The Ven. Dr. Walpola Sri Rahula has produced one of the best texts I have ever read on Buddhism! There are many out there that incorrectly talk about Buddhism and they also have many incorrect interpretations of the Buddha.
Venerable Rahula does an outstanding job in his correct translations/interpetations of important teachings of Siddhattha.
The reader is introduced to key Buddhist teachings such as:
-The Buddhist attitude of Mind
-The Four Noble Truths (each one having it's own chapter!) And the eightfold path as well as the five aggregates.
-The doctrine of No-Soul: Anatta. This is one of the most important ones and the author talks about how 'self' is incorrectly being introduced by some authors, etc.
-Meditation: Everything from a few 'basic' meditation techniques to such things as why meditate...
-What the Buddha Taught and the World Today: This great section shows how to apply the Buddhas teachings into every day life. There is even the 10 duties of a ruler (Government) which would be great if some politicians read!
And finally there is 'selected texts' which provide even more insight...it was a refreshing thing to read after the chapters and after reading the book it made sense when reading these selected texts!
There is even a Glossary to help you understand words used in Buddhism. In fact throughout the book you are introduced to the correct sayings and words...
All in all you should get this book even if you are already 'into' Buddhism.
Many non-traditional religions in North America have experienced an increase in their membership numbers, not the least of which is Buddhism. For this reason alone, _What the Buddha Taught_ may have a greater pragmatic value today than it did when it was first published in 1959. The principle value of this text is its' descriptive depth on the fundamental and foundational concepts that constitute the religion of Buddhism. Rahula gives a succinct and concise elucidation of the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the doctrine of 'anatta' or no-self. For this reason alone this book is worth owning. However, to leave the discussion at that would be to underestimate its' potential utility. It is obvious that _What the Buddha Taught_ is useful toward the study or understamding of Buddhism, but it is of equal value in the context of camparative religion or in the philosophy of religion. The fundamental concepts of Buddhism can be found in a wide variety of texts, Rahula's unique contribution is via his insight into the ways in which the ancient teachings of Buddhism can be incorporated into the modern world. To this end he devotes the last chapter of this book. A thoughtful addition to this edition, (1974) is the selection of translated Pali texts which enable the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to be understood within the beauty of their original context. In addition, since many of these texts are in the form of parables, they provide an interesting comparative opportunity with traditional Christian biblical parables. An excellent primer for this text is Huston Smith's classic _The Religions of Man_ (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1958) and an excellent in depth follow up text is _Buddhism: The Religion of Analysis_ by Nolan Pliny Jacobson, (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1966).