This book, compiled from basic Buddhist writings, presents a survey of Buddhist thought in India, China, and Japan, covering the central doctrines and practices that has profoundly influenced human life in Asia. Developments in practical ethics, social attitudes, philosophical speculation, and religious and aesthetic contemplation are represented by selected excerpts from basic writings with succinct introductions and commentary. From these one may observe not only the remarkable vitality of Buddhism in its spread through Asia, but also the essential links between widely diverse forms, showing how the spiritual message of the Buddha found expression in different historical and cultural circumstances. Thus both its continuity in time and its wide range of influence mark Buddhism as a major spiritual force in the world.
Buddha, as the Awakened One, has exemplified to millions of followers throughout the ages a living Truth, a dynamic wisdom and an active compassion. It is these qualities that have inspired hope and courage in men who were asked to face to the stark reality of man's condition: the inevitable involvement in suffering which arises from his persistent egoism and refusal to recognize his finitude.