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Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Damien Keown
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This Very Short Introduction introduces the reader to the teachings of the Buddha and to the integration of Buddhism into daily life. What are the distinctive features of Buddhism? Who was the Buddha, and what are his teachings? How has Buddhist thought developed over the centuries, and how can contemporary dilemmas be faced from a Buddhist perspective? Words such as 'karma' and 'nirvana' have entered our vocabulary, but what do they mean? Damien Keown's book provides a lively,
informative response to these frequently asked questions about Buddhism.

Product Description


"Damien Keown's book is a readable and wonderfully lucid introduction to one of mankind's most beautiful, profound, and compelling systems of wisdom. The rise of the East makes understanding and learning from Buddhism, a living doctrine, more urgent than ever before. Keown's impressive powers of explanation help us to come to terms with a vital contemporary reality."--Bryan Appleyard, columnist, The Sunday Times (London)"The perfect book for anyone seeking to learn more about this religion....Holistic in its approach, Buddhism gives readers insight into an ancient and profound religion."--Medium

About the Author

Damien Keown is Lecturer in Indian Religion at the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at Goldsmith's College, London. His recent publications include Buddhism and Bioethics, and The Nature of Buddhist Ethics.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 778 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (3 Oct. 1996)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005I4D86G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #289,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Damien Keown is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Chair Professor at Geumgang University, Korea. His research interests centre on the study of contemporary moral problems from a Buddhist perspective. He is co-founder of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and the author of the best-selling 'Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction' and 'Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction', both from Oxford University Press and available on Amazon.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast and clear 26 Jan. 2001
The quality of a factual book should be judged by its lack of overt partiality, comprehensiveness, sources and ability to make you think and ask questions. This book scores well on all points and above all reads like an essay which you can zap through. It contains a good bibliography for follow up reading and includes details of the the award winning "Journal of Buddhist ethics" on the web which was partly established by the author. Apart from the author's erudition his book is backed up by other experts and has been reviewed by his students.
Above all the book analyses what is meant by religion (as Buddhism does not easily fit this classification) and provides a modern interpretation of this system of thought from all its major perspectives. The treatment of Mahayana Buddhism short, yet precise and on the whole Keown concentrates on highlights. Towards the end is a discussion on Buddhism in the West. The book also provides useful comparisons with other religions.
Compared to many small and "cheap" introductions to Buddhism, this book is fairly impeccable. It is not perfect (2 tiny errors I identified with regards to scriptural quotations) but will lead anyone interested to work out what Buddhism is for him or herself, rather than being spoon fed as it were. I was however, disappointed that the book ended so fast - and glad at the follow up leads left, by this trustworthy writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For anyone who has expressed an interest in Buddhism, or who is focused on finding more about the faith in general, this is an excellent purchase.

It's a neat summary of the teachings of the Buddha, but as well as this, it looks at how the practice of the faith may be incorporated into daily life. It's an examination, not rigourous, but still remarkably thorough on what it means to be Buddhist.

Many introductions to Buddhism lose themselves in deep descriptions of mindfulness and meditationary practices which can be confusing and too much to absorb. This book steers well clear of that trap and offers something far more readily accessible.

It points out the major features of Buddhism that distinguish it from other religions; it also looks at the spread of the faith and its development over the centuries. Recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many shortcomings 4 Aug. 2009
By BobBob
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a quick and easy read, and it attempts to give a very brief overview of Buddhism. The book provides some helpful information but I believe that it has some significant shortcomings which is why I have given it only two stars.

I'm not sure what audience the book is aimed at. It is too brief for an academic interest, and my personal view is that it would not be very interesting for anyone looking at Buddhism for personal interest. It might be helpful for a secondary school student doing a project on Buddhism.

I have been involved in Buddhist meditation for many years and I wanted to gain a better general knowledge of Buddhism. I thought that this book might give an interesting overview of the history and cultures of Buddhism, and some insight into the nature of the Buddhist belief system and an overview of the different Buddhist meditation practises.

The Pros:

The author helpfully provides a very brief and balanced overview of the history of Buddhism, and of the different lineages.

And the book succinctly explains some confusing aspects of Buddhism which I have touched upon when learning meditation, but which I had not properly understood before, as follows:
1) An explanation of the meanings and origins of some of the Buddhism-specific words which crop up regularly when learning Buddhist meditation;
2) An explanation of the history of the two main Buddhist texts (Pali and Sanskrit); and
3) The explanation of the differences between the two main schools of Buddhism (Theravâda and Mahâyâna).

The book takes an academic approach, and so the subject is explained dispassionately, which has some value in some of the chapters.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars concise with enough depth 10 Sept. 2003
By A Customer
This VSI strikes an excellent balance between being concise & covering the essential elements of Buddhism. I have >20 books on Buddhism & find this one of the best. Particularly good chapters are:
Ch 1 discusses whether Buddhism is a religion and the different dimensions of Buddhism - practical, emotional, mythical, philosophical, ethical & social.
Ch4 on the Four Noble Truths (the Buddha's description of the way the world is) is particularly clear compared to many other books on Buddhism.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good intro 4 Jun. 2006
This book, although short, has all the key concepts and ideas a beginner would wish to explore with regards to Buddhism. Most questions are answered and the various schools are explained and touched upon. It is clear to read and understand and a good place to start if you wish to learn more about this wonderful path.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Darren Simons TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a new edition of the introduction to Buddhism from the Very Short Introduction series which now has well over 300 books in its collection. It is intended as a short introduction for someone looking to gain a basic understanding of the subject but is far too basic for academic or religious interest.

For me, as someone reading this out of interest rather than academic necessity or religious endeavour, I found at the end of the book I had developed a basic understanding of the core principles and history of Buddhism. I did find some of the history heavy going though, especially the Sanskrit and Pali transliteration which is included throughout. The end chapter which describes the impact and uptake of Buddhism in Western countries was particularly interesting.

I will definitely read other books from this series, although I cannot say this book is entirely satisfactory. It felt a bit overly academic in its tone yet the audience for the book would not in likelihood be that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Academic perspective.
Published 29 days ago by Abel
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction
This book is a very good initiation or briefing about Buddhism, only the facts with the critical approach of an impartial viewpoint
Published 2 months ago by J. E. Hernandez Ortega
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Helpful information but not always easy to get into.
Published 2 months ago by Dee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Speedy delivery great book
Published 2 months ago by patsy
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy enough
I found this book rather mechanistic, plenty of facts like a Haynes Guide to the cars wiring but I never gained any great insights into the appeal of this religion and what has... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Emteq
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Merie E. Sharman
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and illuminating summary of key themes
Useful and illuminating summary of key themes
Published 8 months ago by Jess
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good introduction for study
Published 8 months ago by Alistair McDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars but is a great introduction to read if you want to learn more ...
Purchased for studying, but is a great introduction to read if you want to learn more about Buddhism anyway.
Published 8 months ago by lvictoria
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
I bought this book to get an understanding of the Buddhist way of life. I am not a religious person but wanted to understand how they get peace of mind. Read more
Published 19 months ago by A. E. Ede
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