After Buddhism Book Review
Book Title: After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age
Author: Stephen Batchelor
Publisher: Yale University Press
Year Published: 2015
Paperback Price: $ 20.11
Kindle Price: $14.99
Stephen Batchelor is a renowned Buddhist author, teacher, and scholar from the UK who also routinely writes articles and leads meditation retreats around the world. He is a noted proponent of agnostic/secular Buddhism.
He has studied in Dharamsala, India under Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey and was ordained as a Buddhist monk in the Gelug tradition in 1974. After this he studied with Geshe Rabten who was residing in Switzerland at the time. He is also very familiar with the Korean version of Zen Buddhism and has studied in the Songgwangsa Monastery in South Korea, where he met another nun there and future wife-to-be Martine Fages under the auspices of Kusan Sunim. After Sunim’s death both left the monastic order and married.
Nowadays he leads meditation retreats and is a contributing editor of the Tricycle: The Buddhist Review which is a popular Buddhist magazine that publishes Buddhist teachings and practices.
He is also the author of other Buddhist books such as “The Jewel in the Lotus: A Guide to the Buddhist Traditions of Tibet”, “Buddhism Without Beliefs”, and “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist”.
This book is the culmination of four decades of deep study of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Theravada Buddhism. The central message of this book is to communicate a secularized version of the teachings and life of the Buddha without the religious trappings.
This means that he combines readings of the earliest texts of the Pali Canon with narrative accounts of five figures in Buddha’s inner circle, Mahanama, Pasenadi, Sunakkhatta, Jivaka, and the Buddha’s personal assistant Ananda.
In this book, the author makes the case that the Buddha was not a dogmatic religious teacher but instead he was a pragmatic ethicist who was all too human but who had found a solution to suffering in the one-pointed concentration of the mind.
Chapter 1: After Buddhism
Chapter 2: Mahanama: The Convert
Chapter 3: A Fourfold Task
Chapter 4: Pasenadi: The King
Chapter 5: Letting Go of Truth
Chapter 6: Sunakkhatta: The Traitor
Chapter 7: Experience
Chapter 8: Jivaka: The Doctor
Chapter 9: The Everyday Sublime
Chapter 10: Ananda: The Attendant
Chapter 11: A Culture of Awakening
Also included are selected discourses from the Pali Canon
This was one of the most interesting books on Buddhism that I’ve read in a while. I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the earliest teachings of the Buddha and his teaching career.
He presents Buddhism a “constantly evolving culture of awakening” which is part of the reason why Buddhist continues to survive to this day.
Overall, this was a great book though it’s very detailed so it’s useful to know that before you start reading. There’s a lot of research presented in this book that help make the author’s point clear. It’s a very interesting read overall and it’s indispensable if you’re a fan of history in general.
Buy your own copy of After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age from Amazon today!