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4.8 out of 5 stars57
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on 15 May 1999
Walpola's book is beautifully and clearly written. Abundant citations of the Buddha's own words as recorded in the original Pali texts make the reader feel like he's getting "the real story" on Buddhism. Some of it is hard for the western, scientific mind to swallow (eg. the Five Aggregates), and the section on reincarnation was rather vague and unclear compared to the rest of the book. Nonetheless, an extremely useful read, with some beautiful texts and sayings in the appendix.
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on 30 October 2006
If you are looking for a book to introduce you to the basics of Buddhism in simple, easy to understand terms you won't find a better book than this. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Perfect for beginners and Buddhist practitioners who want to get 'back to basics'

An added bonus is that it doesn't just cover the basics such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path it also has detailed sections on Meditation, Practical uses of Buddhism in everyday life (which is the very essence of Buddhism) How to become a Buddhist, How to obtain high self-esteem and the last words of the Buddha as well as other insights into this fascinating religion.

If Buddhism interests you and you want a book that doesn't confuse and confound you on the turn of every page, its this one
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on 23 August 2009
I have read quite a number of books about Buddhism since becoming interested in it during a holiday to Thailand three years ago and this is the most interesting and useful. For a novice to the Buddhist philosophy, this book is a "best buy".

Like other philosophies/religions that have survived over many centuries, the original teaching of the Buddha has been interpreted differently by different sects such that, like Christianity, Buddhism now has a number of different and distinct teachings. This can be very difficult to navigate for a novice, and this book's value lies in going right back to the original teachings of the Buddha himself, and concentrating on those alone. This will give people a better grounding if, at a future date, they find through their own meditation that another teaching suits them better.

Amongst the aspects that is helpfully clarified in Rahula's book is meditation, about which there seems to be many different approaches and, also, misconceptions. This was a great help to me. Also, the teaching on the "self" or, to be more precise, the absence of "self" was very revealing - I've never seen it better explained.

The book is not without without its faults however: having carefully explained the Buddha's teaching about "no-self" and the non-existence of a "soul" or any other such like entity, Rahula then realises that most novice readers (like me!) would be perplexed about how karma could then "work" through to future lives. The annoyance is, then, that as an answer to the conundrum Rahula just leaves you with a one liner from the Buddha on the conditionality of things which, frankly, has so far left me perplexed!

I guess I'd better look at his selected bibliography for further reading and meditate more!
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on 3 July 2002
A fantastic book covering the basic elements of Theravada Buddhism through to application in everyday life. Walpola Rahula is a learned Buddhist whose lifelong devotion and studies show clearly in his writing.
While the concepts are simple, re-reading the first few chapters was often necessary to fully understand the more fundemental tennents of Buddhist thought. And with every reading a new gem of insight was discovered. The final chapter was perhaps one of the most refreshing passages I have read in a long time, as the book beautifully illustrates the practical application of Buddhist thought in daily life.
Most inspirational of all, the authors claim that these "Buddhist qualities" belong to neither Buddhist, nor any other faith. The lessons can be applied by all, regardless of faith or observation of ceremonies or sabaths.
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on 24 March 2013
I have been interested in Buddhism for most of my life. Although I have always been familiar with the ideas behind Buddhism I have not attempted any serious study of Buddha's teachings. I bought this book believing it to be a simple introduction to this subject.

The book is a commendably clear and uncomplicated explanation of Buddha teachings. Buddhism is presented as offering a singular perspective on how we see ourselves and how we relate to the world around us.

Two ideas in the book have been life changing for me:

1. The concept that attachment leads to suffering. That non-attachment is the way to end suffering.

In other texts Buddha's teaching is presented as saying desire leads to suffering. The concept of leading a life without desire is difficult for me because my motivation in life is to follow my passions.

On the other had the concept of leading a life without attachment is much more useful to me. After pondering this it became clear that I had suffered in my life due to seeking attachment. On becoming aware of this I felt my need for attachment falling away. I became at peace with my life for the first time.

2. The concept of learning to observe my emotions with detachment.

I am aware that my emotional response to situations are predetermined through past experience and genetic programing. Acting according to raw emotion is rarely the best course of action in the long term. As I learn to observe my emotions with detachment I am no longer a slave to them.

Despite my admiration for Buddha and his remarkable wisdom and insight I would not call myself a Buddhist. There are aspects of Buddha's teachings which I feel are inapplicable to the world I find myself in. Nevertheless I am eternally grateful to him and the author of this remarkable book for sharing this knowledge with the world.
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on 14 August 2012
The Ven. Dr. Walpola Sri Rahula has produced one of the best texts I have ever read on Buddhism! There are many out there that incorrectly talk about Buddhism and they also have many incorrect interpretations of the Buddha.

Venerable Rahula does an outstanding job in his correct translations/interpetations of important teachings of Siddhattha.

The reader is introduced to key Buddhist teachings such as:

-The Buddhist attitude of Mind

-The Four Noble Truths (each one having it's own chapter!) And the eightfold path as well as the five aggregates.

-The doctrine of No-Soul: Anatta. This is one of the most important ones and the author talks about how 'self' is incorrectly being introduced by some authors, etc.

-Meditation: Everything from a few 'basic' meditation techniques to such things as why meditate...

-What the Buddha Taught and the World Today: This great section shows how to apply the Buddhas teachings into every day life. There is even the 10 duties of a ruler (Government) which would be great if some politicians read!

And finally there is 'selected texts' which provide even more was a refreshing thing to read after the chapters and after reading the book it made sense when reading these selected texts!

There is even a Glossary to help you understand words used in Buddhism. In fact throughout the book you are introduced to the correct sayings and words...

All in all you should get this book even if you are already 'into' Buddhism.
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on 5 April 1999
This book was extremely easier to read. I am not an experienced buddhist but this book certainly piqued my intrest. I learned a lot from this book and have chosen to go forward. I highly reccomend this book to anyone who wants to learn about Buddhism. It is easy to read and it will give you the information necessary to start you trip toward enlightenment.
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on 20 July 2009
As Professor Gombrich of Oxford University says, this book is "By far the best introduction to Buddhism available." He could have added, for critical thinking people. Written by the Singalese Buddhist monk and scholar Dr Walpola Rahula way back in 1958, it has been reprinted innumerable times.
Reading this book 25years ago lead me, a teacher and student of world religions, to turn to Buddhism, and I continue to note that more recent scholarly works on Buddhism usually quote from this short, readable profound and accurate exposition of the basics of Buddhist teaching and practice. Like all large and ancient religions "Buddhism" is a broad church and there are so many variations that one can get lost. Dr Rahula bases his teachings on the Pali scriptures and Southern Buddhist Therevada teachings which academics agree are as close as we can get to the teaching of the historical Buddha, Siddhattha Gautama.
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on 26 August 2010
First class book. With so many misinterpreted books around it is good to have an honest, definitive study of the Buddha. Easily read, as deep as you want/need it to be. Highly recommended
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on 11 April 2013
I love this book, but please do not buy or sell this, it is supposed to be free, you can get a free copy on the original website [...]

I did buy this book, and was sad when I read on the backsida "This book is for free distribution, it is not for sale."

and also on the budaedu's homepage:

"Finally, please note that all our material is strictly for free distribution. Under no circumstances can it be sold!"
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