Filed in History

Whose Buddhism is Truest?

No one’s—and everyone’s, it turns out.
Long-lost scrolls shed some surprising light.
Linda Heuman

Wisdom Collection

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Puzzling out whether (and how) the discovery of a new Buddhist literary tradition could undermine sectarian sparring would lead me deep into the foreign terrain of academic Buddhism. In the months to come, I would follow a trail from one expert to another across college campuses from Seattle to Palo Alto. I pored over stacks of papers looking for insights. In the end, when it all came clear, I understood why the process had been so difficult. I had to assimilate new facts. I had to let go of some cherished beliefs. But what really made it hard was that also I had to identify and change a fundamental background picture I had about the nature of Buddhist history within which I construed those beliefs and assimilated those facts. I had to cut down the genealogical tree. And that was not easy, because I was sitting in it.

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