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Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

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Confession of a Buddhist Atheist Cover

ISBN13: 9780385527064
ISBN10: 0385527063
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Written with the same brilliance and boldness that made Buddhism Without Beliefs a classic in its field, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist is Stephen Batchelor’s account of his journey through Buddhism, which culminates in a groundbreaking new portrait of the historical Buddha.

Stephen Batchelor grew up outside London and came of age in the 1960s. Like other seekers of his time, instead of going to college he set off to explore the world. Settling in India, he eventually became a Buddhist monk in Dharamsala, the Tibetan capital-in-exile, and entered the inner circle of monks around the Dalai Lama. He later moved to a monastery in South Korea to pursue intensive training in Zen Buddhism. Yet the more Batchelor read about the Buddha, the more he came to believe that the way Buddhism was being taught and practiced was at odds with the actual teachings of the Buddha himself. 

Charting his journey from hippie to monk to lay practitioner, teacher, and interpreter of Buddhist thought, Batchelor reconstructs the historical Buddha’s life, locating him within the social and political context of his world. In examining the ancient texts of the Pali Canon, the earliest record of the Buddha’s life and teachings, Batchelor argues that the Buddha was a man who looked at human life in a radically new way for his time, more interested in the question of how human beings should live in this world than in notions of karma and the afterlife.  According to Batchelor, the outlook of the Buddha was far removed from the piety and religiosity that has come to define much of Buddhism as we know it today. 

Both controversial and deeply personal, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist is a fascinating exploration of a religion that continues to engage the West. Batchelor’s insightful, deeply knowledgeable, and persuasive account will be an essential book for anyone interested in Buddhism.

 

Review:

"Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs (1997) described a 'secular' approach to the Eastern philosophy stripped of doctrines such as karma and rebirth; how a young British monk ordained in the Tibetan tradition turned into a 'Buddhist atheist' is revealed in this new book. On the dharma trail in India and Korea, and later as a lay resident at the nonsectarian Sharpham community in England, Batchelor was beset by doubts about traditional Buddhist teachings. Finally convinced that present-day forms of Buddhism have moved far beyond what founder Gotama had intended, Batchelor embarked on a study of the Pali canon (very early Buddhist texts) to find out what the Buddha's original message might have been. Batchelor's own 'story of conversion' is woven effortlessly with his analysis of Buddhist teachings and a 2003 pilgrimage to Indian sites important in the Buddha's life. He is candid about his disillusionments with institutionalized Buddhism without engaging in another 'new atheist' broadside against religion. While Batchelor may exaggerate the novelty of his 'Buddhism without beliefs' stance, this multifaceted account of one Buddhist's search for enlightenment is richly absorbing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A renowned Buddhist teacher’s magnum opus, based on his fresh reading of the tradition’s earliest texts

Synopsis:

Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. But 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 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, its long survival 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.

About the Author

Stephen Batchelor is a former monk in the Tibetan and Zen traditions and the author of books including Alone with Others, The Faith to Doubt, The Awakening of the West, Buddhism Without Beliefs, and Living with the Devil. He lives with his wife, Martine, in southwestern France and lectures and conducts meditation retreats throughout the world.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

dhammaboy, June 8, 2010 (view all comments by dhammaboy)
Batchelor raises every doubt a western Buddhist practitioner might entertain about the cultural overlays that color how we perceive Buddhism, and then attempts to reconstruct the historical Siddhartha Gotama from the shards of his persona that remain visible in the Pali Canon. It's an exciting emotional and intellectual adventure in spiritual investigation. Batchelor is deeply rooted in the dharma, pragmatic in the western/scientific mold, and honest to a fault. The result is a very accessible revisioning of the Buddha's teaching, seen anew through philosophical, historical, social and political lenses. An engrossing read, and a welcome milestone on the dharma's journey to the west.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385527064
Subtitle:
Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age
Author:
Batchelor, Stephen
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Buddhism -- History.
Subject:
Atheism
Subject:
Buddhists
Subject:
Spiritual biography - Great Britain
Subject:
Buddhism - Tibetan
Subject:
Religious
Subject:
Buddhism
Subject:
Religion Eastern-Tibetan Buddhism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20151027
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 MAP
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » Tibetan Buddhism
Religion » Eastern Religions » General

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Spiegel & Grau - English 9780385527064 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs (1997) described a 'secular' approach to the Eastern philosophy stripped of doctrines such as karma and rebirth; how a young British monk ordained in the Tibetan tradition turned into a 'Buddhist atheist' is revealed in this new book. On the dharma trail in India and Korea, and later as a lay resident at the nonsectarian Sharpham community in England, Batchelor was beset by doubts about traditional Buddhist teachings. Finally convinced that present-day forms of Buddhism have moved far beyond what founder Gotama had intended, Batchelor embarked on a study of the Pali canon (very early Buddhist texts) to find out what the Buddha's original message might have been. Batchelor's own 'story of conversion' is woven effortlessly with his analysis of Buddhist teachings and a 2003 pilgrimage to Indian sites important in the Buddha's life. He is candid about his disillusionments with institutionalized Buddhism without engaging in another 'new atheist' broadside against religion. While Batchelor may exaggerate the novelty of his 'Buddhism without beliefs' stance, this multifaceted account of one Buddhist's search for enlightenment is richly absorbing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
A renowned Buddhist teacher’s magnum opus, based on his fresh reading of the tradition’s earliest texts
"Synopsis" by ,
Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. But 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 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, its long survival 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.

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