Written with the same brilliance and boldness that madeBuddhism Without Beliefsa classic in its field,Confession of a Buddhist Atheistis Stephen Batchelorrsquo;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 Buddharsquo;s life, locating him within the social and political context of his world.
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. (Mar. 2) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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Spiegel & Grau
March 02, 2010
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