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Publisher's Summary

So you think you're a Buddhist? Think again. Tibetan Buddhist master Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, one of the most creative and innovative lamas teaching today, throws down the gauntlet to the Buddhist world, challenging common misconceptions, stereotypes, and fantasies. With wit and irony, Khysentse urges listeners to move beyond the superficial trappings of Buddhism - beyond the romance with beads, incense, or exotic robes - straight to the heart of what the Buddha taught.

©2007 Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Buddhism with a bite.

If you could sum up What Makes You Not a Buddhist in three words, what would they be?

Edgy. Unflinching. Clear. The premise of the book seems to be that being nice and smiley and a vegetarian, peaceful, passive and serene is not what makes someone a Buddhist. And he is going to prove it. He does not pull punches as he points out the hypocrisies of modern life. And he provides a very straightforward explanation for how Buddhisms view reality and our place in it - which is what makes one a Buddhist based on four concepts known as the Four Seals. They might be simple - but these are challenging concepts, and ones that students of Buddhism contemplate for their lifetimes, so this book is just an introduction. The writing is laced with a glint-in-the-eye, wry, and sometimes edgy sense of humor that is wonderful. All in all the narration is solid, but, unfortunately the narration does not convey the intended sense of humor at times, and at other times makes the author's emperor-has-new-clothes observations of our world seem to have to much of a bite, leaving them sound a bit like angry rants on a few occaisions.

What did you like best about this story?

With Buddhism and aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness becoming an ever growing part of pop culture, Dzongsar Khyentse does a wonderful job of distilling what is actually Buddhism.

What three words best describe Tom Pile’s voice?

Clear, professional, edgy

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It's better to contemplate a chapter at a time.

Any additional comments?

One of the things that makes Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche such a great writer and teacher is one of the reasons why Tom Pile's narration doesn't quite work for me. Khyentse's words are oftentimes full of a sharp uncompromising bite, but there is very often a sense of humor there as well. When you hear him speak, you get the humor. Unfortunately the narration was unable to express that subtlety. When the author does cast an unflinching eye on things, not holding his punches, he is doing so without any anger or judgement - simply stating the facts as things we oftentimes would like to bury under the rug or cast a blind eye to. In these cases, again I'm afraid the narration colors the words with a little too much edge and starts to make the author sound like he's on an angry rant in cases where he's actually pointing things out rather impartially. Mr. Pile is an excellent reader and narrator, so it is not a criticism of his talent, rather his approach to the material, something in which the producers could have steered him differently.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Prickly rather than gentle

What made the experience of listening to What Makes You Not a Buddhist the most enjoyable?

I liked the dogged take of the author as he castigated a lot of our admittedly decadent culture. It's a bracing if a bit tiresome antidote to the usual Buddhist-lite fare Westerners often prefer. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse also made the films The Cup and Travellers and Magicians under his birth name of Khytense Norbu, as a relevant aside, so he knows how to address a wider audience than most Tibetan-trained dharma teachers.

What other book might you compare What Makes You Not a Buddhist to and why?

The two books "Magic of Awareness" and "No Self, No Problem" by another Tibetan now teaching in the West, Anam Thubten, are gentler in tone but sometimes as insistent on the need to break free of Buddhist conventions. He discusses the traditions but does not stick so much to their conventional titles, much as Khytense does here, to broaden accessibility. (These are also on Audible as well as Amazon US and I reviewed them recently, too.)

What does Tom Pile bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A curious insistence on a rough-hewn, no-nonsense approach. Rather indignant or cranky. It fits the author, but it's far from the calm tones one associates with a Buddhist teacher. I like the lack of stereotype, but it may jar or annoy some readers who favor gentle platitudes.

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

No, but the references to Eminem, Bush jr, and Paris Hilton from a decade ago already feel dated. Similar to the Jesus Freaks books in the early '70s, this may feel more a relic of its time than intended, as the author tries to link his material to then-current culture and trends.

Any additional comments?

It's recommended for those with a prior grounding in dharma and practice. Not to sound snobbish, but like Thubten's books, these seem addressed at those already in the know. This focuses, as an example, not on the 4 Noble Truths but on the four seals, so it's not for beginners who may need rather a primer on the terms, concepts, and practices in dharma.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Think buddhism is all peace & happiness?

Think again! A 'cutting' primer on what qualifies a serious practicioner, regardless of lineage, as truly being buddhist.
A gem for these times of over information & misinformation.. if you have been confused and truly are interested in this path, please explore this audiobook! 🙏

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent book. Ok narration

This is just a comment on the narration. I appreciated his dynamic way of speaking, but his breathy quality of voice made it a bit harder to understand than other books while commuting and listening on headphones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • k
  • 10-15-17

Condescending and unkind tone

Awful. If you are considering learning about the Buddha's teachings, please do not start with this book. Unless you happen to be a Kardashian-worshipping, Gucci handbag-loving empty-headed simpleton, this book is not for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Greatest modern book on Buddhism.

Lucid and razor sharp explanation of the Four Truths: the foundation of Buddhism. Doesn't include practices, but there are contemplative instructions. Listen for yourself. excellent narration. Amazing

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Narration!

The best reader I've had on audible yet.
Fascinating topics and stories.
Includes many philosophical ideas.
A must read/listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Solid and Clear Introduction to Buddhism

I chose this book in hopes of learning more about Buddhism. Very clear, very concise. Update on 4/23/15: so insightful, I decided to read it a second time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

This book is one part exposition (of the four seals), one part sophistry, and two parts scolding. It would have been better to simply explain the seals and their implications for understanding reality and for engaging that reality in our own lives. But no, we are continually expected to share the author’s distain for things like face creams. Although he asserts that Buddhists do not proselytize, this volume seems dedicated to showing us the error of our ways. It would have been better to explain Buddhism.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Best book on Buddhism I’ve read

Really eye opening and worthwhile to gain a better understanding of Buddhism. Unlike like any other Buddhism or Spiritual book I’ve listened to or read.

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  • Marcos
  • 05-20-15

Elixir of truth

The essential buddhist introductory book in my opinion. Rinpoche words is like a razor, cutting trough all misconceptions.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-03-16

Wow, it's like having a psychopath whispering in your ear.

I got this because there's supposed to be wit in here somewhere. However, the narrator sounds angry all the time, and he talks in a loud whisper. So, all the jokes actually sound like threats, and most of the book seems to be an insult.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-17

Amazing - mind-expanding

Every Buddhist should read or hear this gem from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Goes straight to the essence

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Nanra
  • 05-08-16

Scoop - The Truth about Buddhism

Sharp and incisive dissection of the reality of Buddihism in the modern world. What it is, and importantly, what it isn't. The clarity is astounding, and is put forward with such simplicity - no words are wasted.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • 10-25-15

Good Stuff

Probably the best introduction to buddhism i've came across so far. An informative source and entertaining listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Davie
  • 01-05-17

This was a really good book!

Loved it. LOVED IT. Not only was it very informative, but it was also entertaining. A must buy!

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  • C. Davison
  • 12-28-15

Fascinating .

This book offered the answers to many of the questions I sought about Buddhism , it was interesting from beginning to end .

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  • Nomad
  • 03-17-17

Extremely dissapointing

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

There are lots of 5 star reviews so people actually liked the book but I'm definitely not one of them.

What could Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

If the author stopped being so critical and harsh of everything and everyone which in itself is not what Buddhism is about!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Nothing. I had to stop after about an hour and planning on returning it as I refuse to let it to ruin my beliefs. I tried to persevere and finish the book but it just made me angry and constant criticisms of people, cultures and everything else in between (even facial creams, toasters, dishwashers, cars, plastic bags etc!) sounded like a rant, rather than an educational, enriching audiobook.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Foxfire
  • 03-25-16

Understanding Buddhism for everyone

I have read over twenty book about Buddhism and its practices by the most venerable of authors, but this book is outstanding.

For the beginner it is easy to understand what is Buddhism, but what it means to or rather what it does not mean. It explains the for noble truths with an ease that can put you on your way towards the so called 21 steps to eliminate the ignorance from our minds.

Enjoy freeing your mind from the shackles of ignorance

0 of 1 people found this review helpful