Buddhism – Plain and Simple Book Summary - Buddhism – Plain and Simple Book explained in key points
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Buddhism – Plain and Simple summary

Steve Hagen

The Practice of Being Aware, Right Now, Every Day

4.3 (431 ratings)
11 mins

Brief summary

Buddhism – Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen is a beginner-friendly guide to the core principles and practices of Buddhism. We explore key concepts such as mindfulness, impermanence, and non-self, and learn how to apply them to our daily lives to find inner peace and contentment.

Table of Contents

    Buddhism – Plain and Simple
    Summary of 5 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 5

    Our misery stems from our inability to see and accept things as they really are.

    Do you feel empty and dissatisfied with your life? Do you feel you're missing out on something you can't quite put your finger on? In that case, Buddhism might provide some answers.

    Quite often, we suffer because we compare reality to our wishes and expectations; what we should be doing is just being aware of the present moment. But since every aspect of our everyday life is dominated by habits that take us out of the present moment, this can be a very difficult task.

    We spend much of our time judging ourselves, others and situations based on what we expect them to be. For instance, if it rains in the summer, we’re unhappy because we expect the weather to be sunny. If we’re not finding new ways to feel disappointed, we’re fixated on petty wishes, coveting a new car, a dream home or a perfect complexion.

    All these wishes and expectations are like a veil between us and reality. They keep us from experiencing that cool rain as anything else than the frustrating absence of the weather we expected.

    This take on the world makes us unhappy for two reasons: First, we’re hungry for real experiences, and we’re missing out on them unless we appreciate what’s really there. Second, we’re expecting reality to be something it isn’t, and thus setting ourselves up for disappointment.

    Buddhism teaches us that we'll suffer as long as we continue to fight change. We see change as another step toward death and we don’t want to die or lose our loved ones. As a result, we’re trapped in a circle of confusion, alarm and dissatisfaction. If so much of our pain is linked to our inability to perceive reality just the way it is, how can we become aware of things as they are?

    Buddhism doesn’t advise us to give up control, but rather to acknowledge that we never had it in the first place. Change is an inevitable part of life – we all change from the moment we’re born. We grow, we mature, we age and we die; these processes are out of our control. Just like us, everything and everyone around us changes, too.

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    What is Buddhism – Plain and Simple about?

    Buddhism Plain and Simple (2013) is your no-nonsense guide to essential Buddhist practices. From building awareness to living in the present moment, Buddhism’s most important teachings are explained in a clear and accessible way, and are linked to aspects of everyday life where we need them the most.

    Buddhism – Plain and Simple Review

    Buddhism – Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen (1997) is an insightful exploration of the core principles of Buddhism and why they are relevant in today's world. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It offers a clear and accessible introduction to Buddhism, making it easy for beginners to understand and apply the teachings in their daily lives.
    • Through practical examples and personal anecdotes, the book brings Buddhism to life, showing how its principles can lead to greater peace, happiness, and self-awareness.
    • With its thought-provoking ideas and emphasis on mindfulness, the book challenges readers to question their own beliefs and explore new ways of thinking.

    Best quote from Buddhism – Plain and Simple

    We suffer. Everything we need to alleviate this dissatisfaction is right here before us. Yet we dont realize it.

    —Steve Hagen
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    Who should read Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

    • Spirituality enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of human existence
    • Professionals who feel too busy to live in the moment
    • Anyone who wants to stop living in ignorance of basic Buddhist truths

    About the Author

    Steve Hagen is a Zen priest, and a teacher of Buddhism. He is also the author of How the World Can be the Way It Is: An Inquiry for the New Millennium into Science, Philosophy, and Perception. 

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    Buddhism – Plain and Simple FAQs 

    What is the main message of Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

    Buddhism – Plain and Simple offers a clear and accessible introduction to the core teachings of Buddhism.

    How long does it take to read Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

    The reading time for Buddhism – Plain and Simple varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Buddhism – Plain and Simple a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Buddhism – Plain and Simple is worth reading because it presents complex Buddhist concepts in a concise and relatable manner.

    Who is the author of Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

    Steve Hagen is the author of Buddhism – Plain and Simple.

    What to read after Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Buddhism – Plain and Simple, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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