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Reviewed Work(s): The Path of the Buddha. by Kenneth W. Morgan

Review by: Heinrich Dumoulin
Source: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 12, No. 3/4 (Oct., 1956 - Jan., 1957), pp. 310-312
Published by: Sophia University
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Accessed: 18-03-2017 12:59 UTC

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311 Reviews 143

hailed as an extremely felicitous undertaking. In eight well-

rounded chapters the history, essence, and all principal forms
of the Buddhist religion are dealt with and clarified as to their
corresponding position in Buddhist thought. The great asset of
this book is that it is composed exclusively by Buddhists who
speak with deep conviction about their own religion. Without
critically examining the opinion of others, the authors attempt
to make non-Buddhists understand the path of the Buddha, to
render it lovable and, if possible, acceptable to them. Well ac-
quainted with Western culture and the categories of Western
thinking, they endeavour to harmonize Buddhist spirituality with
the main currents of modern thought. As a result the reader
receives not only abundant information about the two and a half
thousand years of Buddhist history, but learns also something
about how cultured twentieth century Buddhists regard their own
religion and in what direction that religion is developing in an
effort to adapt itself to the trends of modern times.
The first three chapters deal with the Buddhism of the Pali
canon, which, to avoid the term Hinaydna, is throughout referred
to as Theravdda (Way of the Elders). The three chapters, though
frequently overlapping, give three different and necessary aspects
of the old Indian Buddhism which predominates to-day in Indo-
China and Ceylon. The first chapter (J. Kashyap, India) portrays
from a comprehensive point of view the figure of the Buddha
and outlines the basic concepts of Buddhism contrasting it with
Indian spirituality which is absorbed into the broad stream of
Hinduism. The second chapter (U Thittila, Burma), in a rather
rationalistic manner, examines the doctrinal system of Hinaydna
Buddhism. Was it not Mahaydna Buddhism which raised a pro-
test against the rationalism of the Hinayina school because it
blocked all access to transcendental thought? The third chapter
(B. Ananda Maitreya, Ceylon) sets forth the actual situation
of Theravdda in the different countries. Accounts of pictures,
temples, rites, and festivals illustrate the religious life of this
form of Buddhism. In the fourth chapter the Japanese buddho-
logist S. Yamaguchi expounds the main doctrine of Mahdydna
from the Buddhist's basic attitude of mind. If the foregoing
chapters stress the unifying link between the two vehicles of
Buddhism, the following chapter on Buddhism in China (Z.
Tsukamoto, Japan) reveals a no less important aspect, namely
the protest of the religiously high-minded and speculative Mahd-
ydna against the narrow sophism of Hinaydna. The novel

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144 Reviews 312

religious experience of Mahdydna explains the triumphal progress

of this religion throughout the countries of Eastern Asia. The
peculiar form of Lamaism in Tibet is dealt with in minute detail
by Lobsang Phuntsok Lhalungpa, Tibet, in chapter six. The his-
torical development of Japanese Buddhism forms the subject of a
contribution by S. Hanayama, in which are incorporated individu-
al sketches on Shin and J6do (H. Ishida), Zen (R. Masunaga),
and Nichiren (S. Kubota).
Of special importance is. the concluding chapter by H. Naka-
mura, which indeed contains the key to the whole edifice. On
closer acquaintance with Buddhism what scholar, or what even
merely religiously interested person, is not amazed at the unity
and diversity of Buddhism? Nakamura first discloses the basic
attitude or "Lebensgefiihl" of Buddhism, next he points out the
fundamental teaching common to Theravdda and Mahdydna, and
concludes his essay with an exposition of the most important
differences between the two. The masterly synthetic exposition
of the entire Buddhist religion, which is the main theme of the
book, reaches its climax in this final chapter. With firm yet deli-
cate hands the author, drawing from his vast store of knowledge,
has gathered and skilfully woven together the various threads that
make up the multiple texture of Buddhist life and thought. The
religious and philosophical aspects of Buddhist teaching, its
ethics, its asceticism, the religious life of monk and layman, wor-
ship and meditation, all facets of the Buddhist religion are dealt
with, and the author's personal religious faith and conviction,
coupled with his rationalistic world view and humanitarian
ethics, serve throughout as norm for evaluating ideas and their
outward manifestations.
The present volume is at once inspiring and instructive for
both orientalists and students of religious thought. Technically
a superb piece of publication with bibliography, glossary and
index the book is a most valuable contribution to the study of
Asiatic religions.
Heinrich Dumoulin, S.J.


Lubac, S.J. Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1955. 356 pp.
It is only with hesitation and at great intervals that orienta-
lists and buddhologists publish comprehensive treatises dealing
with subjects pertaining to their field of studies, and this despite

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