June is my birthday month, and it also happened to be the month I started reading more about Buddhism, as well as exploring meditation through one of my daily habits. I don’t know if this just happened to be a coincidence, or the fact that my birthday is on its way had me feeling more introspective. Either way, it was a month full of knowledge and expansion.
As you can see, instead of one book of the month -as I usually prefer to read- this month I focused on a combination of two books. Buddhism 101 by Arnie Kozak, PhD and Teachings of The Buddha edited by Jack Kornfield. The former references the latter a lot, so It was much better to read them both simultaneously.
This book is a very interesting mix of history, breakdowns of customs and practices by region, as well as a generous rundown of the principle concepts of Buddhism.
After an introduction to buddhism and a retelling of the birth of the buddha, it moves on to explaining “The Middle Way”, “Dahrma”, “Dukkha” and many of the other fundamental terms you’ll want to get familiar with if you’re just beginning to learn about Buddhism.
One of my personal favorite sections was “The Truth of the path that leads to the cessation of dukkha”. Here you learn about the Noble Eightfold Path we must traverse in order to overcome dukkah (suffering) and reach nirvana. This path is divided in three sections:
- wisdom and insight (right view, right resolve)
- morality (right speech, right action, right livelihood)
- meditation (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration)
These eight rightful steps are not meant to be seen as a sequential action plan but as a way of life, through which we apply all of them in the order that is necessary at ever moment.
- You are allowed to skip parts that don’t serve you at the moment, that are not resonating with you, or that you’re just not interested in.
- There’s a lot I already knew about buddhism, but there’s equally as much that I didn’t and loved learning.
- I Discovered the Zen ritual around tea ceremonies, called “chanoyu”.and found it fascinating. Now I’m drinking green tea in a very tranquil, meditative, mindful and delicate way. I’ve started drinking tea and I do so in a very present and ritualistic manner.
These are the written teachings of the Buddha that, for 2,500 years has guided an estimated one and a half billion people to live more calm and intentional lives.
This is the type of book that is best read slowly, taking long periods of time to reflect on each teaching. As such, I am still in the process of reading it, and will continue to read just a couple of pages each day.
- This book is nothing BUT lessons. I’m still reading and processing. Might revisit this with another post down the line once I’ve really chewed on the contents of this rich text.
All engagement prompts aside, I’m truly really curious about two things. 1. Have you read any buddhist books and if so, which ones would you recommend? 2. What is the most profound spiritual realization or teaching you have discovered that has impacted your life in a significant way?