Buddhism Made too Easy
By Paul Gerhards
Parami Press, $15.95, 120 pages
Buddhism is one of the less-ironic faiths. It involves a direct confrontation with reality. The sacred writings are less analogies than tales of people managing to find complexity in a world of purer simplicity. While some narratives seem allusive, metaphoric and even nonsensical, they still have a discernible point: be here now. Buddhism does not require believers to employ dense interpretive strategies. Rather, it asks only for the willingness to sit quietly in the present. This basis makes any book providing a ‘mapping’ of the Buddha’s thought ostensibly redundant.
Author Paul Gerhards, undaunted, plunges ahead with his self-described guide to the main points of the faith. He offers clear – though reductive – commentary on the Buddha’s teachings. The result is an efficient book, but a contradiction. The more help a reader gets about the writing, the further away a reader gets from engaging with the writing. What is gained by having a more comprehensive overview is lost in the experience of actually practicing the faith. Mapping the Dharma works to its own demise. The more of it you read, the less of Buddhism you want to seek.
Reviewed by Neil Liss