adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $11.19

Buy for $11.19

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

When world renowned Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor turned 60, he took a sabbatical from his teaching and turned his attention to solitude, a practice integral to the meditative traditions he has long studied and taught. He aimed to venture more deeply into solitude, discovering its full extent and depth. 

This beautiful literary collage documents his multifaceted explorations. Spending time in remote places, appreciating and making art, practicing meditation and participating in retreats, drinking peyote and ayahuasca, and training himself to keep an open, questioning mind have all contributed to Batchelor's ability to be simultaneously alone and at ease. Mixed in with his personal narrative are inspiring stories from solitude's devoted practitioners, from the Buddha to Montaigne, and from Vermeer to Agnes Martin.

In a hyperconnected world that is at the same time plagued by social isolation, this book shows how to enjoy the inescapable solitude that is at the heart of human life.

©2020 Stephen Batchelor (P)2020 Yale Press Audio

What listeners say about The Art of Solitude

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    63
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    58
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Great idea, mediocre execution.

"Solitude is a fluid concept, ranging from the depths of loneliness to the saint's mystic rapture."
- Stephen Batchelor, The Art of Solitude

An interesting exploration of solitude. Lots of potential, but I'm not sure Batchelor's experiment (the collaged structure) worked well, so minus one star. Also, a large chunk of this small book is imported directly from Montaigne, so I'm not sure how much of this is more than an extended greatest hits collected by Batchelor on the topic of solitude. Integrated into his sections on Montaigne, Vermeer, and the Buddha, Batchelor inserts his experiences with solitude, peyote, Ayahuasca, and other hallucinogenics. Those sections seem to capture my entire experience with the book: a bit of insight, accompanied by sweats, nausea, and the need for ginger candy to get the bad taste out of my mouth. OK. Maybe it isn't that bad. It just wasn't that great either.

Reading this makes the experience seem entirely too negative. I wasn't unhappy to re-read a lot of Montaigne. The guy is my JAM. Also, the chapters on Vermeer were pretty damn good too.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Multiple Perspectives on Solitude

Stephen Batchelor has written yet another inspiring and instantly controversial book -- so controversial that as soon as the book was published the Zen teacher Brad Warner condemned it without reading it.

The book is an investigation of solitude from many perspectives. The controversial perspectives in the book involve the author's participation in traditional Native American shamanic ceremonies involving peyote and ayahuasca. Anyone with basic knowledge of Buddhism knows that there is a Buddhist precept against the use of intoxicants. Anyone who has actually gotten to know a bunch of Buddhist teachers knows that a lot of them drink and many of them tried psychedelics in their youth. Also, anyone with basic knowledge of Buddhism knows that the Buddha tried a wide variety of spiritual techniques available to him, including ascetic practices that nearly starved him to death. Had the Buddha had access to Native American spiritual practices, wouldn't one expect that he might have tried them?

These controversial aspects of the book will stimulate debate for a long time. Batchelor does a fine job in his book at deftly poking at this Buddhist dogma and gently pointing to some of the hypocrisy associated with it.

While the controversial parts will likely be the most talked about, for me the best part of the book was its exploration of Montaigne's approach to solitude and its resulting positive effect, as recorded by Montaigne in his "Essays." For those familiar with both Batchelor and Montaigne, they have a great deal in common, as both have long-standing commitments to religion and both had mid-life awakenings that caused them to become philosophical skeptics. Batchelor famously described this in "Buddhism Without Beliefs" and "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist." Similarly, Montaigne described his adoption of Pyrrhonian skepticism and how he applied it to his Catholicism in the most famous of all of his essays, "An Apology for Raymond Sebond."

Those who enjoyed Batchelor's prior explorations of "religious" skepticism will likely enjoy "The Art of Solitude." Yet, this is perhaps the least "Buddhist" of all of Batchelor's books. While solitude is heavily used in Buddhism, Buddhism has nothing close to a monopoly on it. This book goes far beyond Buddhism in its exploration of solitude.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book.

Different from Stephen's prior books. I enjoyed it very much. I enjoy Stephen's point of view, and absolutely share the interest in solitude.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

90% cool

could have done without the "eating the psychedelics" stuff.

don't get me wrong,"I went to college", but it could have been excluded losing nothing probably.

note about app, I didn't like how couldn't reread, etc... was first time I used the app

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

thoughtful and enlightening

The introduction made this book sound like a random pastiche, but in fact it is the deft idiosyncratic yet relatable —almost playful—exploration of solitude and its many forms and practitioners Read calmly and clearly by the author.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for A. L. Root
  • A. L. Root
  • 11-27-20

Too self-indulgent!

The world is on fire - literally in Australia, the Amazon, California Indonesia, etc., but Stephen Batchelor see fit to reward himself at 60 with jet-setting round the world (increasing climate change) to consume various hallucingenic drugs and to celebrate and recount his memories of his life as a Buddhist teacher. The Buddha spent his life helping people, as did Christ, and other notable religious leaders. This book is self-indulgence, drug-induced navel-gazing with friends: no good spiritual example here!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lee
  • Lee
  • 10-22-20

Eye-opening

I simply wanted to 'thank' Stephen for providing this wonderful journey through solitude, though there's a 12 word minimum requirement...

Stephen, thank you.