What Do Buddhists Believe? Meaning and Mindfulness in Buddhist Philosophy

Tony Morris, Author
Tony Morris, Author . Walker $9.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1655-2
Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Paperback - 100 pages - 978-1-86207-835-2
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-0-8027-1896-9
Open Ebook - 100 pages - 978-1-84708-496-5
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This book, meant to be a short and understandable introduction to Buddhism in a series about the world’s belief systems, succeeds in many respects. It contains plenty of instructive material, including maps, a chronology and a relatively lengthy glossary. It sorts the four noble truths, the five precepts, the three poisons and all the other numbered teachings that Buddhism offers, and generally covers a lot of ground. The author bravely treats the subjects of rebirth and karma, two central Buddhist teachings often overlooked by those who want to flatten Buddhism into a system of ethics and introspection. Some of the book’s weaknesses are almost inevitable. Books that simplify easily shade into oversimplification; the four noble truths are dispatched in six swift pages. The author, a British Buddhist, tends to idealize Buddhism as a perfectly rational system of practices, giving short shrift to its elaborate and esoteric side, especially the deities and practices to be found in Tibetan Buddhism. The book’s final chapter about the future of Buddhism is particularly weak and speculative. If it offered more contextual information about other world religions, the ending would be more informative with less guesswork. Still, as beginner books go, this is one of the better ones. (Feb.)

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