What the Buddha Taught

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What the Buddha Taught
What the Buddha Taught (Walpola Rahula book).jpg
AuthorWalpola Rahula
PublisherOneworld Publications
Publication date

What the Buddha Taught, by Theravadin Walpola Rahula, is a widely used introductory book on Buddhism for non-Buddhists.[1] Using quotes from the sutras, Rahula gives his personal interpretation of what he regards to be Buddhism's essential teachings, including the Four Noble Truths, the Buddhist mind, the Noble Eightfold Path, meditation and mental development, and the world today.[2]

Background and reception[edit]

Rahula's book is an example of "Protestant Buddhism," the Sinhalese version of Buddhist modernism.[3][4][5][6] Due to its rational presentation of Buddhism, which suited western expectations, What the Buddha Taught is a widely read and highly influential introduction to Buddhist thought.[1][3][5][6][note 1]

Publication data[edit]

  • Rahula, Walpola What The Buddha Taught, Oneworld Publications: Oxford, (1959) (revised 1974). ISBN 0-8021-3031-3


  1. ^ According to Gimello 2004, p. 240-241), also quoted in Taylor 2007, p. 361, Protestant Buddhism "was created in an accommodating response to western expectations, and in nearly diametrical opposition to Buddhism as it had actually been practised in traditional Theravada." See also Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism, chapter 7, Protestant Buddhism; and David L. McMahan (2008), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, Oxford University Press, p.50-52.


  1. ^ a b Anderson 2001, p. 197.
  2. ^ What the Buddha Taught
  3. ^ a b Gimello 2004, p. 240-241.
  4. ^ McMahan 2008, p. 50-52.
  5. ^ a b Taylor 2007.
  6. ^ a b Jenkins 2002, p. 82.


  • Anderson, Carol (2001), Pain and Its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon, Motilall Banarsidas
  • Gimello, Robert M. (2004), "Icon and Incantation: the Goddess Zhunti and the Role of Images in the Occult Buddhism of Cina", in Granoff, Phyllis; Shinohara, Shinohara (eds.), Images in Asian Religions: Text and Contexts, UBC Press
  • Jenkins, Stephen (2002), "Black Ships, Blavatsky, and the Pizza Effect", in Hori, Victor Sōgen; Hayes, Richard P.; Shields, James Mark (eds.), Teaching Buddhism in the West: From the Wheel to the Web, Psychology Press
  • McMahan, David L. (2008), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, Oxford University Press
  • Taylor, Philip (2007), Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

External links[edit]