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I've been intrigued by Buddhism for quite some time now, but haven't really mentioned it much because I didn't want to come off as one of “those” people that everyone gets annoyed by. I've been asked about my beliefs quite often, so I figure now is the time to open up a bit. My partner, Rachel, discovered Buddhism recently and that in itself is nothing short of a miracle. ;) She has been Agnostic for as long as she can remember, so believing in anything is a huge step. She is very negative by nature, so finding Buddhism (even a little bit) is amazing. I need her to be more positive, and I think this will help her.
If you're interested in learning more about Buddhism, the best place to start is books about Buddhism for beginners. They're simple books that will not talk “over” you, they just talk “to” you instead. I'm not claiming to be an expert on the subject, as I don't fully subscribe to any religion – not even Buddhism – but the basic principles and values that Buddhism explores and instills are great for anyone to have.
10 Books About Buddhism for Beginners
1. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buddhism, 3rd Edition — The latest edition of The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Buddhism updates one of Alpha Books's most successful books in the religion/spirituality category, providing extensive information on both understanding the teachings and schools of Buddhism and incorporating the tenets of Buddhism into everyday life. It also includes additional information on Buddhism's effect on popular arts and sciences, the continuing relevance of the Dalai Lama, and an annotated bibliography.
2. Zen Prayers For Repairing Your Life (Kindle Edition) — Prayer can release you from your habitual self-centered tendencies and can open the gates to your miraculous and wondrous existence. Prayer invites you to the timeless and infinite border of the material and invisible world, the place where phenomena and emptiness dynamically interact in the dance of existence. Through sound and silence, prayer invokes goodness, healing, mystery, blessings, and can ignite the flame of your heart.
3. Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening — In this simple but important volume, Stephen Batchelor reminds us that the Buddha was not a mystic who claimed privileged, esoteric knowledge of the universe, but a man who challenged us to understand the nature of anguish, let go of its origins, and bring into being a way of life that is available to us all. The concepts and practices of Buddhism, says Batchelor, are not something to believe in but something to do—and as he explains clearly and compellingly, it is a practice that we can engage in, regardless of our background or beliefs, as we live every day on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
4. Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom Kindle Edition — This eBook Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom, in three volumes, is being distributed freely at the request of the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (the Kindle Store sets the minimum price at 99 cents and also additional taxes are added in many countries). The author says: “Through reading and practicing the instructions given in this book, people can solve their daily problems and maintain a happy mind all the time.” So that these benefits can pervade the whole world, Geshe Kelsang wishes to give this eBook freely to everyone.
5. Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire — Many of today’s children face challenges and obstacles far beyond what their parents ever imagined. These 20 thoroughly modern retellings of ancient Buddhist tales give parents a fun, low-pressure way to impart wisdom and moral guidance without preaching. Each story highlights a moral or ethical dilemma that echoes those that children face in their own lives, providing insight and enlightenment that they can use to defuse trying situations. At the conclusion of each story, applicable Buddhist principles are discussed. Featuring engaging characters, enthralling adventures, and modern language that speaks to today’s kids, these beautifully illustrated stories can help children relieve stress, attain greater academic and social achievement, and enjoy a more positive outlook on life.
6. Buddhism for Beginners — This user’s guide to Buddhist basics takes the most commonly asked questions—beginning with “What is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings?”—and provides simple answers in plain English. Thubten Chodron’s responses to the questions that always seem to arise among people approaching Buddhism make this an exceptionally complete and accessible introduction—as well as a manual for living a more peaceful, mindful, and satisfying Life. Buddhism for Beginners is an ideal first book on the subject for anyone, but it’s also a wonderful resource for seasoned students, since the question-and-answer format makes it easy to find just the topic you’re looking for.
7. Buddhism for Dummies — From the outside, Buddhism seems like a bundle of contradictions wrapped inside a paradox. It is a religion without a god, a belief system without rules, and a faith that encourages its adherents to question everything, including its own teachings. You could spend a lifetime studying Buddhist texts and following its observances and still feel like you’ve only just barely scratched the surface. Yet, over the past 2500 years, this lovely religion that preaches compassion, generosity, tolerance, selflessness and self-awareness has commanded the fervent devotion of hundreds of millions of people around the world who believe it to be the true path to enlightenment.
8. Buddhism Plain and Simple — You might want to digest this book slowly, a few pages at a time. Although Zen teacher Steve Hagen has a knack for putting the philosophy of Buddhism in a “plain and simple” package, it may take a while to sink in. There is so much there. Seeing reality, realizing the wisdom of the self, breaking free of dualistic thinking–this is pretty heady stuff. Thankfully, Hagen passes it along in the form of examples from life, psychological tidbits, and stories from Buddhist teachers past and present. And when it clicks in, it can be life-transforming. Hagen explains this shift in outlook and how the fundamental way we look at the world affects everything we do. As an outline, Hagen follows the basic teachings of the Buddha, and we see that, rather than dogmatic truths, they are reminders for us as we reconsider the life we have taken for granted for so long. As it turns out, Buddhism is life, plain and simple. –Brian Bruya
9. Buddhism and Buddhist Teachings: Ultimate Collection of Texts For Beginners — Think about the calm inner peace you want..Buddhism has been practised for thousands of years, helping people achieve a stress-free outlook on life. Imagine the serenity you will find when you understand it. Imagine what your renewed life will be like… To achieve this, do you want a book that will easily explain ALL Buddhist concepts? Then you want the Buddhism Ultimate Collection from ‘Everlasting Flames Publishing'.
10. The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism — Here is a comprehensive introduction to Zen Buddhism for those who don't know how or where to begin, nor what to expect once they have started practicing. It includes the fundamentals of meditation practice (posture, technique, clothing), descriptions of the basic teachings and major texts, the teacher-student relationship, and what you will find when you visit a zendo, plus a history of Zen from the founding of Buddhism to its major schools in the West.