Books Of India Blog

Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism, by Peter Masefield

Posted by Ray McLennan on 30-Nov-2017 10:49:00

Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism, by Peter Masefield.png

Sri Lanka Institute Of Traditional Studies | ISBN: 9789559028024 | £9.99 paperback

Peter Masefield’s classic text on the concept of Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism, first published in 1986, is sold in library editions for £90 as a hardcover, and £96 for the Kindle edition! The Sri Lanka Institute Of Traditional Studies are to be congratulated for bringing out an accessible paperback of this valuable title to the market for the general reader, at less than £10. The new edition includes the complete original text, along with copious endnotes, biography and author’s foreword.

Contemporary & Traditional Views of Buddhism

Masefield’s proposition is contentious in some Buddhist circles, especially in the West. The predominant Western view of Buddhism is of a secular philosophy of self-endeavour: a natural rather than revealed religion, whose followers extract knowledge through a process of self-initiation, rather than external teaching. This idea fits in well with Western cultural values, and is encouraged by secular Buddhist thinkers such as Stephen Batchelor.

Unfortunately, at least according to Peter Masefield, this is not how Buddhism is understood by the majority of its practitioners in Asia, either historically or in the present. Nor, he goes on to say, is it an accurate reflection of the teachings contained in the earliest Buddhist texts – the Pali Canon.

In a detailed and lucid analysis, Masefield shines a light on the concept of religious initiation in the Discourses of the Buddha, or Nikayas. What he reveals is a religion that views salvation as heavily dependent on grace imparted by the Buddha himself – i.e. a classic revealed religion, rather than one of self-discovery.

Some Buddhist critics of this work disagree with the analysis, pointing out that Masefield draws too close an analogy with Christian doctrines of salvation, painting a picture of early Buddhism that isn’t supported by its cultural context. Whether or not the reader agrees with Masefield’s thesis is up for debate. We urge anyone who is interested in the argument to purchase a copy and see for themselves! What can’t be doubted is the care and attention to detail – and also the obvious love – that Peter Masefield pours into his topic.

Divine Revelation is one of the standout works on contemporary and historical Buddhism, and we are proud to be able to offer it at such a low price. The book will appeal to practising Buddhists of Western or Eastern descent, as well as students, anthropologists or general readers interested in comparative religions or religious history.

The World’s Largest Stock Of Indian Buddhist Titles In English 

Divine Revelation is one of more than 16,000 books on a wide variety of topics that we hold in stock at our warehouse in the UK. These include hundreds of titles relevant to Buddhism, Yoga, Hinduism and other Indian spiritual traditions. With topics ranging from introductory guides, to translated holy texts and advanced commentaries by leading figures in each tradition, our catalogue offers your readers the widest selection of Indian titles to be found outside of India. Access these titles and more by placing an order with Motilal Books. We offer fast delivery, friendly customer service and low prices on all titles. Call us on 01727 761 677 to find out more. 

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