Readers will need a basic understanding of Buddhist concepts to fully understand and apply Kramer’s insights; though he helpfully includes multiple resources, including an index to search and clarify important Buddhist terms as well as supplementary websites and books, this treatise is equal parts challenging and enlightening. Entry level audiences will appreciate the clear-cut examples and illustrations Kramer offers—such as examining “right intention” in mundane tasks like washing the dishes or avoiding anxiety-provoking television commercials as a method of “right effort”—that offset some of the more labyrinthine passages. In each teaching, Kramer is fastidious in accuracy in language and in practice (“Dhamma rather than Dharma like kamma/karma, nibbāna/nirvāṇa, and sutta/sutra”) even going so far as to differentiate authentic language (use of the Pali word “sati” in place of mindfulness) to illuminate the most precise, concise meaning.
While Kramer’s knowledge may initially prove intimidating to some lay readers, his drive for “individual awakening, relational harmony, and a humane and just society” is clear and coherent throughout. He tackles bias and the need to eradicate harmful ways of interacting with self and others, increasing personal comfort to jumpstart awakening (simultaneously cultivating “effort and ease” among others), and argues that we all share a common need for “happiness that is infused with serenity.” While brimming with spiritual and whole-life enlightenment, this authoritative Buddhist guide is also punctuated with plenty of real-life direction and practical know-how.
Takeaway: This finely tuned teaching of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path offers deep exploration and practical steps.
Great for fans of: Jack Kornfield’s The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s The Buddha & His Dhamma.
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