Get on the path to zen bliss―an essential beginner's guide to Buddhism.
How is an awakening different from enlightenment? Can agnostics and atheists be Buddhist? Am I supposed to stop thinking when I meditate? In No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners, renowned Buddhism teacher and host of the popular Secular Buddhism podcast, Noah Rasheta, delivers an easily accessible introduction to the teachings of Buddhism that answers these common questions and many more.
With No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners you’ll gain a fundamental understanding of Buddhism and how to apply the philosophies in your everyday life, through:
- A simple 4-part structure addressing the different aspects of Buddhism―the Buddha, key Buddhist concepts, the Buddha’s teachings, and current Buddhist practices
- Straightforward Q&A’s that simplify the vital concepts of Buddhism into easy-to-understand ideas
- “Everyday Buddhism” Sidebars that make Buddhism less abstract by offering down-to-earth examples from everyday life
Presented in a simple, conversational style, the information and guidance in No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners provides the groundwork that is necessary for building or continuing your own Buddhist practice.
Do Buddhists worship the Buddha?
The Buddha was a teacher, not a god. When you see Buddhists bowing to statues or images of the Buddha, they’re not necessarily worshipping him but rather making a physical expression of their humble intent to follow the Buddha’s teachings in order to overcome an ego-centered life. In fact, in one Buddhist scripture, the Buddha seems to be critical of god worship, telling a young man that it’s far more important to live ethically than it is to worship anything. Over time, though, the various schools of Buddhism have come to view the Buddha in different ways; some almost seem to deify and worship him, while others simply hold him in the highest esteem and treat him as the ultimate teacher.
Is ignorance really a poison? What's wrong with not knowing things?
From the Buddhist perspective, calling ignorance a poison is specifically referring to a lack of understanding about the nature of reality. So, for example, when we perceive things to be permanent and independent from other things, this blinds us from seeing things as they truly are: impermanent and interdependent. This misconception fuels our suffering. The most dangerous manifestation of ignorance is the belief in a permanent self that exists independent of other people and the rest of the world. Clinging to this false, or ignorant, sense of self and wanting to protect it give rise to greed and hatred. Ignorance is a poison because it prevents us from seeing things as they are, which is necessary to reach enlightenment. The antidote to ignorance is wisdom about the nature of both reality and the self.
What does it mean to have right intent?
If we want to reduce suffering, we need to be aware of the intentions we have regarding the things we say and do. When our intentions stem from anger or hatred, they’re more likely to cause harm than if they stem from happiness or gratitude. When we behave reactively, it is very difficult to be mindful of the intent behind our words and actions. It takes practice to become aware of our intentions. You can start this practice by asking yourself, 'Why?' as you react to things in life. When I’m feeling anger, for example, I like to ask myself, 'Why am I experiencing this emotion?' If I’m being kind to someone, I ask myself, 'Why? Is it because I genuinely care about this person, or am I trying to gain something out of this interaction?'
Do I have to be vegetarian to be Buddhist? (Don't make me give up meat!)
Some Buddhists are vegetarians, and some are not. Again, there’s nothing mandatory to do or refrain from doing in order to be a Buddhist. The Buddha did not require his followers to be vegetarians; while he taught that killing was an unskillful practice, he also encouraged monks to graciously accept whatever food was offered to them, including meat. Some schools of Buddhism encourage and practice a vegetarian diet as a way to follow the first precept, but others don’t. In the end, it’s a personal choice, and each person must decide if vegetarianism is suitable for his or her particular circumstances in life.
"If you're looking for a one-stop place to explore and understand Buddhism (and make sense out of life), you'll find it here. Noah's gift for putting Buddhist concepts into clear words and everyday contexts shines in this friendly yet thorough guide. Whether you're curious about Buddhism or looking to more deeply benefit from its teachings, you'll find answers, insights, and plenty of 'a-ha!' moments in No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners."—Ellen Petry Leanse, author of The Happiness Hack
"What a pleasure to read No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners. Noah Rasheta writes in a refreshingly clear and straightforward manner. The question-and-answer format of the book is a very effective educational style and presents topics in a way that readers can easily relate to. This book is a very helpful examination of the basics of Buddhism."—Reverend Koyo S. Kubose, president, Bright Dawn Center of Oneness Buddhism
“No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners is a beautiful gift to all levels of practitioners--from those who are just beginning to explore Buddhism, to long-time Buddhists who would like to brush up on their knowledge. His tone is clear, accessible, and warm, and his consistent ability to translate Buddhist concepts into plain English is extremely impressive. Noah Rasheta’s book is a wonderful and much-needed resource.”—Yael Shy, author of What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond
About the Author
NOAH RASHETA is a Buddhist teacher, lay minister, and author, as well as the host of the podcast Secular Buddhism. He teaches mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy online and in workshops all around the world. He works with others to make the world a better place as he studies, embodies, and teaches the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy, integrating Buddhist teachings with modern science, humanism, and humor.