So I was going to review a book I just read, but really couldn’t come up with much. After reading Steve Hagan’s Buddhism Plain and Simple, all I had to say was…. “meh”. It didn’t have much substance, and seemed to go too far in stripping down Buddhism.
A book I reviewed awhile back Buddha Takes No Prisoners… was a great book that presented Buddhist practice in a secular-ish, practical way, but didn’t seek to strip down Buddhism to simply “awareness”. Hagan kind of glossed over some stuff in his book, and really it seemed fairly empty to me. Now, I’m all about presenting Buddhism in a way that is accessible to the masses, and maybe this book would serve as a simple intro for someone who had never really looked into the dharma before. Or maybe it’s so stripped down, that it would be a bad first place to start. Anyway, it didn’t really speak to me. I understand that for some, stripped down Buddhism and Buddhism without Beliefs speaks to them, and is the direction they would like to go. But I don’t think that’s for me.
And that’s okay. Reading Hagen’s book gave me the motivation to pick up The Wings to Awakening and dive into that. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It contains some of the essential teachings from the Pali canon with excellent commentary and analysis by Thanissaro Bikkhu. If you’ve never read it, you need to. Also, it’s free to download/view, so you really have no excuse not to! I think I’ll be working with The Wings for a while.
This is sort of where my practice really resides now, in study, in absorbing the dharma. I think that’s just how my mind works. I need that basis of (sutra) study before I can really formalize any sort of practice. I spend some time with the breath here and there, but nothing regular, and haven’t chanted in months. But I think that’s okay for now. I view my practice as a process, and I’m in the beginning of mine. This will give me a solid foundation for whatever form my practice takes in the future, so I’m putting as much effort and time into it as I can for the moment. Skillful means, right? Cheers.