I’m not a big fan of What the Buddha Taught. It’s much to Buddhist Modernist for my tastes.
Among the founders of religions the Buddha (if we are permitted to call him the founder of a religion in the popular sense of the term) was the only teacher who did not claim to be other than a human being, pure and simple. … Every man has within himself the potentiality of becoming a Buddha, if he so wills it and endeavours. … He was so perfect in his ‘human-ness’ that he came to be regarded later in popular religion almost as ‘super-human’.
There is nothing simple about a Buddha. And, sorry, no. We don’t all “have within” us to become a Buddha. Besides writing one of the foundational texts of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka (which, TBF he later regretted) Ven. Rahula is the archetype of Asian Buddhist Modernism teachers. So I think it’s long overdue to replace WTBT as the first book we recommend to people.
I much prefer to recommend In the Buddha’s Words. Of course it’s not the simplest text. But I think it’s worth the risk and we owe it to people to get them actually reading what the Buddha taught right away. Too many people get started with wrong ideas about what the Buddha taught (in no small part from What the Buddha Taught) so if a replacement is going to be sought, good to avoid that problem.
Hope that all isn’t off topic. I mean it as a way to evaluate what a better replacement would be.
Yep, the free part is essential, as well as the short and clear part.
These are people casually asking “What is Buddhism anyway?”. They are brochure, pamphlet level people willing to take a first look. They aren’t committed beginners, just open minded people willing to read something easy.
I read that book years ago and I have it on my list to reread again soon. It is a nice introduction to Buddhist meditation. In seeking a replacement for my goto recommendation of WTBT, I am looking an easy introduction to Buddhism, essential teachings.
This looks like just what the doctor ordered. Where do they claim that it is free of copyrights? I clicked on the only two links that look like it would be about that and got a blank, snow white web page.