Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

Author: Stephen Batchelor
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
ISBN: 1588369846
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Does Buddhism require faith? Can an atheist or agnostic follow the Buddha’s teachings without believing in reincarnation or organized religion? This is one man’s confession. In his classic Buddhism Without Beliefs, Stephen Batchelor offered a profound, secular approach to the teachings of the Buddha that struck an emotional chord with Western readers. Now, with the same brilliance and boldness of thought, he paints a groundbreaking portrait of the historical Buddha—told from the author’s unique perspective as a former Buddhist monk and modern seeker. Drawing from the original Pali Canon, the seminal collection of Buddhist discourses compiled after the Buddha’s death by his followers, Batchelor shows us the Buddha as a flesh-and-blood man who looked at life in a radically new way. Batchelor also reveals the everyday challenges and doubts of his own devotional journey—from meeting the Dalai Lama in India, to training as a Zen monk in Korea, to finding his path as a lay teacher of Buddhism living in France. Both controversial and deeply personal, Stephen Batchelor’s refreshingly doctrine-free, life-informed account is essential reading for anyone interested in Buddhism.

After Buddhism

Author: Stephen Batchelor
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 030021622X
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. What does it mean to adapt religious practices to secular contexts? Stephen Batchelor, an internationally known author and teacher, is committed to a secularized version of the Buddha’s teachings. The time has come, he feels, to articulate a coherent ethical, contemplative, and philosophical vision of Buddhism for our age. After Buddhism, the culmination of four decades of study and practice in the Tibetan, Zen, and Theravada traditions, is his attempt to set the record straight about who the Buddha was and what he was trying to teach. Combining critical readings of the earliest canonical texts with narrative accounts of five members of the Buddha’s inner circle, Batchelor depicts the Buddha as a pragmatic ethicist rather than a dogmatic metaphysician. He envisions Buddhism as a constantly evolving culture of awakening whose long survival is due to its capacity to reinvent itself and interact creatively with each society it encounters. This original and provocative book presents a new framework for understanding the remarkable spread of Buddhism in today’s globalized world. It also reminds us of what was so startling about the Buddha’s vision of human flourishing.

The Faith to Doubt

Author: Stephen Batchelor
Publisher: Counterpoint
ISBN: 1619026368
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Kierkegaard said that faith without doubt is simply credulity, the will to believe too readily, especially without adequate evidence, and that “in Doubt can Faith begin.” All people involved in spiritual practice, of whatever persuasion, must confront doubt at one time or another, and find a way beyond it to belief, however temporary. But “faith is not equivalent to mere belief. Faith is the condition of ultimate confidence that we have the capacity to follow the path of doubt to its end. And courage.” In this engaging spiritual memoir, Stephen Batchelor describes his own training, first as a Tibetan Buddhist and then as a Zen practitioner, and his own direct struggles along his path. “It is most uncanny that we are able to ask questions, for to question means to acknowledge that we do not know something. But it is more than an acknowledgement: it includes a yearning to confront an unknown and illuminate it through understanding. Questioning is a quest.” Batchelor is a contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. He considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas and beliefs. Buddhism has survived for the past 2,500 years because of its capacity to reinvent itself in accord with the needs of the different Asian societies with which it has creatively interacted throughout its history. As Buddhism encounters modernity, it enters a vital new phase of its development. Through his writings, translations and teaching, Stephen engages in a critical exploration of Buddhism's role in the modern world, which has earned him both condemnation as a heretic and praise as a reformer.

Realizing Awakened Consciousness

Author: Richard P. Boyle
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231539231
Format: PDF, ePub
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If, as Buddhism claims, the potential for awakening exists in all human beings, we should be able to map the phenomenon with the same science we apply to other forms of consciousness. A student of cognitive social science and a Zen practitioner for more than forty years, Richard P. Boyle brings his sophisticated perspective to bear on the development of a theoretical model for both ordinary and awakened consciousness. Boyle conducts probing interviews with eleven prominent Western Buddhist teachers (Shinzen Young, John Tarrant, Ken McLeod, Ajahn Amaro, Martine Batchelor, Shaila Catherine, Gil Fronsdal, Stephen Batchelor, Pat Enkyo O'Hara, Bernie Glassman, and Joseph Goldstein) and one scientist (James Austin) who have experienced awakening. From the paths they traveled to enlightenment and their descriptions of the experience, he derives three fundamental properties of awakened consciousness. He then constructs an overarching model that explains how Buddhist practices help free the mind from attachments to reality and the self and make possible the three properties of awakening. Specifically, these teachers describe how they worked to control attention and quiet the mind, detach from ideas and habits, and open themselves to compassion. Boyle's account incorporates current theories of consciousness, sociological insights, and research in neuroscience to advance the study of awakened consciousness and help an even greater number of people to realize it.

What Is Buddhist Enlightenment

Author: David B and Mary H Gamble Professor of Religion Dale S Wright
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190622598
Format: PDF, Kindle
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What kind of person should I strive to be? What ideals should I pursue in my life? These basic human questions and others like them are components of the overall question that guides this book: What is enlightenment? As Dale Wright argues, any serious practitioner of human life, religious or not, confronts the challenge of living an authentic life, of overcoming common human disabilities like greed, hatred, and delusion that give rise to excessive suffering. Why then, Wright asks, is this essential question often avoided, even discouraged among Buddhists? One reason frequently cited by Buddhists is that pondering a distant goal might be a waste of energy that would be better applied to practice: Quiet the flow of obsessive thinking, put yourself in a mindful state of presence, and let enlightenment take care of itself. In this book, however, Wright contends that pondering this question is meditative practice--that attentive inquiry of this kind is essential as the starting point and guide for any mindful practice of life. Meditative reflection on the meaning of enlightenment focuses us on our aim and direction in life. It guides us in shaping our practices, our ideals, and the kinds of lives we will live. Asking what enlightenment is as a basic form of meditation helps to activate our lives and get transformative practice underway. From Wright's perspective, there is no more important question to ask than this one. What is Buddhist Enlightenment? offers a wide-ranging exploration of issues that have a bearing on the contemporary meaning of enlightenment, including a concluding section with 10 theses that answer the title's question. Written by a leading scholar of Buddhism, the book balances deep learning and an accessible style, offering valuable insights for students, scholars, and practitioners alike. While he takes an examination of what enlightenment has been in past Buddhist traditions as his point of departure, Wright's historical considerations yield to the question that our lives press upon us-what kinds of lives should we aspire to live here, now, and into the future?

Buddhism in America

Author: Richard Hughes Seager
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231504373
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Over the past half century, Buddhism has grown from a transplanted philosophy to a full-fledged religious movement in America, rich in its own practices, leaders, adherents, and institutions. Long favored as an essential guide to this history, Buddhism in America covers the three major groups shaping the tradition—an emerging Asian immigrant population, native-born converts, and old-line Asian American Buddhists—and their distinct yet spiritually connected efforts to remake Buddhism in a Western context. This edition updates existing text and adds three new essays on contemporary developments in American Buddhism, particularly the aging of the baby boom population and its effect on American Buddhism’s modern character. New material includes revised information on the full range of communities profiled in the first edition; an added study of a second generation of young, Euro-American leaders and teachers; an accessible look at the increasing importance of meditation and neurobiological research; and a provocative consideration of the mindfulness movement in American culture. The volume maintains its detailed account of South and East Asian influences on American Buddhist practices, as well as instances of interreligious dialogue, socially activist Buddhism, and complex gender roles within the community. Introductory chapters describe Buddhism’s spread across America, arriving with the nineteenth-century transcendentalists and spreading rapidly with the Beat poets of the 1950s. The volume concludes with a frank assessment of the challenges and prospects of American Buddhism in the twenty-first century.

How to Be Sick

Author: Toni Bernhard
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 0861719263
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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This life-affirming, instructive, and thoroughly inspiring book is a must-read for anyone who is - or who might one day be - sick. It can also be the perfect gift of guidance, encouragement, and uplifting inspiration to family, friends, and loved ones struggling with the many terrifying or disheartening life changes that come so close on the heels of a diagnosis of a chronic condition or life-threatening illness. Authentic and graceful, How to be Sick reminds us of our endless inner freedom, even under high degrees of suffering and pain. The author - who became ill while a university law professor in the prime of her career - tells the reader how she got sick and, to her and her partner's bewilderment, stayed that way. Toni had been a longtime meditator, going on long meditation retreats and spending many hours rigorously practicing, but soon discovered that she simply could no longer engage in those difficult and taxing forms. She had to learn ways to make "being sick" the heart of her spiritual practice - and through truly learning how to be sick, she learned how, even with many physical and energetic limitations, to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. And whether we ourselves are ill or not, we can learn these vital arts from Bernhard's generous wisdom in How to Be Sick.

A Death on Diamond Mountain

Author: Scott Carney
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 069818629X
Format: PDF, Docs
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An investigative reporter explores an infamous case where an obsessive and unorthodox search for enlightenment went terribly wrong. When thirty-eight-year-old Ian Thorson died from dehydration and dysentery on a remote Arizona mountaintop in 2012, The New York Times reported the story under the headline: "Mysterious Buddhist Retreat in the Desert Ends in a Grisly Death." Scott Carney, a journalist and anthropologist who lived in India for six years, was struck by how Thorson’s death echoed other incidents that reflected the little-talked-about connection between intensive meditation and mental instability. Using these tragedies as a springboard, Carney explores how those who go to extremes to achieve divine revelations—and undertake it in illusory ways—can tangle with madness. He also delves into the unorthodox interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism that attracted Thorson and the bizarre teachings of its chief evangelists: Thorson’s wife, Lama Christie McNally, and her previous husband, Geshe Michael Roach, the supreme spiritual leader of Diamond Mountain University, where Thorson died. Carney unravels how the cultlike practices of McNally and Roach and the questionable circumstances surrounding Thorson’s death illuminate a uniquely American tendency to mix and match eastern religious traditions like LEGO pieces in a quest to reach an enlightened, perfected state, no matter the cost. Aided by Thorson’s private papers, along with cutting-edge neurological research that reveals the profound impact of intensive meditation on the brain and stories of miracles and black magic, sexualized rituals, and tantric rites from former Diamond Mountain acolytes, A Death on Diamond Mountain is a gripping work of investigative journalism that reveals how the path to enlightenment can be riddled with danger.