Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom 1st (first) edition Text Only Hardcover – 2009
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Top customer reviews
This is one of very few books that captures the true non-theistic spirit that is at the heart of all the Buddha's teachings.
Buddha means 'Awakened'. Buddha was a mortal and NEVER encouraged worship of himself or any other mythical god. His approach to life and its ups and downs was entirely pragmatic - which means it is as relevant today as it ever was.
Unlike theistic religions where what the religion can't prove it expects you to simply 'believe' or 'have faith' in, Buddha actively discouraged blinkered belief and advocated exploration and discovery for yourself - through practice - which takes effort.
No pantheons of gods here - nothing you are expected to take 'in good faith' or simply 'believe in' - no letting you off the 'effort hook' either. Much to think about, ponder and implement in this book.
In my opinion this is one of the finest, most level-headed and accurate descriptions of what the Buddha taught I have ever read (and listened to because I also have the audio version which is also excellent).
Very, very highly recommended.
The summary of his work is as follows: The problem with humans is that we don't see who we truly are at the deepest level. We don't recognize the power of our enlightened nature. We trust the reality we see before our eyes and accept its validity until something comes along like an illness, accident, or disappointment, disillusion and frustration. Then we start questioning our beliefs and start searching for a more meaningful and lasting truth. On this road, what we free ourselves from is illusion, and what frees us from illusion is the discovery of truth. To make that discovery, we need to enlist the powerful intelligence of our own awake-mind and turn it toward our goal of exposing, opposing and overcoming deception. That needs to be the essence of life, and the mission of this book is to gain wisdom and knowledge to free ourselves from these illusions which masquerade as reality in our cultural and religious institutions.
First we must start looking at the dramas in our life, not with our ordinary eyes, but with the eyes of dharma. The drama of illusion which appears like truth and dharma is truth itself, the absolute reality. Our personal dra¬mas may begin with the "facts" about who we are and what we are doing, and then fueled by our emotions and concepts, which quickly evolves into pure imagination and become as difficult to decipher as the storylines of our dreams. Then our sense of reality becomes further and further removed from basic reality itself. We lose track of who we really are. We have no means of telling fact from fiction or developing the self¬-knowledge or wisdom that can free us from our illusions. The author suggests that it may take a long time to see the differences between drama and dharma in one's own life, because the drama of life wove together with the dharma of life. But this is achieved through meditation and wisdom. This search is what this book is all about.
We all want to find some meaningful truth about who we are, and we find it when we're guided by our own wisdom-our own "rebel Buddha" within. With meditational practice, we can sharpen our eyes and ears of wisdom, so that we recognize the truth when we see it or hear it. But this kind of looking and listening is an art we must learn. So often, when we think we're being open and receptive, but our mind is full of conclusions, judgments, or our own version of facts. We are more intent on getting an approval for what we think than learning something new. But when we're genu¬inely open-minded, what happens? There's a sense of space and invita¬tion, a sense of inquisitiveness and of real connection with something beyond our usual selves. In that situation, we can hear whatever truth is speaking to us in the moment, whether the source is another person, a book, or our perceptions of the world itself. It's like listening to music. When you're totally into it, your mind goes to a different level. You're listening without judgment or intellectual interpretation because you're listening from the heart. That's how you need to listen when you want to hear the truth. When you can feel the truth on that level, then you discover reality in its naked form, beyond culture, language, time, or location. That is the truth discovered by Siddhartha when he became the Buddha, or "Awakened One." Awakening to who we really are beyond our personal dramas and shifting cultural identities is a process of transforming illu¬sion back into its basic state of reality. That transformation is the revolu¬tion of mind we are here to explore.
In this book the author presents a culturally stripped-down vision of the Buddhist spiritual journey, the true wisdom, the knowledge that brings freedom and not bondage. The reader has to prime him or herself to connect with these ancient teachings on wisdom with contemporary sensibilities. On the spiritual path, this rebel is the voice of your own awakened mind. "Rebel Buddha" is the renegade that gets you to switch your allegiance from sleep to the awakened state. This means you have the power to wake up your dreaming self, the imposter that is pretending to be the real you. You have the means to break loose from whatever binds you to suffering and locks you in confusion. You are the champion of your own freedom, just like Siddhartha who unlocked the secrets of the inner world of mind.
The title of the book is misleading (even though the author explains why he uses this term), and the front page design of Buddha's picture composed of many commercial logos and brands is also inappropriate.
1. Mind Beyond Death
2. Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen
Buddhism relies on reason and analysis, contemplation and meditation to transform knowledge into something that surpasses understanding. From a Buddhist point of view there is no supernatural entity outside of our own mind. Every human has the capacity to achieve realization. There is no savior and no one to be saved. The journey we take is to fully realize the true nature of mind. We need to find our own way, because there is no "one-size-fits-all" spiritual path. He asks, "How well do we know our own mind?" For most of us it's not an intimate friendship. We haven't spent much time together. We don't know its full story. Our mind is too fast and too busy to notice our perceptions. We go quickly from perception to concept to emotion and value judgments. Concepts become so solidified they grow impervious to doubt and questioning.
When the external world is reduced to a conceptual world we lose a wholesome part of being - the beauty in the world: forests, flowers and birds.
The minute the mind mind sees space instead of a prison the trapped self is free. Once we wake up enough to see through our confusion, we see that even our problematic thoughts and emotions are, at heart, part of pure awareness. Seeing this brings a sense of relaxation, joy and humor. We think our life depends on the thought of "I" but actually, our freedom depends on letting it go. The mind that knows - our wakeful awareness - is formless. The state of being free is transformative. It creates a trail that others may follow, whether it's social, political or spiritual.
Our purpose is to discover who we truly are and connect with our own wisdom.
The practice of mindfulness helps us be present and conscious. Mindfulness is bringing ourselves fully in the present moment and continuing to bring back our awareness if we drift away. The mind is like a house and our mindfulness is like a tenant in the house. No one can get in unless we let them.
Dzogchen Ponlop says not to take on the identity of the guest. "Who will we ask to leave?"
The three trainings: discipline, meditation and higher knowledge transform the mind.
Whatever we've deposited in the bank account of our mind over the course of a lifetime draws interest. Are we holding a portfolio of anger or jealousy or is it diversified and mixed with empathy and love? It helps to check our minds and look at our motivations in every situation.
Once we join practice with day-to-day life, every corner of our world offers a way to explore wakefulness.
Self-clinging is an addiction that we're often powerless to stop on our own, regardless of the suffering it brings. Just as we seek support for recovery from substance abuse or dependency from a group like A.A. we can seek support for recovery from a teacher and the teachings of the Buddha. What we surrender to our higher power is the awakened mind which is intrinsically healthy and compassionate. The more vivid the emotions the greater the opportunity for wakefulness. There is a Buddhist saying, "However strong the emotions are, to the degree the fire of wisdom will blaze."
Dzogchen Ponlop is a fresh, contemporary voice. He focuses more on the internal experience of the Buddhist spiritual journey than the philosophic underpinnings.
He says we are born free and have a rebellious streak. If it's nurtured and guided with wisdom and compassion it can be a positive, freeing force. If it manifests neurotically, full of resentment, anger and self-interest it becomes destructive and harmful to ourselves and others. The true nature of the mind is enlightened wisdom and compassion and is always brilliantly awake and aware.
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