One of the most impressive facts in Donald Lopez’s The Story of Buddhism is the acknowledgment of the fact that neither the Buddha himself nor anyone acting on his behalf left any writings detailing his teachings. It is therefore astonishing that the path he rediscovered (Buddha maintained that he did not discover something new but rediscovered something ancient which had been abandoned) is still being pursued by so many people twenty-five hundred years after he espoused it.
To put that into perspective, we all know that the prevalent attitude in our society is “what have you done for me lately?” Celebrities (okay, so I know it smacks of blasphemy to refer even tangentially to Buddha as a celebrity - but in our day and age, that is the best comparison I can offer) who do not keep their face and message shoved down the collective throat of the public fade not so gently into that good night.
After a fascinating glimpse into the life of Buddha, Lopez segues into explanations of the fundamentals of Buddhism that will lead the inexperienced novitiate into further research and perhaps even practice. He gives an enticing peek into existence untainted by the eight worldly concerns: gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and happiness and sorrow.
From those who are intrigued at the thought of learning about religions other than their own to those who genuinely intend to pursue the promise of the path still led by the spirit if not the personage of the Buddha himself, this book is a must read.