The Tree of Enlightenment
An Introduction to the Major Traditions of Buddhism
by Peter Della Santina
About the Author (^)
Peter Della Santina was born in the USA. He has spent many years studying and teaching in South and East Asia. He received his BA. in religion from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, USA in 1972 and a MA in philosophy from the University of Delhi, India two years later. He did his Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies also from the University of Delhi, India in 1979.
He worked for three years for the Institute for Advanced Studies of world Religions, Fort Lee, New Jersey as a research scholar translating 8th century Buddhist philosophical texts from the Tibetan. He taught at several Universities and Buddhist centers in Europe and Asia including, the University of Pisa in Italy, the National
University of Singapore and Tibet House in Delhi, India. He was the Coordinator of the Buddhist Studies project at the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore, a department of the Ministry of Education from 1983 to 1985.
More recently, he was a senior fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, India and taught Philosophy at the Fo Kuang Shan Academy of Chinese Buddhism , Kaoh-shiung, Taiwan.
For twenty-five years Peter Della Santina has been a student of H.H. Sakya Trizin, leader of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism and of eminent abets of the Sakya Tradition. He has practiced Buddhist meditation and has completed a number of retreats.
He has published several books and articles in academic journals including Nagarjuna's Letter to King Gautamiputra, Delhi 1978 and 1982 and Madhyamaka Schools In India, Delhi 1986 and the Madhyamaka and Modern Western Philosophy, Philosophy East and West, Hawaii, 1986.
Author's Note (^)
From 1983 to 1985 when I was in Singapore engaged in the Buddhist studies project at the Curriculum Development Institute, I was invited by the Srilankaramaya Buddhist Temple and a number of Buddhist friends to deliver four series of lectures covering some of the major traditions of Buddhism. The lectures were popular, and thanks to the efforts of Mr. Yeo Eng Chen and others, they were recorded, transcribed and printed for limited free distribution to students of the Dharma. In the years since, the lectures which originally appeared in the form of four separate booklets have remained popular and have even been reprinted from time to time . Consequently, it seemed to me to be desirable to collect the four series of lectures in one volume, and after appropriate revision to publish them for the general use of the public.
In keeping with the original objectives of the lectures, this book is - as far as possible - non-technical. It is intended for ordinary readers not having any special expertise in Buddhist studies or in Buddhist canonical languages. Original language terms have therefore been kept to a minimum and foot notes have been avoided. Names of texts cited are sometimes left untranslated, but this is because the English renderings of some titles are awkward and hardly make their subject matter more clear. In brief I hope that this book will serve as the beginning of its readers' Buddhist education and not the end of it. The book can supply a general introduction to the major traditions of Buddhism, but it does not pretend to be complete or definitive. Neither can I honestly affirm that it is altogether free from errors, and therefore I apologize in advance for any that may remain in spite of my best efforts.
A number of original language terms and personal names which have by now entered the English language such as 'Dharma', 'karma', 'Nirvana' and 'Shakyamuni' have been used throughout the book in their Sanskrit forms. As for the rest, Pali original language terms, text titles and personal names have been retained in parts I and IV which are largely based on Pali sources, while Sanskrit original language technical terms, text titles and personal names have been used in parts II and III which are largely based on Sanskrit and Tibetan sources. Occasionally, this general rule has been ignored when the names of texts and persons referred to in a given context actually occur in another one of the canonical languages. In as much as Pali and Sanskrit are in most cases quite similar, I trust the average reader will have no difficulty in coping with this arrangement.
I owe a great debt to a very large number of people for the realization of this book. First and foremost, I would like to thank H.H. Sakya Trizin without whom my interest in Buddhism might well have remained superficial and merely intellectual. Next I would like to thank Yeo Eng Chen and many other members of the Singapore Buddhist community without whose help and encouragement the lectures would never have been delivered and the original transcripts on which this book is based, never made. Then, I would also like to thank a great many friends and students in Asia, Europe and America who encouraged me to think the lectures might be useful for an even wider readership.
Finally, I want to thank all those who have been involved in the actual preparation of the
present book. They include, the members of the Chico Dharma study group, specially, Jo and Jim Murphy, Victoria Scott for her help with the manuscript, L. Jamspal for his help with the original language terms, my wife Krishna Ghosh for the many hours she spent checking the manuscript, and my son Siddhartha Della Santina for the cover design and formatting of the manuscript.
In conclusion, I would like to add that by offering this book to the public, the Chico Dharma Study Group hopes to initiate a program whereby Buddhist Studies materials may be made available free of commercial considerations to students of Buddhism through a variety of media. For the time being, the present book will be available not only in hard copy, but also over the internet. In the future, the Chico Dharma Study Group plans to produce and make available important materials in the fields of Buddhist philosophy, practice and folk lore, including materials for children and young adults. We welcome the help of anyone who would like to contribute in any way to the educational activities of the group and we invite you to contact us with your suggestions.
7 July, 1997 Chico, California, USA.
Peter Della Santina
Chico Dharma Study Group
26 Kirk Way, Chico, CA. 95928_ U.S.A.
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Update : 11-05-2002