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on 10 November 1999
I have had a copy of this book for years but my wife borrows it so much I am buying a second copy. While it is not an introductory textbook for those who wish to obtain an overview of the type provided by Walpola Rahula's 'What the Buddha Taught' I know of nothing which explains more clearly the interrelationship between the practice of meditation and the application of Buddhist thought and principles to daily life. Excellent.
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on 1 May 2004
No wonder this book won the Christmas Humphrey's award. It is suitable for beginners, but also for people who have read, studied and practiced Buddhism for several years. I found her simple, clear explanations so helpful. Time and again I got that "Oh, NOW I understand it" feeling. It is a book that I will read several times, once I get it back from the friends who borrowed it!
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on 23 September 1996
This book is a wonderful introduction to the basic
teachings of Buddhism. It is very clear and requires no
previous exposure to Buddhism. Yet the teachings presented
in this book are very deep, very profound. I would
strongly recommend this to anyone looking for an
introduction to the teachings of the Buddha.
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on 6 March 2007
This book is similar to Steve Hagen's book on Buddhism. Like Khema, Hagen is also a Westerner and a long-time teacher of Buddhism. Neither book focuses on historical detail, biography, academic aspects of the Buddha's teachings, or the Buddhist universe (though Khema touches on it more than Hagen does). The focus in both is on how to live a Buddhist life.

Khema focuses much more than Hagen on the importance of meditation.

The concept that the reason for acting morally and compasionately in Buddhism is that this will ultimately decrease desire, in both yourself and others (a bizaare-sounding statement taken out of context) is neatly explained here. That desire is the cause of suffering, one of the four Noble Truths, is of course explained in both books. But Khema makes it clearer why the Buddhist should act in a 'moral' way.

Despite this, I do find Hagen's book more lucid, despite his tendency to repeteat himself.
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on 29 October 1998
Using language that everyone can understand Ayya Khema describes the basics of Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. Her writing style and the insights she presents strike the reader as unusually authentic and heartfelt. Although Ayya Khema is not well known in the United States, this book clearly places her in the forefront of other, more well-know practitioners. A Buddhist nun for many years, Ayya Khema's writing emerges from years of personal and practical experience. This book should be read by beginners as well as experienced meditators.
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on 7 February 2015
This book has taken me from someone who used to spend a lot of time worrying about what had happened in the past and what was going to happen in the future, to just the opposite. It look me a while to get into it because I thought at first that if I put the tuition into practice it would make for a bland person. That is not the case. Essentially, we only have the moment we live in and that truth has helped me very much at a time when my life is not the easy one it once was. I have recommended it to everyone I know.
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on 5 February 2014
and I keep re -reading it as it is one of those books.
I obviously cannot state this is the best book on Buddhism but it is definitely the best I've read - so far. And my readings include Sogyal Rinpoche's works as well as Chogyam Trungpa's and countless others. This is a golden nugget in all of the bandwagon books in the haystack. The reasons I always recommend this book are numerous - it is clear, concise and is equally perfect for someone new to the teachings or someone on their 10,000th life. It is written by a westerner and a nun rather than a non-monk westerner. Ayya didn't come to Buddhism at a young age, she was 40 before she learned meditation which she then taught before becoming a Buddhist nun when she was 56 years old. She never sought fame or recognition but she did many acts of altruism and basically she walked the talk. In other words she was the real deal and this book will undoubtedly speak to whoever reads it. It's probably already a blessing or grace or auspicious that one arrives at this, an opportunity, to read it
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on 17 June 2008
This is a fantastic introduction to the workings of Buddha and how you can integrate buddhism into your daily western living. I found it very clear and very interactive. This is head and shoulders the best read if you want to find the path to happiness and change your life. Im already on my second read.
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on 16 March 2010
.... and get something more from it every time. This is one of those rare and valuable books which 'speaks' to you at different stages of the development of your practice. You can read it as a beginner, when it will set out for you with crystal clarity many of the basic ideas of Buddhism, and you can read it as your practice advances, when the same words will resonate in a different way. I've owned this book for over 10 years and, as well as lending it to several friends, I must have read it myself at least half a dozen times.

This isn't a textbook on the principles of Buddhism (read Walpola Rahula if that's what you want); it's a series of talks given at a 10-day meditation course run by Ayya Khema in Sri Lanka in (I think) 1985. This means it's very much a practical look at the motivation for meditation, how to meditate and the problems and delights one may encounter as one progresses. It's also a very clear-sighted look at how the Buddha's teachings are not limited to his own cultural context but have universal applicability at all times and in all places.

It's difficult to recommend this book highly enough. It's one of the classic books on Theravada, and deservedly so. The exposition is clear, concise and involving and, it's to be hoped, will whet your appetite for other books by Ayya Khema. If you're interested in Theravada, indeed if you're interested in Buddhism of any school, this book is a 'must read'.
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on 7 January 2014
This is my favourite book. It is written in a simple and straightforward manner, and provides insights into the human mind and thinking processes, specifically the revelation that a single thought is only ever present at one time. As an aid to meditation, and as an education to provide a perspective to the lives we all lead, it is invaluable. This is a 'manual for life', and an easy, accessible, practical and straightforward introduction to buddhism. Buy it now - you will not regret it.
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