[Ebook] ↠ What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada Author Walpola Rahula – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk

What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada A Classic Introductory Book To Buddhism, What The Buddha Taught Contains A Selection Of Illustrative Texts From The Original Pali Texts, Including The Suttas The Dhammapada The Author, Himself A Buddhist Monk Scholar, Removes A Number Of Common Misconceptions About Buddhism, Provides A Comprehensive, Compact, Lucid Faithful Account Of The Buddha S Teachings That Persistently Enjoys Great Popularity In Colleges, Universities Theological Schools Both Here Abroad For Years, Says The Journal Of The Buddhist Society, The Newcomer To Buddhism Has Lacked A Simple Reliable Introduction To The Complexities Of The Subject Dr Rahula S What The Buddha Taught Fills The Need As Only Could Be Done By One Having A Firm Grasp Of The Vast Material To Be Sifted It Is A Model Of What A Book Should Be That Is Addressed First Of All To The Educated Intelligent Reader Authoritative Clear, Logical Sober, This Study Is As Comprehensive As It Is Masterly


About the Author: Walpola Rahula

Walpola Rahula 1907 1997 was a Buddhist monk, scholar and writer He is one of the Sri Lankan intellectuals of the 20th century In 1964, he became the Professor of History and Religions at Northwestern University, thus becoming the first bhikkhu to hold a professorial chair in the Western world He also once held the position of Vice Chancellor at the then Vidyodaya University currently known as the University of Sri Jayewardenepura He has written extensively about Buddhism in English, French and Sinhalese His book, What the Buddha Taught, is considered by many to be one of the best books written about Theravada Buddhism from Wikipedia



10 thoughts on “What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada

  1. says:

    As strange as it may sound, many of the books I ve read on Buddhism do not actually pay much attention to Siddhartha the Gautama Buddha himself Normally the prose is driven by explanations of the concepts behind the philosophy rather than delving into its origins I ve often relied on internet searches to supplement my readings So this book begins with the beginning, and expands outwards But rather than trying to conceptualise ideas, and explain them in his own personal way as many other wr As strange as it may sound, many of the books I ve read on Buddhism do not actually pay much attention to Siddhartha the Gautama Buddha himself Normally the prose is driven by explanations of the concepts behind the philosophy rather than delving into its origins I ve often relied on internet searches to supplement my readings So this book begins with the beginning, and expands outwards But rather than trying to conceptualise ideas, and explain them in his own personal way as many other writers do Rahula adheres as closely as possible to The Buddha s actual words He analyses the four noble truths, the crux of Buddhist teachings, in real detail But there is not a sense of distance between the ideas and the man who formulated them it does not sound like a vague philosophy that has been watered down over the years by constant re writings it sounds credible I don t feel like I have to read between the lines and do much of the work myself to understand them Thus, the very basics of Buddhism are laid down in a very accessible way For the scholar of Buddhism, for he she who is looking deep into the way of thought, may wish to look elsewhere, as this is a beginner s manual easily the best I ve read to date I wish I d read this much sooner before attemptingcomplex and dense works Some book I read earlier even gave me a false impression of Buddhism Simplicity is best here Though, as I ve said before, I do highly recommend the novel Siddhartha for a good exploration of the introspective drive of the teachings


  2. says:

    Invitation Complications orWho is the Best Spokesperson for a Religion Who can write about a religion best An insider or an outsider Obviously it takes a lifetime s learning to understand the religion, just to get a feel for it It might even need a lifetime s practice , and it could very well be that the first innocent impulses can only be absorbed at a very young age like a language, a religion is also a mode of expression Then surely the insider is the one best placed to introduce Invitation Complications orWho is the Best Spokesperson for a Religion Who can write about a religion best An insider or an outsider Obviously it takes a lifetime s learning to understand the religion, just to get a feel for it It might even need a lifetime s practice , and it could very well be that the first innocent impulses can only be absorbed at a very young age like a language, a religion is also a mode of expression Then surely the insider is the one best placed to introduce others to this sacred mystery Rahula has tried in this little book to address himself to the general reader interested in knowing what the Buddha actually taught This is done by adhering to a faithful and accurate presentation of the actual words used by the Buddha as they are to be found in the original Pali texts of the Tipitaka, universally accepted by scholars as the earliest extant records of the teachings of the Buddha Almost all the material Rahula commands so effortlessly are taken directly from these originals That way it must be admitted that only a scholar of his stature could have brought us so close to the original teachings.However, Rahula s book comes off as slightly evangelizing and despite all the cool wisdom as occasionally irritating in its complete confidence and conviction that Buddhism is the best in the worldA non evangelical introduction invitation should only be an invitation to come visit and appreciate the ancient house, not to come and reside In that case, the real purpose of such a book would have to be to show the relevance of one religion to another, to the modern world and to show how its philosophy can make a difference to the visitor s life even if he exits the next day not entirely convinced of the package deal He She should still be able to carry something away What that something is has to be judged by the author That is the only question in such an introductory welcoming sermon The rest can be kept for later, if the guest decides to stay awhile.Now to return to our problem Can an insider do this After all, the insider is as much an alien to other religions as the visitor is to his own So how can he write for the visitor How can he inhabit his viewpoint and judge what would suit him best Could it be that the one best placed to understand the house is not so well suited to understand the visitor So a Christian reader would need a christian author to interpret Buddhism for him A 21st century reader would need a 21st century guide Who else can understand the reader as well And in any case, since we are going down this road, who can understand both the ancient house and the modern visitor I think the best compromise would be to allow the welcome sermon to be delivered by a scholar outside the tradition, but steeped in it One who has stayed in the house long enough to feel at home there This is why every age needs to reinterpret its holy texts and greatest works Every age and culture needs its own representatives to walk into those monuments, spend a while there and then walk out with a welcome sermon, which in turn would be relevant enough to his own culture s or age s readers Only then would they take the trouble to go visit too And maybe stay awhile


  3. says:

    Everyone should read this at least once if they re even remotely interested in Buddhism The first few chapters contain a straightforward introduction to Buddhism that s neither preachy nor touchy feely While it s not exactly straight from the horse s mouth because Buddha s teachings are still coming through a translator, I felt the principles of the book were as raw as one could get it without personally sitting under a bodhi tree with Buddha himself.Originally, I was going to give this book 4 Everyone should read this at least once if they re even remotely interested in Buddhism The first few chapters contain a straightforward introduction to Buddhism that s neither preachy nor touchy feely While it s not exactly straight from the horse s mouth because Buddha s teachings are still coming through a translator, I felt the principles of the book were as raw as one could get it without personally sitting under a bodhi tree with Buddha himself.Originally, I was going to give this book 4 stars because I found some contradictions and inconsistencies But then I realized it s an issue I have with philosophy itself and not with how the book is written or what the author is trying to explain I expected this book to answer a couple of questions I had about what happened after death, and if everyone really does have a soul short answers rebirth, and no, there s no such thing as a soul While it did answer those questions, the book also opened a treasure trove of other questions that I don t even know where to begin seeking answers from.I read this book after my cousin s death Even though I vaguely believed in rebirth before, the way the book explained death and reincarnation did make me feel better about it.Thanks to this book, my mind is full of questions like If there is no soul or no self what or who exactly is taking the Eightfold path If there s no self then what do you call this collection of experiences, senses, and ideas that gets reincarnated If there s no reincarnation after nirvana is realized, then isn t the world population going to get smaller and smaller, since birth isn t creating something new and is just recycling something else for a new cycle If Buddhism is all about living in the present with no regrets of the past or worries about the future, then aren t all slackers excellent buddhists I was surprised that my least favorite chapter was the one about applying buddhist practice to ordinary life for normal people who don t want to live in isolation from modern society I expected it to behelpful than it was, but I found a lot what I thought were contradictions between it and buddhist philosophy I guess I ll need to re read that part again


  4. says:

    This book, assigned for a class entitled Introduction to Eastern Religions at Grinnell College, was influential, along with Coomaraswamy s Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism, in first shaping my sense of what that religion was all about Maintaining, as I recall, that the oldest Pali texts and the Theravada tradition were, if anything, practical and antimetaphysical as opposed, say, to later Mahayana tendencies, these books disposed me favorably to Buddhism in its supposedly original formu This book, assigned for a class entitled Introduction to Eastern Religions at Grinnell College, was influential, along with Coomaraswamy s Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism, in first shaping my sense of what that religion was all about Maintaining, as I recall, that the oldest Pali texts and the Theravada tradition were, if anything, practical and antimetaphysical as opposed, say, to later Mahayana tendencies, these books disposed me favorably to Buddhism in its supposedly original formulation Concurrently, again in this class, I was also learning to appreciate some forms of the Japanese appropriation of the teachings, particularly Rinzi and Soto Zen schools of thought.Now, having had years of subsequent study of other religious traditions, I amsuspicious of such interpretations and of my own credulous disposition It s much like the assumption that Jesus held to values evocative of one s own highest ideals With Jesus, as with the biblical traditions as a whole, I know a lotthan I do about Buddhism or any other religion for that matter enough to know that I don t know and probably cannot know what Jesus himself believed and taught I can make educated estimates based on the evidence and qualified by a healthy caution in the recognition that I will ever tend to impose my own values and worldview on the past, but they are ultimately untestable hypotheses By extension, and knowing that the earliest Pali texts were neither written by the Buddha himself or even during his lifetime, I am nowsuspicious of such attractive formulations as that afforded by this author


  5. says:

    This is the only worthwhile book on Buddhism I ve come across Other books I ve read wallow in touchy feely mumbo jumbo Rahula is straight forward, treating Buddhism not as witchcraft or God s thoughts, but as the best devised way of proceeding through this veil He lays Buddhism out clearly simply, making a sober cogent argument for what it has to offer This is the only worthwhile book on Buddhism I ve come across Other books I ve read wallow in touchy feely mumbo jumbo Rahula is straight forward, treating Buddhism not as witchcraft or God s thoughts, but as the best devised way of proceeding through this veil He lays Buddhism out clearly simply, making a sober cogent argument for what it has to offer


  6. says:

    Finished Reading What the Buddha Taught Original English Version I read the Chinese version of Ven Walpola Rahula s What the Buddha Taught for several times I have to say the translation is just perfect, by a Taiwan based Chinese Buddhist scholar, Mr Gu Fa Yan Today I just finished reading the book in its original English version for the first time Nothing is like the original I don t know in this case, cuz it s been really tough to me It was written in a scholastic British style Too ma Finished Reading What the Buddha Taught Original English Version I read the Chinese version of Ven Walpola Rahula s What the Buddha Taught for several times I have to say the translation is just perfect, by a Taiwan based Chinese Buddhist scholar, Mr Gu Fa Yan Today I just finished reading the book in its original English version for the first time Nothing is like the original I don t know in this case, cuz it s been really tough to me It was written in a scholastic British style Too many words I haven t seen before are there along with some usage I m not familiar with Reading the Chinese translation may give a Chinese reader , IMHO, if he is familiar with those common Buddhist terms.Maybe I should read it onetime in the future Maybe, but not now, cuz I have a long bibliography to spend time with.It s worth to mention that this book What the Buddha Taught has helped me so much in understanding Buddhadharma, since Year 2001 when I obtained the Chinese version from a colleague who, a Taiwanese Chinese, is a devoted Theravada Buddhist and believes only Theravada Buddhism is authentic This kind of folks tend to look at things in a scholastic way One of things he said was given the resemblance of religious signs, images and status on two sides of the Himalayas, Tibetan Buddhism just copied from Hinduism That is too bold an opinion which I would never agree upon Buddhism has a single aim removing suffering Whatever can help reach that goal is considered Buddhism, even if it appears anti Buddhist superficially, let alone a Buddhist school like Mahayana and Vajrayana who follow Buddha s path.Mahayana needs Therevada, and Vajrayana needs both Mahayana and Theravada There s NO ONE SINGLE Vajrayana practitioner who doesn t consider himself a Mahayanist Therefore, everything carried and taught by Theravada is honored by Vajrayana Buddhists Actually, when asked where to start in learning Buddhism by a Chinese disciple, my root guru Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche referred to Theravada He did so when that student didn t feel quite connected to Pure Land, the popular and predominant Mahayana school in China.This book, written by a learned and reputable Sri Lankan master who spent many years studying and doing research in Western world, has served as one of my Buddhist bibles Each time a friend showed me his her interest in learning Buddhism, I recommended it to him her People with higher education background just can t feel contented by the Pure land way of chanting Amitabha as the major practice They want to and are able to learn .Buddhism is not a religion It s a philosophy It doesn t promote any superstition, but talks truth and way leading to ultimate truth Bhante Walpola Rahula s book of this introduces readers the core values of Buddhism in a way that suits those educated people It reveals the true face of Buddhism As a Theravada monk, he has successfully avoided putting too much mythology into the book, making it a book of rationality and reasoning.I was so happy to know that my guru Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche included this book in this bibliography for his students I believe EACH Buddhist MUST read this book.Someintroduction about the Chinese translator Gu Fa YanHe is a colleague of prominent Chinese Buddhist scholar Dr Chang Cheng Chi , in Buddhist Translation Society founded by Mr Chang The society has translated quite some Buddhist works published in the West from original English version to Chinese Actually Dr Chang wrote the preface for the Chinese version of What the Buddha Taught


  7. says:

    I wish I had read this book several years ago, when my interest in Buddhism was reignited and I began to study it seriously While I have read a few good books and resources that outlined Buddhist practice and belief, none have encompassed quite so much in such a tight and direct manner I think also that this book could have corrected some confusion and misunderstandings that took a while for me to get through It is probably the best book for beginners I have encountered, though the approach i I wish I had read this book several years ago, when my interest in Buddhism was reignited and I began to study it seriously While I have read a few good books and resources that outlined Buddhist practice and belief, none have encompassed quite so much in such a tight and direct manner I think also that this book could have corrected some confusion and misunderstandings that took a while for me to get through It is probably the best book for beginners I have encountered, though the approach is probablydetailed and scholarly than some would prefer Since I often take a scholarly approach to my spirituality, it does hold strong appeal for me personally.The main selling point of this particular book is that Rahula works from the closest to firsthand sources we have in Buddhism Also, while this book isthan 50 years old, the English translations are relatively new, still contemporary to the ones widely used today Buddhism and Eastern religion in general have always suffered misunderstandings and confusion in a Western context, in large part due to the translations available prior to the 20th century Rahula works to clarify the language and correct some misconceptions, something that is unbelievably helpful for those of us still trying to figure this stuff out All that makes this an excellent resource for beginners, those still exploring Buddhism like me , and also those studying comparative religions looking to learnthan just basics.A lot of the information in this book was not new for me and just helped to reiterate confirm some gained knowledge By culling bits from the Dhammapada and Suttas, Rahula also helps guide you through some overwhelming and highly repetitive walls of text, directing you to the important bits that helps expand on the basics Thinking back to this aspect actually makes me want to purchase a copy of this book, just to have that guide available when I need it So excellent in that respect as well.As much as I love this book, I m not quite up to 5 stars Mainly because its focus isscholarly, all about principles and less about practice Rahula s also not much of a poetic writer and, yes, has a tendency towards pedantry in the way that a very erudite person can be Still, the book does what it says on the cover and I haven t yet found another book that so strongly and concisely gets to the point in covering the basics without all the confusion


  8. says:

    the absolute truth is that there is nothing absolute in the world, that everything is relative, conditioned and impermanent.


  9. says:

    Review January 2007The Practice of Buddhism is the Heart of BuddhismThe first thing that strikes one upon reading this text is the entirely this worldly character of Buddhist thought Like the philosophers that we are familiar with in the West the Buddha The Enlightened One does not claim to be other than a man or posses other than human knowledge That is, the Buddha is not a god or a recipient of a god s revelation Now, unlike our modern philosophers, the Buddha does not deny the existenc Review January 2007The Practice of Buddhism is the Heart of BuddhismThe first thing that strikes one upon reading this text is the entirely this worldly character of Buddhist thought Like the philosophers that we are familiar with in the West the Buddha The Enlightened One does not claim to be other than a man or posses other than human knowledge That is, the Buddha is not a god or a recipient of a god s revelation Now, unlike our modern philosophers, the Buddha does not deny the existence of the gods perhaps evenradically he ignores them According to our author, Walpola Sri Rahula, the Buddha teaches that, man s emancipation depends on his own realization of the truth, and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power This does indeed remind one of Kant s definition of Enlightenment as adulthood In a nutshell, no one can grant adulthood to you you must achieve it yourself In fact, according to our author, the Buddha goes so far as to advise us to be, not led by the authority of religious texts And he adds that the Buddha discovered and showed the Path to Liberation, Nirvana But we must tread the Path ourselves Any modern philosopher Kant, Hegel, e.g would say the same of his path i.e., philosophy Our author quotes with approval the following remark of one Buddhist monk or bhikkhu to another without devotion, faith or belief, without liking or inclination, without hearsay or tradition, without considering apparent reasons, without delight in the speculations of opinions, I know and see that the cessation of becoming is Nirvana What is required for Buddhistic Enlightenment is the modesty of reason, not the enthusiasm and hubris of speculation, which always brings in its wake the indignation of warring factions Buddhists tell us with deserved pride that there are no Buddhist wars, crusades or jihads One comes to Enlightenment not by reciting some articles of faith but by thinking things through on ones own Our author correctly reminds us that with Buddhism it is always a question of knowing and seeing, and not that of believing So, the Buddha, the Enlightened One, brings knowledge not faith It seems to follow that it is not necessary to be a Buddhist to achieve salvation, i.e., enlightenment Indeed, our author goes on to say that if the medicine is good, the disease will be cured It is not necessary to know who prepared it, or where it came from The comparison of the Buddhist teaching to a type of medicine is very interesting Medicine is a very practical discipline, concerned with alleviating the suffering Dukkha, this term can also mean conflict, unsatisfactoriness, unsubstantiality, emptiness of those it treats If a person is healthy he needs no medicine at all Thus what shined through to me a non Buddhist in reading this book is that the Buddha teaches a series of behaviors, or, if you prefer, a circle of practices, whose only purpose is to protect the individual from all suffering whether the suffering is produced by will, desire or thought The Buddha clearly judged his teachings not on their truth content but rather on their results that is, on the type of lives his followers would live So, one could perhaps infer that when a patient is cured he no longer has the slightest need for the medicine Rahula s recounting of a story about what the Buddha replied when asked by a young Brahmin to explain the idea of maintaining or protecting the truth might illustrate the point A man has a faith If he says This is my faith , so far he maintains truth But by that he cannot proceed to the absolute conclusion This alone is Truth, and everything else is false Rahula immediately adds, in his own voice, In other words, a man may believe what he likes, and he may say I believe this So far he respects truth But because of his belief or faith, he should not say that what he believes is alone the Truth, and everything else is false The Buddha says To be attached to one thing to a certain view and to look down upon other things views as inferior this the wise men call a fetter Now, does this mean that all the ideologies and revelations that demand that everyone be an adherent of their particular view are, according to the Buddha, fetters No Oh, but the fetters are so sweet we hear many replying, how could they be fetters Not only Christians and Liberals but also far too many Buddhists that one meets at least here in the West are very interested, if not obsessed, in what we in the West might call theology, ontology and metaphysics That is, the Truth of what might be called the Whole or the Cosmos But did the Buddha share this obsession Our author tells a wonderful story about what the Buddha knew and what he taught He took a few leaves in his hand, and asked his disciples What do you think O bhikkhus Which isThese few leaves in my hand or the leaves in the forest over here Sir, very few are the leaves in the hand of the Blessed One, but indeed the leaves in the Simsapa forest over here are very muchabundant Even so, Bhikkhus, of what I have known I have told you only a little, what I have not told you is very muchAnd why have I not told you those things Because that is not useful not leading to Nirvana That is why I have not told you those things Knowledge of the Whole, whatever it might be, does not lead to enlightenment Today, we who are influenced by philosophy would, following the Buddha on this point, speak of the abyss that seemingly forever looms between theory and practice But the mania of theory nevertheless insists upon showing each leaf to every inhabitant in the forest in the name of some Truth , while the moderation of philosophical practice remains helpless when trying to control the strife that inevitably results between the various Christianity, Socialism, Islam, and Fascism, e.g possessors of Truth We are now perhaps in a position to say that post classical western philosophy i.e., theory has been the process of showing every leaf in the forest to everyone No matter what the consequences One day it may well be said that western philosophy showed everything except the practical truths that the Buddha held in his hand One day Be that as it may, the Buddha was not interested in discussing unnecessary metaphysical questions which are purely speculative and which create imaginary problems In fact the Buddha compares teachings to a raft and then wonders at those that say, This raft was a great help to me With its aid I have crossed safely over It would be good if I carry this raft on my head or my back wherever I go Thus Man goes from the correct use of a raft i.e., a teaching , to help one across a river, to the incorrect carrying of rafts when they are no longer needed Note that these rafts only have a practical value What determines their value is purely the circumstances one happens to be in But did the Buddha think of his own teachings in this manner Our author tells a wonderful story of how the Buddha, in a debate with a representative of Jaina Mahavira, refused to allow the man to become a Buddhist When Upali expressed his desire again, the Buddha requested him to continue to respect and support his old religious teachers as he used to Why Well, Rahula says this is an instance demonstrating the Buddha s tolerance In my opinion this explanation is incoherent all of the Buddha s followers came from other religious traditions, was the Buddha being intolerant when he accepted them as his his followers No, the reason the Buddha didn t let the Jain Upali convert was that he was sent to debate him by Jaina Mahavira himself and such a conversion could only lead to conflict In other words, the Buddha looked at circumstances to evaluate this particular conversion and quite admirably concluded that circumstances trumped doctrine Another story told by Rahula shows the Buddha refusing to answer questions about the eternity and infinity of the universe, about the relation between soul and body, and existence after death put to him by Malunkyaputta, one of his own monks Why doesn t the Buddha answer these questions Because it is not useful, it is not fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is not conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation, tranquility, deep penetration, full realization, Nirvana That is why I have not told you about them Then what, Malunkyaputta, have I explained I have explained dukkha, the cessation of dukkha, and the way leading to the cessation of dukkha Why, Malunkyaputta, have I explained them Because it is useful, is fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation tranquility, deep penetration, full realization, Nirvana Therefore I have explained them So we see the overriding importance that the Buddha assigned to the practical and results The Buddha did not preach some Truth, he presented a cure to suffering dukkha The Buddha laughed that people carry their rafts ideologies and revelations when they are no longer needed, but today, the various possessors of truth even use the rafts as an excuse to hate and kill In the Buddha the moderation inherent in philosophical practice triumphed, but in the world around us it is the mania of theory and speculation that has triumphed If the moderation of practice triumphs in the future we can create a world in which all can live if not, there is no future at all Rahula ends this book, fittingly, with the last words of the Buddha Then, Bhikkhus, I address you now Transient are conditioned things Try to accomplish your aim with diligence One stands in awe, and gratitude, of how one so dedicated to extinction i.e., Nirvana could so actively and tirelessly pursue his aim Now, this book contains only a small selection pp 92 138 of the sayings of the Buddha and it was from the last text in this section that this last quote comes from There is also a very helpful, but still too brief, glossary with an even briefer bibliography also included Rahula s study and the selected texts are based upon the earliest texts the so called Pali texts of the Buddha s sayings that have come down to us The moderation, care and single minded pursuit of his goal by the Buddha are what we should perhaps be most grateful for


  10. says:

    This book was recommended to me as an ideal book for a newcomer to Buddhism It definitely lived up to its recommendation and then some Very clear and concise descriptions from the author, which left me feeling very much comfortable with all of the topics included in the book Read this book if you wish to understandclearly the basic concepts, principles and structure of Buddhism.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *