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Why I Am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey | [Stephen T. Asma]

Why I Am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey

There have been a lot of books that have made the case for Buddhism. What makes this book fresh and exciting is Asma's iconoclasm, irreverence, and hardheaded approach to the subject. He is distressed that much of what passes for Buddhism is really little more than "New Age mush." He loudly asserts that it is time to "take the California out of Buddhism." And he presents a spiritual practice that does not require a belief in creeds or dogma.
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Publisher's Summary

Profound and amusing, this book provides a viable approach to answering the perennial questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I live a meaningful life? For Asma, the answers are to be found in Buddhism.

There have been a lot of books that have made the case for Buddhism. What makes this book fresh and exciting is Asma's iconoclasm, irreverence, and hardheaded approach to the subject. He is distressed that much of what passes for Buddhism is really little more than "New Age mush." He loudly asserts that it is time to "take the California out of Buddhism." He presents a spiritual practice that does not require a belief in creeds or dogma. It is a practice that is psychologically sound, intellectually credible, and esthetically appealing. It is a practice that does not require a diet of brown rice, burning incense, and putting both your mind and your culture in deep storage.

In seven chapters, Asma builds the case for a spiritual practice that is authentic, and inclusive. This is Buddhism for everyone. This is Buddhism for people who are uncomfortable with religion but yearn for a spiritual practice.

©2010 Stephen T. Asma (P)2012 Linda Biagi

What Members Say

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3.8 (49 )
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  •  
    Adrian Lucas Tampa, FL 07-17-12
    Adrian Lucas Tampa, FL 07-17-12 Member Since 2011

    fuleman

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    "Buddhism for the real world"
    What did you love best about Why I Am a Buddhist?

    If you relate strongly to, or have an appreciation for Buddhism but are not ready to live like a monk then this could be the book for you. It helped me sort through the difference between the real teachings of the historical Buddha and the cultural baggage and new age nonsense that often gets lumped in and called Buddhism. The book is an entertaining and thought provoking read/listen with plenty of humorous anecdotes thrown in about the authors life, what led him to Buddhism and some of the ways it helps him navigate his own busy life.


    What other book might you compare Why I Am a Buddhist to and why?

    Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 10-16-12
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 10-16-12 Member Since 2005

    Ben ji

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    "Superb presentation of Buddhism in a modern world"

    This book is exceptionally well written. The author takes a vast and complex subject and presents it in a way that is both fun and interesting. The author tells his story and gives his insights with humor and charm, always taking great care not to be preachy or dogmatic. Although the narration was a bit breathless and some pronunciation suspect, the book is enjoyable to listen to and I found myself staying up on more than one occasion to listen to just one more chapter.

    Buddhism is presented as being eminently practical for our modern world. Perhaps unique among religions this is one which makes pretty good intellectual sense. Partly that is due to the skill of the author and the thoroughness with which he has mastered his topic.

    If I have a criticism it is that, in my opinion as a lifelong Hindu, he misinterprets, and misunderstands the nature of karma, the evolution of the soul and the importance of mystical experience. That may sound harsh, but it should be a positive reason to read this book. His eloquent arguments get you thinking and in the process you end up with greater clarity about how you feel.

    Absolutely one of the best books on Buddhism out there.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jace Kernville, CA, United States 07-08-13
    Jace Kernville, CA, United States 07-08-13
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    "The Logical Buddhist Wins Again"
    What did you love best about Why I Am a Buddhist?

    I found Why I Am a Buddhist to be a nice romp in the intellectual hay. As a comedic writer, I have long been looking for something to fill my spiritual hole (that may not be the scientific term for it) and this book was a good start. Asma compiles the teachings of Buddhism and offers them up with a piping-hot slice of experience while keeping it down-to-earth enough for the average-joe, like me, to understand. I enjoyed each facet of the different lessons and teachings as well as the insight given to off-shoots of Buddhism such as Zen Buddhism.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    There is no ending, only new beginnings...okay, that's just not fair to you.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I really enjoyed the section about children and raising a family while remaining a practicing Buddhist. As the aspiring family man myself, I couldn't get enough of keeping the teachings true to your heart while still coming off as a sane parent.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Don't be a butt-hole and enjoy life!


    Any additional comments?

    Not only was I engaged and inspired by this book/reading, my girlfriend who accompanied me on a few road trips was enjoying the noggin expanding information presented. If you can keep my old lady in check with some good, old-fashioned knowledge; I submit. That's no easy feat but what great conversations it led to. Absolutely wonderful.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Ocean Springs, MS, United States 12-09-12
    Doug Ocean Springs, MS, United States 12-09-12
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    "Good Commentary on Modern Western Buddhism"
    What did you love best about Why I Am a Buddhist?

    As a parent, I liked how he related stories of dealing with his young son while still trying to practice Buddhist concepts. The book is not a focus on parenting, though.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I enjoyed the narration and it was a good performance. I laughed a lot.


    Any additional comments?

    Not a deal-breaker, but the editor of the audio apparently stopped doing his job in the last 10 minutes or so. You can hear Tom Pile re-read a few sentences when he didn't seem happy with the first version. It was actually kind of funny.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy Canada 08-27-12
    Tracy Canada 08-27-12 Member Since 2010

    A long time reader and listener - I just can't get enough of Audible! (Especially mysteries and Buddhist texts and history and ...etc!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Kind of Zen"
    Any additional comments?

    I just found this book to be well organized, and even fun to listen to. The narrator did a great job, has a clear, steady voice and knew when to inject humor into his voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    money for books pizza 08-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Wasn't what I expected"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you are looking for a book on Buddhist fundamentals in comparison with mainstream religion, this is not the book for you. Someone who enjoys references to Jack Kerouac and personal anecdotes might enjoy this.


    What could Stephen T. Asma have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The book simply did not gel with me. It sounded too much like a book written by the typical spoiled 60's kid that decided to challenge his parent's mainstream lifestyle with something "Eastern." There were, however, some good points with regard to science and art and the impact of Buddhism in these areas.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Tom Pile?

    James Earl Jones perhaps...No seriously, someone who didn't sound like they were from Brooklyn


    What character would you cut from Why I Am a Buddhist?

    Jack Kerouac


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    La4355 02-13-13
    La4355 02-13-13 Member Since 2012

    Mostly into natural stuff (homeopathic and yoga).

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    "Different from what most people think..and better"
    If you could sum up Why I Am a Buddhist in three words, what would they be?

    honest, inviting, interesting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No characters...just plain simple explanations of how and why to believe in Buddhism without all the crap.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved this book. I'm sure I'll be reading it again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caralyn Caldwell. NJ 12-21-12
    Caralyn Caldwell. NJ 12-21-12 Member Since 2001

    Caralyn S

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    "I wanted to love it..."

    While the aurthor is an excellent writer, I felt he went "off topic" too often, for me anyway. I bought this book because I wanted to know how Buddhism fit into his life and why, not how others have used it or changed it. I really got a lot out of this book, I just felt that I had to wade through too many areas I hadn't signed up for. I guess I just like to keep things as simple as possible.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia 12-01-12
    Julia 12-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting, but..."
    Would you listen to Why I Am a Buddhist again? Why?

    I would listen to it again if the narrator's voice could be reworked so that it was more audible. The content was interesting, but the narrator (or the production of the narration) was not good.


    If you’ve listened to books by Stephen T. Asma before, how does this one compare?

    This is my first book by S.T. Asma.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I am not sure if it was the narrator or the production that ruined the audio quality of this book. It was impossible to listen to in the car and more difficult than most books to listen to in headphones. I download with the high-quality option, but it did not help at all with this book. It is a huge problem with this recording.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    If the audio was better, I would have probably experienced a moving moment in the book, but, alas, it was not to be.


    Any additional comments?

    Why would anyone release a book with this poor of an audio production?

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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