Introduction

Anyone who is considering changing their religion, or adopting a religion for the first time is about to do something that may have a profound effect upon their life. It is not the sort of thing that should be done in a rush, nor should it be done under the influence of heightened emotions. If the truth is to be discovered, time must be taken, all the facts must be examined, questions must be asked and different points of view considered. We try to do all this before making most important decisions in our life, so why shouldn't we do it before making the most important decision in our life ­that concerning our religious convictions? To blindly and unquestionably accept the opinions of others would be foolish but to neglect their opinions altogether would be foolish also. The insights and experiences of others, especially the wise, may help us deepen our understanding and put us in a better position to make the right choice.

With the increased knowledge of Buddhism in the last hundred years a large number of Western intellectuals, including many Nobel Prize winners, have expressed a deep interest in and admiration for this ancient religion. A small but growing number are actually becoming Buddhists. Some have been impressed by Buddhism's clear, rational thought, others by its gentle tolerance. Some have been surprised by how closely it resembles the discoveries of modern science while others have been attracted by its idea of an ethical life without the need to believe in a supreme god.

The quotations collected in this booklet are of interest for several reasons. Firstly, they show the universal appeal of Buddhism, its ability to speak to psychologist and poet, philosopher and mathematician. Is it not telling that the words of a man who lived so long ago could still be relevant and meaningful to a scientist like Einstein, a poet like Eliot or a philosopher like Russell? Again they tell us as much about the people who wrote them as they do about Buddhism itself. We read what some of the great minds of our time have to say about the Buddhist concept of detachment and love, about the rational element in Buddhism and about the Buddha's place in human history. They compare Buddhism with other religions, highlight its emphasis on reason and tell us how it may influence modern psychology.

It is hoped that what is said in this booklet and who said it will motivate the reader to look deeper into the teachings of the Buddha, and, if intellectual satisfaction results, put its principles into practice. As the Buddha himself says:

When you yourself know: These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to your welfare and happiness', then enter upon and abide in them.



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