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Best buddhist book for westerners?

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Best buddhist book for westerners?
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7/11/18 12:36 AM
I'm looking for a book that discusses the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in plain english. A modern book written for westerners by a reputable author.

I was hoping to find info about the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in the MCTB Wiki but it looks like those sections are empty.

Any suggestions for me?

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 12:37 AM as a reply to ivory.
Another thing I'm wondering is if the actual MCTB book covers these topics.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 1:34 AM as a reply to ivory.
Googling to see what's current (read my first Buddhist book four decades ago)....

I can't argue with this list. I love every book on it. BTW The Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein is what set me on this path back in 1981. https://www.enthusiasticbuddhist.com/best-buddhist-books-for-beginners-top-8/

Could you define your purpose a bit more clearly, ivory? If you're looking for scholarly knowledge What the Buddha Taught by Rahula is great. If you're looking for how to apply these principles in actual practice, MCTB and Culadasa's TMI are brilliant.

MCTB2 has a great section on the Four Noble Truths, culminating in the Eightfold Noble Path. Again, if you're looking for academic knowledge there are tons of books out there. If you're looking for practice guides, as above. :-)

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 1:39 AM as a reply to JohnM.
This is all about application. Not for scholarly knowledge.

Truth is, I've been cycling in and out of dark night for a long time.

I believe that I have overlooked some things and want to get really clear on the path.

I've reached a funny crossroad where I realized that I have to make spiritual practice #1 priority. I really need to understand this stuff.

I've been reading MCTB Wiki and am astounded at how much I can relate to what it's saying.

I think I'm going to buy the book.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 2:09 AM as a reply to ivory.
I can't recommend MCTB2 highly enough. I was delighted to receive an ebook version with my paperback order to Aeon Books. MCTB completely rebooted my own practice earlier this year, and the new revised and expanded edition is a treasure trove of practical information. It's all about breaking through!

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 6:50 AM as a reply to ivory.
You could try this (below) it's free on-line so if it's not to your liking it costs you nothing. It is mostly excerpts from the sturas but they are selected for usefulness. Personally I never got much benefit from books written by westerners for westerners. I would say stick to the sutras and you will be able to measure  your progress in meditation by your increasing understanding of them.

In my opinion reading about the theory does not help you attain anything. It is progress in meditation that allow you to understand the theory. So I would say "meditate and you will understand the sutras" and not "read the sutras (or books) to understand the theory".

But different people have different learning styles so what works for me might not be as good for you.

Here's the link:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/ptf/dhamma/index.html

Scroll down to find the four noble truths.

The 8 fold path.is at the Fourth truth.

It is organized hierarchically so if you go to a link and it seems too short, it's probably because there are links to other pages. You might have to scroll to the bottom to find them.


I think it is interesting that the four noble truths are the last step in the 6 fold gradual training. The 8 fold path is the last of the Four Noble Truths. And meditation is the last step of the 8 fold path. But people always want to start practicing Buddhism with meditation. There is a lot more to it than meditation. In particular people want to become non attached without renunciation, they want their attachments and non attachment at the same time. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

My point is not that everyone should go into the forest and live like a monk, it is that people should have realistic expectations. They don't always cover that when they are trying to sell you a book.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 5:44 AM as a reply to ivory.
My opinion is that MCTB (haven't checked MCTB2 yet) covers the requested topics very well.
On the noble truths there's a chapter called The Four Noble Truths at page 60 in the PDF and the following 4 chapters covering every of the truths in detail.
On the 8-fold path - I beleive that one are the 3 trainings since every part of the path belongs to one of the 3. Basically the whole book covers the 3 trainings, and the Eithfold path is also specifically mentioned in The Four Noble Truths chapter.
Good luck!

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/11/18 7:49 AM as a reply to ivory.
I'm currently reading and getting a lot out of Seeing That Frees by Ron Burbea. It is not focused on the four noble truths / eight fold path but shows a multitude of ways of seeing through the mechanics of the mind through the lens of dependent arising / origination. 

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/12/18 1:21 PM as a reply to ivory.
There is one effective way to catapult your practice and that is through a 10-day course of intensive Vipassana meditation. Centers are all around the world, so you could probably find one not too far from you. Go here for more information: https://www.dhamma.org/

Not only is the practice intense, but you get a crash course in the Noble 8-Fold Path and many other Buddhist fundamentals.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/13/18 11:43 AM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:
I'm looking for a book that discusses the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in plain english. A modern book written for westerners by a reputable author.

I was hoping to find info about the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in the MCTB Wiki but it looks like those sections are empty.

Any suggestions for me?


Eight steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/13/18 12:41 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Some great suggestions here...Bhikku Bodhi's "Noble Eightfold Path" is one I go back to. Available free as a pdf in many places, but I'd buy it - a great little book to scribble notes in.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/13/18 1:43 PM as a reply to Mike.
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. For now I'm going to stick with MCTB2. I think there's is plenty of info in there for me to chew on for a good while. As for the other suggestions, I'll add them to my reading list.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/13/18 1:53 PM as a reply to ivory.
ivory:
I'm looking for a book that discusses the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in plain english. A modern book written for westerners by a reputable author.

I was hoping to find info about the 4-noble truths and the 8-fold path in the MCTB Wiki but it looks like those sections are empty.

Any suggestions for me?


Hello friend! For a great overview of The Buddha's Noble 8-fold Path, I found Bhikkhu Bodhi's book of the same title a nice prosaic overview of the path from the point of view of the Therevada vehicle. It was recommended by my Dhamma teacher at the outset of Vipassana practice around 3 years ago, and was a great overview of the path for me at that time.

As for the 4 Truths, my practice found/finds great value in much study of a little book by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, called simply Right Mindfullness. I have treasured the hardcopy paperback of this book for several years, but found that he did release the .pdf version for free, and it is apparently identical. This ought to be quite simple to procure via a google search, etc.

Some teachers seem to emphasize the Tilikhana (3 Characteristcs) with precidence over/or prior to comprehention of the Noble truths, while others seem to teach that the 3 are comprehended later after penetration of the 4 to some depth...naturally he has his opinions of what is and is not Right Method.

In any case, I have personally benefitted from many of the things Thanissaro points out in his book, and continue to reference some parts on a nearly weekly (sometimes daily) basis.

In addition, he really fleshes out some of the details of Jhana practice and its factors (IMHO), and how these can be used to fulfill Mindfulness of The Body and its concomitant Insights via Anapanasati.

with Goodwill.

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/13/18 2:43 PM as a reply to Heiliges Basilikum.
Heiliges Basilikum:
There is one effective way to catapult your practice and that is through a 10-day course of intensive Vipassana meditation. Centers are all around the world, so you could probably find one not too far from you. Go here for more information: https://www.dhamma.org/
Please read this discussion before coming to a Goenka retreat or advertising the tradition:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/6387143

RE: Best buddhist book for westerners?
Answer
7/16/18 6:54 PM as a reply to Konstantin Alexandrov.
Ivory:

Something else that I mentioned in another thread, but I'll mention here again, simply because these books helped the practice/life here so much and still do:

Peter Ralston's trilogy of books. These are outside the Buddhist or Vedantist traditions, and yet are influenced obviously by such practice.

1.) The Book of Not Knowing
2.) Persuing Consciousness <====== in this work Ralson shows that Transformation and what he defines as "Enlightenment" can and usually do occupy seperate tiers/axes of development.
3.) Genius of Being

...some may try and call "macho", Peter having been invoved in Martial Arts and such, but the books were very supportive in keeping the mind from going out all over the place (a big obvious problem here), while also doing dry Vipassana with a teacher checking my progress weekly. I have the same teacher and still read Ralston's books, and do the Contemplations (mostly regarding how delusion of "me" originates, etc.) from time to time. The 3rd book, "Genius of Being" is short but epic (IMHO), and has useful and freeing models to consider.

I don't know him personally, and he charges money for his teachings (rubbing many the wrong way I'm sure) but the books are cheap and the 3rd one in the trilogy is supposedly representative of the culmination of his own work and that of his students since the early 70's or prior. Some may slam this work into the box of "non-advaita" I suppose, but I think if that occurs they missed the gist and power of the contemplations therin.

Edit: Forgot to mention that some of his teachings seem to have a Zen "flavor" to me, but some may rightfully disagree, being better educated in the many factions of Zen than myself. emoticon

my 2c.