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Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening Paperback – March 1, 1998
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"Buddhism Without Beliefs is the kind of finely written primer about the concepts of Buddhism that even a heathen like me can appreciate and understand. For the non-Buddhist, or the aspiring Buddhist, it will be of much assistance. Filled with compassion, lucidly written, this is a book that explains much about an ancient, ever-living philosophy that has much to offer the stunned searchers of truth in our chaotic age of modernity." —Oscar Hijuelos, author of Mr. Ives' Christmas and The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
"Radiant in its clarity, Buddhism Without Beliefs reminds us not just of Buddhism's true nature, but of our own as well. Freeing us from the notion of Buddhism as a religion, Stephen Batchelor shows us how necessary the Buddha's teachings are in today's world. It may not be what he intended, but he has made a believer out of me." —Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
"Though he is a former monk in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions, Batchelor is now associated with a nondenominational Buddhist community in England. He deliberately eschews elitist, monastic Buddhist traditions, which often make enlightenment appear all but impossible to attain. Throughout, simple meditation exercises acquaint readers with Buddhist principles that illuminate 'the nature of the human dilemma and a way to its resolution.'" —Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Batchelor presents his ideas in simple, but not simplistic, prose, with easy-to-grasp examples. His credentials as a Buddhist and a scholar are beyond reproach, and while others may disagree, no one can question his seriousness and authority. Unlike self-styled gurus and flim-flam artists like "Lama Surya Das" (Jeffrey Miller), Batchelor is not interested in self-aggrandizement; merely in conveying his ideas.
He succeeds admirably in this book.
Buddhism has taken on radically different forms in every culture in which it has taken root. Is Agnostic Buddhism one of the forms it will take in the West? I think it's likely. Many Westerners who are turning to Buddhism are agnostic, and stripped of the non-essentials (most of which were added long after the Buddha's death), Buddhism is a very appealing path. But so far, I have encountered little but New Age dilletantes and guru/student fundamentalists, two extremes that do not appeal to me at all. Here in Japan, I've met some very nice priests and monks, but practice has so far seemed quite ossified and heirarchical, something that really seems, well, very un-Buddhist to me.
And then along comes Batchelor's book, a breath of fresh air. This is just what I've been looking for.
EDIT 4 April 2012: I recently read Batchelor's The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture, and I can strongly recommend that as well!
It's odd that Batchelor is an unwitting lightning-rod for the Buddhist religious right. (Bet you didn't think that was even POSSIBLE, did you?! Surprise! Sadly, Buddhism isn't all that different from any other religion.) He doesn't attack their beliefs. He stays in the vast middle and says that he honestly doesn't know.
When I saw him lecture, I saw a student of Thinley Norbu's stand up and beg him to believe in rebirth! It was like watching a fundamentalist Christian begging someone to accept Jesus as his personal savior, as though Buddhism was about embracing the right conceptual beliefs. It was the oddest and saddest thing! Why bother becoming a Buddhist if you're going to behave like that?
He handled it with great patience and compassion, I thought. I asked him about it afterwards and apparently it happens to him all the time!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you wish to embark upon Buddhism then this is the book for you. Written in an everyday, accessible, way by the author who promotes a no nonsense approach to a way of life for... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Kit Wells
As has been noted, this is a great read for anyone interested in Buddhism. The paragraph that did it for me (on page 19):
"An agnostic Buddhist eschews atheism as... Read more
What a great book. Gave me a whole new perspective and a lot to think about. Wonderfully written, wether you are deeply interested in Buddhism or just taking the first steps. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carol
I read 72 pages from this book (little more than half) and stopped because it doesn't say anything new. It doesn't profess to but still I found the book quite uninteresting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by orel shmila