Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet coverZen and the Art of Saving the Planet

Thich Nhat Hanh

Rider, 2021 plumvillage.org/books

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet is a very worthwhile book with a couple of odd aspects.

The general reader is likely to read it exactly as it is presented, as a book by Thich Nhat Hanh (“Thay” to his many followers) with commentaries from one of his senior students. As such, it is wise, gentle and encouraging, like everything else of his that I know.

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A bookish ramble

Magic and Mystery

cover of Magic and MysteryA friend passed this very old, battered copy of Magic and Mystery in Tibet my way amongst others she was discarding recently. I found it fascinating as an historical artifact and impressive in an intrepid-traveller kind of way.

The author, Alexandra David-Neel, was part of the early Western engagement with Asian religion, along with the theosophists (whom she knew well).

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An introduction to the main schools of Buddhism

This page presents a short introduction to the history of the various Buddhist traditions, which I researched to help me make sense of the mass of written material available online and in print. Having gone to the trouble, I thought I might save others some of the effort by making my work available here.

It has a companion page outlining the core beliefs common to all schools. The two may be read in either order.

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Core Buddhist Beliefs

This page is a companion to Buddhist Schools, which presents an overview of the transmission of the Buddhist teachings. Here we present an even briefer overview of the teachings themselves. The two may be read in either order.

The main branches of Buddhism, the Southern or Theravada and Northern or Mahayana schools, have gradually drifted apart in the 2400 years since Buddha taught his followers in Northern India. A World Buddhist Congress in 1966 brought together representatives of all traditions and agreed on a ‘common basis’ which all accepted. Continue reading “Core Buddhist Beliefs”

Established Religions – an overview

  • This page is part of a group of pages looking at answers to the ‘big questions’ – ‘What is the purpose of life?’ and ‘How should I live?’ are probably the biggest. For more on my motivations and approach, see Journey towards a Path if you haven’t already read it. As I said there, I looked first at the foundations of logical reasoning, science and philosophy (in ‘Metaphysics‘) and then at the major ‘Established Religions’ (here) to see what might be useful.

Established Religions

The major world religions fall into two groups (according to Wikipedia, anyway): ‘dharmic’ and ‘Abrahamic’. The dharmic religions are Hinduism and its offshoots Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, while the Abrahamic are Judaism and its offshoots Christianity and Islam, the monotheistic religions.

‘Buddhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and traditional Chinese religion, in that order,’ again according to Wikipedia. There are dozens or hundreds of smaller religions, depending on how ‘religion’ is defined. Some belong to one of the two major groups (e.g. the Baha’i Faith, which is Abrahamic) while some are unaffiliated (e.g. Taoism).

Looking at existing religions, I see that:

Firstly, most people I know who are affiliated with established religions are nicer and happier than most who are not, but also that religions are responsible for much of the world’s conflict.

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