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6 Reviews
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and original
When I saw that the book had just a 3-star average rating (based on two previous reviews), I figured I should chime in with a few words. First of all, the book IS excellent, well worth 5 stars.

I've had the book for over a year now and used it in a "Buddhist Philosophy" university course. I think it is best read by someone who has done some preliminary reading...
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by Justin S. Whitaker

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What The Buddha taught
This book is NOT a good place for a beginner wanting to learn about Buddhism or a casual enquirer. Richard Gombrich is a highly learned man and this discourse is very thought provoking as it attempts to place The Buddha's teaching in the context of HIS time,but can be very dry and academic-not easy reading.This work explains how the Buddha, starting to expound a whole new...
Published on 4 Jan 2012 by Akshobia


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and original, 1 Aug 2011
By 
Justin S. Whitaker (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
When I saw that the book had just a 3-star average rating (based on two previous reviews), I figured I should chime in with a few words. First of all, the book IS excellent, well worth 5 stars.

I've had the book for over a year now and used it in a "Buddhist Philosophy" university course. I think it is best read by someone who has done some preliminary reading on early Buddhism. I used Paul Williams' "Buddhist Thought" to give a broader context to the material, and the two books work together very well. Gombrich's first couple chapters are indeed 'introductory' and tend to follow accepted academic work, but what he packs into those chapters is pretty extraordinary! He provides not just a translation of some key teachings and explanation, but a *way* of interpreting and understanding Buddhist teachings.

The rest of the book consists mostly of probing inquiries into certain 'puzzling' aspects of Buddhist thought, and some puzzling aspects of current scholarship. These chapters give systematic insight into teachings such as "no-soul" and the practice of metta (loving-kindness). You also get a look at how the Buddha taught, his use of metaphor and even satire.

What I liked most about the book is that I didn't feel like I was told "what to think" - but instead encouraged to re-think for myself how I understand the Buddha's teachings. Definitely a must read for practitioners who have already done some basic academic reading on the subject as well as academics looking for a fresh perspective.

And for what it's worth, it recently won a Choice Outstanding Academic Title award 2010 (check the publisher website for more on that).
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and mostly OK for a non scholar, 13 Oct 2009
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P. Powell (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
The book is mildly intellectual. Gombrich is a scholar and not a practitioner, but is writing for a broad audience. It's a bit like "A Brief History of Time" - articulating complex ideas well with the least technical method possible in order to be accurate.

I've never read anything else about the influence of Vedic thought on the Buddha, but I find Gombrich's book informative and convincing. He is exacting about what is conjecture and what is strongly likely. The only downside is the limitations of rational analysis. Sometimes what he mentions as paradoxical does not seem to to me because of meditative experience.

Still, well worth a read whether you agree with his conclusions or not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What The Buddha taught, 4 Jan 2012
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This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
This book is NOT a good place for a beginner wanting to learn about Buddhism or a casual enquirer. Richard Gombrich is a highly learned man and this discourse is very thought provoking as it attempts to place The Buddha's teaching in the context of HIS time,but can be very dry and academic-not easy reading.This work explains how the Buddha, starting to expound a whole new way of seeing the World and reality was up against the established Brahminical & Jain thought and teachings of Northern India c 450 bce, drew on their own texts and teachings as well as language and concepts. An interesting work, but a better place to start would be "Gautama Buddha" by Vishvapani Blomfield which draws on this study but is presented in a much more readable and accessible way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing what the Buddha thought into the 21st century, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
A very well considered and researched book: it brings the Buddha's thinking into the 21st century and clarifies, with common-sense and a knowledge of the Buddha-Dhamma, various mistranslations.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Beginnings, 2 Feb 2013
This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
Scholarly, but an easy read. The author uses semantics and source comparisons to tease out what Buddha more likely said, taking into account the historic contexts of culture, place and being before written language. Great presentation of how Buddha used Jain & brahmin concepts & practices in his teachings. Explains terms such as skandas, non-being, etc in the context of process. Very good explanation of the meaning & importance of karma as Buddha redefined it. I recommend it for practicing Buddhists.
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6 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth reading..., 4 Sep 2009
By 
Battana Chandrasena (Melbourne..Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What the Buddha Thought (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs) (Paperback)
I read the first two chapters and couldn't go beyond as this a very general introduction to what Buddha thought. There is no intellectual analysis of the `expected thoughts' of Buddha but the author is simply following the traditional view of the Buddhist thoughts and teachings.

If the rest of the book is just like the first two chapters, there is nothing new the author has revealed about Buddha's thoughts but simply accept the Hindu influence on Buddhist doctrines.
Readers who wish to understand what was the original Karma and the concept of Nirvana will be better served by reading,

1. Development in the Early Buddhist Concept of Karma (J.P McDermott)
2. Buddha & Early Buddhism (Mahendra and Mittal)
3. Early Buddhism and its Origin (V.P.Verma--read chapters 8 and 11)
4. Buddhist Philosophy in India and Ceylon (A.B Keith)
5. Indian Religion and Survival (Mrs. Rhys Davids)
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