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What Makes You Not a Buddhist Paperback – August 12, 2008

102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Here at last is a crisp new voice in Tibetan Buddhism. Khyentse, a lama from an influential family and Buddhist lineage in Bhutan, is also a filmmaker, responsible for the sleeper hit The Cup, about a group of Tibetan monks obsessed with soccer. The monk brings the same multicultural fluency to his first book. He can make references to Viagra and Camilla Parker-Bowles as easily as he can tell stories of the Buddha's life. With confidence tempered by wit, he cuts to the core of Buddhism: four "seals"—truths—that make up a Buddhist "right view" of the world and existence. This book is not, repeat not, about meditation. Instead, it looks at everyday life through a Buddhist lens, understanding happiness and suffering from that perspective. Enlightenment ends suffering but also trumps happiness. Khyentse writes persuasively about the importance of understanding emptiness: disappointment lessens, expectations soften, and change is not a shock. There is much food for thought in this short book for Buddhist students and for anyone interested in the ongoing adaptation of traditional Eastern wisdom into postmodern Western settings. "You can change the cup," Khyentse writes, "but the tea remains pure." (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Here at last is a crisp new voice in Tibetan Buddhism. . . . There is much food for thought in this short book for Buddhist students and for anyone interested in the ongoing adaptation of traditional Eastern wisdom into postmodern Western settings."—Publishers Weekly

"A pleasant refresher or an excellent introduction to Buddhism, even for those who choose not to be Buddhists."— New Age Retailer
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590305701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590305706
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 117 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Richards on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What Makes You Not A Buddhist is structured around four main chapters, each of which explore the four main truths of Buddhism (Chapter 1: Fabrication and Impermanence, Chapter 2: Emotion and Pain, Chapter 3: Everything Is Emptiness, Chapter 4: Nirvana Is beyond Concepts). Sandwiched in-between these are an interesting and insightful introduction and conclusion (for a change). In each of these chapters, the Buddha's teaching about the nature of impermanence (annica) is set out and explored, as well as how this affects our understanding of everything else. One of the nice things about this book is that unlike many other books on Buddhism I have read, although the story of Siddhartha's quest for Enlightenment is once again included, it is done so within the context of a wider discussion of the Buddha's teaching. One learns about Siddhartha's family, his desire to find truth, and his becoming the Buddha at the same time one learns about what it is to be and become a Buddhist... and the really nice thing about this is that it is done in an interesting and engaging manner, not in a dry text-book fashion as so many other books on Buddhism I have read have tended to do. This really is a brilliant short little introduction to 'Buddhism'.

The range of ways the truth of impermanence is discussed in the book is impressive.
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101 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Let it Be on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a nutshell, this book is 125 pages of putting together people, things and our world in the right perspective, making sense of our chaotic world and how to conquer the biggest problem of our life - ourselves, and the way we run our lives. It is 125 pages of unpatented, non-copyrighted profound but yet simple fundamental wisdom as taught by the historical Buddha. The message is delivered through a hard hitting conversation with the author, wittyly written in the language of our time.

I have got a dozen comments to share on what this book is NOT :

1. NO teaching of new meditation technique

2. NO new mantra to learn

3. NOT a nice soft and motherly conversation with the author

4. NOT propagation & hard selling of religious hocus pocus

5. NOT boring stuff written to replace your sleeping pills

6. NOT not another profound and hard to understand Zen story

7. NOT another story about the Life of the Buddha or a parody

8. NO you do not need to be a Buddhist to read this book or benefit from

reading it (IMHO non-Buddhists get the best value)

9. NO you do not need to read another Buddhist book to understand or benefit from this work

10.NO you do not need to agree or disagree with the author.

11.NO you would not fall asleep reading the 125 pages of gripping truth.

12.NO it is not written to "convert" you or anyone into becoming a Buddhist.

And half a dozen more comments to share on what this book IS about :

i. It is about simple but RAW HARD truth about life according to the FOUR

DHARMA SEALS or FOUR DHARMA IMPRINTS

ii. It is about HARD truth of life that may hurt us & the truth always

hurts.
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106 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Daiho VINE VOICE on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful little book, 130 pages of distilled wisdom from a man who is known most widely as a film maker, the director of The Cup, but who is otherwise a well-respected teacher from the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. Besides being deeply familiar with Buddhist scholarship, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse has traveled and worked widely in Europe and North America, knows the cultures of the countries, and is able to explicate Buddhist principles with examples that resonate for Star Wars fans and suburban American Republicans.

The purpose of the book, the author notes, is not to make the reader a Buddhist, but to explain what it means to be a Buddhist. It's not a book about how to be, but a book about the implications of being. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse does this through the Four Seals, truths about the physical, phenomenal, and psychological world that the Buddha himself invited his students to examine and investigate. They are:

.....1. All compounded things are impermanent.
.....2. All emotions are pain.
.....3. All things have no inherent existence.
.....4. Nirvana is beyond concepts.

Each seal is discussed in separate chapters and illustrated with examples from contemporary life, as well as from the life of Siddhartha, the prince who gave up his pampered court life to seek greater truth and who later became known as The Buddha, the Enlightened One.

Full of sharp humor directed at everyone from spiritual seekers to corporate suits, from tree huggers to neoconservatives occupying the White House, this witty volume is a pithy introduction to Buddhism and would make a great gift for any one interested in the philosophy. I've already purchased one volume for a friend and suspect I'll be buying a few more in the coming year.

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