The diagram to the right illustrates a very simple classifications of the flavors of Buddhism in the U.S.A. In my post “Buddhist Contradictions“, I describe how many of us who read about Buddhism often get confused as to the differences between these sects and even end up meaninglessly blending their ideas into a Buddhist soup in our brains.
Below I sketched a picture of the Buddhism books on my bookshelf as a case in point of someone reading a variety of Buddhisms. In “One Dharma, whose?“, David Chapman continues his excellent series on “Consensus Buddhism” further describes why we may be rightly confused in our understandings of Buddhism.
Though I am attracted to many aspects of Buddhism, I have never been able to recommend a Buddhist book from my shelf to a friend. None of them describe the Buddhism I am most drawn to. Even David’s teacher, Ngakpa Chögyam, whose teachings I find closest to what I value in Buddhism, has a lot of traditionalism and magic language that is hard for me to relate to and his books aren’t written in a systematic manner so I can’t recommend them confidently to friends.
Questions for readers: Share thoughts about your bookshelf, your recommendations and your doubts.