Monday, August 16, 2010

A Buddhist Proposal

I'm always coming up with ideas for books. Usually they're fiction, but this one's Buddhist. If I were qualified, I would love to write a comprehensive series that explores all of the prominent Buddhist teachings and traditions from around the world.

I can't count how many times I've been disappointed by some Buddhist title that just didn't deliver. Perhaps it was personal tastes, the author's writing style, their interpretation of the Dharma, but it seems that there are more mediocre Buddhist books than there are good ones. So I got to thinking, rather than run the risk of buying a book by a new author every time your interests shift to some new aspect of the Dharma, why doesn't one "expert" or scholar write a series about Buddhism?

So author X would write one book about the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, another about emptiness and no-self, then Zen, Vajrayana, and so on. The titles would progress linearly, giving readers a progressively more complex view of Buddhist philosophy and traditions the further they read. The books could span the entire Buddhist gamut/canon--Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana. A definite advantage to such a purchase is that, after reading the first book, you'll know what to expect from the writer, and whether or not you want to read more of the series. Often, I'll get hooked by a writer and read all of their stuff; then I toss my hands in the air and say, "Now what? Where do I go from here?" Not to mention, it would help beginning students consolidate their studies and avoid reading titles piecemeal. I know from my own experience, when I first began delving into Buddhism, my reading was all over the map.

The series needn't necessarily be written by a single author. A team of writers could collaborate, each contributing in his/her area of expertise. Frankly, I'm surprised that Shambhala Publications or Wisdom Books haven't already compiled such a collection.

I don't think such a volume exists. If so, please let me know because I'm very interested in finding a comprehensive series from a credible writer.

Photo borrowed with permission from flicker user Stewart Butterfield.

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