The first edition of this Buddhist Bible was published in 1932. When the need of a new edition became evident, it was decided to enlarge it so as to include other Scriptures of like importance so as to make it more comprehensive. This involved making a number of new translations for which we are indebted to Bhikshu Wai-tao. We are also indebted and are very grateful to a number of other Buddhist Scholars for permission to use their translations, as noted in the Appendix.
The compiling of a Buddhist Bible is a very different mater from compiling the Christian Bible. In the first place, there is no Hierarchy or Ecclesiastic Council to pass upon the authenticity of different scriptures, and as to their canonicity. In the second place, Christian Scriptures are a closed system of doctrines and dogmas that have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and are to be accepted in faith. Buddhism, on the contrary, is looked upon as a growing organism whose scriptures are of many kinds as the organism has developed under different racial, temporal cultural conditions. As disciples follow the Buddha's Noble Path and practice dhyana concentration and intuitive meditation they have an unfolding experience of spiritual insight and grace which any one of them may describe and elucidate. Some of these experiences are of highest value, some of less value. Some are concerned with the Dharma, some have to do with the rules of the Brotherhoods, some are philosophical, some psychological, some are commentaries and some are commentaries on commentaries. In the third place, there is the difference of quantity. In the Christian Bible there are sixty- six titles; Buddhist scriptures number over ten thousand, only a fraction of which have thus far been translated. In the sung Dynasty about 972 AD a Chinese version of these scriptures was published consisting of 1521 works, in more than 5000 volumes, covering 130,000 pages.
The nearest approach to canonicity is the Pali Tripitika. That was the earliest collection and was supposed to be limited to the words of Buddha. Southern Buddhists are passionately devoted to these Pali Scriptures and are inclined disparage and dispute the more philosophical scriptures of the Northern School that developed later after Buddhism had come in contact with other world religions in Persia, Palestine, Egypt and Greece. Under these conditions there developed in Northern India, and Kashgar, a succession of very able minds, Ashvaghosha, Nargajuna, Vasobandhu and his brother Asangha from whose writings and teachings there developed various important schools of philosophical thought that profoundly changed the understanding of Buddha's Dharma.
Later on as Buddhism spread into China and came under the influence of its immemorial culture and practical good sense, it took on forms of Taoist naturalism and kindly humanism, and there developed forms of " salvation by faith in Amitabha's mercy" and rebirth in his pure Land. While in Tibet, coming in contact with its ancient Bon religion, and under the climatic conditions of its high altitudes, it took on forms of strenuousness and magic and tantric conceptions. Later on in Japan owing to political and social conditions incident to the presence of a limited but powerful noble class dominating a suppressed peasantry, which had developed extremes of loyalty and obedience and self control, it took on forms concentrative meditation known as Zen, and a still more widely divergent type of the True Pure Land Sect.
Naturally among these diverse conditions Buddhist scriptures vary widely, and the quantity of them being so enormous, they have become segregated into different groups as they are favored by different schools of thought and practice. The Tien-tai favor the more philosophical scriptures, the Shin-gon, the more esoteric, the Ch'an (Zen), the more intellectual, and the Pure Land, the more emotional. The present editor has been guided in his selection of scriptures for this Buddhist Bible by a possible the original teachings of the Blessed One both as understood by the Southern and more primitive school and by the Northern and more philosophical interpreters. He has also humbly tried to have the choice vouched for by his own spiritual experience in his pracice of the Noble Path and especially during its Eighth Stage of intuitive Dhyana.
It follows, therefore, that the scriptures thus selected are the generally accepted scriptures of the Dhyana Sects- Ch' an in China, Zen in Japan and Kargyupta in Tibet. Of course among so enormous a collection of scriptures there are others that are favorites also, notably the Saddharma- pundarika (Lotus of the perfect Law), and the Avatamsaka,said to be the grandest religious document ever written, but these are very large books in themselves. The late W. E. Soothil of London left a very careful translation of the Gandhavyudha sections of the Avatamsaka that is now in process of being published. The inclusion of Lentz's Tao-teh-king is open to question as it is not strictly a Buddhist text, but its teaching gas such a close affinity to Buddhist teaching and nearly all early Chinese Masters of Buddhism were Taoist scholars who, upon coming Buddhists, did not give up their Taoist conceptions and terms, and because the Laotzuan teaching in the Tao-teh-king has had such a wholesome influence on the development of Chinese Buddhism, and, in later years, wherever the Tao-teh-kingis held in reverence, it has tended to restrain individual pride of egoism, religious ceremonial, ecclesiasticism, priestcraft and insincerity generally, and insincerity generally, we make no apology for including it. In fact, it is our earnest wish that the Tao-teh-kingmay become one of the foundation stones of American and European Buddhism.
Its basic principle of an eternal process based on unchanging law and operating in eternal recurrance, leading to mind control, to highest cognition, to purest conceptions of love and compassion, to ever clearing insight, to highest perfect wisdom, to the self-giving of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, to blissful peace, is worthy of confidence; and its Noble Path worthy of trail.
The theme of this Buddhist Bible is designed to show the unreality of all conceptions of a personal ego. Its purpose is to awaken faith in Buddhahood as being one's true self-nature; to kindly aspiration to realize one's true Buddha-nature; to energize effort to follow the Noble Path, to become Buddha. The true response to the appeal of this Buddhist Bible is not in outward activities, but in self-yielding, becoming a clear channel for Buddhhood's indrawing compassion, that all sentient beings may become emancipated, enlightened and brought to Buddhahood.
Back of the Book
In these days when human society is invaded as never before by sinister waves of materialism and selfish aggrandizement both individual and national, Buddhism seems to hold out teachings of highest promise.
The theme of this Buddhist Bible is designed to show the unreality of all conceptions of a personal ego. Its purpose is to awaken faith in the Buddhahood as being one's true Buddha-nature; to energize effort to follow the noble path; in fact to become Buddha.
The true response to the appeal of the Buddhist Bible is not in outward activities, but in self-yielding becoming a clear channel for Buddhahood's indrawing compassion, that all sentient beings may become emancipated, enlightened, enlightened and brought to Buddhahood.
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