on 11 February 2014
I have come across so many wildly different interpretations of Buddhism, that I thought it was time I found out - as nearly as possible - what the Buddha actually said. This book is exactly what I wanted. It picks out from the Pali canon all the passages that are most relevant to Buddhist belief as it stands today; it has a good method of cutting down on the constant repetitions which were a feature of the original; and each section has an introduction which makes what follows so much easier to understand and appreciate.
Best of all, from my point of view, it steers a perfectly-judged middle course between being scholarly, being accessible and being devotional; it makes allowance for the fact that in the 21st century we are disinclined to believe in some of the ideas that were current in the time of the Buddha - yet it never actually says so, thus preserving the faith of those who would not be able to believe the Buddha might have been wrong in any respect!
I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone else who wants to go back to the source of Buddhist belief.
on 22 March 2013
This is the book I've been looking for for a few years. It has selections from sutras ranging in length from a paragraph to a few pages. Arranged thematically in 10 chapters, Bikkhu Bodhi has done a magnificent job of presenting an overview of the Buddha's teaching. He introduces each chapter with an incisive introduction, and this book has left me better informed and hungry to explore the Pali Canon more extensively.
on 20 January 2015
I have checked out English translations by Bhikku Bodhi and while I am impressed with his Pali proficiency and think these are very accessible translations for English readers, I do think a lot is lost in the English translations. I generally read the Thai translation of Pali Canon (of course that's my language) and will probably stick with that. One of the reasons is that English is not a language of Buddhism and most Pali terms had to be translated to make a translation make sense. English readers should be aware of this difference. The Pali Canon in Thai, for example, leaves very many Pali terms untranslated and still sounds natural because Thai language, through centuries of being associated with Buddhism, assimilates thousands of Pali words into it. Even my name (Siri-Chitta) is in Pali. So it is a language that tends to express Buddhist's ideas more naturally. That being said, I think English translations tend to "over translate" the key terms -- thereby obscuring a lot of concepts and doctrines that need exposure in Pali. So when I read from the English translation and found some important key concepts translated into English, I feel more confused than clarified. It's like reading Aristotle in a language that has only a few loan words from Greek - an unthinkable way of studying Greek philosophy to say the least.
How to make an English translation of Pali Canon better? I don't really know. Perhaps a serious layman will have to know some Pali and rely on other sources. In any case, I think Bhikku Bodhi's works are very welcomed because they make the core Theravada's teachings accessible as never before in the Anglophone world. They are really a great service to the Theravada tradition.
on 22 February 2013
This book is very special. By studying its teachings you will understand the Buddha's full spectrum of teachings. A remarkable man. He understands the heart with such precision, he then points to life and how such understanding can be woven into the mind. This practice covers all circumstances and can be applied in all aspects of ethics, health, social, family, spiritual perspectives. His wisdom places your mind into a stream of ease. You get a feel for his remarkable gift to the world. A key to opening the door.