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Buddhism For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

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Table of Contents

Introduction
About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
How This Book Is Organized
Part I: Embarking on a Journey: The Basics of Buddhism
Part II: A Short History of Buddhism
Part III: Behaving Like a Buddhist
Part IV: Exploring the Buddhist Path
Part V: The Part of Tens
Part VI: Appendixes
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Embarking on a Journey: The Basics of Buddhism
Chapter 1: Entering the World of Buddhism: The Basics
Figuring Out Whether Buddhism Is a Religion
Recognizing the Role of the Buddha
Understanding the Function of Philosophy in Buddhism
Appreciating Buddhist Practices
Living an ethical life
Examining your life through meditation
Practicing devotion
Dedicating Your Life to the Benefit of All Beings
Chapter 2: Understanding Your Mind: The Creator of All Experience
Recognizing How Your Mind Shapes Your Experience
Contrasting the Body and Mind
Approaching the Mind from Three Different Buddhist Perspectives
Recognizing the six major types of consciousness
Seeing how certain factors affect mental consciousness
Feeling around for your emotions
Appreciating the Fundamental Purity of Your Mind
Seeing that delusions can be remedied
Finding the sun behind the clouds
Tracing the Path of Wisdom and Loving Compassion
Wisdom: Removing the veils of misconception
Loving compassion: Opening your heart to others
Part II: A Short History of Buddhism
Chapter 3: Surveying the Life and Teachings of the Historical Buddha
Revealing the Buddha’s Early Life
A miraculous birth
An overprotective father
The prince marries: Imprisoned in palaces of pleasure
Forbidden knowledge revealed: The four visions
Beginning the Quest
Renouncing the royal life
Going to extremes and discovering the middle way
Sitting in the Shade of the Bodhi Tree: The Defeat of Mara
Benefiting Others: The Buddha’s Career in Full Gear
Providing spiritual guidance: Turning the wheel of Dharma
Founding the community
Listening to the Buddha’s final message: All things must pass
Understanding the Four Noble Truths
The truth of suffering
The truth of suffering’s cause
The truth of suffering’s cessation
The truth of the path
Envisioning the Future
The advent of Maitreya
Degeneration, followed by hope
Chapter 4: The Development of Buddhism on the Indian Subcontinent
Convening the First Buddhist Council
Gathering the council
Categorizing the teachings: The three baskets
Spreading the Teachings — Peacefully
A Fork in the Road: Managing a Developing Split in the Buddhist Community
Convening the Second Council
Advancing the teachings in different ways
Making Buddhism a Religion of the People: The Emperor Ashoka’s Influence
Transforming his approach
Promoting Buddhism beyond India
Two Levels of Practice in Early Buddhism
Witnessing Shifting Allegiances and New Ideals
Turning to the stupas
Taking a ride in the Great Vehicle: Mahayana Buddhism
Recognizing the Major Mahayana Themes
Chronicling the Rise of the Mahayana Teachings
White Lotus of the Good Dharma Sutra
Exposition of Vimalakirti Sutra
Perfection of Wisdom Sutras
Descent into Lanka Sutra
World-Array Sutra
Land of Bliss Sutras
Looking at the Decline and Reappearance of Buddhism in India
Disappearing act
Reappearing in India
Moving Mountains: Buddhism in Nepal
Delving into Buddhist traditions of Nepal
Narrowing in on Newar Buddhism
Chapter 5: Watching Developments Continue to the Present Day
Tracing the Two Routes of Buddhism
Spreading the Way of the Elders Across Southeast Asia to the West
Theravada Buddhism takes root in Thailand
Vipassana meditation gains popularity in the West
Driving the Great Vehicle to China and Beyond
Watching Mahayana Buddhism evolve in China
Examining Flower Ornament and Tiantai: The great unifying systems
Chronicling Pure Land and other devotional schools
Zen: Taking root in the Far East — and the West
From Tibet to the West: Charting the movement of the Diamond Vehicle
Part III: Behaving Like a Buddhist
Chapter 6: Turning to Buddhism
Proceeding at Your Own Pace
Taking responsibility for your own life
Determining your level of involvement
Getting Acquainted with the Teachings of Buddhism
Reading books on Buddhist teachings
Choosing a tradition
Receiving meditation instruction
Developing a meditation practice
Finding a teacher
Formally Becoming a Buddhist
Focusing on the importance of renunciation
Taking refuge in the Three Jewels
Receiving the precepts
Exploring further stages of practice
Entering the Monastic Way
Renouncing the world
Ordaining as a monk or nun
Dedicating your life to Buddhist practice
Chapter 7: Meditation: A Central Practice of Buddhism
Dispelling Some Meditation Myths
Defining Meditation
Exploring the Benefits of Meditation
Examining how neuroscientists see it
Recognizing the condition you’re in
Cultivating equanimity
Turning an old phrase upside down: Don’t do something — just sit there
Appreciating your life
Understanding the Threefold Nature of Buddhist Meditation
Developing mindful awareness
Deepening concentration
Developing penetrating insight
Developing the Three Wisdoms As the Foundation for Insight
Cultivating wisdom from listening to the teachings
Cultivating wisdom from reflecting on what you heard
Cultivating wisdom from meditating on what you understand
Chapter 8: A Day in the Life of a Buddhist Practitioner
Surveying the Role of Monasteries in Buddhism
Renouncing Worldly Attachments: A Day in the Life of a Western Buddhist Monk
Following a day in the life
Punctuating the calendar with special events
Growing a Lotus in the Mud: A Day in the Life of a Zen Practitioner
Following a day in the life
Attending silent retreats
Gathering for special events
Devoting Yourself to the Three Jewels: A Day in the Life of a Vajrayana Practitioner
Trusting the Mind of Amida: A Day in the Life of a Pure Land Buddhist
Chapter 9: Walking in the Buddha’s Footsteps
Visiting the Primary Places of Pilgrimage
Lumbini: A visit to the Buddha’s birthplace
Bodh Gaya: Place of enlightenment
Sarnath: The first teaching
Kushinagar: The Buddha’s death
Seeing Other Important Pilgrimage Sites
Rajgir
Shravasti
Sankashya
Nalanda
Going on Pilgrimage Today
Part IV: Exploring the Buddhist Path
Chapter 10: What Is Enlightenment, Anyway?
Considering the Many Faces of Spiritual Realization
Reviewing the Theravada Tradition’s Take on Nirvana
Defining nirvana
Revealing the four stages on the path to nirvana
Getting a Handle on Two Traditions of Wisdom
Realizing the Mind’s Essential Purity in the Vajrayana Tradition
Taking the direct approach to realization
Understanding the complete enlightenment of a Buddha
Standing Nirvana on Its Head with Zen
Tuning in to the direct transmission from master to disciple
The ten ox-herding pictures
Finding the Common Threads in Buddhist Enlightenment
Chapter 11: A Matter of Life and Death
Taking Death Personally
Recognizing Your Life As a Rare and Precious Opportunity
Facing Reality: The Nine-Part Death Meditation
Understanding that your death is definite
Realizing that the time of your death is uncertain
Using death awareness as your spiritual ally
Reaping the Result of the Death Meditation
Dealing with the Death of a Loved One
Surveying Attitudes toward Death in Buddhist Traditions
Theravada: Getting off the wheel of existence
Vajrayana: Turning death itself into the path
Zen: Dying the “great death” before you die
Chapter 12: Minding the Concept of Karma
Appreciating the Law of Karmic Cause and Effect
Experiencing Karmic Consequences
Following the Buddha’s Ethical Guidance
Exploring the Buddhist Precepts
Arranging the precepts behind three doors
Taking a deeper look at the ten nonvirtuous actions
Dealing with Transgressions
Atoning for mistakes
Purifying negative karma
Chapter 13: Breaking Free of the Cycle of Dissatisfaction
Feeling Like Life’s a Big Rat Race
Spinning the Wheel of Life: The Meaning of Wandering in Samsara
Identifying the root delusions
Surveying the six realms of existence
Understanding the 12 links
Cutting through Suffering: The Three Trainings
Chapter 14: Fulfilling Your Highest Potential
Ordering a Round of Happiness for Everyone and Everything
Dedicating Your Heart to Others
Keeping it all in the family
Figuring out what all beings desire
Nurturing the Four Divine Abodes
Extending loving-kindness
Developing compassion
Nurturing sympathetic joy
Establishing equanimity
Cultivating the Six Perfections of a Bodhisattva
Practicing open-hearted generosity
Following the self-discipline of ethical behavior
Developing patience
Practicing with enthusiastic effort
Sharpening your concentration
Cultivating the ultimate perfection: Insightful wisdom
Chapter 15: Life Stories of Four Buddhist Masters
Dipa Ma (1911–1989)
Spending her early years as a wife and mother
Overcoming physical ailments through meditation
Sharing her story with others
Ajahn Chah (1918–1992)
Finding his way in the forest of life
Blazing the monastic trail
Thich Nhat Hanh (Born 1926)
Working for peace in times of war
Forging new beginnings from classic ideals
The Dalai Lama (Born 1935)
Understanding the legacy of reincarnation
Reviewing the early life of the present Dalai Lama
Dealing with the Chinese
Finding freedom in exile
Appreciating his interest in science
Embracing the role of Buddhist ambassador to the world
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 16: Ten Common Misconceptions about Buddhism
Buddhism Is Only for Asians
To Buddhists, the Buddha Is God
Buddhists Are Idol Worshippers
Because Buddhists Think Life Is Suffering, They Look Forward to Dying
Buddhists Think That Everything Is an Illusion
Buddhists Don’t Believe in Anything
Only Buddhists Can Practice Buddhism
Buddhists Are Interested Only in Contemplating Their Navels
Buddhists Never Get Angry
“It’s Just Your Karma; There’s Nothing You Can Do about It”
Buddhists Don’t Know How to Count
Chapter 17: Ten Ways Buddhism Can Help You Deal with Life’s Problems
Affirming the Basic Principles
Applying the Basic Principles
Turning the page on your great expectations
Accepting change gracefully
Breaking up the concrete
Pretending to Be a Buddha
Watching your car rust
Seeing that what’s yours isn’t really yours
Feeling sorry for a thief
Tendering your resignation to pain
Turning off the projector
Dealing with uninvited houseguests
Part VI: Appendixes
Appendix A: Explaining Buddhist Terms
Appendix B: Additional Buddhist Resources to Check Out
Cheat Sheet

Buddhism For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

by Jonathan Landaw, Stephan Bodian, and Gudrun Bühnemann

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About the Authors

Jonathan Landaw was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1944 and attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. While there, he took a course in Asian religions taught by one of the leading authorities on Chinese thought, Professor Wing-tsit Chan (1901–1994). This course provided Jon with his first formal exposure to the teachings of the East and sparked his lifelong interest in Buddhism. This interest remained dormant while Jon attended graduate school in English literature at the University of California in Berkeley and then served in the Peace Corps, teaching the English language in Iran for three years. Not long after his stint in the Peace Corps, he was living overseas again, this time in northern India and Nepal, where he stayed throughout most of the 1970s. There he first encountered and was inspired by the living tradition of Buddhism as preserved by the refugee community that had recently fled from Chinese oppression in Tibet. By 1972, Jon was studying Buddhism full time and working as English editor of the texts being produced by the Translation Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India. Although he received training in other traditions of Buddhism during this time, the majority of his study and practice has been under the guidance of Tibetan lamas, particularly Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey (1925–1995), Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935–1984), and Lama Zopa Rinpoche (born in 1946). In 1977, Jon returned to the West, though he’s managed to make periodic visits to India and Nepal since then. While living in England, the Netherlands, and now in the United States, he has continued his studies and his work editing Buddhist books for publication. He has also authored books of his own, including Prince Siddhartha, the story of the Buddha’s life retold for children, and Images of Enlightenment, an introduction to the sacred art of Tibet. In addition, he’s been leading meditation courses at Buddhist centers worldwide for more than 25 years. He now resides in Capitola, California, with his wife and three children.

Stephan Bodian began practicing Zen meditation in 1969 and was ordained a monk in 1974 after studying Buddhism and other Asian religions at Columbia University. He had the extraordinary good fortune to train under the guidance of several Zen masters, including Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Kobun Chino Roshi, and Taizan Maezumi Roshi. In 1982, after a period as head monk and director of training at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, he left the monastic life to study psychology. Shortly thereafter, he married and helped raise a family.

During this period, he continued his spiritual practice by studying with several Tibetan teachers, including Sogyal Rinpoche and Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. In 1988, he met his guru, Jean Klein, a master of Advaita Vedanta and Kashmiri yoga, with whom he spent ten years inquiring into the nature of truth. Eventually, Stephan completed his Zen training and received dharma transmission (authorization to teach) from his teacher, Adyashanti, in a lineage dating back to the historical Buddha.

In addition to authoring several books, including Meditation For Dummies, and numerous magazine articles, Stephan was editor-in-chief of the magazine Yoga Journal for ten years. Currently, he practices as a licensed psychotherapist, personal coach, writing consultant, and spiritual counselor, while offering intensives and retreats dedicated to spiritual awakening. You can reach him at www.meditationsource.com.

Gudrun Bühnemann is Professor and Chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is also affiliated to the university’s Religious Studies Program.

Gudrun was born in Germany. After completing studies at the universities of Bonn and Münster in Germany, she earned her Ph.D. in Buddhist and Classical Indian Studies from the University of Vienna in Austria in 1980. From 1980 to 1989, she was affiliated as a research fellow to the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and Pune University, India. Her research was supported by grants from the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Research Council, and the Indian Council of Cultural Research. From 1989 to 1991 and 1991 to 1992, she was a research scholar at, respectively, Nagoya and Kyoto Universities in Japan, during which time she was supported by grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. In 1992, she joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and has since been teaching the Sanskrit language and its literature, along with courses on the religions of South Asia. She has authored and edited more than 15 scholarly books and numerous articles. Her current work centers on Tantric iconography and ritual, research that takes her every summer to Nepal or India. Her website is http://lca.wisc.edu/~gbuhnema/.

The first edition of this book was published in 2003 under the co-authorship of Jonathan Landaw and Stephan Bodian. At the request of Wiley Publishing, Gudrun Bühnemann updated this edition.

Dedication

To my mother, Ida M. Landaw, for her boundless love and support. And to the memory of my father, Louis Landaw, and of my beloved spiritual friend, Lama Thubten Yeshe.

— Jon Landaw

To my teachers, with boundless gratitude, and to the awakening of all beings everywhere.

— Stephan Bodian

Authors’ Acknowledgments

Although it would be impossible for me to name everyone who had a hand in this work, several people’s contributions must be acknowledged. First, I have to thank my coauthor, Stephan Bodian, for his expertise and sound judgment in giving this book a balance and breadth of view it never would have had without him.

In addition, I’d like to express my appreciation to T. Yeshe, former Buddhist nun and, for many years, a teacher associated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition; Katherine Thanas, abbot of the Santa Cruz Zen Center; and Bob Stahl, former Theravada monk and current mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher at El Camino Hospital and the Santa Cruz Medical Clinic, for reading and offering welcome suggestions to the manuscript; and to Ven. Ajahn Amaro and Richard Kollmar for their timely contributions.

I also wish to express my gratitude to the following for their invaluable aid in providing me with a computer and the assistance to use it properly: Susan Marfield, Victoria Clark, Yorgos Hadzis, Sharon Gross, Dennis Wilson, and Elizabeth Hull.

I would also like to mention Dr. Kevin Zhu and his assistants at the Five Branches Institute in Santa Cruz and my dear friend Karuna Cayton for helping me through some particularly rough patches; and George and Betsy Cameron, whose generosity is a constant source of amazement to me. And to all those teachers who have guided me along the spiritual path, I can only offer this present work in the hope that it reflects a small portion of the insight and compassion they have always demonstrated. And lastly, to Truus Philipsen and our children, Lisa, Anna, and Kevin: thank you for being in my life.

— Jon Landaw

Any grasp of Buddhist wisdom I bring to this book can be attributed to the grace of my beloved teachers and the support of my loving friends and colleagues. In particular, I would like to thank my first Zen teacher, Kobun Chino Otogawa, who introduced me to the depths of dharma and acted as spiritual mentor and elder brother during my formative years as a practitioner; my guru, Jean Klein, who embodied the teachings of the great Zen masters and kindled the first awakening; and Adyashanti, dharma brother and heart friend, in whose presence the truth finally burst into flame.

On a day-to-day level, my dear friends have been a constant source of encouragement, especially my Thursday group; old friends Katie Darling, Barbara Green, John Welwood, and Roy Wiskar; and, above all, my wife, Lis, without whose constant love and support at every level this book would never have come into being. My heartfelt thanks to you all!

I would also like to thank Rev. David Matsumoto, Ven. Ajahn Amaro, and Dechen Bartso for taking the time to answer my detailed questions about Buddhist practice.

— Stephan Bodian

I am grateful to my colleague André Wink for initiating the process that eventually led — through his recommending my name to the publisher — to my becoming involved in preparing the second edition of Buddhism For Dummies. I would like to thank Tracy Boggier of Wiley Publishing and my project editor, Linda Brandon, for their help and support. My special thanks go to the technical editor, William Chu, for all the time, effort, and valuable suggestions, as well as to my copy editor, Krista Hansing.

As I revised the book for publication, numerous colleagues and friends provided information and made useful suggestions. Many thanks go to Richard J. Davidson, Susan Jensen, Amita Schmidt, Carola Roloff, the Sangha of Abhayagiri Monastery, Wendy Lewis, Shosan Victoria Austin, and Philip Pierce.

Special thanks are extended to the following individuals for providing photographs for this book and/or for granting permission to reproduce them: John C. Huntington, Susan Huntington, and Aimee Phillips of the Huntington Archive, The Ohio State University; Tatsuhiko Yokoo; Martin Stabler; Jeff Miller; Susan Jensen; Amita Schmidt; Maria Monroe; Jay Carroll; Terri Saul, Terry Barber, Richard Friday, and the Parallax Press; Liza Matthews and Shambhala Sun; Dolma Tsering, Ven. Lobsang Dechen, and the Tibetan Nuns Project; Tan Cunda, Ajahn Gunavuddho, and the Sangha of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery; Sudanto Bhikkhu and the Sangha of the Pacific Hermitage; Janejira Sutanonpaiboon; Mel Charbonneau and Krakora Studios; and Wendy Lewis, Tanya Takacs, Shundo David Haye, and the San Francisco Zen Center.

— Gudrun Bühnemann

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

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Introduction

Buddhism is much more widely known today than it was 30 years ago. Dozens of books on the subject line the shelves at your local bookstore, and hundreds of Buddhist centers throughout North America can help you find out about Buddhism directly from members of its various traditions. Buddhism even seems to be seeping into the general culture; you commonly hear casual references to it in movies and on TV.

But even with all the increased recognition, we wonder how much the general public actually knows and understands about Buddhism. Despite the number of books on the subject, we suspect that, except for folks who have pursued their interest fairly seriously, most people still have only a vague idea of what Buddhism is all about.

About This Book

So what do you do if you want to understand more about Buddhism in general, but the books you’ve looked at so far are too narrow — covering, for example, only one particular school, aspect, or practice? Well, the book you have in your hands may be just what you’re looking for.

In this book, we cover the main themes and traditions of Buddhism without overwhelming you with too much technical jargon. (In the places where we do use technical terms, we explain them as clearly and succinctly as we can, and even provide a glossary that you can use to refresh your memory.) Because we believe that Buddhist teachings are as relevant to the human condition today as they were at the time of the historical Buddha 2,500 years ago, we avoid taking a purely theoretical approach to Buddhism, in favor of one that also shows you how you can apply its insights to your everyday life.

Conventions Used in This Book

In assigning dates, we use “BCE” (before the Common Era) and CE (in the Common Era) in place of the “BC” and “AD” that are probably more familiar to many people. These relatively new designations are coming into wider use and, being religiously neutral, seem more appropriate for a book of this nature. And don’t be concerned if the dates given differ a little from dates you find in other books on Buddhism. Historians disagree on quite a few of these dates, so we simply adopted the ones that seemed most reasonable to us.

Also, throughout this book, we cite (not too often, we hope) Buddhist technical terms and personal names from the ancient Indian languages Pali and Sanskrit (in which the Buddhist scriptures were first written) and from a smattering of other Asian languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan. Wherever possible, we simplify the spelling of these words to reflect their approximate pronunciation, and we omit most of the marks that scholars of these languages typically employ when writing them using the Latin alphabet. If any scholars happen to be reading this book, they’ll likely have no trouble identifying these terms even without their accustomed markings; for everyone else, we think that the presentation without such marks is more user friendly.

How This Book Is Organized

Buddhism is a huge subject. Not only are the teachings attributed to the Buddha himself extensive, but a succession of brilliant commentators in India and other countries have added their thoughts and interpretations to them over the years. This process has produced a large body of writings and led to the development of different Buddhist schools and traditions. In addition, as Buddhism moved from country to country, it took on different flavors. The Buddhism of Japan, for example, is different from the Buddhism of Thailand; you can even find a number of distinct forms of practice within Japan itself.

In a work like this, we can’t possibly do justice to all these aspects of Buddhist thought and practice. Instead, we combine a general overview of the different traditions and schools with a more in-depth discussion of the most important themes — the themes that characterize Buddhism as a whole. Then in the list of recommended readings in Appendix B, we provide the names of books and other resources to consult to research the aspects of Buddhism that you want to explore further.

To make our presentation as clear and useful as possible, we group the topics into the following parts, each with its own unifying theme.

Part I: Embarking on a Journey: The Basics of Buddhism

We begin with an overview of Buddhism as a whole, showing how it can be regarded as a religion, a philosophy of life, and a practical approach to dealing with life’s problems — all rolled into one. Then because the mind is so central to Buddhism, we take a look at how the mind creates both happiness and suffering, and how the centrally important Buddhist practices of wisdom and compassion can bring you into contact with your inner spiritual resources.

Part II: A Short History of Buddhism

History doesn’t have to be a boring subject, especially when it deals with the lives and deeds of extraordinary people. In this part, we look at the history of Buddhism, beginning with the life of the historical Buddha, known as Gautama or Shakyamuni, and a summary of the most basic teachings attributed to him. We then explore how Buddhism developed in India and evolved as it spread from country to country across Asia. Finally, we show you how Theravada, Vajrayana, and Zen Buddhism grew to become the three main Buddhist traditions practiced in the West.

Part III: Behaving Like a Buddhist

In this part, we address a number of practical questions: How does someone become a Buddhist? What does being a Buddhist involve? How does Buddhism affect the way you live your life? In short, what do Buddhists actually do? To answer these questions, we look at the ways people can benefit from what Buddhism has to offer. We explore meditation and show you some of the ways you can practice it. We examine how followers of various traditions bring Buddhism into their everyday lives. And we conclude by taking you on a tour of the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Part IV: Exploring the Buddhist Path

Buddhist teachings are vast and contain a wide variety of practices. In this part, we show you how all these different methods fit together. We examine the different interpretations of enlightenment and show you how you can apply the Buddhist teachings at each stage along the spiritual path. Finally, we take a look at the lives of four Buddhist masters, as inspiring examples.

Part V: The Part of Tens

If you like to receive information in bite-size, easily digestible chunks, then this is the part for you. We discuss (and dispel) ten common misconceptions about Buddhism and present ten ways that you can apply Buddhist insights to your life — all of this at no extra charge.

Part VI: Appendixes

Finally, in the appendixes, we provide some information to help round out your understanding and appreciation of Buddhism. Here you find a glossary containing many of the most commonly used Buddhist terms, as well as a list of resources to consult if you want to find out more about the different aspects of Buddhism that you encounter in this book.

Icons Used in This Book

To draw your attention to bits of information that we think are particularly important or interesting, we use the following icons throughout the text.

remember.epsThe information next to this icon is worth repeating. We may use this icon to highlight a thought expressed elsewhere in the book or simply to point out something that we think is especially important to keep in mind.

tip.epsThis text offers suggestions for ways you can get a deeper understanding of the aspect of Buddhism being discussed.

warning_bomb.epsDon’t be unduly alarmed by this icon. We use it to draw your attention to areas prone to misunderstandings so that you can avoid tripping up.

wordsofwisdom.epsNext to this icon are quotations from famous Buddhist masters of the past — including those attributed to the Buddha himself — that illustrate the aspect of Buddhism being discussed.

anecdote_nlp.epsThis icon alerts you that we’re retelling a traditional Buddhist story or perhaps relating an incident of a more personal nature.

Where to Go from Here

You can approach this book in several different ways. The table of contents and index are detailed enough that you can find specific topics of interest and turn directly to them, if you want. Or, because each chapter of the book is quite self-contained, you can start reading anywhere and skip around at your leisure. The cross-references we provide point out where you can find additional information on selected topics.

You can also read this book in the ordinary, straightforward manner: In other words, start at the beginning and, when you reach the end, stop. Finally, if you’re like some people, you can open the book at the end and, after many detours, make your way back to the beginning. We hope that, whichever approach you follow, you find the material informative and enjoyable.

Part I

Embarking on a Journey: The Basics of Buddhism

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In this part . . .

Want to find out what Buddhism actually means, and whether it’s a religion, a philosophy, a psychology, or something else? Well, look no further than the pages contained in this part. We also introduce you to the Buddhist understanding of the mind and its importance, and we tell you about the treasures inside you that Buddhism wants to help you discover. That seems well worth the price of admission, doesn’t it?