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Summary

This very short introduction offers listeners a superb overview of the teachings of the Buddha, as well as a succinct guide to the integration of Buddhism into daily life. 

What are the distinctive features of Buddhism? Who was the Buddha, and what are his teachings? Words such as karma and nirvana have entered our vocabulary, but what do they mean? 

Damien Keown provides a lively, informative response to these frequently asked questions about Buddhism. As he sheds light into how Buddhist thought developed over the centuries, Keown also highlights how contemporary dilemmas can be faced from a Buddhist perspective.   

In the second edition, Keown provides new perspectives on Buddhist thought, including up-to-date material about the evolution of Buddhism throughout Asia, the material culture of Buddhism and its importance, new teachings on the ethics of war and peace, and changes to ethnicity, class, and gender.

©2013 Damien Keown (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Darwin8u
  • 22-10-18

Engage the services of a Very Short boatman

"...rather than devote years of one's life to learning to walk on water it was simpler to engage the services of a boatman!"
- Buddha, quoted in Damien Keown's Buddhism: VSI

Vol N° 3 of Oxford's Very Short Introductins series.

I've been fascinated with Buddhism for years and for years jokingly called myself a Zen Mormon. Although that probably undersells my relationship with Mormonism and oversells my relationship with Buddhism. I do, however, follow many secular Buddhist practices and read several books on Buddhism every year. I try to meditate, but I'm really, really bad at it. I joke that if I could meditate properly for just one minute, I might at that point achieve Nirvana, or at least begin to float a couple inches over my cushion.

Anyway, I've got several books on Buddhism sitting on my shelf to read, but this year I wanted to read a simple overview of Buddhism. Damien Keown's contribution to Oxford's Very Short Introduction seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It summarizes Buddhism and the Buddha, looks at its history, schools (Mahāyāna, Theravāda, etc.), while also giving an overview of karma, the Four Noble Truths, meditation, ethics, etc. Finally, Keown ends the book discussing Buddhism in the West and the possibilities of development and enlightenment as Buddhism grows in a new field.

Anyway, for a book that is limited to less than 150 pages, Keown did a great job and covered a lot of ground. The limits were Keown necessarily needed to leave unexplored a lot of Buddhist teachings (think bullet points of the main concepts).