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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes and no, 30 May 2014
This review is from: Alone with Others (Grove Press Eastern Philosophy and Literature) (Paperback)
This fascinating short book maps out using tools from philosophy and theology the shape of Buddhism as Stephen Batchelor experiences and understands it. I bought it years ago and found the frequent reference to things being 'ontological' and quotes from Heidegger off putting - as well you might too. A decade later and with a little understanding of Buddhism and an M.A. under my belt I've just devoured it in a couple of sittings. At points he quite magnificently manages to suggest non-conceptual truth through concepts!

That said you need a little background in either Buddhism or Philosopy/Theology to get the most out of the book (or make frequent use of a dictionary or the books useful short glossary). This limits the appreciative audience for this brave and interesting book. While at the moment I disagree with some of it's key assertions it has some fantastic insights and wisdom in it. His description of what 'Taking Refuge' might mean I found full of meaning.

What's missing for me is compassion. In chapter 2 Batchelor's Buddha 'implicitly understood' that compassion was a 'means of progress to the ultimate goal'. However it didn't seem to be 'implicit' though the rest of the chapters. 'Alone with Others' is a perfect title for his thesis but it is one that could justify an detachment from other people. The main feature of the Mahayana (Buddhism practiced in Central Asia)in this book's discussion is it's 'cosmic' scope whereas others might say it is it's emphasis on compassion.

Like many Westerners writing on Buddhism (see The Alchemical Buddha: Introducing the Psychology of Buddhist Tantra Batchelor weaves the Buddha into a pre-existing Western thought system. This has both advantages and dis-advantages and to some degree is inescapable. Seeing as for 1000's of years Buddhist cultures have had their own understanding of what we label 'psychology', 'theology' and 'philosophy' interpreting Buddhism is a truly audacious task. The risk of 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' is high. I leave more enlightened readers to ascertain how unscathed Batchelor's baby is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 July 2014
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squidboot (outer hebrides) - See all my reviews
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alone with others, 8 Jan 2011
By 
R Corlett (Winchester, Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alone with Others (Grove Press Eastern Philosophy and Literature) (Paperback)
As always when I read Stephen's work I feel connected to someone who sees the world how I do. Clearly expressed views, simple to understand and completely rational without loosing spirituality.
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Alone with Others (Grove Press Eastern Philosophy and Literature)
Alone with Others (Grove Press Eastern Philosophy and Literature) by Stephen Batchelor (Paperback - 8 Feb 1994)
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