General works

- through Francois Leclercq

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At the origins of Buddhism
Edited by Lilian Silburn
(Fayard, 1997)

Commented anthology of great Buddhist works from India, Tibet, China and Japan, brought together in a book presenting Buddhism at its source. Loaned to the Buddha or composed by the great masters who succeeded him and revitalized his teaching, these texts describe an experience that cannot be reduced to philosophy, morality or wisdom. The canonical writings, like the treatises of the different schools that have formed over the centuries, testify indeed, beyond their varieties, to the same experience, that of a knowledge of a mystical nature, which is pure interiority, where there is no difference between interior and exterior. This experience of Awakening is revealed through the great texts of an anthology which also shows the themes specific to each school by bringing out their deep meaning. The choice of works brought together in this book was made under the direction of Lilian Silburn. It brings together translations, often the first in French, by Lilian Silburn, André Padoux, Yoshiro Imaeda, Étienne Lamotte, Ginette Martini, Catherine Despeux, Prithwindra Mukherjee, as well as extracts from translations by Rolf A. Stein, Paul Demiéville, Jacques Ville and Jacques Gernet. This book is a must and deserves to be in all libraries!

The author: Lilian Silburn (1908-1993) is a French Indianist, specialist in Kashmir Shaivism, Tantrism and Buddhism.

The origins of Indian philosophy
Johannes Bronkhorst
(Infolio, 2008)

In this work, the author offers his vision of the origins of Indian philosophical debates; it places the reader in the geographical context of the north of the sub-continent, distinguishing between three major regions: Aryavarta, where the majority of the Brahmanic populations live according to the Vedas; the "Greater Magadha", further east, where the "ascetic" movements will develop (Jainism, Ajivikism and Buddhism); the northwest, around Gandhara, where Buddhism will experience significant development. He then explains how, due to population movements, these different spiritual paths will mutually influence each other over the centuries: Vedic Brahmanism being influenced by ascetic movements and vice versa, thus giving rise to philosophical debates (around the atomism, of language, of the idea of ​​a creator god, etc.), but also to multiple “schools” or currents of thought (the Buddhist schools of Mahayana, the Hindu Sankhya, etc.). Upsetting too many received ideas about the origins of Buddhism and its development in the face of other Indian spiritualities, this work is absolutely to be put in everyone's hands.

The author: Sanskritist, long professor at the University of Lausanne, Johannes Bronkhorst is an internationally recognized specialist in the literature of ancient India, in particular Buddhism and Jainism.

Buddhist philosophies
Emmanuel Guillon
(PUF What do I know?, 1995)

The “What do I know? » is no longer to be presented. These different volumes have always called on specialists capable of presenting and explaining simply – but with rigor – the most varied subjects. Despite the title of this issue, the entire history of Buddhism is evoked here, but with particular attention paid to logical thought systems, and therefore to the “philosophical” aspect of Buddhism. Five chapters make it possible to evoke successively: the system of Gautama Buddha; the philosophies of ancient Buddhism; Mahayanist philosophies; conscience and logicians; extensions of Buddhist thought and the Vajrayana. Throughout these chapters, Emmanuel Guillon highlights some subjects that deserve a certain development, such as the "difficulties" internal to ancient Buddhist doctrine, realism, the question of time and space, Buddhist logic... of the book does not allow to go into details, but the author has the merit of posing the problems in a concise way, by evoking the essential.

The author: Doctor of State, Emmanuel Guillon, is a writer, orientalist, scientist specializing in two ancient civilizations of Southeast Asia, that of the Mons (Burma, Thailand) and that of the Kingdom of Champa (Vietnam) , which left us as an artistic legacy that of the Art of Champā, with the sites of the sanctuary of My Son, Po Klong Garai and Po Nagar.

Edward Conze
(“Little Payot Library” collection, Payot & Rivages, 1995/2002 – Reissue)

Of great erudition, but of easy reading, this book exposes the historical developments of Buddhism, essentially on the territory of India (from the 1951th century BC to the XNUMXth century AD) . The presentation is supplemented by numerous quotations from texts and critical commentaries from which “British humour” is not excluded. First published in XNUMX, this book remains a reference work. The first three chapters present the doctrinal foundations, monastic Buddhism and “popular” Buddhism. The following chapters analyze the main schools: old school of wisdom, Mahayana and new school of wisdom, Buddhism of faith and devotion, Yogacarin, Tantra or magical Buddhism, non-Indian developments.

The author: Professor at the University of London, now deceased, Edward Conze was an undisputed specialist in Buddhism, both critical and sympathetic, whose teaching marked generations of enthusiasts.

Buddhism for my daughters
Dennis Gira
(The Threshold, 2000)

The title of the book, imposed by the publisher as part of a collection, should not suggest that this is a childish approach, quite the contrary! A convinced Christian, Dennis Gira is nonetheless a great connoisseur of Buddhism, for which he has high esteem and which he likes to share. His approach, essentially historical, is very clear and ideal for beginners. We particularly appreciate the care taken to make complex notions simply understood and the highlighting of the difficulties of interpretation that Western culture, formed by Christianity, can cause. A book that we warmly recommend, both for beginners and for others!

The author: Researcher of American origin and French nationality, Dennis Gira taught for many years on Buddhism at the Institute of Sciences and Theology of Religions of the Catholic Institute of Paris. He is one of the best specialists of Buddhism in France and, also, an excellent popularizer.

A brief history of Buddhism
Jean-Noel Rober
(Librio, EJL, 2008)

After placing Buddhism in the general framework of religions (philosophy or religion?), the author explains what the "Three Jewels" represent for Buddhists: the Buddha (through the eight main stages of his life), the Dharma ( by the exposition of the Four Noble Truths) and the Sangha (as a monastic community). The presentation continues with that of the canon of scriptures, the “Three Baskets”, then of the Great Vehicle and Tantrism. The second part of the book is more particularly devoted to the spread of Buddhism, first in Asia, with the various schools which it led to the appearance, the different languages ​​in which it was transmitted, before arriving ultimately in the West. This complete journey ends with a critique of Buddhist studies, as they have been carried out in our regions for two centuries. It is, moreover, a common point of the whole book not only to recount the facts, but also to place them in their context, to clear up many misunderstandings, to correct approximations. More than just a story, it's a true explanation of Buddhism!

The author: A specialist in Japanese Buddhism, Jean-Noël Robert nevertheless has extensive knowledge of all Buddhist schools and their history. Director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and, since February 2012, holder of a chair at the Collège de France.

Cbrain and meditation: dialogue between Buddhism and neuroscience
Matthieu Ricard, with Wolf Singer (Preface Christophe André, translation Carisse Busquet)
(Allary Editions, 2017)

Does meditation alter neural circuits? How are emotions formed? What are the different altered states of consciousness? What is the "me"? Does free will exist? What can be said of the nature of consciousness? Each time, Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer confront two traditions of thought. One, Buddhist philosophy, is first-person knowledge, the result of millennia-old practices of Tibetan monks. The other, neuroscience, is knowledge in the third person, resulting from experiments in the laboratory. The two approaches are radically different, but often lead to the same conclusions. To develop a true "science of the mind", their rapprochement, sketched out over the past few years, is essential. This is what this book offers: an in-depth dialogue between the contemplative sciences and the modern sciences, to unravel the mysteries of the human spirit.

The authors: A Buddhist monk for forty years, Matthieu Ricard is one of the most seasoned meditators, regularly asked by universities around the world to perform experiments on the brain. Neurobiologist, Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Wolf Singer is one of the world's leading brain specialists.

The space of Chinese thought
Alexis Lavis
(Oxus, 2010)

The author attempts here a resolutely philosophical and in-depth approach to the three pillars of Chinese thought: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. It is a question of revealing, through a continuous meditation on the texts, how China thinks and how this thought opens up for us a horizon of absolutely decisive meaning. This horizon is entirely stretched by an ever-urgent question: how to live fully as a human being? This book attempts a dialogue that seeks to arrange a real encounter with what is still exotic to us, but which, if this encounter takes place, could be a new Renaissance for the West.

The author: Alexis Lavis is a philosopher by training, specializing in Eastern currents of thought (India, Greece, China). He is particularly interested in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism to which he has already devoted several books and translations. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Rouen.

From inside the world
Michael Bitbol
(Flammarion, 2011)

Michel Bitbol rethinks here the theory of knowledge to adapt it to the scientific discoveries of the XNUMXth century. Contemporary physics makes this approach necessary: ​​it focuses less and less on things and more and more on relationships. So much so that the baroque image of relationships floating in the air without support on things, of a “cat smile without cat” to paraphrase Lewis Carroll, emerges insistently. How to understand relations that pre-exist the objects or properties that they unite? An analogy is mobilized to elucidate this mystery: if the right and the left are defined by their mutual relationship, it is because this relationship is in turn oriented relative to our body. Here, as in quantum physics, only a supplement of relational philosophy can solve the enigmas of relations. Only the recognition of our situation within the interconnected network of the world lifts the paradoxes born of the dream of seeing it as from the outside. The problem is that a cultural resistance, the thread of which is traced from Plato to Russell, obstructs the indispensable radicality of the thought of relations. A therapy for this resistance is sought in the philosophy of Nagarjuna, Indian thinker of the XNUMXth century, reference author of the Buddhist school of the “middle way”. For this philosophy, far from minimizing the correlativity of phenomena and their absence (or vacuity) of their own nature, takes it as the premise of its ethical tension towards a way of being open and available. An original reflection to understand how an epistemology can be linked with the existential quest.

The author: Michel Bitbol, ​​research director at the CNRS (CREA, École Polytechnique) and lecturer at the University of Paris-I, received training in medicine, physics and philosophy. He is notably the author of Quantum mechanics. A philosophical introduction.

The Big Book of Buddhism
Alain Grosrey
(Albin Michel, 2007)

If Buddhism attracts more and more Westerners, understanding it in its entirety remains, for many, a challenge. Is it a religion, a philosophy, an "oriental wisdom", a way of life? What are the real relationships between original Buddhism and the various forms it espoused? In this encyclopaedic work, Alain Grosrey, teacher in one of the great Buddhist universities of Europe, allows everyone to acquire the essential knowledge to find their way easily in the proliferation of schools, corpuses, ideas and practices. . It describes the emergence of Indian Buddhism and traces the history of communities by country. He introduces and comments on short extracts from each major text, sutras, abhidharmas and tantras, without neglecting the other forms of expression: poetry, sculpture, silence... Finally, he guides us through the different aspects and supports of meditation, showing the how they may resonate with our experience. The whole constitutes both a reference work, of unprecedented exhaustiveness, on the historical, scriptural, speculative and practical aspects of Buddhism, as well as a real manual which will accompany the reader, Buddhist or not, to the heart of the teachings. the highest. A masterful opening on the living Buddhist tradition.

The author: Alain Grosrey is a Doctor of Comparative Literature. His thesis, obtained in 1992, deals with the influence of Indian spiritual paths in the literary experience of René Daumal, Hermann Hesse and Carlos Castaneda.

Buddhism for Dummies
Stephan Bodian and Jonathan Landaw
(First edition, 2005)

Simple search for well-being, deeper reflection on the future of being or religious quest for wisdom and faith, Buddhism still enjoys considerable success. Far from being a fad, this quest for spirituality reflects both a fascination for ancestral rites as well as a need for inner adventure and better self-knowledge. A jewel among the treasures of Indian spirituality, Buddhism was born around 2500 years ago in the central plains of the Ganges. Over the centuries, it has spread to many other countries, absorbing a good part of the local traditions encountered and changing in contact with them. Indian ancestral wisdom, Buddhism seduces the New World today. Intended for a very wide audience, this book offers a real initiation and a journey that goes from the discovery of Buddhism to its daily application. Addressing the neophyte as well as the initiated, this book will allow everyone to deepen their sense of well-being and to flourish more.

The Authors: Jonathan Landaw is the former Director of English Language Publications of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Translation Service. Stephan Bodian practices and studies several Buddhist traditions. He is also the author of Zen! Meditation for Dummies.

The Dalai Lama's Cat: The Secrets to True Happiness from a Feline Like No Other
David Michie
(Poche-Leduc S, 2017)

A kitten taken in by the Dalai Lama gives us a mischievous point of view on the daily life of this great master. Monks, Hollywood stars in search of meaning, Westerners seeking to unravel the mystery of nirvana... Each encounter brings beautiful lessons of wisdom. The opportunity to remember that our beliefs are mental prisons and that the accumulation of material wealth does not bring as much happiness as the search for the well-being of others. A playful and romantic introduction to this philosophy of life and mindfulness meditation.

The author: David Michie is a specialist in Buddhism and mindfulness meditation. He lectures on these subjects all over the world.

The Dalai Lama's Cat and the Art of Purring - Volume 2
David Michie
(Poche-Leduc S. 2018)

The Dalai Lama's cat has grown up and is receiving new lessons in wisdom from his master, His Holiness, and the monks of Dharamsala. Learning to calm your mind through meditation, practicing letting go, not judging, but welcoming what is, opening up to love, finding the deep happiness that comes from the heart and makes you purr… here are some- some of the discoveries that our mischievous cat will make.

The Dalai Lama's Cat and the Power of Meow - Volume 3
David Michie
(Poche-Leduc S, 2018)

It's decided, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's cat wants to become an accomplished meditator and finally access the power of meow! He will thus take the path that will allow him to discover his true nature and achieve deep well-being. He therefore continues his mission: to think less in order to truly live in the present moment. During this journey towards himself, he will have to face obstacles that will guide him towards inner peace. By accompanying the cat in its adventures and adventures, you too will learn to slow down and enjoy the present moment, in harmony with your true nature. So let yourself go and let go in the company of the most famous cat in the world.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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