A Buddhist Bible
by Dwight Goddard
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Dwight Goddard’s collection of translations of a cross-section of Buddhist traditions was a fundamental part of the importation of Buddhism into the USA and then, through the work of the Beat Poets that the book influenced, throughout the West as a whole.
Goddard had originally been an engineer but after his wife's death, when he was twenty-nine years old, he entered the Hartford Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1894 and was sent to China as a Congregational missionary. He was interested in non-Christian religions and as a result of this curiosity began to study various denominations of Buddhism.
In 1928, at the age of sixty-seven, Goddard encountered Japanese Zen Buddhism for the first time while in New York City. He was so impressed with it that he moved to Japan where he met D. T. Suzuki and studied for eight months with him at the Yamazaki Taiko Roshi of Shokoku Monastery in Kyoto.
His time spent in China and Japan made him feel that lay religious practice was not enough and would lead to worldly distractions and he decided to establish a male-only monastic movement named, 'the Followers of Buddha'.
It was situated on forty acres in southern California adjacent to the Santa Barbara National Forest and also on rural land in Thetford, Vermont. The religious 'followers' who participated in the fellowship commuted between the centers in a van, spending winters in California and summers in Vermont. The venture was short lived and closed due to lack of followers.