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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I'm not sure I would have been able to get to the root of Buddhism as easily without Steve Hagen's book. Because of this book, I see the clarity of the Buddha's message. I respect the Buddha Dharma as it is essentially a scientific and experimental approach. One is not asked to take a leap of faith as so many other religions require. Buddhism is an adaptable approach that...
Published on 12 Mar 2002

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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism: Vague and Hollow
Steve Hagen is American. It's really unfair to turn this against him, but I want to use this fact to illustrate just one of the ways in which his approach to Buddhism seems quite suspect. At the core of this very unclear book is one, clear-cut message: that in order to truly "see" reality, the mind must let go of all pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and concepts. Supporting...
Published on 30 Mar 2010 by Rusty


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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 12 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
I'm not sure I would have been able to get to the root of Buddhism as easily without Steve Hagen's book. Because of this book, I see the clarity of the Buddha's message. I respect the Buddha Dharma as it is essentially a scientific and experimental approach. One is not asked to take a leap of faith as so many other religions require. Buddhism is an adaptable approach that can work with any culture imaginable and any religion imaginable. Steve Hagen has presented a work that westerners can digest and easily find application to their everyday lives. Why? Because the core of Buddhism remains in the 4 noble truths and Mr. Hagen has done a superb job at focusing on just that. I fit the sterotype of a western skeptic myself, and can't find any argument against the 4 noble truths. If you are sincere about investigating Buddhism, read about the core of the Buddha's teaching, sincerely apply it to your life, then decide for yourself the value in it. Mr. Hagen's book is not the only way to do this, but I highly recommend it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Begginers Start here, 25 Jan 2006
By 
Philip Walker "always learning" (Staffordshire uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
This is the 1st book about buddhism I read. I have read also Buddhism without beliefs, Buddhism is not what you think, Returning to silence, and Everyday Zen. This was an excellent introduction and 'plain and Simple' as the title suggests. Simply an excellent starting point for those interested in learning about buddhism...get your toes wet with this first before moving onto far more indepth texts such as Everyday Zen.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only read one book on Buddhism, read this, 21 Jun 2001
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John Wilkinson (Liverpool United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
Steven Hagen's book strips away all the cultural accretions surrounding the subject and gets down to the core message.
His style is easy to read and connects with real life.
Rather than dwell on the ins and outs of reincarnation, 'other realms' and distracting imports of mainstream eastern buddhism, Hagen sticks to the main message of the Buddha.
An excellent introduction and one I have come back to after reading other 'recommended' books that seem to miss the point.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and simple, 13 April 2009
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C. V. Crosbie "Savi" (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
clear and concise exactly what I needed. For anyone who wishes to know just what Buddism is about this is the book for you.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Excellence!, 27 Feb 2009
This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
This man is able to strip buddhism down to what it is really all about (presence and awareness). This book is so simple, highlighting the Buddhas deepest teachings in the way I think the Buddha would've done it himself. Buddha is famous for remaining silent when he was asked a question which had nothing to do with the brass tacks of presence and awareness. This man has done him proud in this book and for anyone interested in Buddhism or spiritual enlightenment this is a must read book. A book called THE ONE also highlights this simplicity deeply and beautifully and together they should help to bring the enlightenment you seek.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking!!, 29 Mar 2009
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Ms. B. Jenkins "Bikerbint" (Swansea Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
Not being an intellectual had to re-read sections to grasp the concepts but I really loved this book and it has left me wanting to further explore Zen Buddhism..I would love to be able to take Steve's classes I bet he's one hell of a guide..
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Buddhism., 2 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
I have read a number of introductions to Buddhism and this is probably the one I have found the most helpful. It explains the core teachings of Buddhism without asking the reader to accept anything on trust, and as such seems ideally geared to the sceptical Westerner. It is written in a very clear and straightforward style - it could hardly be more enlightening!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to Buddhist insight and practice, 25 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Although the author continually stresses the attainability of enlightenment and the practicality of the techniques for cultivating it, he manages to do this without ever suggesting that it is anything less than the only thing that matters - the only truly satisfying goal of a human life.
Although "Buddhism Plain and Simple" generally avoids technical discussions of Buddhist philosophy, there is an extremely interesting appendix which presents one of the most "technical" subjects in Buddhism - the twelve-link chain of Dependent Arising (pratityasamutpada). Each of the twelve links is presented from two perspectives - Bondage and Liberation. For example, regarding the first link, Ignorance, Bondage is "to ignore the Reality of this moment. It is blindness to the direct perception that this moment neither arises, persists, nor perishes.". In contrast, Liberation is "to see the Reality of this moment. It is to perceive directly that this moment neither arises, persists, nor perishes." Each of the twelve links is given a similar treatment. I find this the most refreshing and compelling presentation of this subject that I have come across. END
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and concise; thought-provoking; highly recommended, 13 Mar 2010
This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book for those of us who have been pondering questions about the meaning of life for some time. I picked up this book expecting it to be an introduction to Buddhism - but it's not what I expected at all (a welcome surprise!) This book is direct and to the point, bypassing all the exterior "trappings" of Buddhism as a religion to expose the core of what the Buddha's teaching actually was. Therefore this book is aimed at the seeker (as opposed to the researcher). This book seems unstructured in parts but that is a good thing - it has a natural flow to it which helped me to pull together a lot of what I have been learning/discovering/remembering over the past few months. A refreshing, insightful and inspiring read. It turns out that the Buddha-dharma is what I had been working towards, via such books as The Happiness Hypothesis. It's fantastic to have this book express all of that so concisely and clearly, to be read and re-read. The only problem is of course that now I have to live, not just read more books about how to go about living :) To sum up: This isn't the book for you if you are interested in just learning about Buddhism; this is the book for you if you are serious about "waking up".
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66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism: Vague and Hollow, 30 Mar 2010
By 
Rusty (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) (Paperback)
Steve Hagen is American. It's really unfair to turn this against him, but I want to use this fact to illustrate just one of the ways in which his approach to Buddhism seems quite suspect. At the core of this very unclear book is one, clear-cut message: that in order to truly "see" reality, the mind must let go of all pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and concepts. Supporting this core idea are numerous analogies and anecdotes... a great number of which are written from an American perspective. Baseball, the LA riots, Mount McKinley, "first grade" and "high school", Paul Bunyan, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, etc. All of these cultural examples are put forward by Hagen to illustrate his own conception of Universal Truth... and thereby his version of Truth is anything but universal. He uses the preconfigured ideas of his native land to "label" and "compartmentalise" the tenets of Buddhism, which is exactly what he spends 157 pages telling us not to do.

That's just one thing that made me wary of Hagen's take on Buddhism. Other examples would include his "self-help" tone of voice and the repeated notion that all of us can "see" but we're just not trying hard enough. I was unsure of his "belief" (he's not supposed to have belief in "frozen" objects or sequential thought processes of any kind) that simple optical illusions can illuminate the profoundest inner workings of the human mind. A blob of ink becoming a cow when you stare at it for long enough isn't quite good enough for me. That's what it will feel like to be enlightened? Seems like a weak way of explaining something so huge.

But above all else, what frustrates me is that I've come away from this book not understanding Buddhism at all. Steve Hagen claims to be breaking down the cultural trappings of this ancient religion and giving it to us "Plain and Simple". But he's stripped it down so far that his subject matter has become virtually meaningless. Reading his philosophy is like trying to hear a taste or smell a colour... words don't seem to serve his purpose very well and everything he says devolves into abstract terms like "Truth", "Reality" and "Wholeness". These words, on and of their own, don't mean anything unless they have some context. They can't be used like nouns: you can't walk to the end of the road, find Truth and put it in your pocket. But Hagen talks about these words like they're real, tangible "things" that we just can't "see".

There's a great part in the Bible when Jesus comes before Pontius Pilate and says: "All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice." To which Pilate simply says: "What is truth?". And Jesus has no answer. That's what I want Hagen - or any religious figurehead, for that matter - to explain in real, lucid words. What does the word "truth" used in this way actually mean? It basically means whatever you want it to mean... which makes it mean nothing.

I don't think Buddhism has been done justice in this book and I think I need to read a lot more to get a proper grip on it. Here's a quote from the back cover: "For those readers approaching Buddhism for the first time... this book offers invaluable, clear insights into the heart of Buddhism." If that was the primary aim of this work, then - for me at least - it's definitely failed.
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Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana)
Buddhism Plain and Simple (Arkana) by Steve Hagen (Paperback - 29 April 1999)
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