A Review of "In The Buddha's Words"

A Review of "In The Buddha's Words"

An Exploration Review




    In The Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon was compiled, edited and arranged by the Bhikkhu Bodhi.  His division of the work compiles ten thematic sections that range throughout the words and ideas of Gautama Buddha recorded in the ancient Hindi dialect of Pali. It is important to note that Gautama Buddha wrote none of these works, and that his words, stories, and instructions were memorized and transmitted orally from one generation to the next eventually over the course of time they were written down.

     The selections themselves are from a group of texts called The Nikayas that are a vast work of compositions written down and approved by various scholar monks. Over the years, three particular meetings of leading Buddhists compiled, edited and approved the Pali canon as the leading source of Buddhist philosophy. The original handwritten texts and manuscripts are for the most part lost now and the materials currently available are usually representative copies of those originals.


       The thematic arrangement of material in this book makes it very easy to quickly approach the teachings from a "beginner's" perspective and gain access to the philosophy of Gautama. The notes and introductions are incredibly helpful in explaining the choice of selections and how they incorporate into the overall message.  The majority of the selections are not incredibly lengthy or usually difficult to digest.  Expressions that appear strange or unusual are explained concisely through the introduction, notes and glossary; and represent their own introduction to one of the more ancient formats of the Hindi language.


       The material includes stories, discussions, poetry and narration.  The philosophy that waits at the heart of the book itself is very similar and may be said to stem from Brahmin philosophy, the Upanishads, the Vedas, and various Gitas.  The material from these selections also appears to influence some of the Gitas that the reviewer has read.  The ideas, on the whole, seem to organically influence a portion of Hindi culture as well as cultures around the world in general. In summation, In The Buddha's Words is one more way to gain access to some of the foundations for the Hindi and Buddhist lifestyles.