Essential Buddhism
A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice
by Diane Morgan
September 2010, 260pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38452-3
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38453-0
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Buddhism is one of the world’s most powerful religious traditions. It is now the third-most-practiced religion in the United States, with about 2.4 million adherents. What is it about this faith that appeals to so many raised in other traditions? Can it really, as this author claims, reveal the sound of one hand clapping?

An engaging, clear-sighted book that covers all aspects of this rich, peaceful, and insightful tradition.

Author Diane Morgan brings her compelling writing style and deep understanding to Essential Buddhism: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. This lively book presents a clear, thorough, and objective introduction to the many facets of Buddhist philosophy and faith, including basic beliefs, major texts, practices, and important figures of each branch of the tradition.

The book devotes an entire chapter of the remarkable life of the Buddha, from his amazing conception to his future appearance. It discusses the sophisticated way in which Buddhism intertwines its complex metaphysics and practical ethics through the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and the doctrine of Dependent Arising, and also devotes detailed attention to such Buddhist basics as the Wheel of Becoming, the mysterious world of Tantra, and the riddles of Zen. Complete with stories, koans, and biography, the book will help readers see how each tradition developed within the larger context of the faith, even as they explore Buddhism’s remarkable facility for liberating the mind.


  • A brief survey of the impact of Buddhism around the world today
  • Numerous stories and examples illuminate Buddhism's history and practice
  • A glossary
  • A bibliography for those interested in learning more
Diane Morgan is adjunct professor of religion and philosophy at Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA, where she teaches Buddhism and Buddhist literature. She is the author of dozens of books, including The Buddhist Experience in America and Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice.


"Essential Buddhism is one of the better introductions to Buddhism written for general audiences. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and general readers."—Choice, February 1, 2011

"[A] core addition to personal, school, and community library Buddhist Studies instructional reference collections and supplemental reading lists."—Midwest Book Review, October 1, 2010
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