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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on June 26, 2003
Delivers exactly what it promises: an introductory survey for beginners, a review with some depth for those already practicing. There is SOME history of Buddhism, SOME meditation guidance, SOME analysis of the ethical and metaphysical tenets of Buddhism. None of this is exhaustive, but neither is any of it superficial. It is just enough to spark awareness during a leisurely walk, or help center you during the drive to or from work. Includes many great parables, some of them already well-known, but also several personally from this author, an ordained Buddhist preist. A good place to start, support, or revive an interest in Buddhism.
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on September 3, 2004
This was one of my first few books on buddhism and I thought it was an incredible study. It's not the type of book that you read it once and move on; it's study material. You read it once, you read it twice and you read it thrice. I found myself reading a chapter and thinking about it for days. Then I would go back and re-read it and think some more. The way that it's presented was in my opinion, very clear, conscice and precise.
He allows you to discover for yourself the art of seeing. First, you can't learn compassion from a book, first you see then you practice compasion like out of unwilled intention. You won't learn this is a book. Those who are reviewing this book saying that it missed "this" and "that" missed the whole point. The beauty of this book is that Steve allows you to see it for yourself. He doesn't serve it on a silver plater (no fast food enlightenment here - sorry folks) but he makes you work for what he points at - uninterested minds recoil now. I'm under the impression that he knows that if he tries to describe the "process" too much, conception comes in and ego's assimilation fragments the idea and then the windows are all fogged up.
He did an incredible clever job of sublety pointing to directions that lead to the path - it's a raft. He even describes that it's impossible for you to get truth from a book, you have to see it for yourself; that's why he keeps saying "see", learn to "see," just "see," etc; It's a reminder. You must do the work yourself - no one will do it for you.
This book surely helped me start to see the path. Hopefully it will help you too.
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on June 22, 2016
I am still trying to figure out what ON EARTH I just read.
I am new to Buddhism and have great interest in learning all about this philosophy/religion. Every time I finished a chapter I felt as though I had learned absolutely nothing. Everything is just... fuzzy. My hats off to the people who gave the book 5 stars and truly understood what Hagen was talking about.
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on April 30, 2003
I'm new to the teachings of the Buddha, and this is the first book I've read on the subject. One thing that attracted me to this book was the author made a point of sidestepping the "cultural trappings" of Buddhism in favor of a down-to-earth explanation of the core concepts.
As I read through this book, I kept thinking to myself... "This is too simple! Why does he keep rehashing the same basic stuff over and over again?" By the time I got to the end, I had my answer. Buddhism, at its core, is really that simple. It's all about being aware, about being here and now. I initially wondered why the author seemed to resist going into detailed explanations, but then I realized that's because no detail is necessary.
This book is refreshing and enjoyable to read. Mr. Hagen has an engaging style that he uses very effectively to drive home the basics of Buddhism. I can think of no drawbacks to this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about this intriguing religion (or simply life philosophy, depending on how far you wish to take it).
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on July 8, 2002
The introduction started off captured the nature of the concerns of many people with (post)modernity. It then went through a fairly persuasive introduction of key Buddhist concepts framed for a Western mind. However, when it came to issues like denying of the self and the flow of existence, Hagen conceptually does not cover enough ground to make the explication adequate. In regards to the former - the denial of the self/individualism - Hagen results to repetitive assertions that are of no good to a critical mind. The second half of the book is almost useless; I threw it aside in disgust several times due to frustration at its lack of conceptual foundations. If you want a basic idea of what Buddhism is, this book might be right for you; but, if you want something that will explain Buddhist beliefs and especially such important keystones as the denial of the self, I would not recommend it.
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on May 20, 2003
i read this book with two or three misconceptions about Buddhism, but this book dealt with that problem and more.
basically, I thought buddhism is a pagan religion, and that it is indeed a religion. that the followers of Buddhism are most likely to be silent people, or wishing to live in complete solitude. But truthfully, that all is contrary to the real buddhists, and some who practice it right now are misinformed/created their own ideas about a religion even older than Christianity. a religion that is not a religion, but more of a philosophy. that makes you be here now, and not there, nor forward.
the book is brilliant for a simple and plain view, but very well written that makes you want to go into deeper reading.
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on May 30, 2004
This book cuts to the chase. Its not page after page of fluff and abstract as many Buddist books are. This book goes straight to the heart of what the Buddha taught and not all the "extras" that have been tacked on by various sects. Mr. Hagen has an excellent straight forward writing style and he doesnt complicate the teachings. I have read over 30 books on Buddism and this book is light years ahead of the rest. For those who need a lot of airy-fairy gobbly gook type stuff, this is not your book. For those who take being AWAKE wont find a better guide.
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on September 15, 2003
What an insight!
The title, "Buddhism Plain and Simple," serves a-perhaps unintended-double meaning. First the content of the book itself is, for such a difficult subject to the 'western' mind, simplifying to the nature of Buddhism. In most of the so-called western world, Buddhism is another religion a kin to Hinduism and a slew of unnamed cast based worldviews. Hagen skillfully and logically reduces the original concepts preached by the Buddha as a way of seeing the world, a philosophy of sorts, and strips off the many colorful layers of lore and culture acquired through the religion's sweep into Indo-Tibet, thus presenting the most simplified form of Buddhist teaching available. The alternate understanding of the book's title is that Buddhism itself is, by nature, the idea of life as simplicity applied. While this concept may be difficult to grasp (especially for those who have not been raised with eastern philosophy) it is, nonetheless, simple. Get it?
Anyone (really, anyone) desiring to gain an applicable understanding of "Buddhist philosophy" (for lack of a better term) should start with this book. Take the time to read it carefully, reread it, mull it, and then see how it affects you. The least you can expect to gain from Hagen's work, is a better understanding of the simplicity that life has to offer to those willing to let go.
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on December 30, 2003
In every Amazon search I did on Introduction To Buddhism books - Buddhism Plain and Simple popped up. In some reviews of other books on intro to Buddhism this one gets mentioned - so I had to give it a read.
I very much enjoyed Steve Hagen's style of explaining concepts. Particularly he gives us a chance to experience true "seeing" in his chapter "A Wheel Out of Kilter". I wont give it away here, but it's a terrific and original tool and it truly helped me to "see" more clearly.
If you're looking for a little more than just an introduction to Buddhism give this a read. It really is a great lesson in being aware, right now...every day.
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on February 1, 2004
I've read a number of books about Zen and Buddhism, and feel that this is about the best. Especially for someone like me with a basic understanding this was very helpful. Hagen sets out the history of Buddhism and with few words spells out how you and I can find peace of mind and gain wisdom through simple practices, and without the need of a "guru", "teacher", or "spiritual guide". The author has a clear writing style that gets directly to the point without trying to be too cute or complex. I would recommend this book to any friend.
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