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Buddhism Is Not What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs Hardcover – Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; 1 edition (Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060507233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060507237
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,041,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A clear and challenging showing of the fundamental truth of our lives. This is an exceptional book. Make good use of it (Charlotte Joko Beck, Author Of Everyday Zen )

Cuts to the heart of the matter ... a book that will reward multiple readings over time ... Hagen's writing flows in a tranquil way, like a spring trickling up effortlessly from the earth (Robert M Pirsig, Author Of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance ) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Steve Hagen is a Zen priest and long-time teacher of Buddhism. For fifteen years he studied with Zen Master Dainin Katagiri. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches at Dharma Field Meditation and Learning Center in St. Paul. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IF YOU VISIT a Buddhist temple in Japan, you'll likely encounter two gigantic, fierce, demonlike figures standing at either side of the entrance. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dont eat the sushi on 27 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
I came across this book by accident, looking at the American Amazon site. Quite a few of the reviews there said Steve Hagen repeated the same thing over and over again, one even said the whole book could have been condensed into just twenty pages. I would say this is missing the point. Anyone who practices some form of Buddhism finds after a while that it is often about re-visiting the same things over and over again always from slightly different perspectives (which our life offers us quite naturally)until we understand. Hagen does this wonderfully. I found the times he dipped into ideas from modern science very interesting. The fact is we really do need to 'wake up' and 'see' as he puts it, but until we have tasted this, it can be hard to understand that it is truly possible and quite different from what we expect. Buddhism is just as Steve puts it...not what you think. If you are at the beginning, this book gives an insight you can trust. If more experienced, it gives valuable incentive to keep up the practice.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By G. A. Heiss on 11 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Wisdom of InsecurityMy first foray into Zen for many years and I can't recommend this book enough. Steve Hagen makes a great deal of sense out of what can be a mystifying concept for a society founded on the idea of ego. Written with a real sense of 'commonsense' and a deep understanding of the subject but a renowned practitioner its very easy to grasp. I find Hagen and Alan Watts to be clear lights in a sometimes muddy landscape regarding Zen. I felt truly uplifted by reading this book and hungry for more experiences of 'now'.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Picken on 30 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I do not offer this review as some form of counter-argument against the other high rated reviews about this book, but only to compare it with Hagen's better work.
Whilst there are some good chapters in this book, I would say that it is a fairly softly delivered and fragmented piece of work. It has an important difference from the earlier best-seller, Buddhism Plain and Simple (BP&S): The latter is a structured presentation of the main teachings of the Buddha, and so one can expect to start at chapter one and read through in a progressive way. In "Buddhism Is Not What You Think" one finds what amounts to a series of short essays. In fact this is indicated in the copyright and publishing data at the beginning of the book, where one will see that the book is really a compilation of talks and articles delivered by the author at the Dharma Centre in the USA. It has been shuffled together in what the author no doubt thought was a themed way, but I don't think it quite works.
The advantage of the unstructured characteristic of the book is that one can pick it up and read at random, without missing out a vital earlier element of the Buddha's teaching. The disadvantage, for me, is that the author doesn't really engage with the reader for long enough, on any particular topic, to shift his/her consciousness into a radically different perspective. Even if one reads two or more chapters in one sitting it is no different, because the topics being addressed do not flow naturally into each other.
Overall I would recommend it - as a gentle read and prompt for reflection - but it all comes across as rather safe and uncontroversial; unlike BP&S which, with the exception of two chapters I found profound and mind-altering.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By myheart78 on 16 April 2013
Format: Paperback
I found it interesting but unnecessarily wordy, with the same point made over and over throughout the book. The author argues that being in the now is all there is and to 'awaken' or find 'enlightement' is in fact simply a matter of stripping away the mental constructs we have built in our minds and seeing what is really here, right now, in each moment. He states that there is no self or outside world, it is all fundamentally an illusion created by our minds. Dropping this illusion is therefore essential to release ourselves from suffering.

I agreed with and found many of his points relevant and easy to understand despite the rather waffly references to being in the moment. I did find myself disagreeing with some of the author' views, however. He argues that the Buddha did not teach reincarnation and that there is no consistent sense of self or in fact any self at all because we are all dying to each moment. Any belief in God, spirit, angels, karma, afterlife or anything else is simply a belief and therefore a construct of the mind. At this point the author and I parted polite company. Certainly his points carry a lot of weight and are useful in terms of understanding the limits of our thoughts and concepts, but to argue that there is no sense of self, that everything is a construct of the mind, bypasses what I have directly experienced where no mind or expectation was involved.

Even on a mundane, worldly level, I find it hard to reconcile a non-existent self with my psychological and personal knowledge of how the intelligence of the body and the subconscious mind can 'hold' onto memories, experiences and emotions until we are consciously capable of dealing with them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By exton on 21 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very helpful and informative, i found Steve Hagen's book to be clear and very encouraging, i would highly recommend it.
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