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Buddhism without Beliefs Paperback – 31 Dec 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Printing edition (31 Dec. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747537690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747537694
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 13.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,567,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
LET'S GO BACK to the beginning: to the awakening of Siddhartha Gautama, aka the Tathagata, Shakyamuni, the World Honored One-the Buddha himself. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
As a newcomer to the field I bought several introductions to Buddhism. This was the best for me, helping me to understand how the teachings can underpin the way we live our modern lives. The book takes an agnostic stance therefore preaches nothing, helping the reader to absorb the main tenets without demanding blind acceptance of ancient doctrines. It clearly separates belief (as required in religions and "isms") from action - which is helpful if you want something practical and logical. Though the book is quite short (127 pages) it's a very stimulating, if intense, read, and gave me lots of ideas about how becoming a Buddhist could affect my life. Go for it!
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110 of 112 people found the following review helpful By E. Taylor on 28 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is profound on so many levels that even an experienced and committed buddhist finds it challenging and thought-provoking. It is also an excellent beginners' book. What it does so uniquely well is separate buddhism from "religion" by showing that doubt is a necessary part of faith rather than a hindrance to it. It completely eschews jargon - which is a very effective technique - focussing instead on the human experience of life. Interestingly, this style is closer to the Lord Buddha's message because personal experience is so much more important than dogma. Like many great buddhist books, it is divided into small readable chunks, making it ideal for contemplation. It basically provokes us to ask many questions about life and see how we can integrate meditation and a gentle approach to others into it. The topics covered are typical buddhist ones - suffering, anxiety, aggression and so on. It also deeply personal - at times we feel the author letting us into his own mind.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gavin J. Carr on 5 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a well written and thought-provoking book which is tailored for the modern western reader.

The author, Stephen Batchelor, strips down the jargon, religious dogma and cultural debris which Buddhism has accumulated over the centuries and represents the core concepts in a `pure' and easy to understand form.

He points out that Buddhism's gradual transmission from India to China and Tibet, then onwards to Japan, has seen the dharma pick-up aspects of each country's culture and traditions. It could be argued that each step has diluted the original aim of awakening, transforming Buddhism from an agnostic movement promoting self-liberation to a religious movement that puts ritual before awakening.

With Buddhism now gaining a foothold in the West, Batchelor believes that we are in a position to create a true culture of awakening - one that takes the core teachings and practices and discards the aspects which are not relevant to practice. At the same time he takes a balanced view, admitting the difficulties of this process and the dangers of discarding something which is valuable, thereby making awakening harder for future generations. He proposes no answers, only raises more questions, which, in a book calling for agnostic Buddhism, is a very good thing.

In a way the author does not propose anything new. The stripping down of scripture and ritual, and the emphasis on direct practice, reminds one of early Ch'an and Zen Buddhism. However, it is, I believe, a valuable book as it can often be extremely difficult for Westerners to get through to the core of dharma practice. `Buddhism Without Beliefs' does a good job of it. Not quite the Buddhism in plain words which I think the world needs, but a very good start.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a good place to start if you're interested in Buddhism. Like the title suggests, it can be read by those with no prior knowledge of Buddhism and those who follow other faiths, but wish to learn more. Not only that, it provides a source of real wisdom for those who wish to lead a better life, but without saying they are Buddhist (or even any faith at all). Not the deepest book, but a perfect introduction for that reason.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful By David Rose on 21 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
Having read many books on buddhism and been suprised at how many of them have succeeded in making a religion out of it- this book is a revelation.
For me it expresses pure buddhist thinking-no ritual,no traditions, no religious ceremonies to make you less afraid of dying,no oracles to consult(as with Tibetan Buddhism),no having to "vow to save" others (as with Zen)just looking inward and trying to change your core-the hardest thing of all.
One critique is that it is "too simple". Yes,it is simple but the work that follows will be the hardest you've ever undertaken.
As Batchelor points out -Buddhism is something to do, not to believe in.It is, in my opinion, exactly how the original teacher would have wanted it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
There is something about this book that makes it stand out. Maybe it's the way the author seems to have such a unique insight into human nature, making you feel as if he was writing the book with just you in mind. Maybe it's his fluent and stylish way of writing. Or perhaps it's the way he manages to express his opinions with great clarity, yet remaining modest and respectful. Finally, perhaps, it's the subtle humour he puts into the lessons he wants to teach. Whatever it is, Stephen Batchelor has written a book worthy of representing non - religious Buddhism in the 21st century, and that's no small achievement.
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