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Publisher's Summary

Before it was a religion, a culture, or even a system of meditation, what was Buddhism? On Buddhism Without Beliefs, celebrated teacher, translator, and former Buddhist monk Stephen Batchelor takes us back to the first years after the Buddha's awakening to reveal the root insights of Buddhism hidden beneath centuries of history and interpretation.

In eight compelling sessions of self-inquiry - including many fascinating exercises and practices - we learn how to awaken and refine our senses, introduce the essential spirit of curiosity into the practice of awareness, and comprehend with both our hearts and our minds the Buddha's astonishing (and often misunderstood) revelations on emptiness, compassion, and the self. Before he died, the Buddha did not appoint a successor. He simply remarked that each of us must be responsible for our own freedom.

Buddhism without Beliefs is an invitation to hear what the Buddha taught - and to trust yourself on your own path to liberation.

©1997 Stephen Batchelor (P)2013 Sounds True

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Bianca
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • 04-21-14

Wonderful!

Any additional comments?

I am not a buddhist, even though I'm interested in buddhist "themes": impermanence, emptiness, mindfulness, loving kindness, death and dying, etc. I've read a number of authors of many different traditions (Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, etc.), and Stephen Batchelor was the only one I felt wasn't speaking in riddles or trying to convey a sense of mystery that I never felt was necessary. And here I don't mean, for instance, Zen koans or Zen stories - I mean the convoluted and pasteurized speech of some Western buddhist teachers.
As an atheist, this is as close as I'll ever get to a real experience of spirituality. Wonderful book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Kimberly
  • YUMA, AZ, United States
  • 04-16-13

What you wondered about but were afraid to ask ...

Stephen Batchelors guide is truly educational. I found his breakdown of Buddhism to be so simple and inspiring. I was concerned that Buddhism would be a complicated thing to understand. Immediately my mind was put to rest as Stephen speaks with authority and expertise. Buddhism as a belief system (it is not a religion for those who may not know) is all that I hoped it would be. I've listened through twice and plan on sharing it with other interested parties. So if you too may be wondering what this thing called Buddhism is all about but are afraid it's too complex, I highly recommend Buddhism Without Beliefs.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Gets to the heart of why Buddhist teaching matter

Cuts through it all and helps reader make sense of teachings and practice just about better than anything I have read so far.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Mostly about Meditation

When I think of Buddhism without beliefs, I think of Buddhism without literalism. I still expect to hear an elaboration upon the eight fold path, buddhist myths, metaphysics, ethics, and so on in addition to meditation. Since the book was mostly about meditation and the self I gave it four stars - four stars due to the missing content - but no less than four stars because Stephen is very informative no matter what aspects of Buddhism he speaks upon. I’m not sorry I read the book although I was a little disappointed that the topics I looked forward to were not there.

P.S. I sincerely hope that western Buddhism does not simply become meditation. There are many socio-political ideas in Buddhism, amongst other functions of religion - the sacred, ritual, morality, tradition, etc - wouldn’t it be just like us Westerners to strip out any commitment to change and extract whatever we can devour for the self alone? Ha!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Bedtime for Bonzes

Calm and thoughtful discussion of what Buddhist practices can do in our lives. well suited to listening in bed. This is a westernized. Buddhism stripped of reincarnation, karma, or literal celestial or infernal beings. Would appeal to secular or atheist readers, though I as a Christian found it delightful. I will listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Talks, not the book.

This is a series of talks with partially overlapping content as the audio/book of the same title. But it was enough different and indeed more provocative that I was glad I had bought both (probably by mistake).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disingenuous.

I expected this would be the text of the book, presented in audio. This is something else. Not happy about the bait-and-switch. I'm sure the material is terrific, it's just not what was promoted, and not what I was looking for.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well done!!

I have numerous of buddies teaching audio books and this one is one of the best and Stephen Batchelor's voice is very pleasant/easy listen to. It's also as a wonderful gift to families and friends too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a good place to start in this genre

Any additional comments?

I feel the author did a good job touching on a lot of core pieces of the Buddhist philosophy, evolution and modern day application.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great introduction to usually unapproachable subje

Would you consider the audio edition of Buddhism Without Beliefs to be better than the print version?

I haven't directly experienced the print version, but I found that it was much easier to digest on my bus rides home or while walking my dog.

What did you like best about this story?

Along with explaining esoteric concepts well, the author also gave some actionable advice on how to meditate or think about buddhism

What about Stephen Batchelor’s performance did you like?

His voice is very soothing and pleasant to listen to.

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

His chapter on the concept of questioning was fascinating and really drew me in. I re-listened to that several times because it was so fascinating

Any additional comments?

Great listen. It made me want to consider exploring Buddhism in more depth

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  • Mr M F C Rose
  • 07-02-15

Listen without prejudice

Although rooted in a tradition, a large Tibetan organisation, this is music for my heart. I feel deeply Batchelor's frustration at modern attempts to integrate Buddhist thought into the Western umvelt.

William Gibson once remarked that "the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed" - this is how I feel about modern dharma, some people (Ken Wilber et al) are shaping forward looking, truly modern, post-metaphysical, non-religious (non-'Buddhist') dharma.

To many this is just too much. The baby boomers who have found solace in Eastern mysticism and religion have kept the baby but they are often very reluctant to admit that they are swimming in a large pool of unnecessary Buddhist bathwater too.

Bachelor strips it all back and his movement towards finding the essence of Early Buddhism, the universalism of impermanence, the truths of suffering and emptiness, that which continues to serve us today, is very welcome and, I believe, destined to emerge and shape dharma from here on out.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim A
  • 02-26-15

Confused this is different to the book

What did you like most about Buddhism Without Beliefs?

I am enjoying this and it is well presented by Stephen. It is an excellent proposition of Buddhist ideas without the religion that has overtaken much of modern Buddhism. However I also have the book and this seems to have little connection to that except for the ideas presented. As it has the same title I expected it to be an audio reading of the book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • kassy4
  • 02-11-15

Very clear and inspiring. Will listen again

I like that he breaks down some of the main Buddhist ideas in a modern way. He also has a soothing voice.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-25-17

Very insightful

A very insightful overview of the core Buddhist beliefs and principles presented in a format that is clear and easy to understand.

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  • MR DEH COLLIE
  • 04-09-17

A more intellectual view on Buddhism

Finally a book on Buddhism that has no airy fairy parts to it. With respect to those other books, they are useful and a lot of people prefer them, but I feel like they don't get some of the points across as well and can be quite repetitive.
At first I found the authors talking was annoying as he pauses quite often, making it hard for me to piece the sentences together. Eventually i got used to it. I found the first couple of chapters a bit unenlightening but they probably would be good for a complete beginner. But from chapter 3 onwards it gets very good, opening up all sorts of perspectives. I'm sure I will turn to this audiobook several times.
Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who had an interest in the concepts of Buddhism from a modern perspective. Don't expect a "how to" guide, it's more of a reflective book. Enjoy.

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  • Misha
  • 04-17-16

thank you!

A great listen. very thought provoking and easily relatable. Really enjoyed this take on Buddhism