Demystifing the tenets of Buddhism, this introduction to the Buddhist religion explains, without jargon or obscure terminology, the essential elements of its teachings, presents ways to work toward awakening, and examines Buddhism's relevance in Western culture.
©1997 The Buddhist Ray, Inc., and Stephen Batchelor (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I bought this book thinking it would be a good introduction to Buddhism for someone who didn't see it as a religion. Instead, this book is a philosophical deconstruction that, as someone new to the philosophy, was difficult to follow. Also, the author's voice was hard to focus on due to his calm, slow delivery. While I wouldn't recommend it if you're a beginner like me, this is probably a useful read for someone who already has some knowledge of Buddhist terminology and philosophy.
Stephen Batchelor approaches the practice of dharma from a secular perspective. While eschewing outright atheism (at least in this book), he offers a contemplative tradition that even an atheist like me can undertake.
Buddhism often crops up as a religion -- despite the Buddha's attempts to thwart the worship of himself and nirvana. Over time, decentralized sanghas form communities with hierarchy, and the process of awakening is placed on a pedestal to be worshipped. The Buddha himself becomes godlike over time.
Batchelor says that not only is this an unnecessary addition to early Buddhism, but that it can be a hindrance to one's own awakening. He addresses the supernaturalist tendencies of followers and even the Buddha's own acceptance of polytheism in ancient India.
This is a fantastic listen.
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