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4.4 out of 5 stars162
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 12 March 2002
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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on 9 February 2012
I came to this book looking for 'something', what I found was much greater.

It is not a book of answers, it provides the reader with the desire to ask the questions and this is much more powerful than a series of spoon-fed answers which, by definition cannot be relied upon.

It may, as some have suggested, seem a little repetitive but as I read this over a series of evenings I found this repetition to be useful as it helped to put the thoughts I was experiencing into context.

Religion, Faith, Belief whatever your preferred term is handled in here but if you are looking for something to try to help your understanding but do not want to feel the pressure of a given 'tradition' or to have to kneel to be worthy then this book may help you. Religion is addressed but at no point do you feel you must begin to chant or pray in order to complete the experience.

There are still many unanswered questions for me such as 'what is consciousness?' and this is my next step; however, I feel that this book has empowered 'me' to try to see 'me' as part of The Whole.

A few evenings invested in this book is but a small investment in time and is highly recommended.
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on 25 January 2006
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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on 21 June 2001
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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on 2 September 2001
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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on 27 February 2009
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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on 25 October 1998
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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on 13 March 2010
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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on 10 April 2013
In short....This book has transformed my mind. I have suffered with anxiety for several years which was causing me great pain. This was mainly due to my overactive mind....I was always searching for the meaing of life , I always wanted to be on one side of an arguement , christianity v Islam , creation or evolution? My anxiety was also caused by my folowing of the bible. Questioning everything I ever did "will I go to hell for that?" , constantly feeing guilty for my actions even though I had done nothing wrong. What this book has shown me is that we shouldnt worry.....Stop trying to work out "everything". All we can work out is what we can see. There may or may not be a god , afterlife , meaning to life etc. We should not worry about these things as they are beyond our comprehension. Since reading this book my anxiety has settled down , I feel a inner peace and most importantly.......I feel free and in control of my own life. Do not spend your life worshiping things that we canot see , things that are written in old manuscripts years after the events took place. Instead free your mind and live for now.
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on 22 February 2007
The best compliment I can give this book is that if someone is interested in learning what Buddhism "is", this is the book that I give them.

You might get the impression from one or two of the other reviews on this page that this is "Buddhism Lite" i.e. that it lacks the comprehensiveness and history of some other books. I don't really think that's the case personally. If the essense and purpose of Buddhism is to become awake, then to me this is the most emphatically "Buddhist" of books. Certainly I would start here, as you can always progress onto more detailed books about the Buddha's life in due course.

Indeed I wouldn't say that this book is only for the novice either, as it would also serve as a useful reminder and meditation to someone more versed in Buddhism. One review below states that it's message is rather repetitive, but I imagine that this is on purpose, and it didn't deter me at all. Without constantly reminding yourself of the message contained within (through various means), the ego tends to re-impose itself, so repetition is necessary.

If you're interested in this subject, I whole-heartedly recommend this book.
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