On Understanding Buddhists

Essays on the Theravāda Tradition in Sri Lanka

By John Ross Carter

Subjects: Theravada
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780791414149, 251 pages, July 1993
Hardcover : 9780791414132, 251 pages, July 1993

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Table of contents




1. The Origin and Development of "Buddhism" and "Religion" in the Study of the Theravada Buddhist Tradition

2. The Coming of "Early Buddhism" to Sri Lanka

3. Dhamma at the Center

4. The Notion of Refuge

5. A Response to the Four Noble Truths

6. Beyond "Beyond Good and Evil"

7. Faith in the Wake of the Dhammapada

8. There Are Buddhists Living in Sri Lanka Today

9. Music in the Theravada Buddhist Heritage: In Chant, in Song, in Sri Lanka

10. The Soteriological Process and Its Sociological Relevance in the Sinhala Theravada Buddhist Tradition

11. The Role of the American Scholar in Buddhist Studies in Sri Lanka





Carter unfolds the cumulative traditions of Theravāda Buddhism by showing how one "looks at the world through Buddhist eyes." Presenting evidence from the Buddhist heritage in Sri Lanka, he develops a disciplined, inclusive approach to understanding notions of ethical living and "faith," or how individuals live life religiously. The author examines Buddhism as a worldview, reviewing the process of its origins and the development of its important concepts such as the pursuit of dhamma by Buddhists; the "Four Noble Truths;" the notion of refuge and the process of transcending; the role of the Buddhist monk (bhikkhu); and the role of music in ritual chant and song.

John Ross Carter is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and the Director of Chapel House at Colgate University. He is the author of Dhamma: Western Academic and Sinhalese Buddhist Interpretations; editor of Religiousness in Sri Lanka; co-editor of Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice; editor of The Threefold Refuge; and co-author of The Dhammapada: A New English Translation with the Pali Text and the First English Translation of the Commentary's Explanation of the Verses with Notes Translated from Sinhala Sources and Critical Textual Comments.


"Carter's book deals with some of the central issues in Buddhist studies. I look forward to being able to direct students to this book to learn about such topics as the meaning of dhamma, the history of 'early Buddhism,' and other significant matters. " — George D. Bond, Northwestern University