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4.0 out of 5 stars nice collection, 20 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Teachings of the Buddha (Mass Market Paperback)
What a nice little collection of the teachings of the Buddha. Lots of content is from the Dharmapada which is a superb little purchase on its own.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But really, what is Buddhism?, 10 Jan 2014
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J. Mann - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Teachings of the Buddha (Mass Market Paperback)
If you think about it, Christianity covers a lot of different faith practises - Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Mormons, Children of God - what a wide range, and the meanings of one term will change between different traditions.

Buddhism seems to be just as complicated, and in fact since Buddhism tends not to have a single large denomination that ensures "orthodoxy" for all those that belong to it, it is probably more diverse. I know a friend of mine who is a Buddhist said she was told when she joined her particular Buddhist sect that they had the truth and everyone else - including all other Buddhists - was wrong. Now she has mixed with people from different religious traditions she no longer thinks that way.

This book reflects quite a diverse range of views. I prefer the selections from the first and middle parts of the book, those at the end are from Tibetan and Zen Buddhist traditions which are much more "mystical" and enigmatic. When I was younger I thought "Zen" was the best type of Buddhism with the idea that you can get suddenly enlightened, but now it just seems muddled and deliberately obscure.

I like reading about Buddhism and some of it appeals - of course the calm, the peace, the compassion, the serenity in the face of trouble and so on. However the trouble I have with it is to see everything as fundamentally in terms of suffering. The Four Noble Truths are really about how we need to detach ourselves from the world in order not to be harmed by it. I was hoping when I read this book there would be some version of Buddhism which didn't make this idea fundamental.

As I said at the beginning of this review - there are lots of types of Buddhism so it seems to me perhaps there are some which don't see the world as a source of pain and suffering, but so far I haven't found any. My point is this - yes, life can have pain and suffering in it, and I'm sure for some, even many people, it is very hard and difficult.

Yet even very poor people find joy and happiness in the world - in family, friends, relationships, company, food, dancing, music, skills, talents - everyone can find some happiness. Yes, all pleasures come to an end, but some are more fleeting than others. Desire isn't always about getting and forgetting, the desire for a wife can give the happiness of a lifetime, some pleasures aren't fleeting, they are deep and lasting.

So the idea of Buddhism to detach yourself and not engage seems fundamentally wrong. Religion seems to stop us looking at the real world and stop us finding happiness there, or at least too much religion is like this. Real religion would always take us back to the real world, it would keep us constantly engaged with it, but in the right way, it would keep us wise, peaceful, content and happy with the genuine pleasures of this life. We wouldn't need to teach ourselves to refrain from desire if we treated desire skilfully.

The format of this book is very enjoyable - lots of short chapters, some nice stories, plenty of useful information and details. For anyone wanting a good selection of Buddhist writings these seem ideal. I'm sure they have been chosen with a western audience in mind - there is plenty of superstition in Buddhism which fortunately is absent here. Of course some writings don't seem to fit with others, as there are different traditions presented, and there isn't any commentary so the writings have to speak for themselves, but I think this would be a good ready for anyone even slightly interested in Buddhism.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 15 April 2013
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This review is from: Teachings of the Buddha (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was beautiful, fantastic and a great insight into a wonderful religion.

Book arrived with me in excellent condition.
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Teachings of the Buddha
Teachings of the Buddha by Jack Kornfield (Mass Market Paperback - 14 Nov 2007)
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