This is a remarkable book. First of all, it provides a clear introduction to the basic teachings of Buddhism and of Yoga. Then it shows how modern Western Psychology relates to these teachings. Stories from the Eastern literature and very apt personal anecdotes make the formal teaching come alive. (The author has listed these stories in the table of contents. There are over 35 of them!) But most importantly for me, reading it was like a life-changing experience. The book teaches you what wisdom is and how to live wisely. The section on handling anger is a must read.
This book introduces the beliefs and practices of Buddhism and Yoga, and finishes with some practical applications of Buddhist practices including empathic assertiveness, handling anger and taking a problem-solving stance to resolving conflict.
Levine is a researcher in experimental psychology. He follows a disciplined, analytic approach in his presentation of Buddhism and Yoga, and has written the book in a practical, teaching format. Divided into 36 short chapters each dealing with a discrete aspect of the teaching and each chapter ends with a set of thought provoking questions "For Reflection and Discussion". I found the writing to be unpretentious and clear. He does not revert to flaky arguments, nor ask the reader to accept too much on faith.
The book starts by briefly discussing the background and formation of Buddhism and moves on to explain the core of the Buddhist teachings. He includes a useful discussion and comparison of the Yogic doctrines, which have much in common with Buddhism. Levine draws on Buddhist mythology, Western psychology and his own experiences in practicing Buddhism and Yoga to portray a set of practices to develop wisdom and maturity within the individual.
I liked the fact that the book is written from an introductory point of view, and that it provides reasons for the Buddhist beliefs and practices with many practical examples of their application in everyday life. I have been able to apply much of what Levine discusses - from how I think about issues, to my motivation in doing things, to how I act towards others. The book includes a good subject index, and a list of bibliographic references and further readings.
The only thing I would criticize Levine for was his occasional brief wanderings into theoretical discussion of a point.
Though not a "motivational" book I found the content very inspirational, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an introduction to the practices and benefits of Buddhism and Yoga, and also to those seeking a comparison of the similarities and differences between Buddhism, Yoga and Western psychology.