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on 11 February 2016
interesting and useful read
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on 22 January 2018
I must for All modern. Buddhists.
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on 8 December 2014
This book is brilliant. After reading it, I wanted to read it immediately again.
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on 12 May 2013
An exciting and mind-expanding introduction to some challenging concepts. One to re-read (perhaps several times) and to try to put intopractice.
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on 23 March 2010
I think any book of this type needs to be read more than once, in order to gain a good idea of its true worth. I have read it three times. I found the first read difficult and absolutely hated the final section of the book, entitled "Fruition".
In my follow-up readings I found the meaning really came out rather well. I even revisited my views on "fruition" to some extent. So why the difficulty? Well the main problem is that the author has a rather long-winded style of writing. His sentences are quite lengthy and one often has to skip back to gain the meaning. The vocabularly is often "high-brow" and the whole pace of the text is slow; one sometimes feels bogged down in the heavy style. This is a pity,as the author is clearly well attuned to the immediacy of direct experience, as opposed to conceptual consciousness and illusion.
My main criticism is that, in the section "fruition", the author proposes the idea of a kind of secular community approach to learning and implementing Buddhism into one's life. He sets this out as a successful alternative to the institutionalized approach (e.g. state-controlled) or the organized religious approach, with all the usual temples, robes, icons and bells and whistles. I find this suggestion ironic, because I feel that the author is suggesting something similar, but just in a form that he would find more palatable. It would still be a select group seeking to expand itself, and I think it would ultimately fall prey to the same group problems that have overtaken the institutionalized or religious approaches. For me, enlightenment/awakening is a process that must arise within each person; yes others can help, but no one else can do this work for you. Gathering into a secular group is no answer.
Overall I would recommend the book, but I would strongly recommend that the reader previously obtains a copy of Steve Hagen's "Buddhism Plain And Simple" and reads that at least 3 times. it is much fresher and lighter in tone and has some real gems that shift the reader away from his/her illusions.
3 people found this helpful
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on 15 April 2002
Stephen Batchelor offers an incredibly beautifully written book which wonderfully distills the message of an agnostic buddhism. When so many books in this genre still attempt to dictate a message to their readers Batchelor offers ideas that affirm your own responsibility and self-determination. The only possible criticism of this book is that it is too gentle at times and does not emphasise enough the anxiety at the heart of the human condition that needs to be addressed if one is to live more meaningfully. Having much in common with existential philosophy, but transcending this in many ways, this is a book to read if you cherish your, and everyone's freedom.
22 people found this helpful
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on 28 February 2016
Stephen Bachelor writes very well and shows how Buddhism can be followed as a deeply ethical and spiritual path without the supernatural accretions that tend to attach themselves to great spiritual teachers. The same thing has happened, of course, in Christianity, yet one can follow a valid spiritual path by regarding Jesus of Nazareth as a great wisdom teacher without having to believe all the religious add-ons.
Therefore I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the path of secular Buddhism.
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on 20 June 2016
I enjoyed this book however the claim that it is "without jargon or obscure terminology" is slightly misleading as the complex level of language makes it possibly not suitable for everyone. I also found the print in the paperback edition very difficult to read. There is a distinct lack of contrast between print and paper, not helped by it also being a very small font. Never had this problem with any book previously (or maybe I'm just getting old!).
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on 20 September 2015
This book is a game changer!
Really brings home how even Buddhists still love their hierarchy.
As pointed out the Buddha didn’t have a monastery, he just sat under a tree and got it!
All the rest is ego dressed up as a religion.
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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).
One person found this helpful
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