American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun Thubten Chodron has practiced Buddhism in India and Nepal since 1975. She is presently resident teacher at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle. This excellent primer on Buddhism is set up in a question-and-answer format. At the outset, Chodron notes: "I believe that spiritual practice is more about holding questions than finding answers. Seeking one correct answer often comes from a wish to make life — which is basically fluid — into something certain and fixed. This often leads to rigidity, closed-mindedness, and intolerance. On the other hand, holding a question — exploring its many facets over time — puts us in touch with the mystery of life."

In a question about detachment, Chodron says she likes the word "non-attachment" better since it doesn't imply being uninvolved, chilly, and above-it-all. In Buddhism, the practice of equanimity means to have a balanced attitude. Having studied under wise spiritual teachers, the author salutes their humility as one of the principal qualities of enlightenment.

There are many clear and inspiring teachings here about love (the art of cherishing others before self) and compassion (wishing for all sentient beings to be free from suffering and its causes). I was especially impressed with Chodron's explanation of karma (especially why some are rich even though they're dishonest), women and the Dharma, shrines and offerings, and working with the emotions. Here's a Tibetan saying she quotes that provides much food for thought: "If you want to know about your past life, look at your present body. If you want to know your future life, look at your present mind."