The Gods Drink Whiskey ) explores the key tenets of Buddhism in the style of a graphic novel. A sparse text punctuated"/>

Buddha for Beginners

Stephen T. Asma, Author, Stephen T. Asma, Illustrator . Hampton Roads $15.95 (162p) ISBN 978-1-57174-595-8

Revising his 1996 illustrated primer, Asma (The Gods Drink Whiskey ) explores the key tenets of Buddhism in the style of a graphic novel. A sparse text punctuated by extensive illustrations—some cartoonlike and others more serious and detailed—describes Siddhartha Gautama’s enlightenment, what the Buddha taught and how Buddhism developed as the Buddha’s followers encountered various Asian cultures. Asma, a professor of philosophy at Chicago’s Columbia College, argues that Buddhist ideas are “deeply misunderstood in the West,” and he distinguishes these from Buddhist culture. Placing Buddhism in the context of Hindu philosophy, Asma explores the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the five aggregates, the concept of no-self and other ideas critical to this Asian religion. He liberally references specific Hindu and Buddhist scriptures and tackles such tricky subjects as how reincarnation can occur if an immortal self doesn’t exist. Asma also briefly touches on the role of women as Buddhism developed. His take on which current forms hold closest to the Buddha’s teachings may provoke disagreement from some practitioners. This brief, irreverent tour of Buddhism and the sometimes humorous, sometimes grotesque, illustrations won’t be to all tastes; the book includes adult images. (Jan.)  

Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
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