The Buddha before Buddhism: Wisdom from the Early Teachings

The Buddha before Buddhism: Wisdom from the Early Teachings

by Gil Fronsdal


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A translation with commentary of one of the earliest of the surviving Buddhist texts, which reveals the teachings to be remarkably simple and free of religious trappings.

The Aṭṭhakavagga, or “Book of Eights,” is believed by scholars to be among the earliest of written Buddhist texts, and in it we find the Buddha’s teaching pared down to its most uncomplicated essence. Gil Fronsdal’s translation and commentary reveals the text’s central concern to be the joy that comes from recognizing and letting go of attachment to the illusory views that create suffering. It’s simple medicine that works for us today as well as it did for the Buddha’s first listeners.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611803242
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 11/29/2016
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 395,045
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Gil Fronsdal is co-teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California. He has practiced Buddhism in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions for over forty years. He received his PhD in religious studies from Stanford University. He has published a highly praised translation of the Dhammapada, as well as two other books: the author of The Issue at Hand: Essays on Mindfulness Practice and A Monastery Within: Tales from the Buddhist Path

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 The Discourse on Desire 39

2 The Eightfold Discourse on the Hiding Place 43

3 The Eightfold Discourse on the Corrupt 48

4 The Eightfold Discourse on the Pure 52

5 The Eightfold Discourse on the Ultimate 57

6 The Discourse on Old Age 62

7 The Discourse to Tissa Metteyya 66

8 The Discourse to Pasura 70

9 The Discourse to Magandiya 74

10 The Discourse on Before Breaking Apart 81

11 The Discourse on Quarrels and Disputes 87

12 The Shorter Discourse on the Dead End 99

13 The Greater Discourse of the Dead End 107

14 The Discourse on Being Quick 115

15 The Discourse on Being Violent 122

16 The Discourse to Sariputta 129

Afterword 137

Appendix: Knowing and Seeing in the Book of Eights 149

Notes 155

Select Bibliography 178

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The Buddha before Buddhism: Wisdom from the Early Teachings 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buddhism Before Metaphysics This book presents a new translation of the "Book of Eights," a collection of short poems from the Buddhist Pali canon. The poems have a simple message: that the Buddhist sage achieves inner peace by not clinging to anything at all -- including religious and metaphysical doctrines. Appropriately, the poems exhibit little or no doctrinal baggage about karma, rebirth, the Four Noble Truths, the supernatural powers of the Buddha, etc. Instead, they offer a spare, gem-like, and eloquent picture of what human liberation looks like. The commentary by Gil Fronsdal does a great job of situating the poems in the context of Indian culture in the Axial Age. Fronsdal thinks it's likely that the poems capture the genuine early teachings of the Buddha, but he admits that we can't know for sure because the chronology of the canon is obscure. This book is excellent but complete newcomers to Buddhism shouldn't take the poems as the last word on the religion.