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Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scholar and teacher Dzogchen Ponlop (Mind Beyond Death) focuses on the experiential aspects of Buddhism that transcend culture, in the vein of writer-teacher Stephen Batchelor's idea of "Buddhism without beliefs." He argues that everyone has a "rebel Buddha" within that wants to wake up, be free, and see the truth in the midst of illusion. The traditionally educated Tibetan-American uses straightforward, informal language with fresh analogies to examine a range of basic and more advanced aspects of this wisdom tradition, such as the nonexistence of the self, compassion, and relationships with spiritual teachers. Meditation instructions are included in the appendix. The author's practical approach is disarming, especially when applying Buddhism to the challenges of everyday life. The content is based on two lecture series on dharma and culture; tighter editing would have eased the transition between the spoken and the written word. While more concise primers for the novice practitioner exist, more advanced students of Buddhism who want to explore newer voices may find this book of particular interest. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche shatters old myths and sweeps away cultural baggage, presenting the essence of the Buddha’s teachings in a fresh, contemporary voice. With uncommon clarity and authority, he offers a new vision for the future of Buddhism that is at once shocking and hopeful. This is a small book with a big message that is timely and important.”—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart <o:p> </o:p>

“Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has a remarkable ability to present the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings in a manner that is as fresh and accessible as it is profound. With Rebel Buddha, he goes straight to the core of the spiritual path, showing how the Buddha’s liberating insights transcend race, religion, and culture. This book is sure to provoke, inspire, and move us one step closer to creating a thoroughly modern approach to spirituality.”—Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Joy of Living

“A seminal work for the growth of Buddhism in contemporary society. Fearlessly and intelligently, Ponlop Rinpoche invites the reader to make these ancient tools meaningful in our lives, without any fetishizing of someone else’s culture. Rinpoche’s voice roars with the relaxed confidence of authenticity, and the fierce urgency of now. In Rebel Buddha, Rinpoche establishes himself as something we need now much more than a Tibetan lama: he is among the first of the American Buddhist masters.”—Ethan Nichtern, author of One City: A Declaration of Interdependence

“This book does a wonderful job of bringing the Buddha’s teachings to all of us here in the West. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has great insights into the workings of our minds, guiding us from delusion to clarity.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience

“Dzogchen Ponlop is a gentle voice for an emerging and more accessible Buddhism. He seems comfortable in the role of ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ but in his case, a rebel willing to meet everyone where they live. Dzogchen Ponlop exposes some of the cultural overlays of Buddhism and unearths aspects of the essential teachings. He is a kind of second-generation pioneer…a product of both traditional and modern lifestyles. Rebel Buddha is in many ways the perfect representation of a more mature Buddhism in America, a Buddhism that has put down roots but with fresh and unknowable revolutions ahead.”—Tricycle

“Concisely shares insights into all Buddhism has to offer the modern mind today, with a global view that transcends the limitations of culture. It is a true meeting of East and West.”—San Francisco Book Review

Rebel Buddha is uniquely straightforward and well-suited to the Western reader.”—New Age Retailer  

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590308743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590308745
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 79 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ponlop, part of the global diaspora, argues for Buddhism removed from the Asian decorations that cloak its power. He presents an accessible program of self-liberation from mental constructs and religious dogma. He expands upon two lectures that present dharma teachings with nearly no Buddhist vocabulary or Tibetan references. He explains how Buddhism in a globalized era demands freedom from exotic rituals, colorful trappings, or hidebound formulas that hold back both jaded Easterners and gullible Westerners from the essence of what the rebellious Buddha taught as a science of the mind.

Coming from the Himalayas, Ponlop finds that his northeastern Indian childhood prepares him as another global citizen. Distrusting outmoded forms of outward conformity to Buddhist tradition that may have exhausted their initial energy, Ponlop looks to the mind as the place to overcome confusion.

He re-orients the path to freedom, the way that follows Buddha's ancient and time-tested map, as aligned with samathi-vipassana (calm abiding-insight) meditation grounded in analytical forms of philosophical training. Self-discipline, meditation itself, and a shift to higher knowledge characterize his model. No easy solutions arrive. Logic and reason, contrary to what many may think Buddhism advocates, serve as the foundation for self-inquiry. Undoing the causes of one's suffering makes this self-analytical and then self-dissolving meditation a rigorous, recuperative therapy rather than an indulgent, navel-gazing posture.

"Look at your mind when you wake up in the morning and discover that there's no milk for your coffee, it's raining again, the car needs gas, and your kids have the headphones on and are refusing to speak to you. In that moment, where is your equanimity, your compassion?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jim TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dzogchen Ponlop's excellent book, Rebel Buddha, is one of a great many books written in a "modern Buddhist" vein, "modern Buddhism" being a term used by Buddhist scholar Donald Lopez to refer to "an international Buddhism that transcends cultural and national boundaries, creating...a cosmopolitan network of intellectuals, writing most often in English" (quote from the Wikipedia page for Buddhist modernism on 2/12/2011). Ponlop is an intellectual and a scholar as well as a meditation master and Buddhist teacher, and in Rebel Buddha he offers a friendly, inspirational, non-academic guide to putting Buddhist principles into practice that anyone - atheist, monotheist, agnostic, etc. - should find accessible. I must put Rebel Buddha in my short list of books about Buddhism that I would recommend to anyone new to Buddhism who is looking for a non-academic introduction to practical Buddhism, as well as to anyone who's been into Buddhism and has read many Buddhist books and is hungry for more. (A few other titles on my short list are Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind; Chogyam Trungpa's books Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and The Myth of Freedom; and Pema Chodron's The Wisdom of No Escape.)

At essence, Rebel Buddha is about the cultivation of kindness and clarity for the sake of freedom and happiness for all beings. The short chapter "Untelling the Story of Self" (chapter 8) contains one of the clearest and most reader-friendly explanations of the Buddhist notion of emptiness that I have seen (and I've read many). No arcane metaphysics, no digressions into confusing dialectics, just a clear, practical, down-to-earth explanation.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nate DeMontigny on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This has got to be the most clear and concise take on Buddhism for the Western audience. Without all the buzzwords and mysticism, DPR breaks down the facade many folks in the West have of Buddhism and other Eastern religions/ philosophies.

"Rebel Buddha" briefly tells the story of DPR's upbringing. From the revolutionary 60's to the current status of the West, his insights and instruction are distinct. I love his comparison to the age of the US to that of a young child, still asking questions and still trying to find our identity and direction in the world, "Who am I?"

Many of us, when we find some sort of path or direction we choose to follow, we want to immerse ourselves in it. I can't say at first I didn't get caught up in that. I still have my mala beads but they mean more now than when I first got them and they were some sort of "badge", or something to trigger folks to ask me what they are and I can talk about how cool I am because I'm Buddhist. I was always going into this Tibetan Shop, looking for stuff on Ebay, etc. That wore off though once I started to understand what is really happening, it's an inner change, not an outer one.

DPR explains it WAY better than I can, "We're not practicing Indian culture to become Indian, or practicing Japanese or Tibetan culture to become Japanese or Tibetan. Our purpose is to discover who we truly are, to connect with our own wisdom."

DPR succinctly explains the reasons we are all doing this thing, why we are trying to break free from the cycle of samsara, why we are trying to overcome suffering. It's not some wippy dippy "we all need to happy" path of awakening, it's something much larger than that.
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