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The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World [Paperback]

Guy Claxton
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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'Written with humour, lightness of touch and an affection for the human condition with all its faults, this book is a blessedly easy and reader-friendly account of what Buddhism has to offer.' Anne Bancroft, Resurgence

Book Description

Written with humor, lightness of touch and an affection for the human condition with all its faults,...also a serious book and nothing of the basic teaching is left out.-- Anne Bancroft, Resurgence

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice intro June 16 2002
Format:Paperback
A nice and comprehensive introduction to Buddhism from a Guy who tried the main traditions (Zen, Tibetan and Theravada). Very easy but never superficial reading, complete with glossary and commented bibliography. I found the first couple of chapters a bit slow, but then again this is really intended to be a first book and this reader has read more than a few on the subject. I also wish that Mr Claxton, drawing from his sincretic experience, had extended his comparison of the branches of Buddhism at the end of the book, which is very interesting but too short. Anyway, he delivers what he promises. It is a perfect gift to a friend who is attracted to Buddhism but is clueless.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is Guy Claxton on a really lazy day. May 28 2003
Format:Paperback
I read several of Guy Claxton books. I typically love them. But, not this one. He is an original, insightful, contrarian, brilliant type of thinker on cognitive science. But, not here. I don't think he defines Buddhism well. And, does not provide the reader with much to work on or understand, unlike most of his other books.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism without Asian adornments. Dec 18 2000
By Adam Khan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for a book that clearly explains Buddhism without the trappings -- robes, lotus postures, beliefs about reincarnation, talk of cherry blossoms -- The Heart of Buddhism is the book for you. Guy Claxton is an intelligent writer and the writing is compact, condensed; he says a lot in every paragraph. And the writing is straightforward and easy to follow. If reincarnation exists and if Buddha was reincarnated in some modern, English-speaking country, how would he communicate his message? I think it would be very much the way Claxton has done it in this book.
Claxton clearly explains how our own general agitation and unease and even our self-centeredness has come about -- how it is really inevitable given our approach -- and how it can be alleviated. An interesting idea I got from this book is that a third of our unhappiness is caused by external circumstances. Two thirds is self-created, and that's what Buddhism is designed to cure.
Why is Buddhism becoming more popular? Claxton wrote, 'It is THE 'religion' for a secular age, concerning itself centrally with improving the quality of everyday life, requiring no adherence to obscure or magical beliefs, and offering a penetrating analysis of the condition -- or lack of it -- that we find ourselves in, as well as a powerful and proven set of specific techniques for increasing happiness, kindliness and peace in people's lives.'
He goes on: 'Buddhism is really a deep do-it-yourself kit of ideas and practices for changing in the directions that most people would like: more openness, less defensiveness; more tolerance, less irritation; more ease, less worry; more generosity, less selfishness; more naturalness, less self-consciousness; more equanimity, less frustration.'
In this book you get a thorough understanding of the Four Noble Truths (written from an understanding of their meaning rather than translating an Asian understanding into English), a clear explanation of the Noble Eightfold Path and the Five Precepts. Claxton describes the different forms of Buddhist meditation and how they work. There is a great chapter near the end of the book on the benefits of Buddhist practice.
On page 168 is a spreadsheet showing a 'brand comparison' of the five most popular kinds of Buddhism (Zen, Tibetan, etc.) which rates each for its emphasis on ten different things like 'moral discipline' and 'reverence for lineage.'
Buddhism is self-help at its finest. I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I can tell you this with authority: Buddhism is one of the finest set of practical self-help tools available on the planet, and Claxton clearly explains how these tools can be used by Westerners. I recommend it highly.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice intro June 16 2002
By FABRICIO M. R. Silva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A nice and comprehensive introduction to Buddhism from a Guy who tried the main traditions (Zen, Tibetan and Theravada). Very easy but never superficial reading, complete with glossary and commented bibliography. I found the first couple of chapters a bit slow, but then again this is really intended to be a first book and this reader has read more than a few on the subject. I also wish that Mr Claxton, drawing from his sincretic experience, had extended his comparison of the branches of Buddhism at the end of the book, which is very interesting but too short. Anyway, he delivers what he promises. It is a perfect gift to a friend who is attracted to Buddhism but is clueless.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for students of Buddhist philosophy & practice. April 4 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Buddhism is principally concerned with improving the quality of everyday life. It requires no adherence to obscure beliefs or magical thinking. It offers a penetrating diagnosis of the human condition and a proven set of techniques for overcoming the daily rigors of modern life. Guy Claxton's The Heart Of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom For An Agitated World explains what Buddhism is aptly appropriate for any personal, social or global situation today, and goes on to describe how we can each help ourselves individual, with a teacher, in a group, or on our own, through a Buddhist approach to understanding, meditation, discipline and communication. The Heart Of Buddhism is highly recommended reading for students of Buddhist philosophy and practice.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author Obviously NOT a Buddhist April 5 2013
By Jayole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I couldn't get past the first 50 pages where the author spent a great deal of time bashing Christianity and stating why Buddhism is a better religion. I have read many books on Buddhism and none of them have ever mentioned other religions or compared other religions to Buddhism. This is not the Buddhist way. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama stated (yes, I saw him in person) "It doesn't matter what religion you are. The most important thing is to study your religion, learn everything about it, and live it everyday." I was unable to continue reading this book I was so disgusted with the author and his uppity religious attitude. Sorry Guy Claxton, I will never buy another one of your books again.
4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is Guy Claxton on a really lazy day. May 28 2003
By Gaetan Lion - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read several of Guy Claxton books. I typically love them. But, not this one. He is an original, insightful, contrarian, brilliant type of thinker on cognitive science. But, not here. I don't think he defines Buddhism well. And, does not provide the reader with much to work on or understand, unlike most of his other books.
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