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What Makes You Not a Buddhist

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  2,692 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews

So you think you're a Buddhist? Think again. Tibetan Buddhist master Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, one of the most creative and innovative lamas teaching today, throws down the gauntlet to the Buddhist world, challenging common misconceptions, stereotypes, and fantasies. With wit and irony, Khysentse urges readers to move beyond the superficial trappings of Buddhism—beyond th

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Published March 15th 2011 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. (first published 2006)
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Dia
Jun 03, 2008 Dia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book, I thought, "Oh, cool, a great book for those new to and curious about Buddhism. He's dispelling a lot of common misunderstandings about Buddhism that I don't have but that I know a lot of other people have -- like that we all have to be vegetarians, etc. And he's so charming and knowing and wry. Great book to read then recommend to family."

But as I kept reading, I became more unsettled. DKR discusses the four truths that essentially define Buddhism, and throughout the
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Binit
Apr 15, 2014 Binit rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“What makes you not a Buddhist” is an unconventional spiritual book written by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, a monk and spiritual guru. The book is published by Timeless Books in the year 2006 in New Delhi. Basically, the author has summarized Buddhism’s core values with a blend of a dry sense of humour. He sums up the essence of Buddhism in four simple points, they are: (1.) everything is impermanent, (2.) emotions are the cause of sufferings, (3.) all phenomena are illusionary and empty and (4.) ...more
Roberto
"Sei sicuro di non essere buddhista" è un libro divulgativo, capitatomi casualmente tra le mani, che vuole fare capire al lettore occidentale le basi su cui si fonda il buddhismo; devo dire che, a grandi linee, il libro offre quello che promette e che la sua lettura mi ha interessato e fatto riflettere.

Il buddhismo, come credo sia noto, non è una religione, bensì una filosofia. Buddha non è un dio e il buddhismo non prevede divinità. Facile, fin qui.

La felicità non è altro che la mancanza di sof
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Gordon Young
Dec 14, 2008 Gordon Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosphy, buddhism
I love the way this guy cuts right to the point - he's not caught up in teaching a religion. Instead, he talks about the basic observations about existence that the Buddha noted, and the practical implications of those. IMHO, "Buddhism" is a set of instructions for dealing with the situation in the most beneficial way that Siddhartha could come up with at the time - and so I don't know if I exactly agree with the idea that accepting the 4 marks of existence as an accurate depiction of reality ma ...more
Reid
This is a challenging book. I love the author's direct, irreverent and humorous approach, and it is mostly rational, not steeped in mystical double talk if you think about it. I read parts of this twice - I was bothered by it, for sure, and still am. Of the 4 seals, 1, 2 and 4 seem like no brainers - 1, everything changes and is impermanent, 2, no emotions are purely pleasurable (“all emotions are pain”) - if we're wanting pleasure, then we're wanting the absence of the opposite, which is imposs ...more
Brandon
Mar 23, 2011 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This short, concise book simply rocks! Incredible introductory Buddhist book for anyone with even the slightest interest of understanding Buddhism. Must read.
Kathleen
I really didn't like this book for a number of reasons. First, the Buddha that Khyentse presents is not the Buddha that I have come to admire and respect from reading other books. Khyentse's Buddha flies and does other supernatural things. For me, the appeal of buddhism is its practical nature. The Buddha is an inspiring figure precisely because he was an ordinary human. His teachings appeal to me (as I have encountered them) because it doesn't incorporate a whole bunch of hocus-pocus like relig ...more
Ahmaud
Aug 23, 2012 Ahmaud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book with the intention of better understanding Buddhist thought. There are many seeming contradictions that exist in Buddhism, and being trained in Western philosophy I find some of them dubious, but I read it with as open of a mind as I could given my philosophic and religious state. What I found interesting is that anyone who has ever told me that they are interested in Buddhism have never mentioned the four–or three depending on the school–seals and their importance in grounding ...more
Dale
Apr 25, 2013 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
So you think you're a Buddhist, eh? With wit and irony, Khyentse lays out the "four seals" at the heart of the Buddha's teaching.

You are a Buddhist if you accept the following:

1. All compounded things are impermanent.
2. All emotions are pain.
3. All things have no inherent existence.
4. Nirvana is beyond concepts.

Easy, eh?

Don't forget to check out the Rinpoche -- as the major reincarnation of a famous Tibetan Lama (who's impermanent and has no inherent existence, mind you) -- he's attractive in
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Pedro Cabiya
Feb 26, 2016 Pedro Cabiya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Venerable Dzongsar Khyentse sounds a little bit angry and anti-Western. In fact, he is very anti-democratic and a homophobe for sure. Not the best book on Buddhism, but it gets the job done for analyzing the main tenets of the notion of impermanence.
Angela Dawn
A title only a Buddhist could truly understand naturally intrigues me...this is on my list to read.
I love the way the title points up the concept that, in our finiteness, we can only really define things by defining what they are not.
That our minds lack the capacity to conceptualize what we truly are, (when we only think of ourselves as our solid and important selves), formless and void, nothing, merely a transitory and conditional movement of energy, that amounts to something as vague as infor
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Angela
Jul 20, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dharma
The phrase that sticks out in my mind from this book is "naked babies missing their sex organs" (he's talking about cherubs in Christian art).

So: hilarious! This is a fresh, witty book that challenges (and even gently mocks) the certain, um, less aware forms of western Buddhism that have developed. Where by "less aware", I mean "Orientalist" and maybe even "ignorant" - but Rinpoche is much too kind to say something so mean. Nonetheless, he DOES provide a very readable, informative guide to help
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Kayla
Nov 04, 2011 Kayla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
For those just beginning to contemplate buddhist theology, this book is a bit esoteric. The author explains the "four seals": All things are impermanent. All emotions are pain. All things have no inherent existence. Nirvana is beyond concepts. For me, it clarified a few fine points like that karma is gathered by consciousness...if your conscious self acts out of greed or aggression, negative karma is generated.

"It's time for modern people like ourselves to give some thought to spiritual matters,
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Brian
Apr 20, 2015 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped push me along the exploratory path a bit further. It is so difficult to get your head around a philosophy that has as one of its main tenets: "enlightenment is beyond concepts." Add to that the problem of translation: the texts that Buddhist knowledge flows from were written orginally in Sanskrit and Tibetan--e.g., "zag bcas" can be translated literally as "involved in falling or shifting" but gets translated more often as "emotion", as in "all emotions are pain" (another centra ...more
Adi
Jan 05, 2015 Adi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I experienced the audiobook as a bit emotionally charged by Venerable Dzongsar Khyentse's chosen words. Here and there I felt I heard some aggression in his words (independent from the narrator's reading) and missed compassion for the challenges of the western world. However, the book has some interesting, modern metaphors with which Buddhism and the practice of it is explained in very basic, uncomplicated terms. At least it is an easy, interesting read and sort of an introduction to Buddhism an ...more
Craig Werner
If you're fairly well versed in the basics of Buddhism, knock off a star. The virtues of the book are simplicity and clarity, appropriate values for what's essentially Buddhism 101. Khyentse emphasizes the "Four Seals" (not to be confused with the Four Nobel Truths), stressing the impermanence of all compounded phenomena (which entails everything). There's a bit of "self help" style rhetoric in the style, but it grows directly out of the vision, so it never becomes intrusive.
Jasmine
Sep 05, 2008 Jasmine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buddhists
Recommended to Jasmine by: a random customer
Shelves: bhutanese
Okay this book is so short I read it without even adding it to my book list. The book is great it focuses really directly on the four seals. Here are some great things from the book:

"Not just a few Christians and Muslims feel passionate about converting heathens to escape hell-fire and damnation, while the existentialists zealously try to convert the religious into heathens." -44

"Buddha doesn't want Jack to be caught in a personal 'Hell,' but he can't tell Jack to work with his perceptions and
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Steve Woods
This is a great little book. it is very clear and presents some of the most daunting concepts of Buddhist thought in a way that anyone can understand. It addresses the essence of what it is to be a Buddhist in practice; what that means to the way we conduct out life. It's a terrific introduction that may whet the appetite for something more orthodox. Even if a reader goes no further, a serious consideration of what is being put in this book could fundamentally alter the quality of the experience ...more
Elsie
Nov 25, 2011 Elsie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, being "not a Buddhist", I had the honour of meeting the author Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse for the first time in May 2004, at a lunch hosted by me and friends whom were members of the organising committee for a charity premiere of the movie "Travellers and Magicians" in Singapore. Though to everyone in the team he is to us, Khyentse Rinpoche, he reminded the team that as he is now in the position as director of the movie, that we should just address him as Director Khyentse Norbu and not Rin ...more
Mohit Baskota
Jun 12, 2016 Mohit Baskota rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looks like a small read but a challenging one. Definitely a thought changing book. You will start looking things with different view point after you finish this. Author talks about four teachings at the beginning but mostly revolve around the fact that all compounded phenomena are impermanent and all emotions are pain. Also the way he describes nirvana is beyond concept gets you into deep thinking.

The way author portrays the Buddhas teaching , nirvana and concepts of impermanence is just brilli
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Nina
Nov 01, 2015 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Buddhism teaches us the four noble truths: All things are impermanent, all emotions are pain, all things have no inherent existence, Nirvana is beyond concepts. This book does a good job of elaborating on them, and why if you really understand this, you don't call yourself by a label. This is an accessible and no-nonsense introduction which does a good job of explaining where Buddhism comes from and what it is about. It, like Buddhism itself, doesn't try to convert you or tell you that it is the ...more
Happyreader
Sep 27, 2008 Happyreader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This is a good book for anyone curious about Buddhist beliefs. For anyone who has been practicing for awhile, it's a good reminder that Buddhist practices and rituals are only means to an end, a way of keeping us on the path. It is the practices and rituals that can and should change from one culture and time to the next to remain relevant. However, the four seals -- the principle of impermanence, the suffering of emotions, that phenomena have no inherent existence, and that nirvana is beyond co ...more
James
Sep 22, 2016 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
2.5
Julie Kelly
Aug 04, 2013 Julie Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
I thought this book was really well written with a deep humor about it. I particularly liked where he described being asked so what is it like to be Buddhist? and the tiresomeness of the man who asked as he went on to explain. I loved the book and it made simple something that many find extremely complex.
This book explains really well how just calling oneself a Buddhist is pointless without action.
Fantastic Book
Toby Tottle
Jul 19, 2015 Toby Tottle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely useful and well worded presentation of some very important ideas.

Concisely focuses on the most essential key elements of Buddhism and makes them accessible to us curious modern folk. The pop culture references do seem unusual coming from a practising monk/lama, but that doesn't make his points any less valid. If Buddhism is going to be relevant to the modern world, why shouldn't its teachings be set in the modern world? Isn't that the whole point, that we assume monks and lamas are
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Anastasia
Feb 09, 2010 Anastasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in such an easy to understand and humorous way, with references to everything in today's modern world from waiting for those glory days of retirement when we think we'll finally relax, to hippy commune ideals to the Beastie Boys and US presidents... Telling the story of how Siddhartha became the Buddha and what he learned along the way, in really clear simple language. Great stuff!
Vlad Gheorghe
Mar 24, 2016 Vlad Gheorghe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book is designed to be easy and accessible, but unfortunately it takes these qualities to excess. The author's complete lack of any spark of wit and intelligence verges on idiocy - but not the religious kind. Time after time he feels compelled to translate the simplest idea in the language of popular newspapers, television and retail magazines. The whole book stinks of hairdresser talk. We can see what kind of reader he had in mind from such sentences as: "you may eat meat and idolize Eminem ...more
Ymfoo1
Mar 12, 2016 Ymfoo1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very easy to read, yet very profound. V.Good . Very practical ideas. 3 key points I learnt to apply to myself:
(1) Nothing is permament (helps learning to let go and not clinging on to something tightly).
(2) All emotions are pain (learn not to be emotional,
particularly at work).
(3) Self does not exist indepedently. (we are are interconnected. learnt to have less "self".
Renaissance
Jul 24, 2014 Renaissance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up from the "bargain shelf" at a Buddhist retreat center, and it turned out to be quite a find.

This is one of the best narratives on Buddhist thought and belief that I have read. Khyentse's style is fluid and esasy-to-read, plus he writes in a manner that is ceasily intelligible: clear, precise, and interesting. He uses real-life examples and elucidates concepts with easy-to-grasp descriptions. While the concepts are profound, the writing is not pedantic.

The book focuses on the four
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Steven Elliott
Mar 10, 2016 Steven Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal read that gets to the depth of Buddhism and doesn't sugar coat things. Khyentse uses the basics of the four principles and finds enlightening ways to illustrate them into some that's both complicated and simple at the same time. A definite read for anyone who wants to learn less on practices of Buddhism and more about the heart of it.
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Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961 and was recognised as the incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro (1894-1959). From early childhood, he has studied with some of the greatest contemporary masters, particularly his father, H.H. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

From a young age he has been active in preserving the Buddhist teachings, establish
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“If it were not for certain people's greed for wealth, the highways would be filled with cars powered by the sun, and no one would be starving. Such advances are technologically and physically possible, but apparently not emotionally possible.” 14 likes
“We are like monkeys who dwell in the forest and shit on the very branches from which we hang.” 13 likes
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