Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen [Book Summary – Review]


Suppose you have a beautiful afternoon at the shopping center, sit with your buddies, enjoy having yummy ice cream and also get yourself the book, smartphone or piece of clothing that hooked your sight – yet, when you return home, you merely feel unsatisfied and blank, with all the good time faded away.

Or perhaps you see yourself anxious all the time; also the possibility of missing a train or getting delayed for debt is a reason to trouble your head. After that, you have more concerns about the security of your kids or your career.

Several people in Western countries sense isolated, discouraged, and have so many doubts. What are we dropping off? And why are plenty of famous people condoling with Buddhism? Eventually, Bill Clinton, Philip Glass, Orlando Bloom, and Tina Turner have all declared affection for the Buddhist concept.

As you’ll see in this summary, Buddhism owns so much to give: it explains that all that we’re looking for is just before our eyes. What we are striving for is to live reality, yet, our countless wishes, concerns, and believes play like a wall dividing us from life as it truly is.

Luckily, you’re not condemned to spend your life in fallacy; there are activities that will assist you to enjoy the moment, handle uncomfortable feelings, and reach your peace of mind+

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Chapter 1 – Our suffering comes from our incapacity to figure and receive matters as they truly are.


Do you sense hollow and unhappy with your life? Do you sense that you’re dropping off on a thing you can’t have control over? If the answers are yes, Buddhism might grant a few solutions.

Usually, we feel pain as we match reality to our desires and anticipations; what we must be doing is merely be conscious about today’s time. However, because each approach of our daily life is controlled by practices that drive us away from the current moment, this can be a very hard chore.

We pass enough of our time assessing ourselves, people, and circumstances according to what we anticipate them to be. For example, if rain falls in June, July, or August, we’re unsatisfied for we assume the climate to be sunny. If we don’t have different methods to be frustrated, we obsessed with trivial hopes, wanting a new car, a fancy house, or a perfect character.

All such desires and anticipations are the same as a wall standing between us and reality. They prevent us from living that nice rain like any other thing that miserable absence of the climate we anticipated.

Such consideration about life drives us away from satisfaction for two causes: one, we crave for true lives, and we’re dropping off on them, except if we acknowledge what’s truly there. Two, we’re waiting for reality to be not itself, and so preparing ourselves for frustration.



Buddhism shows us that we’ll feel pain as long as we keep resisting development. We encounter development as a second stage to death and we don’t wish to die or miss our close people. Consequently, we’re caught in the middle of uncertainty, dread, and unhappiness. If too much of our grief is connected to our incapacity to see reality just as it is, how can we turn into conscious of matters as they are?

Buddhism doesn’t provide us with consultancy to quit management, yet, instead, to accept that we never consider it from the beginning. Development is a must in life – we all develop from the time we came to this world. We grow, we mature, we grow old and then die; such phases we can’t dominate. Exactly as ourselves, all things and people evolve, as well.


Chapter 2 – Buddhism suggests eight disciplines for reaching peace of mind – and a couple of them are about how we think.


Buddhist practices can work as a boat you can ride to go from one bank of a creek to the other, moving away from the part of human pain, the duhkha. The eight essential disciplines are the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

In this summary, we’ll zoom in to only two of those concepts.

First, to reach the peace of mind, you have to abandon the drift to observe the world as a base picture of arranged principles. The world is a mass and it’s developing around the time – consider the life cycle or water running from liquid to aeriform or hard form.

Notwithstanding, we likely view one, temporary aspect and attempt to halt them into principles and beliefs. It’s as looking into a kaleidoscope and focusing on only one thing. Yet, just consider how many various potential manners exist to understand a thing.



For example, suppose a kid restrains a rat. In his opinion, this rat is adorable, cuddly, and friendly, at the time his mother sees it as dirty and sickening. The kid and his mother’s thinking of the rat are inconsistent and inadequate. 

Such contrasting opinions can be a factor of big struggle if, assumingly, that parent gets rid of the rate away from her home. By understanding not to condemn others’ opinions or understanding them inconsistently, we can avoid struggle. The Buddha describes this affirming the right view.

The right intention is the strong answer to view matters the way they truly are. It’s the intention to return back to the current time, to be conscious of this time, and to easily be aware without wishing other issues in your world. You could also think that the right intention is the strong answer to perform the right view, over and over again.


Additional two essential disciplines are the right mindfulness and the right effort.


If the right intention is the strong answer to view matters as they truly are, does this reveals that we must drive ourselves to enlightenment? Well, not really. 

What Buddha described as the right effort is ensuring that you behave and think with no endeavoring and never attempt to dominate what’s out of your hand. For example, except if you’re walking through mud, default moves ought not to demand you to pull yourself; if it does, you’re doing it wrong. The right effort says that you must never endeavor to accomplish enlightenment and that you must not have anxiety about acting so. 

The right effort means not attempting to dominate what’s beyond your will. As the old saying implies, you can take the horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink.



On the other hand, the right mindfulness can aid you to seek your stillness. In daily life, we point to only respond to a specific circumstance or to contain that response. If we proceed to live in such a manner, we stay too weak to outer impacts, and also the tiniest issues can hurt us – just consider the annoying sound of a dripping valve!

In exercising the right mindfulness, you’ll perform another thing: you won’t concentrate on the circumstance, but rather on the way it shapes your emotions. Concentrate on your response with no condemning: where in your body do you sense that disturbance? Do you grit your teeth, does your head pint? After performing that for a time, do you sense your breathing deepening, your jaw relaxing? Mindfulness exercise leaves a stillness influence.

In exercising the right mindfulness, you’ll recognize what’s truly sickly you are your own responses and that you usually expose them with your own beliefs and behaviors.


Chapter 3 – The concept of the self doesn’t represent the description of our uniqueness.


In our everyday routine, we keep on living likewise philosophical dilemmas as others did at Buddah time. We always interrogate ourselves: what am I? What occurs to me after death? Do I depart after death?

We serve to submit to the fact that every one of us has a distinguished personality, a self. Yet, for hundreds of years, there’s been so many arguments and ambiguity about the essence of that personality. One group discussed the presence of an immortal soul that’s merely for a limited period caught in a physical body. In Hinduism, this eternal spirit is known as atman.

The other theory, materialism, suggests that we are just psychophysical creatures. So, right after the death of our body, our brain terminates, as well. Pretty much like defining popular atheistic concepts, this argument belongs to ancient India, too. 



Based on Buddhism, the two arguments are victim to one illusion; it’s reality. There’s nothing called a self or personality. With concepts like “personality”, “soul”, or “self”, we attempt to obtain fluent, ever-shifting phenomena with chilled, permanent theories. You could suggest that we serve to observe ourselves as corks swimming in a stream of time.

Buddhism mocks such theories as chilled views. When you zoom in, you’ll see that you’re shifting all the time – your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and behaviors are in continuous development. At the time Buddha talked about individuals, he uttered the term stream for this progressive development that’s fundamental to our lives. In this manner, we’re not swimming in a stream, we ourselves are the stream!


Chapter 4 – The fact is that every entity refers to a whole.


Reality can usually be seen to be present as a globe of contradictions and variations. Yet, why is the, in fact, how it is? It’s due to our worldly perspectives that are shaped up of relative truths, which we follow to understand everything around us.

Relative truths are temporary and subjective, formed inside our brain when we separate a thing or an aspect and divided it from what it’s related, such as an image and a background, a male and a female or virtues and vices. Such as an optical delusion that draws either a jar or two faces in portrait, it’s all about how you view it.

Actually, our whole language is built on relative truths as well. As we’re in long-term communication with relative truths, we misremember that they are temporary and subjective.



Yet in fact, every entity refers to a whole, and all that you see in the world is related. Everything occurs as an outcome of another incident, and not a single matter in this globe stands alone. Moreover, every interpretation we make about a matter together makes an opponent one. In case you consider darkness, you describe it as the nonexistence of light. Darkness and light are components of a whole.

This wholeness is the Absolute Truth. When each term comes to divide the world into chunks, the Absolute Truth is straightforward, instant understanding, which reveals that not a thing can be parted.


Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen Book Review


Like we get to quit making assessments of ourselves, people, and the circumstances we encounter, we can stop the loop of uncertainty and unhappiness. In starting to exercise new aspects for living, with mindfulness and more profound intentions, we’ll see ourselves capable to stay within the current moment and feel the pleasure of it.


Just take a breath! 

whenever you see yourself as very nervous for you just recalled a sad remembrance, just shut your eyes and begin to concentrate your awareness on your breath. Gently you will relax your brain and you’ll explore the strength of being conscious of the current time.



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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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