The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

Recommended Host

Book: Buddhist Scriptures, by Edward Conze, Ed.

Book: Buddhist Scriptures, by Edward Conze, Ed.
ISBN: 014044758X

It’s important to read modern Buddhist thought, such as books by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. However, in order to fully appreciate what those men are saying, its crucial to have at a good foundation in “classical” Buddhism. This book will help with that foundation.

This book, at about 250 pages, includes most of the basic scriptures of Buddhism, in excerpts and small bits. There’s no need to read a 900-page archaic text to learn the story of King Milinda, for example, when the important bits are right here, condensed into a section in the “Wisdom” chapter.

Here is the chapter list, and each chapter is broken down into several sub-topics:

  • The Buddha’s Previous Lives
  • The Legend of the Buddha Shakyamuni
  • Morality
  • Meditation
  • Wisdom
  • Doctrinal Formulas
  • Doctrinal Disputes
  • Other Worlds
  • The Buddha of the Future

Level: This one has a lot of long Indian/Pali names in it, so you have to read closely sometimes to remember who’s who, but that’s not strictly necessary in most cases. You’ll figure out who’s important to remember by context. The book covers all the basics that we have discussed here in the Daily Buddhism, but includes a vast number of ancient legends and stories to support the ideas. Some sections are easier to read than others, but there’s nothing here that most of us can’t get through. It’s worth it.

The book also explains various ideas from more than one “denominational” viewpoint. Some texts are important to Mahayanas, others to Hinayana (Thereveda) practitioners, and the editor explains why the texts are important, as well as some of the history behind them.

It’s an inexpensive book, at about $10, and commonly available. It includes a wide variety of material, and I suspect I’ll be referring to stories from this book in the future. I like the way it presents big ideas in small packages; What could be more appropriate for The Daily Buddhism?

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