Kornfield, the author of The Teachings of the Buddha, is one of the most recognized and prominent teachers of the Buddhism in the US. His book provides the basic concepts and interpretations of the religion and gives the practical advice and recommendations for the readers. The book contains texts from the original scriptures and provides the authentic material, regarding the essence and meaning of the Buddhism. Such a composition of the writing makes it valuable and notable for the study and analysis of the religion, its peculiarities, properties, and rules. The aim of this report is to emphasize the basic notions of J. Kornfield’s book, summarize the main points of the Buddhism it suggests, and provide subjective reflections, concerned with the comprehension and interpretation of this religion.
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Firstly, The Teachings of the Buddha suggests that the Buddhism emphasizes the personal freedom and liberty. J. Kornfield frequently introduces the concepts of awakening, liberating and enlightening, which presuppose both the moral and spiritual development of humans and their internal self-improvement. Moreover, the Buddhism provides much space for the individual self-development and growth. Hence, the religion encourages the aspirations for the amelioration and amplification of internal power and spiritual strength. The best example to follow is the life of Buddha himself, who managed to get rid of the earthly hustle and focused on the spiritual development. In general, the Buddhism expects humans to reveal their spiritual potential and aspires to the moral accomplishment and perfection.
Secondly, The Teachings of Buddha explains the essence of the human life on the Earth. According to J. Kornfield (1993), sufferings, which exists in the form of sadness, worries, anxiety, fear, and other negative manifestations permanently accompanies people`s lives. Interestingly, the Buddhism attempts to describe the origin of the sufferings, connecting it with the natural desire to live. Thus, the religion closely relates life to sufferings, regarding them as interdependent and interrelated concepts. The task of humans is to alleviate the anguish and prevent it, by undergoing the Eightfold Path of purification and salvation. In these terms, the Buddhism does not only describe the essence of human existence, but also provides the rationale for a living and striving for the spiritual development.
The Eightfold Path is the way, which helps humans to reduce the earthly sufferings and reach perfection in terms of moral development and spiritual closeness to the Divine Beings. It includes the helpful and beneficial views and opinions, thoughts, speech, actions, lifestyle, attempts, moderation, and concertation. Apparently, the fulfillment of the Eightfold Path requires the individual psychological and cognitive efforts, willingness and moral readiness to accept the sufferings and decision to overcome them. According to Buddhism, the Eightfold Path is the elaborated, conscious, and determined decision of each individual, which defines the subjective lifestyle and moral position one has chosen. People, who take this path, are worth respecting and admiring due to their strong moral awareness and willingness to reach a spiritual accomplishment, despite the earthly imperfection.
At the same time, the Buddhism clearly outlines the causes and reasons of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the earthly life. In general, the sufferings and negative attitudes come from the ignorance, impermanence, egoism, avarice, hatred, envy, materialism, and orientation towards the earthly life instead of the spiritual one. In other words, the negative emotions and actions contribute to the individual unhappiness and prevent the humans from the possibility to reach moral accomplishment. The Buddhism warns against such behaviors and emphasizes the significance of the conscious morality and spiritual choices.
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Thirdly, the book also contains numerous sayings, idioms, verses, religious expressions and couplets, which claim the central Buddhism values and opinions. Therefore, many of them have enormous literary value, as far as one consider them to be the samples of the ancient Buddhism art. Those phrases display particular views and ideas, indicating the special role of humans in their own salvation. Taking everything into consideration, it is possible to notice that Buddhism does not limit individual freedom, but highly inspires personal actions and thoughts, aimed at the moral and spiritual liberation.
Finally, the book emphasizes some meditation techniques, breathing exercises and practices, which allow the human to reach harmony with themselves and the universe. One supposes that the meditation enhances the moral behavior, thoughts, and actions, and maximizes personal efforts on the way to salvation. The Buddhism introduces different meditation practices, which follow strict and distinct patterns and regularities. The Teachings of the Buddha provides an insight into the performance of those techniques and emphasizes their importance in the moral growth.
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My own view of that matter is that this book helped me to acquire a new vision of morality and faith, and learn a new interpretation of the religious matters. The Buddhism strongly differs from the Western cultures and beliefs, in terms of indicating the issues of nature, harmony, a universe, meditation, and freedom. It is true that the majority of its notions fit the modern concepts of ethics and morality. Even though the basic values and beliefs of Buddhism reflect the traditional ethical and moral rules; this religion highly appreciates the calmness, tranquility, natural flow of life, and confession of the ancient traditions and customs. As a result, it provides a moderate, tranquil and conservative alternative to the striking, hectic lifestyle of the Western civilizations.
I admired reading the ancient sayings and expressions in the translation of J. Kornfield. They are laconic and small in size, but quite prolific and profound concerning interpretation and analysis. In fact, a vast range of literary parables, quotations, verses, proverbs, and teachings reflects the peculiarities of Buddhism and indicates its respect for art and creativity. Moreover, the majority of sayings do not lose their topicality due to being actual and notable for the contemporary patterns of behavior, as well. Besides, rich figurative language, usage of expressive means and stylistic devices such as interesting comparisons and metaphors make the book appealing and intriguing for the readers.
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It is also essential to mention that this book provides one with great inspiration for the self-improvement and moral growth. To exemplify, the description of the Eightfold Path and principles of the moral lifestyle encourage the readers to reconsider their moral attitudes and follow the sacred rules of the ancient religion. Since J. Kornfield employs comprehensive language and clear composition of the texts, The Teachings of the Buddha appears to be quite actual and prominent for the public. Hence, the book creates a positive impression and evokes the willingness for the spiritual growth and personal amelioration.
To sum up, Jack Kornfield’s book The Teachings of the Buddha provides valuable and noteworthy information about the basic notions of the Buddhism, namely its principles, ideas, and values. The book presents a clear introduction to the religion and explains its main characteristics and features. What is more, it has not only informative value, but also literary one, due to numerous sayings, teachings, proverbs, and verses, one translated from the ancient texts. Consequently, the book appeals to both pathos and ethos of the readers and provides sufficient space for the self-development. Moreover, the book contains accurate and valid information, since its author has been investigating the basics of Buddhism for quite a long time. Overall, reading of The Teachings of the Buddha is the appropriate way to start discovering the Buddhism and analyzing its essence.