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Buddhism For Dummies



Buddhism For Dummies

Jonathan Landaw, Stephan Bodian

ISBN: 978-1-118-05375-1 March 2011 384 Pages

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From the outside, Buddhism seems like a bundle of contradictions wrapped inside a paradox. It is a religion without a god, a belief system without rules, and a faith that encourages its adherents to question everything, including its own teachings. You could spend a lifetime studying Buddhist texts and following its observances and still feel like you’ve only just barely scratched the surface. Yet, over the past 2500 years, this lovely religion that preaches compassion, generosity, tolerance, selflessness and self-awareness has commanded the fervent devotion of hundreds of millions of people around the world who believe it to be the true path to enlightenment.

If you’re curious about Buddhism but feel intimidated by all the exotic jargon and strange trappings, this book is for you. Written by two leading American Buddhist teachers and scholars, it offers you a uniquely friendly way to explore the fascinating history of Buddhism and discover:

  • Who Buddha was and his significance in world history and spirituality
  • How the practice of Buddhism can enrich your everyday life
  • How Buddha’s teachings combine to create a path to enlightenment
  • Daily observances and meditation practices
  • How to fulfill your highest potential through Buddhism

In plain English, experts Jonathan Landaw and Stephan Bodian define the important terms, explain the key concepts and explore, in-depth a wide range of topics, including:

  • Buddha’s life and teachings and the evolution of the major Buddhist traditions
  • How Buddhism works as a religion, philosophy of life and a practical approach to dealing with life’s problems, all rolled into one
  • The idea that the mind is the source of all happiness and suffering
  • How the practices of wisdom and compassion can connect you with your inner spiritual resources
  • Meditation and other core Buddhist practices and how they can affect your everyday life
  • How to apply Buddhist teachings at each stage along the spiritual path

Whether you’re a searcher of truth, a student of religions, or just curious about what’s got Richard Gere and all the rest of those celebrity Buddhists so excited, Buddhism For Dummies is your intro to Buddhism basics.


Part I: Introducing Buddhism.

Chapter 1: What is Buddhism?

Chapter 2: Understanding Your Mind: The Creator of All Experience.

Part II: Buddhism Past and Present.

Chapter 3: Surveying the Life and Teachings of the Historical Buddha.

Chapter 4: Charting the Development of Buddhism in India.

Chapter 5: Following Buddhism to the Present Day.

Part III: Buddhism in Practice.

Chapter 6: Turning to Buddhism.

Chapter 7: Meditation: The Central Practice of Buddhism.

Chapter 8: A Day in the Life of a Buddhist.

Chapter 9: Walking in Buddha’s Footsteps.

Part IV: Traveling the Buddhist Path.

Chapter 10: What is Enlightenment Anyway?

Chapter 11: A Matter of Life and Death.

Chapter 12: Getting Your Karmic Act Together.

Chapter 13: Breaking Free of the Cycle of Dissatisfaction.

Chapter 14: Fulfilling Your Brightest Potential.

Chapter 15: Four Modern Buddhist Masters.

Part V: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 16: Ten Common Misconceptions about Buddhism.

Chapter 17: Ten Ways Buddhism Can Help You Deal with Life’s Problems.

Part VI: Appendixes.

Appendix A: Brushing Up Your Sanskrit: A Glossary of Useful Buddhist Terms.

Appendix B: Additional Buddhist Resources to Check Out.


“…another interesting title that seems written for anything but dummies…” (Alain de Botton in The Observer, July 4th, 2004)