THE ESSENCE OF BUDDHA: The Path to Enlightenment

Ryuho Okawa, Author
Ryuho Okawa, Author . Time Warner Books UK $15 (101p) ISBN 978-0-316-85935-6
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-1-86204-836-2
Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-7515-3355-2
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Claiming that he possesses "the same transcendental powers as Shakyamuni" Buddha himself, Okawa, founder of The Institute for Research in Human Happiness, offers his unique perspective on several core Buddhist concepts. He begins by briefly reviewing pivotal moments in the life of the historical Buddha. He then describes and comments on the Eightfold Path and the Six Paramitas, specific disciplines—such as diligent meditation and the giving of offerings—designed to activate the believer's latent inner wisdom and hasten enlightenment. The remainder of the book is devoted to Okawa's take on such Buddhist concepts as the void, the law of causality and reincarnation. Unfortunately, Okawa's distinctly religious, even sectarian, perspective makes his explanations something of a curiosity. With the steadfast conviction of a true believer, he grounds his discussion in an esoteric cosmology where seekers of truth are beset by evil spirits and devils, a "science of the spirit . . . goes beyond Einstein's theory of relativity" and powerful spirit beings inhabit multiple dimensions, overseeing the development of beings on many planets, including Earth, over tens of millions of years. The writing itself, though pleasantly formal, at times becomes sentimental, even oddly evangelical (exceptional seekers can gain quicker spiritual progress if they "allow tears of repentance... to stream down their cheeks"). Though some readers will find this book informative, more will finish it with questions regarding Okawa's personal beliefs than with a deeper understanding of the essence of Buddha. (Apr. 15)

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