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The Buddha Before Buddhism
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In the tradition of the best-selling Dhammapada 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. One of the earliest of all Buddhist texts, the Atthakavagga, or "Book of Eights," is a remarkable document, not only because it comes from the earliest strain of the literature--before the Buddha, as the title suggests, came to be thought of as a "Buddhist"--but also because its approach to awakening is so simple and free of adherence to any kind of ideology. Instead the Atthakavagga points to a direct and simple approach for attaining peace without requiring the adherence to doctrine. The value of the teachings it contains is not in the profundity of their philosophy or in their authority as scripture; rather, the value is found in the results they bring to those who live by them. Instead of doctrines to be believed, the Book of Eights describes means or practices for realizing peace. Gil Fronsdal's rigorous translation with commentary reveals the text to be of interest not only to Buddhists, but also to the ever-growing demographic of spiritual-but-not-religious, who seek a spiritual life outside the structures of religion."
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About the Author

GIL FRONSDAL is part of the Vipassana Teachers' Collective at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He has a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He practiced in both the Zen and Insight Meditation worlds, ordaining as a Soto priest in 1982 and as a Theravada monk in Burma in 1985. He's guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California. He's also one of the most prolific publishers of audio dharma talks today, through the venues of Dharma Seed, Audio Dharma, Zencast, and elsewhere.

Reviews

"Provocative, unsettling and inspirational, this extraordinary collection of early Buddhist poems reveals a radical vision of human freedom grounded in the non-reactive peace of nirvana. Gil Fronsdal's fine translation allows us to hear how the Dharma may originally have been uttered as poetry in the solitude of forests. In challenging some of the received wisdom of Buddhist orthodoxy, these teachings invite the reader to question deep-seated beliefs about truth itself. "-Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism "Widely acknowledged as one of the oldest texts in the Buddhist canon, the Atthakavagga is intriguingly different from other Buddhist scriptures, lacking many of the doctrinal propositions that have come to be associated with Buddhism. Gil Fronsdal's fresh new translation, together with illuminating commentaries to each section of the text drawn both from scholarly research and from his many years of meditation practice, will make this classic text come alive for a new generation of readers."-Jan Nattier, author of A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra

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