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‘The book before us here is not some kind of dusty text or just another undergraduate-level introduction to Buddhism. It is nothing less than the still, clear, luminous centre of a hurricane...’ – Neil Franklin (from the Foreword)
Although this classic text is more than one hundred years’ old, its accurate scholarship, detailed research and lucid presentation make it no less relevant today than when it was first published. In 1916, Hermann Beckh was one of a handful of leading European authorities on Buddhist texts, reading Tibetan, Sanskrit and Pali fluently. At the same time, he was a member of the Anthroposophical Society and its Esoteric Section. In consequence, Beckh’s seminal study on Buddhism has an entirely unique quality. It invites the reader to engage freely with the Buddhist Path, although in many ways re-expressed and renewed by Rudolf Steiner, whilst discovering its universal validity through the original texts. For the most part, Beckh allows these texts to speak for themselves, as eloquently now as ever.
In the first section, Beckh presents Gautama Buddha’s life from legend and history. The second part of the book details the ‘general viewpoints’ of Buddhist teaching and the individual stages of the Buddhist Path, including meditation to ever higher levels. Both sections are expertly collated out of a wide knowledge of the primary sources. To this academic understanding, Beckh sheds new light on the subject from his own research, based on highly-trained meditation guided by Rudolf Steiner (with whom he carried out a long-lasting correspondence that has only recently been uncovered).
Dr Katrin Binder has rendered the complete German text in a natural English idiom with great accuracy and professional insight, thereby making this timeless book available to English readers for the first time in a lucid translation. New notes and an updated bibliography are also featured.
HERMANN BECKH (1875-1937) studied Law and later Sanskrit, becoming Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin. A master of ancient and modern languages, he wrote extensively on religious and philosophical subjects, including Buddhism, Indology, Christianity, Alchemy and Music. In 1911, he heard a lecture by Rudolf Steiner and was inspired to join the Anthroposophical Society, where he was a valued co-worker. In 1922, he helped found The Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal. His many books are gradually being translated from the original German and published in English
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