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Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment (Enlightenment Series) Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 26, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Eastern philosophy popularizer and mind-body pioneer Chopra has done novels before, and critics have not found fiction his long suit. That should change with this tale of how the Indian prince Siddhartha came to be the enlightened one, the Buddha. The subject is tailor-made for Chopra. He can draw on what he's familiar with: the ancient Indian culture that shaped the historic personage of the Buddha, and the powers of mind that meditation harnesses. Although the novel begins a little slowly with exposition and character introduction, once the character of the Buddha is old enough to occupy center stage, Chopra simply portrays the natural internal conflict experienced by any human seeking spiritual wisdom and transformation. Centered on a single character, the narrative moves forward simply and inexorably. Especially imaginative and intriguing is the low-key nature of the Buddha's enlightenment experience. In case Chopra's fans want something more direct, an epilogue and concluding "practical guide" offer nonfiction commentary and teaching on core Buddhist principles. Chopra thanks a film director friend for sparking the project, and the novel has clear cinematic potential. This fast and easy-to-read book teaches without being didactic. Chopra scores a fiction winner. (May)
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.

From Booklist

Chopra is best known for his spiritual how-to books. Here, he turns to fiction (though he adds a how-to epilogue), writing about the life of Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Chopra divides his book into three parts. The first chronicles the youth of a motherless boy who has a destiny: to be a spiritual leader as foretold by astronomers at his birth. But his powerful father refuses to bow to fate and keeps his son isolated from the world. In the second part, Siddhartha, now a husband and father, sees suffering and decides to leave his life of leisure and become a monk. Despite extreme asceticism and a duel with a demon, enlightenment eludes him. In the final section, Siddhartha sees the error of trying to defeat his body and, in one night, achieves enlightenment and becomes the Buddha. The Buddha's story is compelling, and though Chopra's writing can be overly dramatic and his language flowery, he captures the essence of the spiritual seeker, sometimes shockingly single-minded in the pursuit of illumination. When the novel ends, the explanations begin, with Chopra providing a Q and A about the tenets of Buddhism. Many will find his "answers" as enigmatic as they are enlightening. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Enlightenment Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060878819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060878818
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lissa Coffey, Host of coffeytalk.com VINE VOICE on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The story of the prince who awakened to become the Buddha is one of the most dramatic and compelling stories of all time. Deepak Chopra, a well-known and loved voice in the self-help arena, has a new book out that beautifully lets us experience just what the life of the Buddha was like as he embarked on his spiritual journey. We can really feel the natural internal conflict that he goes through as he seeks both wisdom and transformation. Deepak is a gifted writer. I'm sure you have read many of his non-fiction work; I have a whole "Deepak" bookshelf at my house! "Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment" is a novel, and an inspiring read. As an added kind of "bonus" to all of us on the path who crave nonfiction, Deepak has included a guide with commentary and teachings on core Buddhist principles. This book is destined to be a classic. And I could totally see it being turned into a movie. Two thumbs up from me!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is disappointing on many levels. The prose is overly flowery, and attempts to Hollywood-ize the life of the Buddha, filled with details of be-headings, 'magic tricks' performed after enlightenment, etc. Chopra could have taken advantage of his reputation as a leader in the field of mind/body studies and skill as a writer to try to get some of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha across, but instead writes an 'action movie' type of account, spending far too long on the princely childhood (filled with gratuitous violent images), and hardly any time discussing the period after Buddha's enlightenment, which was the majority of his life and where he expounded his teachings. Rather, Chopra makes it look like enlightenment provides magic powers. THE classic fictionalization of the Buddha's life is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, a wonderful book. If you're looking to learn more about the teachings for inner peace, see: Thich Nat Hahn's The heart of the Buddha's Teaching and The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka by William Hart....or to see how these teachings transform lives, check out the film Dhamma Brothers.
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Format: Hardcover
Like an "on the spot reporter" Deepak Chopra tells the story of the Buddha as if he had been there. Did he draw these memories from his past? Was he was one of the monks who knew and shared Siddhartha path to Buddhahood? Possibly-- or perhaps he received his information from the Akashic field? How else can one explain how he could tell this story with such deep understanding? For those of us who aspire to know the same Truth that Siddhartha sought, this story - written as a novel, becomes an important Teaching... for within it's pages lies the wisdom to consider the "human condition" and compassionately realize what we must all overcome on our way to Enlightenment. The Buddha depicted as the symbol of compassion, serenity and peace is honored more fully because of Deepak Chopra's words...they remind us all of what it takes to become a Buddha and encourages us to continue on. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
To start, I did not finish this book. SO, there may be more merits to it than I am giving here.

I have a problem with constructing this story about the buddha with made up characters and situations. My understanding is that, no, we do not know all the facts about Siddhartha's life. Perhaps the details of the Buddha's life are sparse, but more is not needed to understand the teaching of buddhism. And we cannot know more, so why go on with this farce? This character written by chopra is supposed to give us a sense that the buddha was human, and mortal as we are. But nothing about any other buddhist PHILOSOPHICAL teaching suggests that he's anything else.
This book will not really help you begin to study Buddhism.

I could not keep reading as the story progressed because the writing got worse, and the situations seemed too contrived. Chopra here seems to think that he has a better understanding of buddha "the man" than others can attain from basic buddhist readings.

For a real introduction into buddhist philosophy, please visit a temple or read "what the buddha taught" by walpola rahula, or The "Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan" edited by WIlliam Theodore de Bary.

Perhaps if you know nothing of buddhism, this may give you some insight. My concern is that there are so many situations and characters that are made up, that you may get fact and truth mixed up in further study. Many stories of the buddha's life are fantastical. Just remember that the Buddha wanted his TEACHINGS to be remembered and not facts of his life. He taught philosophy, ways to think of yourself in your body and in the world, not religion. Buddha never claimed to be more than a man.
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Format: Hardcover
Chopra's best contribution to Buddhism in this book is his honest assessment of Buddha's non-God position. But then he goes on to write about Buddha's encounter with good & evil spirits, which of course parallels the theistic religions. Then he attributes miracles to the Buddha, which, like the miracles of Jesus, cannot be verified except for "a long, long time ago, someone said it happened." He also writes that our everyday experience with suffering is not "real," but rather, what you are experiencing is a "dream state." This is a New-Agey way of dealing with suffering. Buddha made the human experience of suffering the center piece of his analysis of the human condition. So therefore, suffering IS NOT just some figment of the human imagination. When the suicide bomb blows off your arms & legs, it's the real thing period. So if you're interested in the absolute power of non-metaphysical, knock your socks off, no frills, by golly I can do this enlightenment stuff too -- kind of Buddhism, then read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki and "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse.
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