This book is a collection of translations of texts that expound Buddhist doctrine as it developed gradually. It is not a summary of Buddhist doctrine. As such, it might be utilized as introductory material, but those readers that had definitely no background in the study of Buddhism would need to rely on the glossary, footnotes, and initial passages. Even then they would run the risk of ending up a text without totally comprehending the significance of what they had actually checked out.
The book acquires its worth from Burtt’s reliance on real texts and his (generally) sensible selectivity of those texts. You actually get to check out a choice from the Preaching at Benares rather of reading about that sermon. I really liked that Burtt took the time to explore Theravada Teaching, as numerous scholars in describing the various courses typically take a sort of retroactive, Mahayana-leaning stance, where Theravada is the self-indulgent course however the true course comes later on in the Bodhisattva perfect in Mahayana. Of that section, I particularly the 2 passages that “give … the answer of Theravada Buddhism to concerns that bothered the Mahayana thinkers …” I thought Burtt was being really fair in doing this as Mahayana literature, consisting of a few of the selections that follow, are filled with referrals to the idea that Theravada is an insufficient or less efficient form of the Buddha’s teachings since it focuses on the individual.The book does not
cover anything on Tibetan Buddhism, and some readers have actually revealed their dissatisfaction with this fact. There are 2 factors for this. First, the book was published in 1955, however the Tibetan Diaspora didn’t begin to spread till 1959, and so a lot of the texts had actually not been translated, a lot of the teachings had still not been exposed, a lot of the teachers were still in their houses in Tibet, and, subsequently, Tibetan Buddhism at that time was less accessible and less popular than it is today. Second, the book concentrates on the Theravada and Mahayana customs, and Tibetan Buddhism is a Vajrayana (Tantric )tradition( something that we still have a little difficulty describing today). Burtt couldn’t just put a little explanatory paragraph before those selections like he made with Pureland, and so the book would needed to have been a lot longer and more pricey to cover a topic that wasn’t always that popular or accessible at the time. Overall, the translations were adequate. Certain areas were a little thick. Parts of the Mahayana Approach section were difficult to check out, however other than those couple of sections, the texts were pretty enjoyable. Source