A book containing an outline of the teachings of the Buddha in the words of the Pali Canon, compiled, translated, and explained by Nyanatiloka, published by Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy, Ceylon.

This is an excellent compilation on the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, etc. The book simply combines direct quotes from the different sutras of the Pali Canon, into a systematic course of the basics of Buddhism.

After I became a Buddhist, it was all so confusing. I knew instinctively, Buddhism was where I needed to go, but it was too abstract. I was taught by a Zen Master, and Zen Masters generally are not too concerned with basic Buddhist teachings, but tend to go straight for the way to awakening. But to me, it was like studying calculus without knowing arithmetics.

Then I happened to visit Washington Buddhist Vihara, the oldest Theravada Buddhist temple in Washington, DC. This was the first time I encountered Theravada. They had a small Buddhist bookstore, and recommended this book. After reading it, it all started falling into place, including Zen. I am still a Zen Buddhist, but I found my encounter with the Theravadins very enlightening (no pun intended, it was truly what I needed at the time!). That is why I post so many write-ups on Theravada. In traditional Mahayana countries, the basics of Buddhism are just part of the culture and need not really be explained. For us here in the West, there is so much confusion about Buddhism, that I highly recommend this book (and other Theravada books) to anyone who wants to get a good Buddhism 101, so to speak. Theravada is absolutely down-to-earth, and keeps this Zen practitioner rooted in reality!

Best of all, I have just discovered the full text of this book online! You can find it at http://www.enabling.org/ia/vipassana/Archive/N/Nyanatiloka/WOB/index.html. Also, a list of other introductory books online, at http://www.quantrum.com.my/sadhu/Readings/Online_Books/.

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