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Why I Am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey Hardcover – March 1, 2010
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About the Author
Stephen T. Asma, Ph.D., is professor of philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities at Columbia College in Chicago. He is also a jazz musician and a popular guest on Chicago area NPR programs.Visit him at www.stephenasma.com.
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I think that the author needs to study Buddhism a little more. His comment on karma made me jump out of my skin. The writer stated that he does not belive in karma because good people still suffer and bad people flourish. If he had more knowledge on karma he would have known that karma is not always instant. We have had, according to the buddha, many many lives and in these lives we have been good and bad people. Because of this mixture of good and bad karma, for eons, the ripping of our karma isn't predictable. Good things happen to us when we don't deserve them and bad things happen to us when we don't deserve them and conversely.
As a Zen student of several years, it is obvious to me that Asma's knowledge of Buddhism comes entirely out of other books, not from personal experience within any Buddhist tradition. He talks about Zen quite a bit, for example, but his ideas about Zen are grounded in the long-ago days of Jack Kerouac and the Dharma Bums. And judging by his photo, Asma wasn't yet born during the Beat Zen era. Asma reveals no connection with, or even a dim awareness of, contemporary American Zen, which is a far cry from the "Bohemian" Zen of his romantic fantasies.
Asma's tone is glib, shallow, and self-centered. He belongs under a bell jar in an exhibit titled "What's Wrong With Western Buddhism."
If you are looking for a "no nonsense" role model for living as a Buddhist in today's western culture, read Brad Warner.