The Buddha and the Barcode: Understanding Buddhism in the twenty-first century
Cox, Laurence (2011) The Buddha and the Barcode: Understanding Buddhism in the twenty-first century. Dublin Buddhist Centre, Dublin, Ireland.
The subject of this book - contemporary Buddhism - is one that I’ve lived with for the last fifteen years: as a meditator, as a member of my local Buddhist sangha, as an academic and as an activist. In writing this book, I’ve drawn on these experiences to produce a brief introduction for interested newcomers, one that will hopefully give them a greater understanding of what this strange new phenomenon is - religion, philosophy or therapy? - that they come across in the bookshop, the magazine interview or the posters in the health food shop. In this book I am approaching Buddhism from the point of view of young, educated people who have no particular reason, spiritual or academic, to get excited about the big issues in Buddhist doctrine or the complexities of Buddhist history - things which are far more important for practitioners and scholars. Instead, this book tackles questions like: ‘what is Buddhism anyway?’, ‘what is it doing over here?’, ‘how is it changing?’, ‘why do people go for Buddhism?’, and ‘what’s all the media fuss about?’ The answers it gives tend to stress Buddhism as it is, more than as it should be: as something that ordinary people across the world do in an attempt to resolve real challenges in their own lives. This means speaking not as a meditation teacher or a college lecturer but in the way one might answer the question if it came up during the coffee-break at work, on the train, at a family get-together or in the pub: by pointing to what ordinary people find in Buddhism, and what goes on for them. This is an enormous subject, on which Buddhist teachers and Buddhologists would have far more to say. If this little book encourages readers to explore further, or stimulates those with more knowledge to write more in this area, it will have justified its existence.
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