Beginnings: Collected Essays by S. Bodhesako

beginningssmall1Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, published a book with all the known published and unpublished essays by S. Bodhesako: Beginnings, Change, The Buddha and Catch-22, The Myth of Sisyphus, Faith, and Being and Craving.

S. Bodhesako was an American Buddhist monk who studied literature and creative writing at the University of Iowa. Like many of his generation, he investigated alternatives to the accepted Western lifestyle. After he became a Theravada Buddhist monk in India in 1966, Ven. Bodhesako moved to Sri Lanka, where he spent most of his monastic life. He used his literary and philosophic skills to write some innovative, witty and thought-provoking Buddhist essays, all of which are reproduced in this collection. In his essays Ven. Bodhesako investigates the relations between the Pali Canon and modern, especially existentialist, Western philosophy and literature.

In the first essay, Beginnings, the author discusses the authenticity and relevance of the Buddhist Canon. The second essay, Change, investigates the concepts of change, impermanence and time in relation to experience and argues against equating them with the concept of flux or continuous change. In the third essay, The Buddha and Catch-22, the similarities between Joseph Heller’s novel and the Buddha’s Teaching are discussed. The next essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, is a Buddhist reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Sisyphus, which is symbolizing the endless, recurring nature of our tasks. Ven. Bodhesako also discusses Albert Camus’ interpretation of this myth. The essay Faith investigates the relevance of faith in the Buddha’s Teaching, while the last essay, Being and Craving, deals with the Buddhist concept of craving and its traditional interpretation.

This collection is of interest to those who like to learn about the Buddha’s Teaching from the perspective of modern Western philosophy and literature. It is also a good introduction to writings of Ven. Ñānavīra Thera.

Beginnings: Collected Essays by S. Bodhesako.
Buddhist Publication Society, 2008
BP 425; Pages: 252 pp; Size: 21 cm
ISBN: 978-955-24-0310-1
Price: $ 6.00 [order]

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