Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

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Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby nomad » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:37 am

My mother, a devout Christian, has recently shown an interest in my study of Buddhism. She asked if I had any books to loan her so that she could learn more about what it is that I believe and practice. I have a few hard-copy books, but I am afraid that they may not be what she is looking for. I was thinking about giving her “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere” and “Who is My Self?”, but I am wondering if that would help her at all. I think that she just wants an understanding of her son’s faith and is not looking to transition anytime soon. Do you guys think that these would be good books to give or would you recommend something else? I would prefer to stay away from e-books because her knowledge of computers is extremely limited.

Thanks,
With Metta

~nomad

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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:53 am

Hi Nomad
Perhaps you may wish to download and print the following excellent publications:
-- The Noble Eightfold Path The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... toend.html
-- Buddhism in a Nutshell by Narada Mahathera: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... shell.html
-- Frequently Asked Questions About Buddhism by John T. Bullitt: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... /bfaq.html

Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:10 am

There are several books that attempt to "bridge the divide" between Buddhism and Christianity.

Thich Nhat Hahn's books "Living Buddha, Living Chris" and "Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers" come to mind.

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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 8:59 am

'Do they though Dan74 ? I would not recommend them to a Christian. I think they are neither one thing or the other, but a syncretic mix of both.

I would go along with Ben's suggestion.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Moggalana » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:20 am

Thich Nhat Hanh's Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha is also an excellent and readable introduction for beginners.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:23 am

I disagree. And I dont want to get all pedantic here but this subforum is called "Discovering THERAVADA ". I would guess that maybe the op posted here with conscious deliberation.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:39 am

How about something really old fashioned?
A copy of the Dhammapada, where all the words are translated into English.

One doesn't have to read it cover to cover,
but can pick it up at any point, muse over some of the verses,
and go about one's day.

* ie. not even a "brahmin" or "arhat" to speak of.

That is timeless wisdom that I think anybody can relate too.
And it's 100% Dhamma, too.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:44 am

Good idea Ven. Judging from the number of times and the wide variety of contexts The Dhammapada is quoted it clearly has a wide appeal.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:08 am

Sanghamitta wrote:I dont want to get all pedantic here but this subforum is called "Discovering THERAVADA".

Agreed.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:39 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:I dont want to get all pedantic here but this subforum is called "Discovering THERAVADA".

Agreed.


True. But making such a fine distinction, ie. Theravada, and not some other tradition, in the light of a mother who is a "devout Christian", maybe asking too much. Probably, anything that points out basic notions of Buddhism such as the three jewels, the law of kamma and its relation to dissatisfaction that everyone experiences, and the methods of morality, meditation and insight to overcome that, will already be more than enough! Maybe by book #5, if things get that far, distinctions such as "Theravada" may be made.

Also, given that the Theravada still clearly shows its vis-a-vis theistic Brahmanism, even in modern forms - partly because the Hindu traditions are so strong in much of South Asia, make sure you don't have anything that is too rapidly "There is NO creator God in Buddhism!!!" These are sometimes quite common, particularly from the Sri Lankans (in the face of the Hindu traditions just over the water, and now centuries of Catholic and Protestant oppression). You don't want to scare your old mother into thinking that you are an atheistic heathen! (Even if you are! :P )
Last edited by Paññāsikhara on Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Moggalana » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:39 am

Greetings Sanghamitta/Mawkish,

the author is a Mahayana teacher and that may influence his writings to a certain degree. I don't doubt that. The book is a recollection (in form of a novel) of the Buddha's life and the most important teachings (the four noble truths, the eightfold path, dependent origination etc.) he gave throughout his life. Isn't that what Theravada is about? The book's primary sources are the pali suttas and chinese agamas. Those are the two oldest sources we have, aren't they? Of couse, I don't remember every word but I can't also remeber any contradiction with a Theravada point-of-view. What this book doesn't provide, is a historic account of how and why the different schools of Buddhism were established and what distinguishes one school from another and what makes Theravada unique, but I didn't understand the op's question in this way.

With metta :anjali:
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:45 am

Greetings,

I know if I were going to give my mother 1 book to read on what my religion is, it wouldn't be a Mahayana one. No offence to Mahayana intended of course, but it's not the religion I follow, so it wouldn't fulfill the intended purpose of letting her know more about my beliefs and practices etc.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:02 pm

That was rather my view Retro. It wasnt anti anything, it was pro Theravada.

:anjali:
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby zavk » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:47 pm

Perhaps it is best we let the OP clarify what his preferences are. If it is indeed to strictly introduce his/her mother to Theravada then I think Ben makes some good suggestions.

But like some others before me, I don't find those books by Thich Nhat Hanh overly Mahayana-ish. He talks a lot about mindfulness in his books about Buddhism and Christianity. In fact, from what I recall his understanding of mindfulness does draw heavily on Theravadin ideas, particularly the Anapanasati Sutta. His books also foreground lovingkindness and compassion, which seems to me are themes that a devout Christian would easily identify with.

One could object that those themes in Thich Nhat Hanh's book are easily found in Theravadin texts. That could very well be the case, but I think it's best we let the OP decide. Just making suggestions here..... not imposing or trumpeting any particular views or anything like that.

EDIT: Another reason I suggest TNH's book is because of his gentle style of writing. This style of writing doesn't go down well with some of us here on DW but I think it might resonate with a devout Christian who (I assume) is more accustomed to that tone of writing than the analytical style of some, although certainly not all, Theravadin texts--the collection of Ajahn Chah's teachings, for example, is very accessible.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:28 pm

I take your point zavk. But if. just for example, I wanted to introduce someone to Zen, I personally wouldnt post on a Theravadin website asking for recommendations. And I most definately would not post on a Zen website asking for pointers towards reading material on the Theravada.
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Laurens » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:35 pm

I agree the Dhammapada is an excellent choice, its not too heavy to read, its easy to pick up and put down without getting lost also there are a few sayings there that Jesus ripped off :tongue:
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:16 pm

Yes, the Dhammapada is good, as long as you don't pick one of the dodgy translations... :reading:

For something with Buddhist attitudes with not technicalities there is Ajahn Brahm's "Opening the door to your heart"
http://www.bswa.org/zencart/index.php?m ... 8110a4f3d9
[American Title: "Who ordered this truckload of dung?"].

I also agree with Paññāsikhara's point about picking things that will emphasise the similarities (compassion and so on) rather than the differences (technical stuff about creator gods and not-self), between Buddhism and Christianity. The Dhammapada has some of the latter, but plenty of the former.

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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:49 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I take your point zavk. But if. just for example, I wanted to introduce someone to Zen, I personally wouldnt post on a Theravadin website asking for recommendations. And I most definately would not post on a Zen website asking for pointers towards reading material on the Theravada.


With respect, Sanghamitta, I don't think you do.

Thich Nhat Hanh's books above are not about Zen. They are about fundamental Buddhist practices and how they connect with Christianity. It seems that any time a name or practice of something not formally Theravada shows up, alarm bells start ringing with some members. But if we make an effort to look at the substance, we find basic Buddhist practices, explained with clarity and depth of experience by a monk who lives the Dhamma.

I find that if we lay down our sectarian saw for a while, and then perhaps lay down the labels such as Theravada and Mahayana, our being opens up to the myriad teachings all around us. Yes, I do have a focus on a particular school of Buddhism, I do have a formal teacher who has more than half a lifetime of intensive training in a particular school, but I don't see how that implies exclusion of everything else. That would be attachment to views, creating divisions and conflicts, neither Dhamma nor conducive to Dhamma.

Bhikkhu Bodhi now lives and studies with a Mahayana master. Our very own Pannasikhara in the course of his academic Buddhist studies has learnt from teachers of different traditions. Life happens every moment and it is neither Buddhist nor not-Buddhist. I hope we all learn from it.

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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:02 am

:focus:
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Buddhist Text for Non-Buddhist?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:12 am

I would send them a copy of or print a copy of retros book, buddhism for modern sceptics!
It covers all bases really!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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