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Buddhist Wisdom Books by Edward Conze

Buddhist Wisdom Books (1958)

by Edward Conze

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I remember trying to read a volume of sutras which were the official translations from the Pali. It was so disappointing. Repetitive and abstruce, utterly unreadable in fact. I will admit that this was in part my fault. I didn't know the literature as well then. My knowledge is still virtually schematic, but I've come across a few good bibliographies in Armstrong and elsewhere that have led me to the present volume. It is a thoughtful, semi-coherent translation of two sutras from the Sanskrit: The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra. The commentary is on target. (Except for the 10 pages or so of the Diamond Sutra when Conze offers no commentary at all, so impenetrable is the original text; this is just one way in which Conze seems careful to avoid discursive redoubts where there might be needless wheel spinning.) In other words, the book is well edited. My only word of caution would be to prepare yourself for the full out use of paradox. For a Westerner paradox can be frustrating. The text does ultimately make sense, but you may need to undergo multiple patient readings before it yields fully its charms. The process of reading such books, I have found, is like osmosis. One must immerse oneself in the text, and slowly the understanding of no-understanding comes about. But this book is mostly about how classical Buddhism was taught for many hundreds of years. For more direct access to the core of a streamlined form of American Buddhism that I have found transformative, I strongly recommend Pema Chödrön's books, especially Start Where You Are, The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, and When Things Fall Apart. ( )
1 vote William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
Unless you can read the original, it is good to take two or more different translations and read them parallel (perhaps as practice, with a group). Since the version by Thich Nhat Hanh has already been cited, I'm adding this rendition, for triangulation.

The same approach is necessary for, say, Basho.

Speaking of literary translation, perhaps it is true that our recent, contemporary investigations into Sanskrit- and Chinese-based cultures constitutes a Renaissance II ; certainly, the West's translation of BuddhaDharma is a great engine for much outstanding literary translation of our time.

Once The Heart Sutra's been studied and practiced, there's this Diamond ... wisdom beyond wisdom. ( )
2 vote nobodhi | Apr 8, 2013 |
Translations of two important early Mahayana texts, both from the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita) tradition, with commentary.
1 vote JamesBlake | May 24, 2010 |
This book was very important to my introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist scripture. ( )
  Darrol | Jul 3, 2007 |
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