The Buddha Before Buddhism: Wisdom from the Early Teachings (MP3 CD)
A translation of a very interesting set of poems that many scholars believe is part of the oldest strata of Buddhist texts. The author does admit that he chose a provacative title, as it is not known exactly when these words were written down or if they were used only in a specific community of practitioners. None of that detracts from the powerful directness of these seemingly simple poems or from Fronsdal’s lucid commentary. Many of them do not have the numbered lists which became prominent with later systematizations of Buddhism, e.g., the five aggregates, the twelve links, four Noble Truths. The main message is one of letting go—of views, of the need to become anything or not become anything, of sensual desire...— Andy
This book is in the tradition of the best-selling Dhammapada, a translation with commentary of one of the earliest of the surviving Buddhist texts, which reveals the teachings to be remarkably simple and free of religious trappings.
One of the earliest of all Buddhist texts, the Atthakavagga, or Book of Eights, is a remarkable document, not only because it comes from the earliest strain of the literature - before the Buddha, as the title suggests, came to be thought of as a "Buddhist" - but also because its approach to awakening is so simple and free of adherence to any kind of ideology. Instead the Atthakavagga points to a direct and simple approach for attaining peace without requiring the adherence to doctrine. The value of the teachings it contains is not in the profundity of their philosophy or in their authority as scripture; rather, the value is found in the results they bring to those who live by them. Instead of doctrines to be believed, the Book of Eights describes means or practices for realizing peace. Gil Fronsdal's rigorous translation with commentary reveals the text to be of interest not only to Buddhists, but also to the ever-growing demographic of the spiritual-but-not-religious, who seek a spiritual life outside the structures of religion.