From Publishers Weekly
The author of Buddhism Without Beliefs
and a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions, Batchelor works to reconcile the fears, desires, and compulsions of the ego (the devil or Mara
) with the certainty of death. Drawing on a rich variety of literature, religious tradition and history, Batchelor demonstrates how the anguish associated with the transient nature of life has preoccupied humans for centuries: Job wrestles with his fate; Pascal's writings reflect his dread at being expelled from the universe when his existence would eventually come to a close. Surveying responses to this intractable problem, Batchelor concludes that mankind has always relied on the temptations of the devil to still anxiety and create an aura of permanence. Compulsive activities, lustful behavior and behaving violently and destructively to others are all evils that stem from Mara
. Overcoming these feelings and pursuing the way of love and compassion, for Batchelor, rests on one's ability to make peace with the devil and nourish one's "Buddha nature." Although he explores a number of philosophies, Batchelor's focus is on the path to nirvana (a cessation of desires) forged by Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince and the historical Buddha, whose life and thinking are presented in some detail. Some of the references will be obscure to neophytes, but Batchelor's genuine concern and desire for a better world come through clearly.
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About the Author
Stephen Batchelor is a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions. He has translated and written several books on Buddhism, including Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life
, Alone with Others
, The Faith to Doubt
, The Tibet Guide
(winner of the 1988 Thomas Cook Award), and The Awakening of the West
(joint winner of the 1994 Tricycle Award).