Books: The Pagoda & Politics

THE NEW FACE OF BUDDHA by Jerrold Schecter. 300 pages. Coward-Mc-Cann. $6.95.

Some 2,500 years after the death of its founder, Siddhartha Gautama, Asian Buddhism has come to life in ways that puzzle and often confound Westerners. Gautama taught the denial of self, a reverence for life and a search for the Middle Way to noninvolvement. Yet his modern disciples are everywhere involved in the turmoil of their times. In Ceylon, a Buddhist monk assassinated one Prime Minister, and Buddhist ward politicians turned another out of office. In Viet Nam, the grisly silhouette...

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