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Accompanying a major British Library exhibition, this book features stunning colour imagery from the pages of rare manuscripts from across Asia. It explores Buddhism’s history, philosophy, geographical spread and practices, and looks at the contemporary relevance of the religion today.
Today, Buddhism is one of the major world religions, with approximately 500 million followers worldwide and nearly 200,000 in the UK. Beginning with Buddha’s Enlightenment in north India in the 5th century, Buddhism was adopted across Asia through the three large schools of Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana. Buddhism is well known and widely practised in the West today, and many people embrace a Buddhist lifestyle or certain practices, such as meditation.
Accompanying the largest ever display of the British Library’s Buddhist treasures, Buddhism follows the key concepts of the exhibition in four main chapters: the life of the historical Buddha, Buddhist philosophy, the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist practice. These chapters are interspersed with short entries explaining the significance of specific items. Astonishing colour and beauty emanate from the scrolls, manuscripts and printed books that are reproduced throughout, while the idea of the ‘Middle Path’ – promoting mindfulness, compassion, tolerance and non-violence – is presented with a renewed relevance for a 21st-century audience.