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152 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear introduction to Buddhism
Anyone wishes to know what the practice in Buddhism is really about, should read this book. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, is a fully ordained Buddhist monk and teacher from Tibet. I believe he has written about 19 books from the introduction, to actual practices from the Sutra to the Tantra. This is not some MGM or Tourist version, but the real thing. The text is clear with great...
Published on 19 Aug 2001

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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambling and misleading
I tried to read this a few years ago, and found it extremely disappointing. It was very esoteric and prescriptive, and I didn't think it was very well-written. It was also extremely strange - there was a section about the author's conviction that his mother was reincarnated into an aquaintance's baby, which I found a little disturbing! I found it hard to take it seriously...
Published on 15 Mar 2010 by shpadoinkle


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152 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear introduction to Buddhism, 19 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
Anyone wishes to know what the practice in Buddhism is really about, should read this book. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, is a fully ordained Buddhist monk and teacher from Tibet. I believe he has written about 19 books from the introduction, to actual practices from the Sutra to the Tantra. This is not some MGM or Tourist version, but the real thing. The text is clear with great examples and the constant message is to practice gaining a happy and content mind for oneself as others. It also provides the same teaching as the Buddhist monks in Tibet receive over many years and Geshe Kelsang has managed to present an introduction to these teachings in a language that we can understand, without having a degree in philosophy.
If you really want a realistic introduction to Buddhism than this book is a must read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 8 July 2011
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
This book is, as it says, an introduction. It's very short but yet it gives a pretty comprehensive over view of the Mahayana Buddhist Path. The author chooses his words and examples very carefully, trusting the reader to take they key concepts he presents and to expand on them through personal exploration and experience. This is typical of Geshe Kelsang's approach which although very learned is non-academic and all about putting it into practice. There is a real confidence in the writing as Geshe Kelsang explains aspects of Buddha's teachings which many Western people will find challenging in a straight forward and unassuming way. The topics are simply laid bare according to the authors understanding and left for the reader to explore to their own satisfaction. Geshe Kelsang writes entirely from within the tradition to which he belongs (the Mahayana tradition of Je Tsongkhapa) so this is not intended as an over view of all manifestations of Buddhism, but in my opinion at least that leads to more clarity and certainly to greater ease of practical application, which is what I'm after.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where to begin?, 8 Nov 2011
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
When I bought this book, I knew very little about Buddhism. So, I thought 'where do I begin?' because the subject is so vast. Luckily this little book crossed my path. While I did not understand some of it the first go-through, it pointed me in the right direction - towards a mind wishing to develop loving kindness, compassion, and wisdom. Introduction to Buddhism covers so much and is so profound, it is well worth reading. Every time I read this book, I find something new. Now I have such a deep appreciation for the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. His authentic presentation is clear and precise with each word conveying deep meaning. Most certainly this can only come from his own personal knowledge and deep understanding of Buddha's instructions.
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and To The Point. Excellent Introduction., 7 Dec 2006
By 
James Wilding "jameswilding" (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
OK: first things first. This book will challange some of your beliefs, so if you don't want that, then don't buy it. Otherwise, buy it, suspend judgement for a few hours, and enjoy! Remember that when the author uses words like 'should' he is only expressing his personal opinion, it's up to us to decide whether we agree with it or not.

Since this sort of book is explaining the views of another religion, one that is very different to what we might be used to, it's always going to be tempting to label it 'cultish' or 'extreme', unless it's read with a very open mind. Having read the book, I can't find anything cultish about it - no one, having read and understood this book, is going to try and abandon their family or have their brain washed or anything like that. Quite the opposite, in fact: by explaining things clearly, the author makes it quite easy for the reader to make up his or her own mind about what's put forward. Sure, it might take a few readings to fully make sense of, and some of the ideas might seem a little strange at first, but I think that's to be expected from a religion that's comparatively new to the West.

I know from having read some of the author's other books that he makes a point of explaining that this strand of Buddhism should be practised in conjunction with your everyday life, not apart from it. This to me seems particularly heart-warming, since you're not being asked to give up your family or friends to get the benefits out of the practice of meditation. I've found some of the things in this book difficult to understand at first, but at least I can come away knowing that I don't have to climb a mountain or become a monk to put the ideas that I did like, into practice.

The clarity of presentation is impressive: maybe some difficult ideas or unfamiliar terminology, but on balance this is a particularly accessible introduction to Buddhism. I think there's even a glossary that explains some of the unfamiliar words. The book repays repeated reading with an open mind: be prepared to have some of your beliefs and assumptions challanged but don't feel as though you *have* to believe anything. Make your own mind up. I think this book was written as a simple explanation rather than a rulebook of what Buddhists should and shouldn't believe.

All in all, this seems like a practical and illuminating book that makes for a rewarding read. Recommended.
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59 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and 100% un-preachy, 23 Jun 2004
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
I didn't find this book sect-ish at all! I found it clearly explained alot of the aspects of buddhism which can be hard for an agnostic westerner to understand (well me anyway!); other books had avoided illustrating concepts like re-incarnation altogether. It is an unafraid, clear and beatifully written book on the subject. It's up to the reader to take on board the authors analogies, they aren't forced down the readers throat. Fully recommended!
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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambling and misleading, 15 Mar 2010
By 
shpadoinkle - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
I tried to read this a few years ago, and found it extremely disappointing. It was very esoteric and prescriptive, and I didn't think it was very well-written. It was also extremely strange - there was a section about the author's conviction that his mother was reincarnated into an aquaintance's baby, which I found a little disturbing! I found it hard to take it seriously after that. The author sounded a little delusional. I think even egotistical and controlling at times, which is worse.

Apparently this book was in effect self-published, as Tharpa Publications serve only as a platform for Gyatso's brand of Buddhism (NKT-IKBU). If you google him you will see that there is a lot of controversy about this religious movement, and it sounds quite cultish to me. This is from Wikipedia-

-Geshe Kelsang has taught in Great Treasury of Merit that the most effective way to progress spiritually is by "following one tradition purely -- relying upon one Teacher, practising only his teachings, and following his Dharma Protector. If we mix traditions many obstacles arise and it takes a long time for us to attain realizations."

Hmmm. Personally I think that that kind of thinking is only going to lead to a blinkered view of the world, and possibly intolerance of others. And if he is encouraging this narrow-minded way of thinking in his followers, I recommend taking the glowing reviews of his books with a pinch of salt! Also, this isn't a genuine Tibetan Buddhist approach to religion, as they encourage thinking for oneself, and studying from a wide range of literature, from different authors. In my opinion, this approach rings true for me. Some of the most inspiring books I have read have taken a inclusive look at spiritual traditions, such as 'The Energy of Prayer' by Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, which (amongst other things) talks about the similarities between Buddhist and Christian prayer.

Apparently Gyatso has also had some dramatic disagreements with the Dalai Lama which are still going on, about Gyatso's personal choice of Deity. It's a complex subject, but what does seem clear is that Gyatso is openly very critical of the Dalai Lama, which I do not think reflects well on Gyatso, as he is allegedly a Buddhist monk. I am reading How to Practise: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama at the moment, and it is wonderful - intelligent, clear, humble and kind. I have also got much out of some of Thich Nhat Hanh's other books, such as The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide to Meditation by the World's Most Revered Master and Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

I don't think any one person has all the answers, or is always right, as we are all only human. However, some people are worth listening to, and some people (in my opinion) - not so much.

For detailed, unbiased information on Gyatso and his New Kedampa Tradition go to info-buddhism dot com. It's certainly eye-opening, and I wish I'd read it before I wasted money on this book. I truly hope that people do not think Gyatso's books are a genuine representation of Tibetan Buddhism, as this would be a shame.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Complex, 29 May 2009
By 
A. J. Guy (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
I found this book quite hard to read. It was quite hard to find the point of what was being said, the way it was written was simply confusing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to a particular sort of Buddhism, 5 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
Before purchasing this book, look-up the NKT. The New Kadampa Tradition is the organisation headed by the author of this book. If it sounds up your street, buy this book. If it doesn't, look elsewhere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction ...yes, 28 May 2014
By 
Alan Moffett "SUPERMOTO" (N.IRELAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
Very informative and easy to understand book for the novice who wishes to look into buddhism on a larger scale
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start, 10 May 2014
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This review is from: Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life (Paperback)
A fantastic little intro into the basic workings of Buddhism. This book isnt going to change your life, but it could well be a starting point. Who knows?!
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Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life
Introduction to Buddhism: An Explanation of the Buddhist Way of Life by Kelsang Gyatso Geshe (Paperback - 18 April 2001)
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