Thursday, July 29, 2010
So why did he write this introduction of sorts to Buddhism? After having read it, I would hazard a guess and say it was done out of sheer curiosity for the subject and the book is structured as to give someone who is almost totally ignorant about Buddhism and its precepts a general idea of how this philosophy/religion started, a history of Gautama's life (legend and relatively non-legendary accounts alike), the various disciplines within Buddhism, as well as an exploration of its core tenets, including the Four Noble Truths.
Qué es el budismo is not an extremely scholarly work; Borges never intended for this work to be anything other than a layman's guide to one of the world's five major religious faiths. However, it is a very clear and concise explanation of the religion, its value systems, and how some of its principal teachings share some similarities with other faiths. For those curious about Buddhism, this certainly is an informative book, albeit one that rarely goes beyond what one might find on say a Wikipedia article on Buddhism. For those wanting to see what Borges made of this religion, he does not editorialize much here. It is obvious that he had some passing interest in the religion, but that it is something rather distant to him and not something that had a major influence on his writings. Therefore, I would not recommend this book to anyone who wants to read the book just to learn more about Buddhism, as although it is a good enough introduction, there are certainly many more books that go into more depth and which are more readily available for those who do not read Spanish as a first or second language. For those, such as myself, who are Borges completists, Qué es el budismo is an interesting footnote to Borges' vast and varied literary output.