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Buddha, a Beginner's Guide (Writers & Readers Documentary Comic Book)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  175 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Originally published by Writers and Readers in 1998, this is an iconoclastic, illustrated romp through the life of the Buddha both a credible exploration of his life and teachings and an entertaining introduction to the philosophy of Buddhism. Many Westerners know about the meditation practices of Buddhism, but few understand the Buddha''s philosophical teachings. This boo ...more
ebook, 178 pages
Published January 9th 2009 by Hampton Roads Publishing Company (first published 1996)
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Jason Pettus
I had a chance earlier this year to read Columbia College Chicago professor Stephen Asma's Why I Am a Buddhist, and ended up really enjoying it, a no-nonsense and secular-slanted guide to this philosophy/religion that humorously takes the piss out of hippie New Agers; so I've decided to read several other of his books this summer as well, with this being the first one I finished. It's exactly what the title describes, with content that could've easily been in one of those "Buddhism for Dummies" ...more
Received this book for free via a Goodreads Give Away - thank you!

Though this is definitely a "beginners" book, it is by no means dumbed down in language, so I appreciate that a lot. A great lets-start-at-the-beginning, informative breakdown of the historical Buddha. Would recommend this book to anyone looking to get a better understanding of the origins of Buddhism or of the historical Buddha vs. the popular Buddha.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent short and simple explanation of a complex religion. Focuses on the philosophy (or psychology depending on your viewpoint) of the Buddha himself; not on the mythological religion that has been wrapped around this person. A great beginning point for the study of Buddhism.
Jeff Song
I think this is the best primer on Buddhism for anyone interested in learning the basic underlying principals, and the ways they relate to western ways of thinking.
I recommend this as a starting point to anyone who asks me about Buddhism, or wants to learn more.
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually learned some new things from this wonderfully illustrated book, and I've been studying Buddhism for some time. Surprising and delightful and a good primer that breaks down some of the tougher concepts.
Kat W
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is good for people like me who have little to no knowledge of Buddhism. It even had some explanations regarding Hinduism and Western monotheism, which may help some readers put Buddhism in perspective. The book covers the basics with some history and covering the Buddha's philosophy/religion and how Buddhism has changed over time in different cultures. There's no filler content, no rambling, and there are pictures (if that helps you), though I did not like the art, it could be helpful.
Derrick McNealy
Interesting to see how Buddhism has evolved over the centuries. Occasionally, the author's illustrations helped to drive a main idea home, but I mostly found them to be a distraction from the text. Don't let the "two star" rating mislead you. "Two Stars" means "it was OK". So, I got something worthwhile out of reading it.
An interesting and informative discussion of the life of Guatama. Takes a somewhat dismissive tone with regard to Mahayana developments. More historical than philosophical.
Josh Harvey
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
A great, brief introduction to Buddhism. If you're a quick reader you could knock this out in an hour and a half, maybe an hour. Almost every page has some cartoon or illustration and the chunks of text tend to be short. But the text is by no means shallow. The books covers not only the Buddha's history but the intricacies of Buddhist metaphysics (from the bundle theory of identity to causality and time), the four noble truths, eightfold path, and middle way as well as the later historical devel ...more
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is sweet, it presents deep and complicated themes about Buddhism simplistically and very straight forward. Don't let the title fool you, while it starts from the beginning and doesn't assume you know anything about the subject, its not elementary. But probably the best thing I like about this book is that its filled with pictures and makes for an easy read (it refers to itself technically as a "documentary comic book" which I rather like and find fitting). I love this kind of material ...more
Derek Baldwin
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good basic account of some aspects of Buddhist thinking, with strong sections on dependent origination and the two fold understanding of nibbana is very well explained in particular I.e. saupadisesa/anupadisesa. I didn't like some of the drawings at all, which detract from the text, and there's one minor but unforgivable typo which says the Yogacarins arose in the 6th century bCE, which would have predated the historical Buddha. Lots of areas I could criticise but given the type of book ...more
Dauro Veras
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Budismo em quadrinhos para principiantes, no título em português. Excelente introdução pra quem pretende conhecer melhor essa filosofia de vida, desde às origens às várias correntes e deturpações que surgiram depois. O leitor fica sabendo, por exemplo, que o Buda histórico era agnóstico - nunca quis responder de forma positiva ou negativa às perguntas dos discípulos sobre a vida eterna, para ele uma questão irrelevante diante dos desafios da iluminação durante a vida. As ilustrações são bem-humo ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meditation-etc
This book was very strange. It's a documentary comic book, part of a series that includes Black Panthers for Beginners, The History of Clowns for Beginners, and The Arabs and Israel for Beginners, to name just a few.

This volume focused on the Buddha and was a good intro to the Buddha's life in context and the evolution of Buddhism. I thought the illustrations were sort of creepy and the author was surprisingly snarky in places. Three stars, in part because I got this book for free.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve Asma's intro to the life and thoughts of Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Enlightened One, or the Buddha, is a painless way to understand the key concepts of his philosophy. Asma provided his own illustrations, and the book covers the key aspects of Buddhist thought, and what happened to his theories after his death, as his ideas were formed into a "religion."
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro me ha sorprendido muchísimo. Despeja dudas sobre los distintos tipos de budismo desde su origen y como estos han evolucionado. Lo recomendaría como primera lectura a gente que quiera acercarse al dharma, pero como yo, se encuentra lejos de misticismos y magufos.
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
Simple enough to sit down an read all 150ish pages in one sitting. Complex enough to give you an understanding of Buddha and Buddhism that will allow for a more in depth study - even though Buddha would claim that you don't need to know the dogma.
James Allen
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, buddhism
Solid introduction to Buddhism.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work is an intriguing primer to the religious and philosophical components of Buddhism. However, at times, the author's overly critical tone was disengaging.
Manuel Sanchez
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Great primer enjoyed it immensely.
John Pappas
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So not really a graphic novel but an educational primer for the life of Buddha rich with humor and illustrations. Sort of falling in the grey area that is no pronounced in the graphic novel medium.
Staci Gonzalez
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a really good book. And the illustrations are wonderful.
The illustrations were the best part of this book. Though it gave a concise history of Buddhism, including current day sects and offshoots, it was a very dry read and hard to digest.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great, easy illustrated look into the origins of Buddhism and many of the misconceptions that have arisen in both the East and the West.
Read this to help with stress. Agree with some of it. Have to re-read. A lot makes sense to me just need to work on it.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quitando el último capítulo, el libro está muy bien.
Todd Mayville
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to the Buddha and an excellent primer to Buddhist philosophy. My full review is here:
Erica Misner
rated it liked it
Dec 11, 2014
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2015
rated it it was ok
Jul 30, 2010
James Lynam
rated it it was amazing
May 18, 2015
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Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he holds the title of Distinguished Scholar.

He is the author of "Against Fairness" (University of Chicago Press).

In 2003, he was Visiting Professor at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. There he taught "Buddhist Philosophy" as part of their pilot Graduate Program in Buddhist Studies. His book, en
More about Stephen T. Asma...

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