5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 1998
This book is a must have for those who wish to know what Buddishm is all about.Its focus is mainly on the "Four Noble Truth" ,which is the core of Lord Buddha's teaching.It also attempts to answer questions like 'Why are we here?' and 'Is Lord Buddha the God?".
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 1997
Many non-traditional religions in North America have experienced an increase in their membership numbers, not the least of which is Buddhism. For this reason alone, _What the Buddha Taught_ may have a greater pragmatic value today than it did when it was first published in 1959. The principle value of this text is its' descriptive depth on the fundamental and foundational concepts that constitute the religion of Buddhism. Rahula gives a succinct and concise elucidation of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the doctrine of 'anatta' or no-self. For this reason alone this book is worth owning. However, to leave the discussion at that would be to underestimate its' potential utility. It is obvious that _What the Buddha Taught_ is useful toward the study or understamding of Buddhism, but it is of equal value in the context of camparative religion or in the philosophy of religion. The fundamental concepts of Buddhism can be found in a wide variety of texts, Rahula's unique contribution is via his insight into the ways in which the ancient teachings of Buddhism can be incorporated into the modern world. To this end he devotes the last chapter of this book. A thoughtful addition to this edition, (1974) is the selection of translated Pali texts which enable the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to be understood within the beauty of their original context. In addition, since many of these texts are in the form of parables, they provide an interesting comparative opportunity with traditional Christian biblical parables. An excellent primer for this text is Huston Smith's classic _The Religions of Man_ (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1958) and an excellent in depth follow up text is _Buddhism: The Religion of Analysis_ by Nolan Pliny Jacobson, (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1966).