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on 11 December 2014
I started Buddhism years ago, I just never knew I was doing it. I see the teachings
as a map for my life while I'm here. It's just not so easy to remember this way of life all the time.
The book helps!
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on 25 May 2017
Interesting book, worth a read. As an Atheist I struggled with the insistence that Agnosticism was a prerequisite to engage with Buddhism as presented by the author - "Without Beliefs" doesn't seem to mean, as I had anticipated, that you don't have to subscribe to the more metaphysical claims attached to Buddhism (karma, reincarnation, etc.) it means eschewing any sort of "religious" beliefs, including, in this religious sense, concrete non-belief (atheism).
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on 24 April 2017
Interesting
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on 29 April 2017
Interesting
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on 24 February 2007
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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on 28 February 2005
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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on 5 February 2010
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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on 27 November 2010
This author has been a revelation to me. This book bridges the gap between western and western thought. It is written in succinct prose and is easily understandable to the lay person. There is nothing nihilistic or depressing about the arguments. You are not persuaded into a materialistic view of the world, although the author is not a believer in God in the accepted sense. You begin to grasp the extraordinariness of existence without going all airy fairy on it. However, I can also see that to reap the benefit of these understandings would require a lot of hard work on the part of the seeker. You've got to know yourself very deeply, and this won't happen without loads of self-discipline in meditation and such-like.
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on 24 August 2000
A lot of books about Buddhism are like all kinds of books, in that they somehow suggest 'it' (whatever it is) will help you if you believe in it enough. If we can do that, then we'll be happy, even if, deep inside, we don't.
I liked this book because it doesn't try and give a blue print of life, the universe or anything.
In a more academic and cerebral way than Thich Nhat Hahn, it reminded me that the world is big. It encourages readers to be honest about their actual felt experience. By doing this, by not bending our experience to fit in with any 'enlightened framework' (even buddhism), it reminded me that it is a lonely but open path, that only each one of us is in a position to 'make sense of', experience, our own experience. It is here Stephen Batchelor implies, in the honesty of these shifting sands, that life is full of surprises.
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on 13 November 2006
This is an excellent book and introduction to Buddha, his teachings and dharma practise. It neatly prompts the reader to refocus attention on what is truly important - doing and finding what works for you, rather than a blind belief, and dogma.

Having read much on Buddhism, I have a feeling that this book will always stay towards the top of my pile!
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