'Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Practitioners 'provides a series of case studies of Asian and modern Western Buddhists, spanning history, gender, and class, whose lives are representative of the ways in which Buddhists throughout time have embodied the tradition. Portrays the foundational principles of Buddhist belief through the lives of believers, illustrating how the religion is put into practice in everyday life Takes as its foundation the inherent diversity within Buddhist society, rather than focusing on the spiritual and philosophical elite within Buddhism Reveals how individuals have negotiated the choices, tensions, and rewards of living in a Buddhist society Features carefully chosen case studies which cover a range of Asian and modern Western Buddhists Explores a broad range of possible Buddhist orientations in contemporary and historical contexts Traditional understandings of Buddhism have often been drawn from the perspective of the minority spiritual and philosophical elite. 'Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Believers 'redresses this imbalance by exploring a fascinating series of life histories of individuals whose lives are far more representative of the ways in which Buddhists throughout time have embodied the tradition. This text brings together a wide-ranging and representative collection of biographies featuring both historical and modern Buddhists, many written by leading scholars, linking their beliefs and practices to the development of Buddhism in their time and place. This series of compelling biographies of householder practitioners, as well as prominent monastics, is designed for easy comparison; the book provides a unique and fascinating perspective from which to understand Buddhism 'on the ground'. Each section is introduced by the editor, himself a leading Buddhist scholar, who skillfully locates it within Buddhist history, belief and sociology. The case studies have been carefully chosen to cover a range of Asian and modern Western Buddhists, as well as a range of historical periods, gender, and class, to provide an overview uniquely rich in diversity, texture, and educational value.