7th Edition

Awakening An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought

By Patrick S. Bresnan Copyright 2022
    568 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    568 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Awakening: An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought provides the reader with a thorough and valuable overview of the historical development of the major Eastern religious and philosophical traditions, primarily in India, China, and Japan. The book is written in an engaging style that contains a variety of anecdotes, analogies, definitions, and supporting quotes from primary and secondary sources. Awakening helps the reader to recognize the interrelationships that exist among the various traditions, to appreciate the relevance of these traditions to the concerns of modern times, and to understand the major issues of interpretation regarding these traditions. The primary focus of Awakening is Hinduism and Buddhism, and they serve as the broad umbrellas that include a number of specific schools, each of which is treated individually. Other schools–such as Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto–are included at the appropriate place.

    Awakening is for all students and interested readers, whether new to the study of Eastern thought or not.

    New to the Seventh Edition:
    - A new Introduction
    - A clearer definition and explanation of "Yoga" (throughout Part 1)
    - A rewrite of the Aryan Migration section in Chapter 1, bringing it in line with current research
    - An added sub-chapter to Chapter 6, dealing with Kundalini Yoga
    - Further clarification of the meaning of Anatman in Chapter 10
    - Emphasis on the contribution of Daoism to Chan Buddhism
    - Clearer presentation of the Life of Buddha (Legend vs. Reality)
    - Updated Study Questions
    - Two new videos added to the companion website

    Key Features:
    An historical overview that attempts to show the development of Eastern philosophies, both within the individual traditions as well as within a broad but loosely unified system of thought
    - Abundantly uses stories in chapter overviews to engage student readers and to better explain Eastern thought
    - No background in Asian studies, philosophy, or religious studies is presumed, allowing any student to greatly benefit from reading this book
    - A functional, visually attractive web site www.patrickbresnan.com with author-produced videos on the content of the book, scores of pictures, and a comprehensive section on meditation

    Introduction to seventh edition

    Part I: Hinduism and Related Traditions of South Asia

    1. India Before the Vedas
    The Lay of the Land
    South Asia Before the Vedic Age
    The Aryan Migrations
    Varna: The Caste System
    The Brahmin Caste
    Questions for Discussion

    2.Veda and the Vedas
    Yajna: The Vedic Sacrifice
    The Vedic Pantheon
    In the Beginning
    Principal Gods of the Vedic Pantheon
    An Overview of Vedic Cosmology
    Questions for Discussion

    3. Introduction to the Upanishads
    Key Elements of the Upanishads
    An Overview of Vedanta Cosmology
    Questions for Discussion

    4. The Bhagavad Gita
    The Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata
    The Opening Scene
    The Bhagavad Gita as Metaphor
    The Awakened Person
    Karma Yoga
    Raja Yoga
    Bhakti Yoga
    Questions for Discussion

    5. Ashtanga Yoga
    The General Nature of Yoga
    The "Eight Limbs" of Ashtanga Yoga
    Questions for Discussion

    6. Darshana
    The Orthodox Darshanas
    The Heterodox Darshanas
    Questions for Discussion

    7. The Devotional Movement
    The Trimurti
    The Hindu Temple
    Questions for Discussion

    8. A Millennium of Strife
    The Muslim Era
    The Modern Era
    Questions for Discussion

    Part II: Shakyamuni Buddha and the Early Development of Buddhism

    9. The Life Story of Shakyamuni Buddha
    The Palace Youth
    The Sadhu Years
    The Awakening
    The Teaching Years
    Questions for Discussion

    10. Basic Teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha
    The Doctrine of Anatman
    The Four Noble Truths
    The Noble Eightfold Path
    Questions for Discussion

    11. Theravada Buddhism
    The Early Centuries
    Theravada Buddhism
    Questions for Discussion

    12. Mahayana Buddhism
    Diversity and Religious Elements in Mahayana
    The Nature of Buddha
    The Bodhisattva
    Artistic Expression in Early Mahayana
    Questions for Discussion

    Part III: Non-Buddhist Traditions of East Asia

    13. Confucius and Confucianism
    Other Voices from the Period of a Hundred Philosophers
    Later Developments in the Evolution of Confucianism
    Questions for Discussion

    14. Daoism
    Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching)
    Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tzu)
    Religious Daoism
    Questions for Discussion

    15. Shinto
    The Shinto Creation Story
    The Shinto Shrine and Festival
    Historical Development of Shinto
    Questions for Discussion

    Part IV: Buddhism in China and Japan

    16. Early Buddhism in China
    Buddhism in the Tarim Basin
    Tiantai Buddhism
    Huayan Buddhism (Hua-Yen)
    Pure Land Buddhism
    Persecution and Recovery
    Questions for Discussion

    17. Tibetan Buddhism
    The Establishment of Buddhism in Tibet
    The General Character of Buddhism in Tibet
    A Historical Overview of Buddhism in Tibet
    Questions for Discussion

    18. Chan Buddhism
    After Huineng
    Questions for Discussion

    19. Zen Buddhism
    Japan Before Zen
    Rinzai and Soto Zen
    The Zen Monastery
    Zen and the Arts
    Questions for Discussion


    Patrick S. Bresnan is a retired professor of history and philosophy at De Anza College, Cupertino, California, where he created a four-quarter course, Introduction to Eastern Philosophy, dealing with the historical development of the major philosophical traditions of Asian countries. That, plus extensive travel and study in Asia, resulted in the production of the college-level text Awakening: An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought.

    Praise for the Sixth Edition:

    "The high praises attached to Awakening should not come as a surprise. This is the sixth edition of Awakening, and Bresnan has made significant changes in each edition—clarifying his presentations, honing the questions, and adding new elements. . . . [It] is truly a testament to a great educator who is well-versed in a wide range of Eastern traditions and philosophies."
     Paul J. D’Ambrosio in Teaching Philosophy