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Stephen Batchelor (1) (1953–)

Författare till Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

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20+ verk 3,528 medlemmar 66 recensioner 1 favoritmärkta

Om författaren

A former Buddhist monk, Stephen Batchelor has written several books attempting to make Buddhist accessible and understandable to the Western reader. These books include The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhist and Western Culture, and Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to visa mer Awakening. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre
Foto taget av: Photo by Ottmar Liebert

Verk av Stephen Batchelor

Associerade verk

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The Way of Korean Zen (1985) — Redaktör — 52 exemplar
Rude Awakenings: Two Englishmen on Foot in Buddhism's Holy Land (2005) — Förord, vissa utgåvor52 exemplar
Song of the Profound View (1989) — Översättare, vissa utgåvor31 exemplar
Parabola: The Search for Meaning, Vol. 29, No. 3: The Seeker (2004) — Bidragsgivare — 8 exemplar

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After reading too many texts that made seem Buddhism like just a series of Sadhanas, and vows and made seem Amithaba like a Jesus-like figure I decided to read this book. Thinking that I would really like it since I read lots of Atheistic and Agnostic literature and liked it.

Before continuing with the review I invite you to read the book and form your opinion.
First things first, this book helped form my opinions on Buddhism by offering a new perspective.

Now that the positives have ended let's start with the review:
The book doesn't know what it wants to be, it feels like the author was trying to write four different books at the same time. In barely 200 pages he is trying to:
Present the eightfold part without any theistic or metaphysical components.
Write a workbook on living a good and happy life as an agnostic.
Writing a book about mindfulness and meditation
Laying out a plan for a Western Buddhist Community.

While the gnostic workbook is pretty well written, and it demonstrates a considerable amount of research, work and soul searching, the other parts do not.

When trying to explain the eightfold path he shows Gautama Buddha as a figure uncorrupted by the future "degeneracy", "mysticism" and "institutionalized and religious Buddhism" without all those "religious fantasies" that cloud the mystery that is life. Failing right into a fallacy by saying that Gautama Buddhism is authentic Buddhism, no religion but a path of practice and those orthodox institutions aren't.
What is authentic Buddhism? What is the authentic eightfold path? If a school of Buddhism has sadhanas and rituals is it less Buddhism? He doesn't seem to understand emptiness. There is no trascendal idea of Buddhism which you can measure all other Buddhisms.
Even the author contradicts himself some chapters later when is shown that even in the earliest scripture Buddhism always had some metaphysics and a hierarchy. By stripping away those things, would we obtain a Buddhism more Buddhism than Gautama's own?

I refuse to believe a scholar of Buddhism attacked many aspects of a wild array of traditions and schools without making any distinctions, or even saying which traditions he was referring to!
When he is attacking the Guru-Disciple relationship reminiscent of medieval times he is attacking Vajrayana Buddhism. When he is attacking the belief that enlightenment is not for this life, he is attacking Pure Land Buddhism.
Even then there are differences! Many teachers of Vajrayana take distance from the traditional Guru-Disciple relationship. Many Pure Land practitioners strive their hardest to become as enlightened as possible in this life.

Also, did I say that he explained the eightfold path? No, I mean that he started only to switch subjects and go unto mindfulness and Self.

The guide to meditation is scattered across the book and is atrocious. I don't know who S is, why he is HIV positive, or what is his relationship with the author, but is annoying.
The whole thing reads like a flow of consciousness. The whole thing is soporific, there is no flow between one paragraph and the next, hell, there isn't even a proper logical flow to them!
As soon as the author is saying something interesting he is back again rambling about the Self-No Self dichotomy, awareness and a mountain of I and ME which makes him seem like an egocentric more than an adept meditator. If you pick a paragraph from the middle of the book I couldn't tell you which chapter it was, because it keeps hammering the Self-No Self and awareness discussion over and over and over and over and over again, only making it more confusing. I can't imagine anyone taking this book as a guide to mindfulness and not being confused.

It is painfully clear that his ideas of what religion is stem from Christianity. He proclaims himself as an agnostic but comes off as an atheist who believes that all metaphysics and mysticism are fantasies. He also doesn't understand mysticism at all. Saying that awakening isn't a mystical experience and once even comparing devoted mystics to addicted artists seeking escape in opium and drinks. What?
Is also diamond clear, excuse the pun, that he never practised Vajranaya, nor understands how all those rituals and Sadhanas might help unto the path of awakening. Or that, since there are so many persons, of a so varied nature, is better for many traditions and paths to exist.
His idea for a Buddhist Western community seems like a recipe for cultural appropriation and watering down. To create this "deeply agnostic" community we should:
Discard references and talk about ANY and ALL metaphysics as fantasies or the product of their time, including those of Gautama's early discourses.
Throw away most Sutras, Tantras, Sadhanas and rituals, as religious degeneracy.
Throw away any and all things about deities or Guru relationships as the product of orthodox institutions trying to repress imagination and creativity.
Since we are there, following the author's logic, we should also throw away Satori and all mystical experiences as mere fantasies or products of mad men.
Since we made all those things, we should also go preaching to all other traditions of Buddhism about how their traditions are filled with superstitions and degeneracy. If you think that this point is absurd, it already happened! I tremble in fear thinking that even one person gave this book as a good introduction to Buddhism!

All in all the book is soporific and confusing, filled with conclusions about Buddhism by someone who doesn't understand the practice and should be ignored in discussions on how the Western Buddhism community should be built.
… (mer)
 
Flaggad
Pxan02 | 30 andra recensioner | Apr 11, 2024 |
This is about four books in one-- it is a autobiography of a monk turned lay Buddhist meditation teacher, it is a telling of the historical Buddha's life, it is a travel guide to the "holy land" of Buddhism, it is a discussion of a methodology for creating a secular Buddhism.

The autobiography was pleasant to read, it is a good story. The story of the historical Buddha's life as reconstructed from the Pali texts using, of all things, a reference dictionary of names, to reassble the jumbled story line in the pali cannon. The historical Buddha lived in a "Game of Thrones"-like world with rival kings, kingdoms, everyong trying to get favor of the king, including Gautama with surprises and back stabbing along the way. This is the most human story of the Buddhas life and has disloged all others I've read in my preferred way to think about Gotama.

I say Batchelor presents a methodology because the book is light on specific advice with respect to practices (outside of applying the methodology of substracting out brahmanism, hindism from Buddhism and applying doubt and scepticism), this is a mild criticism because what does fill the book is good content.

The entire book is readable and light reading, unlike Batchelors more serious earlier existential books.
… (mer)
 
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matthwdeanmartin | 12 andra recensioner | Jul 9, 2023 |
Interesting in the beginning, but increasingly soporific as it goes on.
 
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judeprufrock | 30 andra recensioner | Jul 4, 2023 |
From LibraryThing Review:

Batchelor - is the master of secular Buddhist analysis and the teachings of Buddha. In this book he explores the capacity to encounter and work with the Shadow. Highly recommend.

Begins with thoughts on Mara, the satanic figure found in the early Buddhist texts, and moves on to explore more topics than it's easy to summarise. As ever, Stephen is original and inspiring and writes the most stylish prose of any living Buddhist.
 
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TallyChan5 | 4 andra recensioner | Sep 5, 2022 |

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Statistik

Verk
20
Även av
8
Medlemmar
3,528
Popularitet
#7,199
Betyg
4.0
Recensioner
66
ISBN
99
Språk
8
Favoritmärkt
1

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