I have to preface this by saying I very rarely listen to or read fiction. So this was a change for me to begin with and I was hesitant for that reason. But I needed a break from my usual serious non-fiction topics. I guess I would describe this as "ear-candy". By that I mean it's an enjoyable listen but I didn't expect it to be very deep, and it wasn't. I'm a little surprised at some reviews that seem shocked and disappointed at how unrealistic aspects of this are; just read the description, are we really expecting realism in a "thriller novel" about a Bible story? I would think anyone wanting realism might try the non-fiction section. But again, I admit that I don't typically read fiction, so maybe there IS realistic fiction out there, although I'd be slightly surprised if it exists on this sort of topic.
I suppose my lack of disappointment is in part due to the lack of high expectations I had regarding the realism in the story. Having said that, it certainly is unrealistic! Much of it had me thinking "yeah right" or "as if" in my head, but the storytelling was good and the story was still fun, so I enjoyed it nonetheless. The narrator was very good, he had a lot of voices and accents to juggle and I didn't find anything in that regard lacking. I do feel the author got too far off-track from the "Ark" storyline, but it would have been a very short, pointless story otherwise. The main idea of the storyline I think was the "mystery" of the ark claim, and so the characters really had to do a bunch of running around to solve it, otherwise it wouldn't really be a story, would it? The "twist" wasn't much of a twist, I saw most of it coming save a few details, but not to the extent that it ruined the listen for me.
One thing I disliked was the inevitable romance factor; that just annoys me and it ultimately served no real purpose to the story.
One important note; I probably would be annoyed had I paid the full price amount for this book. I got it for MUCH less on sale so I felt it was worthwhile, especially given the length of it. Overall I think it was a fun listen as long as you aren't expecting a literary masterpiece. "Ear-Candy", I maintain.
So, I've received "The Great Courses" catalogs for years! And for years I've been curious, but unless they are having one of their periodic sales (which I always happened to miss), I just felt they were massively overpriced. At least beyond my budget, I knew that much. So when I saw them arrive here at Audible for FAR less money, I was thrilled and purchased immediately! I listened to this title all at once, as I cleaned my house today.
A subject of particular interest to me is Buddhism, and there's two titles they offer, "Buddhism" and this one, "Great World Religions: Buddhism". The difference seems to be that this one is shorter, has less "lectures" (chapters) and is more of an introductory version. It being the lesser priced of the two, I decided to try this one out as my first purchase of these "Great Courses".
So, the first thing I feel like I should note is that it's not so much a "course" as just a lecture divided into chapters. There are no assignments, no students (other than you, the listener), no homework, books or any study materials whatsoever. That may seem more obvious here on Audible but I've always viewed their catalogs and actually thought it was some sort of, well, COURSE. It's really just listening to a professor speak on the subject, Buddhism in this case. This is fine as long as you are aware of that. I would have been livid if I had paid the $135.00 that the website wants for the CD's or even their digital price of $90.00 just to discover it's only a lecture. But for the ten bucks I paid here? Sure, worth it.
One minor criticism, and this isn't a huge deal, but worth a mention: It's a lecture in front of a "pretend audience". We're supposed to think he's standing at a podium in front of a college class of students or perhaps something like a TED talk, but it's really just clearly pre-recorded applause tracks and he's sitting in a quiet studio recording this. I mention it because it's **painfully obvious**; the chapters ("lectures") are each about 30 minutes long and start and end with the identical fake applause, so you hear that every half hour. There are times when he 'banters' or jokes with "the class", and that's just awkward because there's no one else giggling but him. However, having said that, I do actually appreciate that he makes a very genuine effort to personalize the listening experience and so perhaps I am being too harsh. Again, for ten dollars who cares, but at their full price I might have more of an issue with it.
Despite my above knit-picking, the speaker is actually enjoyable to listen to, he has an engaging voice and seems to have genuine interest in the subject. He makes a clear effort to act conversational as if there really is a live audience as opposed to a narrator reading and overall he's quite likeable and the audio is clear and good. (really good of course, since it isn't really live).
As for the actual content, it's tough for me to say as I am not a beginner to Buddhism. I think beginners would like it very much, but intermediate or advanced students would not find much new here. The emphasis appears to be mostly on the "history of Buddhism", or perhaps even a "geography of Buddhism", discussing when and where Buddhism spread around the Asian world as it grew. There is almost no mention of modern Western Buddhism or practices however, so if you're hoping for a current rundown or a 'how-to' of practices and rituals, this would not be a good choice. Also, it does not go into meditation; there's barely a mention and no instruction whatsoever; it's definitely more of a light history of it's origins and summation of it's core beliefs.
A side note: The speaker occasionally references "written material", glossary, etc., that are NOT included with this purchase. I was annoyed at this initially, but saw later that Audible does actually warn you of this below the description, I just missed it. It's nothing of major consequence to me, but if you are very new to Buddhism, he does reference a lot of names/words/terms that might be hard to look up later if you want to learn more but don't know the spelling. It doesn't interfere with the listening experience at all however, as long as the spellings aren't important to you.
Bottom line for me is that I would never-ever pay their usual full price for this, but the price that Audible is offering at is MUCH more in proportion to the content and value that you get. A great intro for newcomers who want to learn a bit about Buddhism's history.
I must disagree with the other (good) reviews; I didn't care for this and I'm surprised others found it so helpful. I wanted to like it, but I just didn't. I should preface this with the disclaimer/admission that I didn't finish this book; I only got through the first half or so. Normally I would always finish a book out of fairness before reviewing it, but the reason I stopped listening is the very point: I was starting to feel like the author was mocking, or belittling me. His tone and messages were actually quite condescending. "Take a deep breath.... don't panic...." etc. In the beginning I thought "I get it, down to earth sarcasm, like a friend might do, ha ha" and continued to listen. But it became increasingly annoying, more like "that" friend; the one who seems friendly but then very subtly belittles you and later you wonder why you hang out with him at all.
Yes, he makes it very clear what to do, in easy steps. But he spells it out so simplistically, that I started wondering if he thinks disorganized people are all imbeciles. "Put your keys in a bowl by the door... go ahead, do it now....right now. Was that so bad??". Which leads me to my next complaint: There's nothing in this book that I haven't read before. I suppose books on this topic can only vary so much, but I found the instruction very predictable and I'm not sure he had any ideas I couldn't figure out myself or haven't read elsewhere: Keep similar things together, don't have office supplies in the kitchen where you cook, etc. No kidding. If you need instructions THAT simplistic, then perhaps you would appreciate this book more than I did.
I also found it annoying that I was instructed to put the book down and go do the instructed things before continuing with the next chapter, almost as if I couldn't be trusted. And he repeats himself WAY too much, the book could be easily half the length if he didn't feel the need to repeat himself so many times. A very long portion of the beginning was telling me what the book would tell me.... just get to it for God's sake! Interesting that the description states "foolproof instructions"; because he really does talk in a way that suggests I am a fool who needs small words and constant repeating. He seems to think that because I'm disorganized I must suffer from an extreme anxiety disorder. I don't need to be "talked down" on why not to panic about what type of bowl to toss my keys into. I get it. Put them in a bowl. Next? I ended up ditching the book before he either outright called me a moron, or started baby-talk: "Can you put like things with like things?? Can you?? Be a big girl now..." I don't need to pay money (too much money to boot) to be talked down to.
I usually try to balance my reviews with both good and bad, but I honestly have little good to say about this book, other than he puts things very simply. So if you need to be told the obvious, like keep your keys by the door and don't have so many magazines, this book is for you. I should have been warned just by the sample, where he describes us listeners as "clumsy, unfocused and slightly desperate". REALLY?
I wish I didn't spend money on this book. I thought it would be about the statues, call me crazy. It's actually a brief and very dull summary of a small civilization, who whether through ignorance, bad circumstance or stupidity, cut down all their trees, had lousy soil, failed and died out. Oh, and they made some statues, almost a side note in this book. End of story. Seriously. Don't waste your money or time on this. And this is coming from someone who is normally fascinated by ancient cultures, history, stories of earlier civilization, etc. This book is just dull and went NO WHERE.
I was absolutely shocked at what actually goes on inside Scientology. The various ex-members and insiders perspectives were eye opening and literally jaw dropping. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what L. Ron Hubbard was, Dianetics, etc. This is NOTHING like what I thought, NOW I understand why the secrecy. Absolutely appalling, I can't figure out whether it's more of a business scam or more of an emotionally and physically abusive cult. But one thing it's NOT is religion. I also liked that it walks the listener through the years from beginning to current day, so you can really get an idea of how things changed over the years and after Hubbard died.
I had never heard the horrific story of Lisa McPherson. This was probably the most memorable and saddest part of the entire book. I don't want to spoil the story, but it's appalling what this devoted member went through. I plan to read more about her on the internet, but the book gives a very good summary. Also, the outright abuse and neglect of members was shocking. Members literally trapped from escaping, being fed only beans and rice, emotionally tortured, forced abortions, forced divorces, forced to sleep under tables and give every penny they had to the "church". The only thing missing from this story was the Kool-Aid.
The narration was perfect. No complaints. Clear, serious tone due to the serious nature, and good tones of sarcasm when appropriate. So good I kept forgetting he was not the actual author, but only the narrator.
Again, the story of Lisa McPherson was tragic and shocking. I still can't believe they got away with what they did. Several other former member stories were moving and sad. People going bankrupt by the pressure to give every penny they had, and many of them just treated like slaves.
This book was incredibly eye opening. Of course the "church" denies many of the claims, but when you hear the repeated accounts, along with actual proven records, I have no reason to believe it isn't true. I also previously knew nothing about David Miscavige, who led the "church" after Hubbards' death. An ego maniacal abusive, manipulative narcissist who clearly viewed this as a cash scam and ran it like a spoiled brat tyrant. I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook to anyone concerned about, interested in, or wanting to know more about what goes on behind the "secret doors". When you hear what goes on, it's no wonder they're so secretive.
This book is downright funny. In the very beginning, the author's lisp annoyed me, but as I kept listening, it actually became part of the humor; his voice and tone are perfect for this content. I'm so glad he read it himself or much of the humor might have been lost. If you think you would enjoy a humorous interpretation of the bible, then I can't see not loving this book. Being Jewish, he only covers the Old Testament, although he has Christian schooling under his belt too, and I can only cross my fingers that he writes another one on the New Testament because I would buy it in a heartbeat! I learned a lot about more about certain bible stories when I *thought* I already knew them, so the education was an added bonus to the humor. Many laugh out loud moments. If you're looking for a bigger picture, like does he believe the bible, is he mocking the bible, etc., I would not look so deeply at it. It's simply a humorous retelling of the Old Testament that I think believers and non-believers alike would find very funny. I have listened to it several times now. I fall asleep listening to it, and if I lose my place by the next night it's no big deal, you can really pick up anywhere in this book as he moves from story to story. This was the best audible book I've bought in a long time.
This CD is HORRIBLE. This is hardly a CD on past life regression. The audbiobooks 1st sentence is "this is track 4", which was confusing & had me sitting up in bed trying to figure out why it was starting on track 4. No introduction, or "easing" me into a relaxation, she just jumps right in and moves at a ridiculously fast pace. Starts off with "think of a happy memory" & the next thing you know she has you going from 4 yrs old to 3, to 2 to 1 & then you supposed to be in a past life? This was all in less than 5 minutes. I wasn't even in a relaxed state yet, never mind another life! The whole narration is over in a few minutes and suddenly she's counting back from 5 in an abrupt, hasty tone that's almost startling. And between each track are SHAMELESS PLUGS to their website! I think this is HIGHLY unethical, considering this is a hypnosis CD. If I wanted a commercial I'd turn on the TV. Shame on them. Then the next "relaxation" exercise has you go through 7 floors of a building on an escalator, and each room is empty & brightly colored, going through the rainbow on each floor. NOT relaxing, thinking of rooms where everything is red, then orange, yellow, etc. And what is the point of this anyway? Has NOTHING to do with past lives, just a stupid narration of empty colored rooms. The 3rd track is the SAME EXACT THING, the same colored room scenario word for word, but this time in a mans voice. And then it goes to the 4th track, which is the SAME EXACT THING as the 1st track! The same abrupt narration of quickly speeding into a past life of which you have zero time to observe, & then telling you how how this will make you happier and healthier; please!. And that PDF "guide book"? Nothing but a "about us" with more plugs to their website. Absolutely appalling. I believe the couple glowing reviews must have been posted by them, because I can't imagine who would be impressed by this piece of garbage. Truly unbelievable.
Don't let the age of this book fool you. It's an excellent introduction to the basics of what The Buddha taught; explaining The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path in a creative and different way that I've read elsewhere. The narrator has an excellent voice, the audio is crystal clear. It's a down to earth, simple and easy to understand explanation. I was pleasantly surprised with this. Not very useful for advanced practitioners perhaps, but an excellent introduction on the basics.
I'm a big fan of Bob Thurman, but when I first started listening to this book, I was slightly put off. A lot of exaggerated imagery about gems, rubies & diamonds & sapphires hanging from a tree, yeah yeah, we get it: The Three Jewels. But there's something about listening to Bob Thurman speak that makes me unable to abandon anything he's speaking about, so I continued on. Eventually I warmed up to the "magical talk" and understood it to be symbolism and got over it. Plus, his enthusiasm and strange accent are very engaging. The second half of the audiobook was MUCH more interesting and got into the practical things like practice, that I was hoping for. The next time I listened to it, I picked up on many things I had not the first time around, and I was surprised. I guess I needed a warm-up run. Then I listened to it a third time, and again, got even more from it. So overall I am glad that I bought it. But for anyone who listens to it the first time and is slightly put off, I would really recommend hearing him out. He does go somewhere, and it is worth the wait.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. It's written from a psychology perspective, and although it's a very simple read (or listen), it's very poignant. It's told in an easy to listen to way, with the authors' conversations and experiences both as a buddhist and a psychiatrist, and the two concepts mesh nicely.
I also love it when I learn something new, and he made several very interesting observations that will have me going back and listening to it several times to fully absorb it.
My only complaint is that I wish it were longer, but it's a great read!
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