Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Essence of Buddha: the Path to Enlightenment

A nice counter balance to all the Christianity I've been imbibing. Christianity fascinates me because I live in a Judeo-Christian culture. Of course, other religions and other ways of seeing the world interest me too, but they often seem comparably unintelligible because I simply don't have the cultural background that enables proper understanding.

Will one book make the difference? No. But it will help. This book is a succinct, clear account of what it means to be Buddhist. Most importantly (from my perspective anyway) it includes practical ways to go about putting Buddhism into practice in your own life.

This book seems very simplistic to me. Perhaps that's because my knowledge of Buddhism is limited. I have the idea that Buddhism is complex and cannot (and shouldn't) be explained so easily. This may just be a result of the Judeo-Christian culture in which I live, which has extraordinarily complicated relationships between the various 'churches', all of whom interpret the underlying message in a slightly different way. On the other hand, I heartily approve simplifying both message and language. We seem to have a desire for complicated things and making things more complicated than they need to be. This is anything but.

On the strength of this, I think it's safe to say that Buddhism as a religion is not for me. Buddhism as a philosophy maybe. And what's the difference between the two? Religion is about faith, belief and worship. Philosophy is a way of living. The Buddhist ideal of a daily meditation practice and self-reflection appeals to my contemplative nature. The rest of it not so much.

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