Reader Request: How Can I Learn More About Buddhism?

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image“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

A reader writes in:

“I would love to know about books or articles on the teachings of Buddhism.”

I suspect there are others out there who might also want to learn what Buddhism is all about.  I’m not an expert, but I can at least share a quick roundup of resources that might help you on your way.

(Of course, you’ll want to do your own research, and check with your friendly neighborhood Buddha buddy or mentor, to get a real insider’s guide to the Buddha way.)

I also thought it would be a good chance for me to practice my timeboxing skills, so I gave myself a 20-minute time window to share whatever I could share within 20 minutes or less.

Here are the results, and here is your getting started guide for learning more about Buddhism …

Before You Begin

When it comes to taking things at face value, the Buddha put it this way:

“Only when it agrees with your experience and reason, and when it is conducive to the good and gain of oneself and all others, then one should accept the teachings, and live up to them”.

The Story of Buddha

According to BuddhaNet:

“Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.”

Quick Start Resources at a Glance

  • 5-Minute Introduction to Buddhism (buddhanet.net)
  • Introduction to Buddhism (buddhanet.net)
  • Buddhism (Wikipedia)
  • Timeline of Buddhism (buddhisttemple.ca)
  • Basic Buddhist Concepts (buddhanet.net)
  • Q&A on What is Buddhism? (buddhanet.net)
  • Online Study Guide (buddhanet.net)

Study Advice

Study advice from View On Buddhism.org:

“It is important to realize that it takes some time and effort to get a grip on all these subjects, and to understand how they fit together. Buddhism is like a combination of philosophy, religion, psychology and mental training – a vast area to cover. 

More study advice from View On Buddhism.org:

“As proven over the centuries, the best way to digest the teachings would be to listen to teachings or read on a subject, and to spend some time pondering over it before continuing to the next subject, because unlike an academic study, all the subjects have direct implications for our own lives. Study, reflection and meditation are essential, as we need to check if these teachings are relevant to us. Buddhism should not be accepted on the basis of blind faith, but rather because we find it sensible.“

Introduction to Buddhism

Here is a short-set of useful guides:

  • 5-Minute Introduction to Buddhism (buddhanet.net)
  • Introduction to Buddhism (buddhanet.net)
  • Basic Buddhist Concepts (buddhanet.net)
  • Buddhism (Wikipedia)

Timeline of Buddhism

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According to Buddhist Temple:

Buddhism is a religion that originated in India over 2,600 years ago. After the Buddha’s departure from this world, Buddhism flourished in India for 400 years before sweeping across other parts of Southeast Asia. It reached China around the 1st century A.D., where Mahayana Buddhism later became the predominant school of thought, as many of its principles were compatible with the philosophies of Chinese scholars Lao Tse and Confucius. Several hundred years later, Buddhism spread to Korea and Japan, and towards Tibet.”

View the Timeline of Buddhism (buddhisttemple.ca)

Enlightenment

According to Barbara O’Brien in her article on the definition of enlightenment:

“Enlightenment can be defined as the cessation of dukkha, which is another word usually mangled in translation. It can be defined as the full realization of the truth of the Buddha’s teachings. It can be defined as awakening to a great reality most of us never perceive.”

Nirvana

According to the Introduction to Buddhism on BuddahNet:

“Most people have heard of nirvana. It has become equated with a sort of eastern version of heaven. Actually, nirvana simply means cessation. It is the cessation of passion, aggression and ignorance; the cessation of the struggle to prove our existence to the world, to survive. We don’t have to struggle to survive after all. We have already survived. We survive now; the struggle was just an extra complication that we added to our lives because we had lost our confidence in the way things are. We no longer need to manipulate things as they are into things as we would like them to be.”

Q&A on Buddhism

Includes answers to what is the First Noble Truth?, What is the Second Noble Truth?, What is the Third Noble Truth, What is the Fourth Noble Truth? and What is the Noble 8-Fold Path?

  • Q&A on What is Buddhism? (buddhanet.net)

Free Online Study Guide

  • Online Study Guide (buddhanet.net)
  • Primary Level Syllabus
  • Secondary Level Syllabus
Primary Level Syllabus Secondary Level Syllabus
  • Who was the Buddha
  • Leaving the Palace
  • Under the Bodhi Tree
  • What the Buddha Taught
  • Buddha’s Disciples
  • Loving Kindness
  • The Buddha’s Last Days
  • Who is a Buddhist?

  • The Buddhist Way
  • The Four Noble Truths
  • Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion
  • Becoming a Buddhist
  • Experiencing Buddhism
  • The Four Immeasurables
  • Family and Society
  • Contemporary Issues

Free Guide on Vipassana Meditation Practices

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The subject of this book is Vipassana meditation practice, and it is a meditation manual, a nuts-and-bolts, step-by-step guide to Insight meditation. It is meant
to be practical. It is meant for use.

  • Mindfulness in Plain English (PDF) – The book provides tips on attitude, how to practice, what to do when your mind wanders away, what to do with your body, what to do with your mind, how to structure your mediation, how to set up exercises, and how to deal with some problems you might run into when meditating, such as your legs falling asleep when you’re not used to crossing them.

From Mindfulness in Plain English:

“Vipassana meditation is an ancient and elegant technique for an ever-ongoing investigation of reality, a microscopic examination of the very process of perception.  It’s intention is to pick apart the screen of delusions through which we normally view the world, and thus to reveal the face of ultimate reality.”

Free eBook Library on The Buddhist Studies

An extensive collection of eBooks that were created by the Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc. for BuddhaNet.Net. The collection covers a large range of topics, from childrens books to art and history, spanning Mayahayana, Theravada and other Buddhist traditions:

  • BuddhaNet’s eBook Library (Main Page)
  • General Buddhism Free eBooks (buddhanet.net)
  • Buddhist Meditation Free eBooks (buddhanet.net)
  • Theravada Text and Teachings Free eBooks (buddhanet.net)
  • Mahayana Text and Teachings Free eBooks (buddhanet.net)
  • Buddhist History and Art Free eBooks  (buddhanet.net)

You can also find more resource at:

  • The Buddhist Studies eBook Library (buddhanet.net)

Books on Buddhism

image Buddhist Boot Camp, by Timber Hawkeye.
This book is like a boo camp for training the mind.  The chapters in this small book can be read in any order, and are simple and easy to understand. Each story, inspirational quote, and teaching offers mindfulness-enhancing techniques that anyone can relate to. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to find the Buddha’s teachings motivational. As the Dalai Lama says, “Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.”
image The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism a nd shows us that the Buddha’s teachings are accessible and applicable to our daily lives. Nhat Hanh covers teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Doors of Liberation, the Three Dharma Seals, and the Seven Factors of Awakening. Along the way, he imparts wisdom about the nature of suffering and its role in creating compassion, love, and joy–all qualities of enlightenment.
image A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, by Jack Kornfield.  Since 1974, Jack Kornfield, author and Buddhist monk, has been teaching westerners how to integrate Eastern teaching into their daily lives. Kornfield’s uses everyday metaphors to make the book more accessible.
image Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, by John Powers.
A comprehensive and authoritative introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.  It covers a wide range of topics, including history, doctrines, meditation, practices, schools, religious festivals, and major figures. The revised edition contains expanded discussions of recent Tibetan history and tantra and incorporates important new publications in the field.
image The Experience of Insight: A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation, by Joseph Goldstein.  The book provides a thorough introduction to Vipassana and the Buddha’s teachings of the Four Noble Truths, the Factors of Enlightenment, and more.  This book is based on 30 talks Goldstein gave during a 90-day retreat, so it’s like having a retreat at your fingertips.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Could you provide the scriptural reference for this claim –

    ‘When it comes to taking things at face value, the Buddha put it this way:
    “Only when it agrees with your experience and reason, and when it is conducive to the good and gain of oneself and all others, then one should accept the teachings, and live up to them”.’

Comments are closed.