Thoughts : Buddhism: An Introduction to the Buddha’s Life, Teaches and Practices by Joan Duncan Oliver

I knew next to nothing about Buddhism. Pretty much the base level of pop-culture references plus a few fly-away facts I’d picked up while studying Japanese in college. One afternoon while picking up my holds I broke my own library rules and browsed the new non-fiction releases shelf and grabbed this just for fun. Frankly, I’m glad I did!

Buddhism: An Introduction to the Buddh’as Life, Teachings, and Practices by Joan Duncan Oliver

Source : Library
TL;DR : Very fascinating, with so many references to this topic in pop culture it was nice to get a crash course on it. Highly recommended especially for those who just want to know a short version


  • This felt like the bare bones of the idea of Buddhism. Joan Duncan Oliver gave us the story of Buddha’s life and then a crash course on the main schools that are common these days and what they mean and how they tie into pop culture and have become more aligned in the main stream.
  • You can see, by the end of this the focus is on the Mindfulness movement that people all over the place are embracing. Which, to be fair, I was interested in as well picking this up.
  • The writing is solid, and engaging. It only drags a bit when it gets bogged down towards the middle. My one problem with it in all honesty were the few times the author addressed the reader in little asides on things to try or practices.
    One in particular that stands out is the reference to ‘time to care about those refugees’. Another one I think referenced Starbucks coffee.
    These on the whole don’t bother me but it felt a little jarring, throwing me out of the reading and visualization flow of the book. This had a good flow to it, once I was stuck in I could read chunks at once. But those lines were so few and so pointed that it felt like a speed bump to my reading.
  • Past that that complaint this really gave me a reader-friendly guide and reference point on this subject. I enjoyed it a lot and in fact, driving down the road the day after I finished it I recognized a sign with a reference to Buddhism on it that previously I’d just though ‘huh, weird name’.

As an introduction text I’d highly recommend this. There is also a wealth of references in the back for you to jot down and to look to. I’ll probably pick up a few myself. I find the idea of relaxing and finding calm a very appealing practice, though I’m not sure I’m sold on Buddhism. I can definitely adopt some of the practices to help me in my own life find a solid base.

Try it out and see what you think. If nothing else, you’ll learn something new!

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