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What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada Paperback – January 1, 1974
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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- Writing is targeted to well-educated intellectual reader. It's not overly simplistic and thoughts are concise and pointed
- Half of the book is Western explanation and half are actually suttas that Buddha spoke. So you get author's interpretation of the concept and then compare it with the source
I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to discover Buddhism.
This edition includes some material from the Dhammapada, a collection of the short sayings from the Pali Nikāyas (The closest thing we have to the Buddha's actual words). The depth of wisdom contained in its verses are often lost to the casual reader. The basic text of What the Buddha Taught as written by the venerable Wapola Rahula does not contain this material but may offer some guidance to those who choose to plumb its depths.
Top international reviews
The book is a commendably clear and uncomplicated explanation of Buddha teachings. Buddhism is presented as offering a singular perspective on how we see ourselves and how we relate to the world around us.
Two ideas in the book have been life changing for me:
1. The concept that attachment leads to suffering. That non-attachment is the way to end suffering.
In other texts Buddha's teaching is presented as saying desire leads to suffering. The concept of leading a life without desire is difficult for me because my motivation in life is to follow my passions.
On the other had the concept of leading a life without attachment is much more useful to me. After pondering this it became clear that I had suffered in my life due to seeking attachment. On becoming aware of this I felt my need for attachment falling away. I became at peace with my life for the first time.
2. The concept of learning to observe my emotions with detachment.
I am aware that my emotional response to situations are predetermined through past experience and genetic programing. Acting according to raw emotion is rarely the best course of action in the long term. As I learn to observe my emotions with detachment I am no longer a slave to them.
Despite my admiration for Buddha and his remarkable wisdom and insight I would not call myself a Buddhist. There are aspects of Buddha's teachings which I feel are inapplicable to the world I find myself in. Nevertheless I am eternally grateful to him and the author of this remarkable book for sharing this knowledge with the world.
Most other reviews have adequately covered all of the positives contained in the book, the only points I wish to make are that 1) It could have been longer, such as explaining how Buddhism spread and how this influenced certain cultures, and 2) the practical examples (such as the breathing meditation), were expanded upon. I understand that my first point would have been contentious and hence was most likely excluded as the purpose in the book was to present unbiased, uncontested and accurate translations and examples, however, as an addendum it would have been useful. Especially as the writing style is so clean and middle-of-the-road. It's rare to read something written with such vigour, interest, all the while maintaining a scientific approach. Arguably this is exactly the teaching of Buddha, which makes sense for the writing style.
Overall highly recommended.
This book is clear, easy to understand and left me with a completely new perspective on Buddhism.
There were points where after reading a passage of what the Buddha said (Apparently via very accurate translations) I would put the book down for a few minutes and just take in what I had just read.
I would highly recommend this book to new comers to Buddhism, or those (like me) who know something about it but want to know more from a credible source.