Friday, May 28, 2010

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor

Rating 4/5

This book took some perserverance. Batchelor calls his books collages, and this one did have a fragmented feel to it. I found my interest waxing and waning throughout as the subject matter flipped back and forth between the author's story, the Buddha's story, Buddhist politics and history. However, I have a very strong affinity with Stephen Batchelor, who, like me, is more interested in Siddhartha Gotama's Buddhism than the myriad sects of organized religious Buddhism available today. On page 229 he states that a Buddhist's practice "need not correspond to anyone else's idea of what 'buddhism' is or should be." I find this very validating. Batchelor likens the Dharma to pieces of a raft - the only useful bits are those which currently float. He points out that Gotama intended his followers to take refuge in the Dharma only after his death, to walk the path individually. This is how I've always practiced, and it is comforting to find validation in the words of this respected Buddhist author. So while this book was a bit scattered, it was well worth reading.

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