14 February 2012

Book Review: Buddhism Without Beliefs, by Stephen Batchelor, ****

Synopsis
The author points out that Buddha was not a mystic and his awakening was not a shattering revelation that revealed the mysteries of God or the universe. What the Buddha taught was not something to believe in, but something to do. Buddha challenged people to understand the nature of anguish, let go of its origins, realize its cessation and create a certain way of life and awakening. This awakening is available to all of us, and Batchelor examines how to work realistically towards it, and how to practise and live it every day.

Review
This book immediately rang a bell with me. I have long felt close to Buddhism, among other reasons, because it does not require believing in any dogma. As someone who has been educated in science, I always felt uneasy with beliefs. I prefer to know, or to accept I don't know. I am an agnostic. This book spells out very clearly how Buddhism traces the path to inner peace without requiring anyone to "believe" in anything.

For example, we have no real answers to metaphysical questions (the origins of the universe and such unanswerable eternal open issues) so Buddha stopped asking them. On the ethical plane, the dharma is the logical conclusions one reaches by reasoning on what is good, not some kind of given commandment. The closest thing I can find in Western philosophy is the categorical imperative of Immanuel Kant, whom I regard as the greatest thinker of Western civilization.


You can find more books by the same author by clicking on this link.

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