What Makes You Not A Buddhist Review
The author of this book is Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, a lama from a prominent and influential Tibetan Buddhist family living in Bhutan. He is also a filmmaker and directed a movie called “The Cup” (1999) which is about a group of Tibetan monks who become obsessed with soccer.
He also directed two other films, “Travellers and Magicians” (2003) and “Vara: A Blessing” (2013). And he is the author of another book named “Not For Happiness: A Guide to the S0-Called Preliminary Practices” (2012) which is a no-nonsense book on Tibetan Buddhism meditation practices.
This book challenges common misconceptions, stereotypes, and fantasies around Buddhism. He uses wit and irony to bring the reader to move beyond the superficial aspects of Buddhism such as beads, incense, or prayer wheels. Not only that, but he uses examples from everyday modern life in order to explore the core teachings of the Buddha.
Khyentse uses stories from the Buddha’s life and places great importance on the four seals of Buddhism which constitutes “Right View” which itself is part of the Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Eightfold Path.
These “Four Dharma Seals” are:
- All compounded things are impermanent
- All conditioned phenomena and experiences are unsatisfactory
- All phenomena are non-self
- Nirvana is true peace
Essentially, these are the four characteristics of true Buddhist teaching. It is said that if any teaching contains the “Four Dharma Seals” then it can be considered to be Buddha Dharma.
The four chapters in this books also address each of the Buddhist Dharma Seals one at a time, using modern examples to help get the point across and so enhances our understanding of what Buddhist is not.
Chapter 1: Fabrication and Impermanence
Chapter 2: Emotion and Pain
Chapter 3: Everything is Emptiness
Chapter 4: Nirvana is beyond Concepts
This is a great book. I really enjoyed reading it and was pretty impressed with some of the examples and metaphors he uses. It doesn’t seem like Buddhist monks should be this familiar with Western culture. But this book by this Buddhist teacher certainly changes that perception (or stereotype) of them.
That being said, I must say that this book does not contain any meditation practices or instructions but instead this book “looks at everyday life through a Buddhist lens” as Publishers Weekly put it.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the philosophy behind the practices of meditation, but don’t expect to learn how to meditate from this book. If you’re look for a book on Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices, then I would recommend his other book Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices which I’ve also included in my Amazon picks below this article.
Buy your own copy of “What Makes You Not A Buddhist” from Amazon today!