Reviews: Buddhism for Dummies and Rogues in Robes


Buddhism for DummiesBuddhism for Dummies is a user-friendly, extensive presentation of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. It can be read from cover to cover, or it can be used as a reference book by turning to the section you are interested in.

It provides an introduction to Buddhism, discussing whether or not it is a religion, a philosophy, or a practical way to conduct your life.

If Buddhism is not primarily a belief system and is not centered upon the worship of a supreme Deity, then why is it classified as a religion at all? Because like all religions, Buddhism gives people who practice it a way of finding answers to the deeper questions of life, such as “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Why do we suffer?” and “How can I achieve lasting happiness?” (page 11)

Further, it surveys the history of Buddhism from the life and teachings of Buddha through Buddhism today, and the practical application of Buddhist thought. Almost a third of the book is devoted to walking the Buddhist path toward enlightenment, and there is a section on ten common misconceptions about Buddhism and ten ways Buddhism can help you deal with life’s problems.

Although the authors have tried to simplify the terms used throughout in the book, a glossary of useful Buddhist terms is provided at the back of the book. Additional resources are listed as well.

Rogues in RobesRogues in Robes gives a detailed history of Buddhism in Tibet and examines the historical basis leading to the conflict over the selection of the 17th Karmapa, leader of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a story filled with political upheaval in Tibet and the sometimes deadly intrigue in the various Tibetan Buddhist schools.

When a Tibetan Buddhist leader dies, he leaves clues as to where he will next incarnate so that he can be found and trained to take up his duties again. When the sixteenth Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, died in 1981, the search for his successor soon began. This is the story of the politics and intrigue involved in finding him, not a simple task as it turned out, as told by a Western student of Lama Ole Nydahl. (back cover description)

In 1956, author Tomek Lehnert was born in Poland, and he studied Civil Engineering at the Polytechnics of Gdansk and English literature at the University of Poznan. He became a practitioner of Buddhism in 1983. He has traveled extensively, and has translated Buddhist lectures into Polish and Spanish for more than ten years. He is a student of Lama Ole Hydhal.