Recently I’ve been reading The Buddha Before Buddhism, by Gil Fronsdal, which is a translation of what is believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist teachings. It’s had a powerful effect on the way I practice.
It’s interesting how simple this text is. There are no lists: no elaborate eightfold path, no detailed exposition of four noble truths. Rebirth comes up mainly when discussing the beliefs of other teachers; the effects of our actions are mainly discussed in terms of this life, here and now.
There’s nothing about Nirvana, or some future state of spiritual breakthrough. Bliss or happiness are not the main goals; peace is.
And that is the part I find …