The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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Hello all,

As I mentioned a while back in the podcast, my real-life job has grown to insane proportions in the past couple of weeks. I had planned to keep the site going on an every-other day basis, but obviously, I haven’t been doing that. I do apologize for the interruption. That being said, the site is not closed and I haven’t “quit.” I love what I’m doing here, and have no plans to ever stop.

I’ll be returning full-time on the 6th, and I still hope to make some posts between now and the 6th. In the meantime, send in your questions or topic suggestions to give me something to work with. If you are subscribed to the newsletter, podcast, or RSS feed, don’t change anything, and we’ll just continue from where we left off then.

I’ve got some big plans for the site, and one of them involves automating things to where I can send out scheduled posts. This will let me send out a daily post even on the days when I’m not actually “here.” That will eliminate this problem returning in the future.

2 comments to Update

  • Doug T

    I have a new-found interest in Buddhism and have been reading numerous books… Recently, I read a book,The Feeling Buddha , by David Brazier, that gives me reason to question traditional vs. “modern” buddhism… If unfamiliar with the book, he interprets the Four Noble Truths differently than I have previously heard discussed.
    Summary from:

    “The first Noble Truth is Dukkha. Dr. Brazier feels that a better translation of the word is ‘that things happen to us.’ This is not the same as suffering. The point is that things go wrong that are beyond our control. It is a ‘Truth’ because one can’t avoid it. It is ‘Noble’ because it is not something to be ashamed of. We are not responsible for the things that afflict us.

    The second Noble Truth is Samudaya. This is normally translated as ‘the cause of suffering.’ But the early texts don’t say this. Dr. Brazier feels that interpreting it as the cause of suffering shows a Hindu influence.

    Sam means ‘with’ and Ud means ‘up’. He feels the correct interpretation of Samudaya is ‘what comes up with suffering.’ What normally does come up is craving or thirst for something. What this means is that after we experience Dukkha we latch onto something. But what we latch on to has nothing to do with the Dukkha. What comes up with this is feelings. They are not something we can do anything about.

    The second Noble Truth is a Truth because the feelings we come up with are a fact. It is Noble because we don’t have to be ashamed of the feelings.

    The third Noble Truth is Nirodha. Rodha means to harness, capture, confine or contain, similar to containing a fire. Fire is useful, it keeps us warm and cooks our food. It can also be dangerous. The fire in this Noble Truth is our passion. Our passions can be both useful and dangerous. The issue is how to use the passion. To use it well requires a skill in containment; to use this energy towards a great transformation of the whole world.

    The fourth Noble Truth is Marga which means ‘track.’ If you apply and use the energy well you are on the right track.”

    To me this means that enlightenment might be more easily attained than traditional texts leads one to believe. Also, it reminds me of what I have read about the Buddha teaching that one should not accept any truth based on hearsay. What is your opinion of this view, if any, and do you think Buddhists have perhaps relied too much on interpretations done hundreds of years after the Buddha’s lifetime instead of searching for their own meanings?


  • TWC

    The path of Enlightenment is an experiential one not an intellectual one. One achieves it by being, not by reading. I am not saying don’t read. But be aware that western languages on the whole are languages of trade and commerce, and do not have the vocabulary or nuance to convey subtle and profound spiritual concepts. Eastern languages, I believe, are more able to convey those concepts, but I do not know that for a fact.

    In any event your path to Enlightenment is your own, and all you can learn from books is the landscape that other people have seen on their own journeys. Sure they can act as a guide, but they are not a precise route map.

    On my journey, I came to a realisation some years ago that it is not that good or bad things happen to me, but that “stuff” happens, neither good nor bad. It was my experiences, and my expecations of (attachments to) what should happen that made me perceive (or feel) things as good or bad. And that only through the passionate application of effort to change my perception, to see things a different way, to become at peace with the world around me (become one with it), could I stay “on track” with my life (my journey).

    It was only then that I became interested in Buddhism, almost by accident, because I happened to read an article about the Four Noble Truths, and immediate recognised the similarity.

    However, consider for example a Christian, who experiences suffering, but realises that this is part of God’s plan, and that the way to remain faithful is to pray more, to come closer to God in order to better understand God’s plan and his own role in it, to try to adopt Christ’s teachings as a role model for his own life, and thus be a better Christian, and a better person.

    Is this not also a reflection of the Four Noble Truths? I suspect similar analogies can be found in all the major religions.

    The secret (if there is one) to Enlightenment is not to try to try to follow someone else’s path, but to follow your own; and yes sometimes we do need a guide, but pick your guides wisely – they have to be people who have been on paths near to your own, or else they will have a different perspective of the landscape around you, and will be useless to you, though they may be useful to others.

    Finally, do not get too attached to following a particular path you’ve mapped out for yourself: that attachment will prevent you from realising that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, in that moment, even if it feels like you have left the path, you are still on your journey; that you have not left YOUR path at all, just taken a different one to the one you had expected to take.

    Life does wonderful, surprising things like that to us.