Buddhism is Not What You Think

Steve Hagen

Nonfiction 2003 | 255 pages


I was quite disappointed in this book, especially since I so enjoyed the other Hagen book I read, Buddhism Plan and Simple.  I just don’t think there was nearly enough content to fill this book.  I found it extremely repetitive.  He says the same thing over and over, sometimes not even changing the words.

That being said, here are some of the gems I took from his writing:

Pg 40. It's better instead to just look at the situation you're in and see immediately and directly what's going on.  If you do this honestly and earnestly, you'll see that you're already sustained, complete, and whole and that everything you'll ever truly need is at hand.

Pg 49.  The Buddha pointed out that any idea of existence or persistence is faulty. But he also pointed out that any notion of nonexistent is also flawed.

Pg 65. Instead of just seeing, most of us most of the time search for a better idea, a more useful concept, a clearer explanation that will at last crack open the world for us.

Pg 66, 67. We overlook that we cannot have "off" without "on."  We cannot have "this" without "that." In fact, no object can form in the mind without its very identity being wrapped up in all that it us not ... Nothing stands on its own.  Nothing has its own being. Each thing is inseparable from, and inter-identical with, all that it's not.

Pg 80. The Buddha said that he taught only two things:  dukkha--which can be translated as change, sorrow, loss, suffering, vexation, or confusion--and release from dukkha.

Pg 101.  It doesn't matter what the activity is.  If you really understand meditation, it can reach into every activity of your life, 24/7.

Pg 107.  The Way – Truth, Reality, Enlightenment – is always with people.  It's with you now.

Pg 123.  So what is the most precious thing?  It's not a thing at all.  It's this very moment.

Pg 180.  It is said that a Bodhisattva comes into the world forsaking understanding and being understood.  This is true.

Pg 185.  In this moment it is possible to realize that we do not need to understand, to be understood, to have the right idea.  All we need to do is awaken to here and now – to stop jabbering to ourselves and be present in this moment.

There's nothing to prove, nothing to figure out, nothing to get, nothing to understand.  When we finally stop explaining everything to ourselves, we may discover that in silence, complete understanding was here all along.

Pg 209.  That this will never come again is what it actually means to be born again and again.  We, and indeed the whole world, are born repeatedly, over and over, in each new moment.

December 2022