Section on Buddhism from a USA History Textbook (8th grade)

Section on Buddhism from a USA History Textbook (8th grade)



Interesting, thanks. I mean, it’s not too bad all things considered? I’d probably squirm a bit if I were Mahayanist. And the repeat of the whole “the Buddha was a Hindu” thing, yikes. I bet if Rhys Davids was alive today he’d regard that claim, which he swiftly retracted, as the biggest mistake of his career.

Some details are funny: kāmesu micchācarā is to avoid “living an unclean life”? Seriously, what is an eighth-grader going to make of this? “Don’t betray your partner” would be better.


Whereabouts in the US is the book being used? It’s a little humorous yet not entirely inappropriate explanation of Mahayana Buddhism if the author had only asked a Pure Land Buddhist and left it at that. Which is sort of like summarizing Protestantism as being Mormon.


it is interesting for eighth graders to be able to read something about the Buddha and Buddhism at school.

Bhante @sujato

You did a great job on the Central Sutta. Have you ever thought about talking about this work in Schools and Universities?

With Lectures by Example?

It could be a 1 or 2 hour Lecture talking about the Buddha, Buddhism, Suttas and Meditation.

or even a course on these topics.

Have you ever done something like this in Australia?

With these video conference programs, it would be easier to give these lectures in schools and universities in various countries.

I am studying for a Faculty of Philosophy and if I manage to be a Professor of Philosophy in the Future, I would like to do lectures and courses on Theravada Buddhism and Meditation in some Schools and Universities.

Now that Buddhism and Meditation are coming to Schools and Universities…

It would be interesting to clarify some topics.



I didn’t find more information about which place or which school in the USA.

the copyright is in the images in the photos.


I’m not sure which state this book is from, but there is so much politicization/interference in the whole textbook writing process…

I hope today’s tech savvy youth have the curiosity to look up more than one state-issued history textbook to learn about religious traditions…


Siddhartha Gautama learned from Vedic Scholars growing up, some Vedic and Mountain Sages during His Journey out of the Palace, but after His Buddhahood the Suttas, the Mahayana and the Theraveda as well as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Truth of Anatta are not the Teachings of Advaita Vedanta or Vaishnavism, who’s Teachings posit a Self as well as an individual set of beliefs apart from Buddhism. However, in Sanatana Dharma, simple service to the Buddha can be implanted into it’s cohesion so both sides of the Spectrum can practice Buddhism. This asks for a bridge of non-sectarianism.

By contrast, the religious education textbooks from the UK are actually quite good, I didn’t do religion as a year 12 subject myself, but IMHO some of the best school based religious education programs in Australia were designed by UK trained teachers working in Australian GPS/Anglican schools. (Friends have also had recent positive experiences with religion as a year 12 subject in the Catholic system, but I have no personal experience).

My own school based religious education was really F grade, i.e. I completed K-12 with Christian religious education only. Our advanced Christian education textbook told us that Buddhists were pitiful people who were scared of spirits and worshipped trees in places like Burma and Cambodia, where they existed in God’s plan solely for missionaries to save them.


Lol, see this is what I meant when I said, “not too bad all things considered”. At least there’s a good-faith attempt to depict the different religions. But your one is really shocking!

I went to a Catholic school, but I guess we were before this time, we never looked at other religions at all. To be fair, we didn’t look at Catholicism very much either.


Bhante Sujato has already given talks about suttacentral and Buddhism in general. Some of the good ones:


It’s probably worth noting that in this, as in other areas that we have discussed recently, we can complain about the way Buddhism is (mis)represented, but to change this we need to look into our own back yard. What are we doing as Buddhists to ensure the accurate and reliable presentation of Dhamma? Ficus has given examples of how Hindus organized to challenge the way Hinduism was presented in schools—have we done that?

Look at it from the other perspective: if I am writing a textbook, to whom do I turn for information? Where can I get a reliable source on Buddhism? Last year we saw a whole phalanx of American Buddhist teachers lining up to endorse a “translation” of a Buddhist text that turned out to be no such thing, just an individual’s poetry in thin disguise. If even our senior teachers can’t be relied on for something so elementary, how is an educationalist supposed to find a reliable source? If temples or organizations simply repeat the stories told to them by their tradition, without attempting to evolve or improve their historical understanding, how can this be a meaningful source for a fact-based education?

It’s easy to dismiss or criticize the textbooks or their writers. But if as Buddhists we have not prioritized a realistic and meaningful education for our own communities, how can we criticize others for attempting to do that, even if poorly?


So did I. We looked at Catholicism very closely, every day, for nine years. I came away with the ability to recite the old Catechism word-for-word, the knowledge that the Jews were permanently damned because they’d executed Jesus, and the conviction that I was equally damned because I had been baptised Anglican not Catholic. How’s that for a quality education!

But that was a bit even before you and Suvira, so I think things are improving. & Thirty years ago my kids were in Uniting Church schools in Sydney, where the kids were multicultural and comparative religion seemed to be considered quite seriously. … But only recently I heard that some parents were withdrawing children from yoga classes at the grandkids’ government elementary school on religious grounds … go figure … :cry:


It’s so weird, looking back. We had Christian Brothers teaching us, yet we learned practically nothing about the Bible or any actual serious Catholic things. I mean, my friend actually asked in middle school if we could do some scripture study. All I remember is in junior school, marching up to the chapel to draw the stained-glass windows. Oh, and later, awkward sex-ed. I’m sure there was more to it!

Uniting Church seem to be one of the better mobs.

Indeed. The stealth rise of fundamentalism in Australia is disturbing.


I did a (Roman) Catholic education too, but any scripture and Catechism bits weren’t the important bits for me. It was the repetition in rituals, the masses, Benediction, etc… Oh Benediction! I still remember the first time I really got an (admittedly naive at the time) insight into the power of ritual (what I thought was the power of God) … Preteen. The physical ritual part over, my mind calm and centered, and it’s time for silent prayer. After some time, a single question came up - “What will God do if I stop saying these prayers in my mind?” I took a chance. I stopped and listened. Wham! The richest gift ever of my young life, the reason why I now meditate and why I am a Buddhist. So despite all the terrible things they say about me and my contemporaries, despite making my teenage years miserable, I still say thank-you Catholic church for giving me that gift. The memory has lasted a lifetime.

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The part about Mahayana is cringy.
The second page is fine, especially given that it’s for 8th graders.

I took a World Religions elective at a secular private high school in the USA. We used Huston Smith’s World Religions book.

Thank you!

that’s what i was talking about.


I was the original poster of this on Reddit, i got it from a friend of mine who is a substitute teacher in South Florida.