Buddhism Plain and Simple

Buddhism Plain and Simple Steve Hagen

I have read many blogs on buddhism only to be confused by it. As the title suggests, this book does dissect buddhism into a plain and simple language. This is the best resource on buddhism in my opinion.


Life is changing. We are not the same the moment we wake up. Death is inevitable. There is no sense of worrying about the future. All we have to do is ACCEPT reality for we cannot change it.

How to be fully present?

  1. Realize that life is fleeting.
  2. You must understand that you are already complete, worthy, whole.
  3. You are your own refuge, your own sanctuary, your own salvation.

As Steve Hagen notes: “As it [Buddhism] spread from country to country, it acquired a wide variety of cultural trappings: special clothes and hats, statues, incense, gongs, bells, whistles – even peculiar architectural forms, icons, and symbols. This book leaves all that behind.”

Buddhism is not an “ism”. Not a religion. Hagen refers to Buddhism as buddha-dharma (teaching of the awakened).

Many Americans and Europeans believe that Buddhism is about worshiping Buddha, or bowing and wearing robes, or working oneself into a trance, future incarnations bewildering riddles. Buddhism is not about these beliefs and practice.

Not buddhism:

Buddhism is not a belief system.

Buddhism is not about accepting certain tenets or believing a set of claims/principles.

Buddhism will not ask you to accept a belief or attempt to account for some presumed or imagined thing.

Buddha is not someone you pray to, bow down to, or get something from. (Buddha is simply a person who is awake – nothing more or less.)

Buddhism does not tell a story of creation, or speculate that we’re heading towards a heaven or afterlife of some kind.

Buddhism does not invite you to dabble in abstract notion.

What is buddhism?

Buddhism is about knowing rather than believing or hoping or wishing.

Buddhism is about being not afraid to examine anything or everything, including our own personal agendas.

The point of buddhism is just to see. That’s all.

The point of buddhism is to assist you, but it won’t find the truth for you. You will have to find the Truth yourself.

What is Buddhist meditation?

Buddhist meditation is not an exercise in relaxation, nor a striving toward some special state of mind.

Meditation is simply about learning to be here – to be present in each moment and to notice what is going on.


Human Situation

Most of us sense that something is amiss with our lives.

Hagen tells a story of people seat a sumptuous buffet. Dazzling and mouth-watering delicacies are in front of these people but they are not eating them. They have been seating at this buffet for a long time now, but they have not eaten. These people were not forbidden to eat. The reason why they have not eaten is because they don’t know they are hungry. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know that all they have to do is eat what’s in front of them. This is the human situation. We sense that something is amiss with our lives which leads to dissatisfaction.


Truths about Human Life:

Truth # 1: Dissatisfaction: Described as “duhkha” (doo-ka) – often translated to suffering. But it  or dissatisfaction.

Truth # 2: Dissatisfaction arises within us

Truth # 3: We can realize the origin of our dissatisfaction, and can put an end to its most profound and existential form.

Truth # 4: We can experience nirvana (enlightenment) , which means a “freedom of mind.” (This contains eight aspects which is why this is called the eightfold path).