Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
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Those with an interest in Buddhism will welcome this new book by Stephen Batchelor, former monk and author of Alone With Others and The Awakening of the West. But those who are just discovering this increasingly popular practice will have much to gain as well-for Buddhism Without Beliefs serves as a solid, straightforward introduction that demystifies Buddhism and explains simply and plainly how its practice can enrich our lives. Avoiding jargon and theory, Batchelor concentrates on the concrete, making Buddhism accessible and compelling and showing how anyone can embark on this path-regardless of their religious background.
actual death of others. The death of someone upsets the illusion of permanence we tacitly seek to sustain. Yet we are skilled in disguising such reactions with expressions and conventions that contain death within a manageable social frame. T o meditate on the certainty of death and the uncertainty of its time helps transform the experience of another's death from an awkward discomfiture into an awesome and tragic conclusion to the transience that lies at the heart of all life. .Over time such
a single organism: reaching out to someone in y STEPHEN BATCHELOR pain is as natural and unself-conscious as my hand's reaching out to my injured knee. While in the grip of self-centeredness, compassion remains restricted to those we feel to be on our side. The strength of this hold cannot be underestimated. It is like a spasm that seizes body, emotions, and soul Yet so familiar is it that we either fail to notice it or regard it as "normal." When its grasp is loosened through the look in an
craving and anguish is converging with the autonomous individual's freedom to realize his or her capacity for personal and social fulfillment. In today's liberal democracies we are brought up to realize our potential as autonomous individuals. It is hard to envisage a timfe when so many people have enjoyed comparable freedoms. Yet the very exercise of these freedoms in the service of greed, aggression, and fear has led to breakdown of community, destruction of the environment, wasteful
(one thinks of iconoclastic Indian tantric sages, early Zen masters in China, eccentric yogins of Tibet, forest monks of Burma and Thailand). But in traditional Asian societies this never lasted long. The power of organized religion to provide sovereign states with a bulwark of moral legitimacy while simultaneously assuaging the desperate piety of the disempowered swiftly reasserted itself—-usually by subsuming the rebellious ideas into the canons of a revised orthodoxy. . Consequently, as the