The Tree of enlightenment


An introduction to the major traditions of Buddhism Chico Dharma Study Foundation

Copyright © by Peter Della Santina iv

…… 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. e
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. e 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.  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 reader-
ship. Finally, I want to thank all those who have been involved
in the actual preparation of the present book…. 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.
Peter Della Santina
July,  Chico, California, USA…..



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