I read the book, especially the comments regarding buddhism. I have the book in Polish edition, so there may be slight translation diffrences as I heard the translation is rather poorly done from Italian.
In short the Pope's comments can be summarized as follows: Enlightement that Buddha experianced was based on the conviction that the world is evil and it is the source of suffereing to men. Therefore to get rid of evil one should get rid of the world. We should break the ties that bind us with the outside reality. The more we free ourselves from those ties the more we get free from suffering, that is from evil that comes from the world.
"Do we get closer to God that way?" - asks the Pope. "In the 'enlightement' given by Buddha there's no mention of that. Buddhism is in great measure 'an atheistic' system. We don't free ourselves from evil by good, that originates from God, we free ourselves only by cutting the ties with the world that is evil. Fullness of that severing the ties is not the union with God but but so called nirvana, that is a state of perfect indiffrence in regard of the world. To be saved is, above all, free ourselves from evil, become indiffrent towards the world, that is the source of evil. In that the whole spiritual process ends."
Further, after the Pope comments on the christian mistics, he compares the Carmelitan doctrine to that of Buddhism: "Carmelitan misticism begins in where Buddhas deliberations and his teaching of spirituality end..." - he says.
This book didn't receive good rating among theologians in Europe. Horst Herrmann, German theologian whose catholic teaching credentials were taken away, published his critical review of the Pope's book in his "Johannes Paul II. beim Wort genomen". I don't know if English translation exists. I have it again in Polish translation.
The subject of the Pope's comments were widely discussed in Poland's magazines and catholic publications. Some of them didn't agree with the Pope at all. But for the most part, the perception is that the Pope's ideas were expressed to 'protect' the faithfull from the influences of buddhism and perhaps Eastern ideas at large. Therefore, this would be a defensive mechanism for the Catholic Church that is experiancing variety of difficulties in its struggle to survive.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pradip W. Bednarski)