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Essential Buddhism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs and Practices Paperback – June 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Maguire, a monk of the Mountains and Rivers Order in New York, begins this primer with a narrative of the Buddha's life, followed by a commentary that compares Buddhism to other world religions and explains a few key terms. From there he elucidates the three branches (or "vehicles") of Buddhism, finally getting to key Buddhist beliefs in chapter three and to practices in chapter four. While the beginning and ending chapters might interest those who are curious about the cultural implications of Buddhism, those seeking the "complete guide to beliefs and practices," as promised, will be disappointed. The book is smoothly written, but poorly organized. Maguire doesn't fully explain key concepts, like the Four Noble Truths, the first time they're introduced, but devotes full pages to them later. The book is most engaging when it relates anecdotes that illustrate Buddhist teachings and when, at the end of some chapters, it answers questions non-Buddhists often ask, such as, "Isn't the doctrine of karma fatalistic?" One learns, for example, that "technically, there's no such thing as `good karma'" and that such an attribution violates the non-dualistic nature of Buddhism. This teaching is then illustrated by a Zen poem from the seventh century and by excerpts from other modern Buddhist authors. Readers can gain a definite sense of what Buddhism is about from this book, but they will have to be patient with its disjointed structure. (June)Forecast: In his closing chapter, "Buddhism and the New Millennium," Maguire boasts that more than 1,200 books are listed on Amazon.com under the keyword "Buddhism." However, that very same explosion of Buddhist titles means that new books must truly shine to be noticed. This one falls a bit short.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Jack Hosho Maguire took his Buddhist vows in 1996 at the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Mountain Monastery, one of America's leading Buddhist institutions. He has been a professional storyteller, specializing in Buddhist tales, for the past fifteen years. He has written many books, including The Power of Personal Storytelling, and he is a frequent contributor to the Buddhist journal Mountain Record, among others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671041886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671041885
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Essential Buddhism" is a good, well-written, accessible book on the basics of Buddhism. While Maguire's not as thorough as he could be on some topics, he manages to make them very accessible and understandable to a Western audience (which to me seems more important in an introductory text - if you understand the basics, you can learn more from there; if you don't, all the detail in the world won't help you). Another thing I liked about this book was that he treated the different schools of Buddhism pretty even-handedly. Some authors I've read write with a bias towards "their" school, but Maguire doesn't come off that way. And his book has a little bit of everything - theory, history, Q&As, interesting stories, etc.

Now, this book isn't going to tell you quite as much as it promises, but if you want an easy-to-understand book about the basics, I think this is a good choice.
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Format: Paperback
Very good for Beginners

I read this book a year ago and I still think of things I read in it, a year ago. It does not lead you down a path of never ending comparisons on how to relate Buddhism theory in every day life, it is very good at explaining the 3 different kinds of Buddhism, a digested version of the history and origin of Buddhism. I recommend it to any one who wants to learn but knows little about Buddhism.
John
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a "casual" student of Buddhism, so I'm not sure what a serious practitioner would think, but this was perfect for me. It is very concise and appears to be very comprehensive. Highly recommended for those wanting an introduction to Buddhism.
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By Sabs on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent survey of the beliefs and practices of the faith. Easy to read and accessible for my students as well.
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Very interesting read, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Buddhist faith.
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