A captivating guide to Buddhism! Robert C. Lester provides an expert introduction to the diversified beliefs, traditions, and practices of Buddhism. Tracing Buddhism's historical development, Lester identifies its central concepts--the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, Nirvana, Karma--and describes the path to enlightenment through charity, moral discipline, and meditation. He examines Buddhism's enduring characteristics and its essential logic as a world view. Lester's rare approach explores the relationship between philosophical and practical Buddhism and, more importantly, the relationship between monastic and lay Buddhism. Moving from history to ideal to concrete practice, he vividly portrays the two major traditions of Buddhism--the Theravada as practiced in a Thai village and the Mahayana as experienced in a Japanesemonastery of the Zen sect. Lester draws upon the best scholarship, working the insights of historians, textual scholars, and anthropologists into a highly readable and captivating guide.