Some 25 centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. What does it mean to adapt religious practices to secular contexts? Stephen Batchelor, an internationally known author and teacher, is committed to a secularized version of the Buddha's teachings. The time has come, he feels, to articulate a coherent, ethical, contemplative, and philosophical vision of Buddhism for our age.
After Buddhism, the culmination of four decades of study and practice in the Tibetan, Zen, and Theravada traditions, is his attempt to set the record straight about who the Buddha was and what he was trying to teach. Combining critical readings of the earliest canonical texts with narrative accounts of five members of the Buddha's inner circle, Batchelor depicts the Buddha as a pragmatic ethicist rather than a dogmatic metaphysician. He envisions Buddhism as a constantly evolving culture of awakening whose perpetual survival is due to its capacity to reinvent itself and interact creatively with each society it encounters. This original and provocative book presents a new framework for understanding the remarkable spread of Buddhism in today's globalized world. It also reminds us of what was so startling about the Buddha's vision of human flourishing.
©2015 Stephen Batchelor (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I am so fortunate to have found this author. The time and scholarship that has gone into such a thoughtful and considered treatment of this large and complex body of literature is astonishing.
Batchelors style is much smoother than in some of the earlier texts. The ideas have matured and blossomed into this fascinating work.
I recommend reading the confessions book first.
"must listen for all traditions"
Excellent review of the historical Buddha. In addition, this book is invaluable for a deeper, or new, understanding of layordination and/or the western practice of Buddhism in general.
"A practical approach to history's prime pragmatist"
Thank you for breathing life into the teaching, Mr Batchelor. I truly appreciate your work and it's contribution to my practice. May you be troubled only by the anxieties inherent in having a body and being in the world and be free of all other anxieties. I will return to this work again in the future.
"Buddhism in history and practice."
This is a long involved study of the teachings, characters, and history of people in Northern India 2,400 years ago that followed Buddha.
Bachelor is an expert on this time in history that is clear. He presents Buddha is a living person involved in the day to day struggles of existence and as a person that, through introspection alone, was able to come to an understanding of the effects of, what we now know as evolution, on the human condition.
He presents his own material with a obvious love of the rhythms and meter of place and people names that is a pleasure to the ear.
Sorry to say this is pretty deep into the canon for a new follower of the path. Liked learning how real life of Gotama differed from life suggested by Hesse in Siddhartha. Liked seeing an approach to the teachings that treats women and adherents versus monks equal in opportunity. Liked seeing how doctrine fits with day by day work and life of a householder and not just with monastics and monks in forests. Quite learned, well researched, and well presented. Not for those with ADD or limited interest in dharma. Thanks for lots of useful information.
"too esoteric a tome."
not interested in these words. I will not finish as a new buddhist student I cannot understand.
"Excellent, erudite, timely"
I highly recommend this book for readers who are already familiar with the Dharma. Others might find it a bit confusing, but not impenetrable. Bachelor updates our understanding of Buddhism and the Dharma through insightful commentary and historical scholarship. His way of reading it, though, sounds almost eulogistic. This is a perfect book and excellent reinterpretation of Buddhism for our times. I find his arguments compelling, challenging and, no pun intended, enlightening. I'm planning to listen to it again and buy the book for reference.
"primarily a history lesson"
primarily a history lesson a lot of stories about old texts but not nearly enough practical usable information I thought the title of the book was actually quite misleading.
"I returned this book"
I got through two chapters but it just didn't keep my attention. I was hoping to learn something but came out of it with no more knowledge on Buddhism than I had going in.
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