Synopses & Reviews
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. 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 long 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.
“A daring and reasoned work of remarkable scope, vision, scholarship, and promise.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses
“Batchelor makes the dharma come thrillingly alive. A masterful achievement.”—Mark Epstein, MD, author of Thoughts without a Thinker
"Brilliant, illuminating, and thought provoking, After Buddhism deserves the ultimate compliment for a work of this kind: it is useful. In probing the ancient scriptures in search of a Buddha we can relate to, Batchelor makes his dharma come thrillingly alive. A masterful achievement."—Mark Epstein, MD, author of Thoughts without a Thinker
“In this remarkable book, Stephen Batchelor transcends Buddhist dogma to surface a vision of the dharma that goes right to the heart of our contemporary global culture. Through diligent scholarship and years of practice, the author sheds new and revelatory light on the dharma. This is a must-read for all students of Buddhism.”—Joan Halifax, PhD, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
“An audacious disquisition on Buddhism, universal dharma, reality, and suffering for the 21st century. Batchelor posits that for the deep wisdom of Buddhism to serve humanity fully in our time, it may have to transcend itself.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses
“Stephen Batchelor is perhaps the finest and wisest guide in the world today to the complicated path that is combining Buddhism with humanism. For those of us who struggle with modern problems that cannot be solved by religion alone, this book will help if we are wondering what to do ‘after Buddhism.’”—Greg M. Epstein, author of Good without God
This uniquely contemporary guide to understanding the timeless message of Buddhism, and in particular its relevance in actual human relations, was inspired by Shantideva's 'Guide To The Bodhisattva's Way Of Life', which the author translated into English, the oral instructions of living Buddhist masters, Heidegger's classic 'Being and Time', and the writings of the Christian theologians Paul Tillich and John MacQuarrie.
Alone with Others is a uniquely contemporary guide to understanding the timeless message of Buddhism, and in particular its relevance in actual human relations. It was inspired by Shantideva& #8217; s Guide to the Bodhisattava& #8217; s Way of Life, the oral instructions of living Buddhist masters, Martin Heidegger& #8217; s classic Being and Time, and the writings of the Christian theologians Paul Tillich and John MacQuarrie.
A renowned Buddhist teacher’s magnum opus, based on his fresh reading of the tradition’s earliest texts
About the Author
What are you trying to achieve in this book?
After Buddhism is the culmination of forty years of thinking about and practicing the dharma as a modern Westerner. I pull together a number of threads that I have explored in earlier writings, such as Buddhism without Beliefs. In all of my writings I address the question of how the teachings of this ancient Asian religion might speak to the condition of our secular age. This new work is an attempt to recover what was truly original about the Buddha's vision and to acquire a better understanding of the man himself. Recent scholarship affords us both a clearer picture of the historical world in which Gotama lived and more critical insight into the earliest discourses. Together, these allow the possibility of rethinking the dharma from the ground up.
Who have you written this book for?
With the widespread adoption of mindfulness, more and more people find themselves practicing a form of meditation that is rooted in the Buddhist tradition. I hope this book might do for Buddhist ethics and philosophy what the mindfulness movement has done for Buddhist meditation: provide a framework of values and ideas that have been stripped of their religious and metaphysical associations to reveal a practical way of life that is available to all—which might help us deal with some of the urgent questions we face as a human community in the twenty-first century.