In 1956, the Venerable Buddhadasa Bhikkhu gave a series of lectures to a group of prospective judges, which were subsequently edited and arranged into what became The Handbook for Mankind.
Since then, the success of this small book has been astounding. Well over 100,000 copies have been printed in Thai, and the book still enjoys widespread popularity, more than three decades after the original talks. The reason for the “Handbook’s” duration is clear: that the Venerable Buddhadasa offers fresh insights into a timeless Truth (Dhamma), in the direct and simple manner that characterizes all his teaching. The clarity of his insight brings the Dhamma to life, so that today, a new generation of readers, not yet born at the time of these talks, can find meaning in his words.
As a guide for newcomers to the Buddha-Dhamma (the Truth which the Buddha awakened to and subsequently taught), this book is an invaluable guide. In it are contained the essential teachings of Buddhism. The “Handbook” is especially useful for those who approach the Buddha’s teaching, not as a subject for scholarly study, buy as a means to understand and ennoble their lives.
The Handbook for Mankind was originally published in English by the Sublime Life Mission, buy has long been out of print. With their permission, we have reprinted this book, making some corrections where necessary, buy leaving the text otherwise intact. Our thanks are due to Mr. Pun Chongprasoed, who first put this book together in Thai, and to all the people whose effort has made possible the reprinting of this book.
Rod Bucknell first became seriously interested in Buddhism in the mid -1960’s, when, during a visit to Thailand, he was introduced to the techniques of Insight Meditation. After spending a year in various Thai meditation centers and monasteries, he took ordination as a bhikkhu (monk) under the guidance of Ajahn Pannananda of Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit. He soon became interested also in the teachings of Ajahn Buddhadasa, and, recognizing their potential value to westerners, began translating some of the Ajahn’s more important works into English. During the four years he spent in the Sangha, he translated altogether six works of varying length, usually in close consultation with the Ajahn in order to ensure accuracy in the rendering of key concepts. Despite his return to lay life, he maintains a close interest – both scholarly and practical – in Ajahn Buddhadasa’s teachings, and has published several related articles in religious studies journals. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland, Australia.