What The Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

What The Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

What The Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula is a reliable introduction to Buddhism. The book provides a solid foundation into the fascinating religion of Buddhism.

Using quotes from the sutras, Rahula gives his personal interpretation of what he regards to be Buddhism’s essential teachings, including the Four Noble Truths, the Buddhist mind, the Noble Eightfold Path, meditation and mental development, and the world today.

The main theme of the book is 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 reminds one of Kant’s definition of Enlightenment as adulthood.

The central tenants of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths, which state that human life is a cycle of suffering and rebirth, but that if one achieves a state of enlightenment (nirvana), it is possible to escape this cycle forever.

Useful takeaways from the book include:

  • Truth needs no label. It is neither Buddhist, Christian, Hindu nor Moslem.
  • Control your mind or it will control you. To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.
  • The path of enlightenment we must follow to end our suffering and find happiness is called the noble eightfold path.

What I Liked

Excellent read. I appreciate that this is the only book that really tries to dig into what Siddartha Gautama actually taught. Like Islam with Mohamed and Christianity with Jesus, there wasn’t much writing at the time of the teachings, so unbundling the conflicts and contradictions is a hard task. This book does it really well.

What I Did Not Like

Not a whole lot – solid read.

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