Monday, May 17, 2010
Light on Enlightenment - Christopher Titmuss
Ever wondered why Buddhists seem so gung ho about suffering? Curious why so many of your Buddhist friends are vegetarian? If so, this straightforward, readable introduction to Buddhism, by acclaimed retreat leader and former Buddhist monk Titmuss, is the book for you. Titmuss explores Buddhist basics, from the Four Noble Truths (there is suffering, it is caused by desire, there is liberation from suffering and there is a path to liberation) to the Eightfold Path, from the roles of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (Buddhist communities) to Buddhist understandings of human consciousness and feelings. His chapters on Buddhist morals tend toward the sanctimonious; in his discussion of not killing, Titmuss records meeting an American woman who had spent time in a Central American country governed by a U.S.-backed military regime. The woman, though committed to the Buddhist practice of ahimsa (nonviolence), felt compelled to work as a gunrunner for the left. Although Titmuss recognizes that "in such a situation, there is no point in preaching about the morality of protecting life," he goes on to do just that. This is a painless primer; it won't add much to the expert's library but is guaranteed to give the novice a better understanding of Buddhist teaching and practice.