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One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  42 reviews
One of America's most respected Buddhist teachers distills a lifetime of practice and teaching in this groundbreaking exploration of the new Buddhist tradition taking root on American soil.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2002)
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Robin Friedman
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Dharma Of Freedom

Joseph Goldstein has written an ambitious, short book which attempts to synthesize the wisdom and teachings of various Buddhist traditions and which offers thoughts on the possible future course of Buddhism in the West. The book is also a practitioner's guide and a manual for those setting out on a Buddhist practice.

Each of the components of this book is difficult and important. Joseph Goldstein has valuable things to teach and suggest to the reader about the many questions
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A decent book that needed to be written.... my only complaint is that, among the list of *truly* essential core elements of buddhism, there's an almost bizarrely dogmatic chapter insisting that some sort of literal, concrete, transmigration of souls style reincarnation is a central tenant. This is not so, if only in that both the historical Buddha and subsequent teachers reframed and reinterpreted this term away from its Hindu origin. What is "reincarnation" when there is no self? Who is going ...more
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Joseph Goldstein is one of the Americans who first brought Buddhism to the States in the 1970's. In this book, he shares a brief history of the philsophy of Eastern Buddhism, which like many American religions, has many different branches. And he writes about the truth they all share--one dharma. Recently I attended a retreat where Goldstein was primary teacher and enjoyed hearing his voice again in the book. (You can also hear Goldstein's talks at Both in person and in the book, ...more
Phillip Moffitt
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book describes the commonalities between the three main traditions of Buddhism and points to the emergence of a Western school of Buddhism that incorporates qualities and teachings from all three traditions. In Goldstein’s view, mindfulness is the common means of practice, compassion is the result of practice, and wisdom is the essence that is being cultivated.
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I keep on my nightstand and read occasionally when the mood hits. I've read it straight through a couple of times and I'm sure there are chapters I've read more than a dozen times. This book is just what I was looking for in my exploration of Buddhism. It separates Buddhist essentials from cultural add-ons showing that the core philosophy of Buddhism fits easily into western culture. This is a must-read for anyone trying to figure out if they can work Buddhist principles into ...more
Steve Woods
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Goldstein is a very clear writer and his deep understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist practice makes his work accessible to anyone. In this small volume he isolates the basic tenets common to all schools of Buddhism and deals with them from the perspective of a western student. A very valuable little book
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
What I found most valuable in this book is that it explains the philosophical arguments that caused different branches of Buddhism to separate and also how those different branches are now fusing together in the US, which is a magnet for spiritual movements.

But I didn't completely get how he was trying to unify the different approaches.

Was he trying to look for points in common among the different traditions or is he arguing for a completely new approach?

Probably if I was more knowledgeable
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Starts off strong and maintains that strength the majority of the way through. Gets into a compare and contrast exercise mostly Buddhist scholars would appreciate for the last couple chapters which I found tedious. My main takeaway was that I'm not as interested anymore in associating with a particular school (one Dharma included) as much as pursuing what works.
Jason Comely
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Surely it was the right time for me to read this book, as it seemed to answer all my questions even as they arose in my mind, as if anticipating them. Buddhist doctrine can be a bewildering rabbit-hole but Joseph Goldstein manages to harmonize the various traditions and teachings.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful, Easy to read,

I really enjoy rd this great Spiritual guide to understanding a Western practice of Buddhism. Deep and profoundly informative. This book is filled with Wisdom.
Ellie Syverud
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. - with very useful philosophy. Expect I will be referring to it many times.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Interesting background about the various Buddhist sects and meditation in the US. Accessible and has good insight into people's lives.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Rather dry, but this does a fine job of tying together common threads across different Buddhist traditions.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
I found the book interesting and compelling, but he does not touch Pure Land, and that leaves out a big amount of Buddhism.
Waco Glennon
Worth multiple readings

I know i will be returning to this book over and over. It teaches and it offers practical applications. Thanks
This is a good introduction to the various schools of Buddhism and how they differ, but more importantly how they are similar.

Joseph Goldstein has a smooth writing style and good knowledge of the schools and their practices. One thing I found weak was the connection between his sources and his bibliography. It took a bit of slow looking to figure out which quotation went with which source and a few times I was unable to figure it out at all. My theory is he wanted the book to be reader friendly
Michael Ryall
Aug 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Buddhism
A good introduction to the basic tenets of Buddhism. It begins with a short summary of Buddha's life and explains how several dozen sects sprang into existence immediately after his death. When Buddhism began to make its way to the West in the 1960s and 70s, there was an emphasis on the commonalities between all the various sects, hence the title, "One Dharma." The book does a very good job of explaining the most fundamental concepts that all the schools of Buddhism have in common. This is a ...more
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I liked how Goldstein shows an awareness and respect for the differences between different schools of thought in Buddhism, while at the same time gives interesting ways to combine them. In less artful hands such combination would probably turn out as some sort of horrid Frankenstein monster, but in his skilled hands he seems to create a beautiful mosaic.

Also, I think that this book can serve as a good introduction to Buddhism for those that don't know much about it.
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book. A clear and accessible guidebook comparing and incorporating the many schools of Buddhism. I've read many Buddhist texts. Goldstein's writing is straightforward without losing depth, subtlety or complexity. The simplicity and clarity of his writing reveals true depth and wisdom.
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent synthesis of the various streams of Buddhism: Zen, Theravadan, Tibetan Dzogchen, etc. He writes very clearly and simply, explaining the differences and the convergences among the practices in a way that sheds light on each of them. Not a dry academic exercise, but a useful manual that will assist the reader in whatever their chosen practice happens to be.
Rob the Obscure
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Other than the sutras, and possibly "What the Buddha Taught" (Rapola), this is probably the best book I've read on Buddhism. It makes an important point, one that dearly needs to be made and made strongly.

The misguided sectarianism in Buddhism detracts from its value as life method. Highly recommended.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
an excellent summary of the history of the different buddhist streams and how they are converging in america. Goldstein writes in a clear voice, informed by many years of meditation practice and teaching
Chris Duprey
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading this for a second time... this is a once a year, at a minimum, read. Joseph has a way to make the Dharma come to life in his words and stories. A must read for anyone on the path to awakening.
Tari Conway
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
loved it! Saw it on a list for top books about Buddhism, and I know why now. It was a combination of Buddhist history, theory, and instruction.
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, but not as a first read in Buddhism.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great overview of Buddhism and introduction to meditation. Goldstein's way of discussing dharma really reasonated with me.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Just reread this one. Goldstein is a good dharma guide, but this little book is a bit dry and repetitive. Looking forward to his massive tome on Mindfulness.
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Jon Kabat-Zinn added so much about meditation.
Joseph Goldstein added so much to my learning about Dharma - Buddhist teachings.
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
A lucid and insightful introduction to Buddhism's evolution in the West.
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! A unified view of Buddhism.
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Joseph Goldstein (born 1944) is one of the first American vipassana teachers (Fronsdal, 1998), co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) with Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg, contemporary author of numerous popular books on Buddhism (see publications below), resident guiding teacher at IMS, and leader of retreats worldwide on insight (vipassana) and lovingkindness (metta) meditation.

“No longer do we look outside of ourselves for solutions. We have seen where the path lies. All we require are the skillful means that will help us walk it.” 1 likes
“Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, a great Dzogchen master of the last century, taught, “There is one thing we always need, and that is the watchman named mindfulness, the guard who is on the lookout for when we get carried away in mindlessness.” 1 likes
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