Way and Non-Substantiality

145

 

The Path of Asanga and Vasubandhu

151

 

The Dharma Analysis Treasury and Consciousness-Only Treatises

156

 

Glossary

163

 

Index

175

Back to Top