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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
68 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 3 to be the mythological “private secretary” to the Hindu god Shiva; as an Egyptian; as a hybrid Greek philosopher; as a pair of twins, one of whom impersonated Christ; and in many other forms. The names the European writers ascribed to the Buddha, which before the mid-nineteenth century were often assumed to be the names of many different deities, are so extensive that Lopez includes an appendix of three hundred such variations. Among the most familiar, which readers may recognize as transliterations of the name of Buddha in various Asian languages, we find Fo, Chaka-Mouni, Xaka, Somona- Codom, Schakscha-Tuba, and Budsa. Offering a corrective counterpoint to Western inaccuracies, Lopez juxtaposes passages from Buddhist texts with the writ- ings of missionaries, adventurers, and colonial officials, show- ing precisely where misunderstandings occurred and giving a sense of how certain European prejudices, whether Catholic, Protestant, imperialist, or humanist, may have shaped those errors. Yet as compelling as this corrective project is, part of the book’s purpose is explicitly the recovery of these European voices—the voices of early pioneers (all of them men) who struggled, sometimes heroically, to make sense of the deeply alien cultures about which they wrote. Lopez is interested in tracing the specifics of the concep- tual shift toward our present-day understanding, in which “there is a single Buddha, beloved by both worlds [Asia and the West],” which of course seems utterly natural to us now. Few people reading this review would question the idea that Shakyamuni Buddha was an historical figure of Indian origin, founder of one of the world’s great religious traditions, and a peaceful humane teacher of meditation, ethics, and insight into the nature of the mind. Yet Lopez’s underlying interest is to complicate our easy grasp of this particular idea of the Buddha—to ask where and how this idea developed, especially outside of Asia, and consider whether our contemporary views have displaced important ideas about the Buddha, Buddhists, and Buddhism. Lopez argues that our modern view of the Buddha, as a historical figure of Indian origin who founded a religion called Buddhism, was “born in Paris in 1844” when Eugene Burnouf published his Introduction a l’histoire du Budhisme indien (Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism). Indeed, Lopez playfully pokes at readers’ modern understanding as he reveals the dubious path to historical certainties: “The new Buddha emerged fully formed from the brow of a single scholar, who never set foot in Asia. And not only did this new Buddha displace the old idol of Europe; in important ways he displaced the Buddha of Asia.” From Stone to Flesh urges us not only to recover an often forgotten period of our own intellectual past but also to ask what might have been lost, as well as gained, when a single international, global, historicized, humanist Buddha came to REVIEWS