Book Review: Buddhism 101 (Arnie Kozak)

Book Review: Buddhism 101 (Arnie Kozak)

Buddhism 101 by Arnie Kozak, PhD

Book Reviews

In general, I’m going to start trying to do a better job of keeping up with book reviews; where as soon as I read the book and finish it, I’m pulling out the laptop or getting on my desktop computer and opening up the blog, and writing down the beer review. Because as it sits, I have a backlog of book reviews to throw up here on the blog now that I’ve added book reviews to the blog as part of the various sections.

I’m a rather prolific book reader; some might even say ‘voracious’ but thats a cliche and I tend to avoid them (or at least try to). Most years I hit 100+ books as per my GoodReads Book Challenge. This year I set myself up for 110, and I’m woefully behind. (This marks book number 74; though I have about 8 books or so that are all nearing completion). In the old days, before I let life really fully intervene and stress pile up, and everything got backlogged, as soon as I finished a book, I would be doing a quick semi-review / semi-write up thing on GoodReads and it would immediately post to GoodReads and my personal Facebook.

But it seems I am getting further and further backlogged, with articles for the blog, travelogues that are in states of half written or just started or not even written but need to be, old hikes that I did from the summer but haven’t written yet, and now book reviews. I need to get better in the habit of – book closed – or hike completed – or beer drank – and write up the review / article. Now that I have everything kind of condensed on the blog here, I think once I get caught up, my stress of it all will ease up and I’ll be better able to maintain a good steady pace of it.

It will also mean I actually get the articles written 1) on time 2) written period and 3) more written. Keeping myself to the grindstone and making sure I stay in the habit of writing frequently, on time, and as soon as completion, will only help that. Because as you further distance yourself from the event (ie. I finished a day of brewery hopping on Day 2… but start to write it on Day 5… and don’t finish it… by Day 9… I am becoming less and less inclined to write the travelogue) (or if I finish a book on Day 3… by Day 7 I am less likely to write the book review), it seems like you can push and put it off more and more.

So this is my attempt to right that ship and to get into a better habit of writing. Hopefully I can still make the reviews and everything fun to read, wordy, interesting, and with lots of information. I was discussing with a new writer for the blog (she’ll be posting here shortly) about my procrastination with articles seems to stem from all the side stuff. The categorizing, the tagging, the uploading to social media accounts, the making it more presentable, checking SEO rankings, etc, etc. The little nuts and bolts of it all. I love writing and enjoy the writing. Its doing things like copy and pasting HTML code and links, and if I’m writing a beer review with a pop culture reference, tagging things and tying it back in with its property (ie. a Simpsons beer with gifs from the show), that just bogs me down and makes me procrastinate and not write as much.

But not anymore… this is me writing (instead of righting…. see what I did there?) the ship. I just finished this book, and now I am launching into the book review. Huzzah!

The Book Review

Ok, so preamble out of the way. Lets get into my actual book review. Now I am streamlining a bit here. Whereas before I might have done a whole section on the Buddha, on Buddhism, with hundreds of links to various sources, I think I’m gonna opt for simplicity here. (I am also looking to finish Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut today, and having that book review up later tonight as well, where I might do much more of that, especially since today is Vonnegut’s birthday – he would have been 99 today – and its also Veteran’s Day).

At this point, I think most people have a general understanding of The Buddha and Buddhism. If you don’t, here’s two quick Wikipedia links:

This book is a summary of both concepts – the Buddha himself, as well as Buddhism and everything that it all entails. I feel like sometimes / gravitating closer to all the time – that these ‘summary’ style books can be very hit or miss. Either too much information is given and its not really a summary, its a full on dictionary of Event X or Person X or Subject X; or it is such a brief summary that to even get a more rudimentary knowledge of the subject you are digging through websites or running through a bibliography of books.

This is 253 pages of text, plus index and other source notes at the end, and I think it does an overwhelmingly good job of covering Buddhism. I am not an adherent, I do profess that I find it fascinating, I do try my hand at meditation and mindfulness from time to time, but in my ADHD addled brain, and my angst and anxiety, I am horrible at given schedules and times and things and am not perfect (nowhere near it) at keeping to regiments or staying on hand.

My attempts sometimes at meditation and mindfulness is like the old Atari game of pong, but with four thousand balls bouncing around and thirty different paddles. All the while Donald Duck is screaming in the background.

So I have to say I really like Buddhism and what the Buddha stands for. I have read numerous works about the Buddha, read some of the various dharma and teachings, and one of my bucket list goals in life is to trace the steps of the Buddha (as well as Jesus, as well as do the Appalachian Trail). So I have a great admiration for the philosophy / religion and the practice of it.

I am not perfect in my knowledge of Buddhism, but have what I would deem a rudimentary and basic level understanding of it. From karma to the noble truths, to the three fires, the three jewels, sangha, dharma, nirvana, etc. And I also know how Americans / Westerners have misinterpreted much of it. This book does a very good job of righting some of those wrongs. Expressing how karmic values work, and how karma itself works. As well as samsara, and the wheel, etc.

It also does a good job of delving into the aspects of it that makes it more philosophical rather than religious – and vice versa. The book also covers all the various schools, techniques, thoughts, ideas, and expressions of Buddhism and the Buddha.

It gives a great biography of Siddhartha Gotama Buddha and his family life, his path to the middle way, and everything else. It also does a good job of dispelling some rumors and even calls out the beliefs that people have that most likely didn’t happen.

This is a phenomenal starting point for anyone wanting to get a good idea about Buddha or Buddhism. Its not an academic work, its for laypeople and to help give them a clearer understanding and idea of the subject. When checking this into GoodReads I see its part of a series, others in the series include: American Government 101, Astrology 101, Accounting 101, Architecture 101, Anatomy 101, Mythology 101, Grammar 101, Investing 101, Economics 101, Art 101, Management 101, US History 101, Weather 101, Philosophy 101, Poetry 101, Religion 101, US Lit 101, etc etc (some thirty plus books in total).

I honestly only found this because it was in the ‘new non-fiction’ section at the Hershey Library. I find part of why my reading is so eclectic is due to always stopping at the ‘new non-fiction’ and ‘new fiction’ sections right in front of the door when entering. Its the greatest way to broaden one’s ideas and senses – by checking out books that you normally wouldn’t and reading subjects you normally wouldn’t.

I fully recommend this to anyone looking to get more information on the subject of The Buddha, Buddhism, meditation, and/or mindfulness. Its a good read, its quick, well laid out, informative, and written in a nice and concise and fun way.

My GoodReads Rating: ****
Global Average GoodReads Rating: 3.76
My LibraryThing Rating: ****

GoodReads Blurb:

Learn everything you need to know about Buddhism in this clear and straightforward new guide.

Buddhism was founded thousands of years ago, and has inspired millions of people with its peaceful teachings. Buddhism 101 highlights and explains the central concepts of Buddhism to the modern reader, with information on mindfulness, karma, The Four Noble Truths, the Middle Way, and more.

Whether you’re just looking to understand Buddhism or explore the philosophy in your own life and own journey to Enlightenment, this book gives you everything you need to know!

GoodReads: Buddhism 101 – From Karma to the Four Noble Truths, Your Guide to Understanding the Principles of Buddhism by Arnie Kozak

Other Book Reviews To Check Out

Thanks For Reading

Thank you for reading. And thank you to all of our veterans today, on Veteran’s Day. We appreciate your commitment, and time served, and your honor and duty to America.

Be sure to check back later, after my hike at Hawk Rock, and stop at Liquid Noise, when I should be uploading the book review of Vonnegut’s Armageddon in Retrospect on today – what would have been his 99th birthday.

(And be sure to check out our Instagram page as we are likely to be posting pictures!)


-B. Kline

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