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Buddha for Blokes
on 4 February 2015
I came across a link to Andy Shaw's work in one of those personal development newsletters you get without ever quite remembering signing up for them. For some reason I followed the link, and I'm glad I did, to the point of eventually buying this book.
What you get out of it depends to a large degree on what you already know and what you have read. If you are familiar with the ideas of Buddhism, or with the more secular Mindfulness movement, then not a lot of it will be actually new. On the other hand, it's all expressed in a very blunt, no-nonsense style with some simple exercises and procedures which do, in fact, work very well. There's no pretense of intellectual or spiritual depth, and, if that bloke Buddha and that other bloke Aristotle get a fair number of mentions, then it's likely because of the quotations from them he's found on the Internet. And yet, it is obviously a book based on lived experience and working it out for yourself, and his basic observation (that the millions of self-help books sold, often with great ideas, haven't done most people any good) is hard to argue with. The idea of "debugging" your mind by shutting up the chatter of the Ego is found in many traditions, but the link with the creation of reality, and the desired life, is well argued and convincing.
The book's virtues are also its weaknesses. It's a self-published book, and it acts as a kind of object lesson in why authors need editors (and I say that as an author). It's too long and diffuse, repetitive beyond the point of usefulness, and also self-indulgent in its celebration of the author's own success and personal happiness. An editor would have taken 50 pages out and made a better book. It's also awkwardly written in places, and has errors of grammar and even spelling, and factual errors which should have been corrected. . Likewise, the tone sometimes resembles that interesting but rather insensitive bloke down the pub who won't let you get away until he's told you about his latest brilliant idea.
In the end, though, the content is worthwhile, and you are prepared to forgive the author a certain amount. if you haven't met these ideas before you will probably be overwhelmed. If you have, it's a handy and easily-assimilated guide to a lot of useful techniques.