Buddhism for Beginners

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This user’s guide to Buddhist basics takes the most commonly asked questions and provides simple answers in plain English. Consider this a manual for living a more peaceful, mindful, and satisfying life. An exceptionally complete and accessible introduction to Buddhism that’s also a wonderful resource for seasoned students, since the question-and-answer format makes it easy to find just the topic you’re looking for, such as:

  • What is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings?
  • What is the goal of the Buddhist path?
  • What is karma?
  • How can we deal with fear?
  • How do I establish a regular meditation practice?
  • What are the qualities I should look for in a teacher?
  • What is Buddha-nature?
  • If all phenomena are empty, does that mean nothing exists?
  • Why can’t we remember our past lives?

The story behind the book

Buddhism for Beginners Introduction 08-12-12

Venerable Thubten Chodron reads an excerpt

Buddhism for Beginners Reading 08-12-12


Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I am happy to know about this book, “Buddhism for Beginners,” by Thubten Chodron. This book is written mainly for people wanting to understand basic Buddhist principles and how to integrate them into their lives.

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Read an excerpt

When we experience some difficulties in life, we should reflect on the type of action we must have done that created the cause for this result. This will encourage us to be more aware of what we think, say, and do. Studying the Buddha’s teachings enables us to learn more about specific actions and their results. Then we can change our behavior and plant more seeds in our mindstreams to experience desirable results. A text called The Wheel of Sharp Weapons is particularly good in explaining the effects produced by certain actions and the way to change our attitudes and actions to create the causes of happiness.

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Also available in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


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Thubten Chodron has presented the Buddhist view on essential issues of spiritual development … A tremendous resource for those interested in Buddhist practice.
—Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women

A very compassionate book. Her approach is nonsectarian and emphasizes the basic unity found within Buddhism.
—Ryo Imamura, Jodo Shin Priest and Professor of Psychology at Evergreen State College

Her lucid, correct, clear, and convincing manner is highly commendable.
—Venerable Dr. Havanpola Ratanasara, College of Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles

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