SuttaCentral

Youse are reading too many Dhamma books

Welcome to the next in my popular series, “Youse are”!

This time, I’m having a go at the habit of reading too many Dhamma books.

Look, reading is good, and reading Dhamma books is good! No shame!

But you know, also balance and discernment. There are lots of bad Dhamma books out there, and lots that basically just say pretty much the same thing.

If you find an author you like, it’s great, it’s like you curl up with them and have a wise adviser speaking to you personally. Just remember, you don’t know them. Thousands, maybe millions of people curled up with The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and it turns out, the author Sogyal Rinpoche was an abusive monster. He’s not alone.

Use your discretion and discernment. Don’t just believe any old pap because it’s in a book, because it’s by a famous author, because it’s on some recommended reading list, because someone wrote an endorsement, because it has a nice cover, and most of, because it tells you what you want to hear.

Take care with your reading. Spiritual reading is slow. It’s reflective. It takes time to establish its roots. Read to learn new things, to deepen your understanding, to remind yourself of what matters. Don’t be afraid to read something hard.

If you find yourself reading and at the end of a book you ask yourself, “What was that all about?”, then maybe not next time. Beware the “sunk cost” fallacy: you’ll want to convince yourself that the book was valuable because you spent time on it.

It’s okay. Do some meditation. Read suttas, or listen to them. Spend some time in quiet. It’s okay to do nothing.

If you want to busy yourself, then spend less time consuming and more time creating. Write a poem, or an essay, or a story. Draw a picture. Learn a chant. Or else do more service, get out there and help others.

You learn much faster and more effectively when you do stuff yourself. Heck, maybe you’ll be the one who ends up writing the book that someone else will curl up with.

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Dear Bhante, while you were writing this, I was posting this :rofl: :smiley: Same topic different approach :pray: :smiley:

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Nice. And I’ll bet he used the Thai equivalent of “youse”, too: พวกท่าน

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Dear Bhante,

This may be a bit (or a lot) cheeky (sorry), but my first gut reaction to your post was to scream “SO STOP WRITING THEM” but then I realised you have been too busy translating and running Sutta Central to be still writing them, and actually, I do appreciate what you have written and the work you have done both in the writing and translating.

So I’m just going to say “THANKS!” instead.

With metta :smile:

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No you’re 100% right, only I think the amount of people who actually read my books is so small, I’m not doing too much harm. :heart:

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I have a question about this. Lately I am only reading monastics or EBTs. But there are still a handful of books written by lay people.

Other than determining whether the author is primarily profit motivated (I could put a few popular names in this category) how do you recommend discerning whether they are worth reading?

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It’s a good question, and one I’m not really qualified to answer. One of the questions to ask yourself is, “why am I reading”? If you’re aiming to be informed, then choose informed sources. If you want inspiration, find something that inspires you. If you want comfort, find something soothing.

Otherwise, you can always ask here and at least you’ll get some opinions! I can’t say whether books are worth reading, but if you ask about specific points I can have a go.

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Hi Bhante,

Reading this and had the Kalama sutta echoing in the back of my head :slight_smile:

Your post did resonate with me however as I spent many years reading books and only more recently put them aside and spent more time being/practising :upside_down_face:

Si

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Thank-you for this.
I think it is a common trick our minds can play on us to have us think that if we are busy studying the Dhamma, we are being ‘good Buddhists’ and deepening our Bhavana.
Of course, the reality is often to the contrary. If we are busy being intellectual and thinking, then we are not observing or being.
Busy thinking is busy thinking, even when we are busy thinking of Dhamma…

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Will there be a “Youse are spending too much time on D&D”? :sweat_smile:

Thank you for this post, Bhante. It’s all very true. I myself was once careless and recommended The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying to someone who was interested in the Dhamma, having only read half of it myself. “It’s one of the most famous contemporary books on Buddhism, must be good right”. Not even commenting on the author, the book itself is one of the least impactful Dhamma books I’ve read. We need to be very careful about the way we relate to books. And about what we recommend to others.

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I was waiting in anticipation. :rofl:
Perhaps posting here is “active learning”… :sunglasses:

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Good idea! I’m thinking of my next one.

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It’s all delusion. :sunglasses:

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Youse are reading too many threads on SuttaCentral.

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Youse are all really great…

:upside_down_face: Just a suggestion.

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Excellent idea, done!

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Thank you
Weall know wes are really great.
So is you. :slight_smile:

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I have for quite some time restrained myself from offering book suggestions…ooh…it has been sooo tough. :weary:
Can restrain no longer and in no way ever can this book be considered…one too many!
Even comes complete with great praise from Bhante Sujato.
“A Whole-Life Path”- Gregory Kramer
Outstanding, intelligent, insightful and so deeply respectful of serious and dedicated lay practice.

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okay, you’re allowed to read that one.